Friday, 21 January 2000
FLASH!! PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES MAJOR SCIENCE INITIATIVE.
Even as this reaches you, the President is at Cal Tech outlining
his plans for science. His message should warm the hearts of all
scientists: "Science and technology have become the engine of
economic growth," and is "allowing us to live longer, happier
lives." Citing the interdependence of science, he wants major
increases in all areas. The budget he will submit to Congress
includes a $2.8B increase in the 21st Century Research Fund. But
perhaps the most important part of his speech was to acknowledge
that: "We have not done a good job of helping American to
understand why the enormous investments we are making in science
are so important...It is our responsibility to help open the world
of science to our citizens, to help them understand the great
questions that science is seeking to answer, to help them see how
those answers will directly affect their lives."
1. ROBERT R. WILSON: PHYSICS AND BEAUTY WERE INSEPARABLE.
He is dead at 85. Architect, sculptor, scientist, his character is to
be found in the inspiring environment he created at Fermilab.
During 1969 hearings, Senator Pastore asked him to explain how the
research would be important to national defense. "It has nothing
to do with defending our country," Wilson replied, "except to make
it worth defending." In 1985, as APS President, he led the
Society in resisting government efforts to restrain the unfettered
exchange of unclassified scientific information. In an editorial
in Physics Today, he described as "pernicious" the concern that
resisting government pressure could jeopardize funding: "there is
a collective responsibility to be supportive of individuals who
stand firm and censorious when they do not."
2. STAR WARS: WELL, IT'S TIME FOR A LITTLE SPIN CONTROL.
This week's test was the one that proponents declared in advance was
critical to President Clinton's deployment decision. It missed.
But it was working perfectly, a spokesperson said--until the last
6 seconds. Uh, that's about when the IR sensors turn on. At a
closing speed of perhaps 10km/sec, that's a long time. The next
test is scheduled for late spring, but I wouldn't count on it.
3. ARGONNE: RICHARDSON WANTS A WOMAN OR MINORITY TO HEAD LAB.
Argonne National Laboratory has been without a permanent director
since the resignation of Dean Eastman in 1998
(WN 15 May 98).
According to Science and Government Report, Secretary Richardson
has rejected white male candidates proposed by the University of
Chicago, which operates ANL, and made it clear that he expects to
see a woman in the job. One prominent female physicist has
already turned the job down. The University's 5-year contract has
been extended 90 days to find a suitable candidate. WN is sure
that supermodel Christie Brinkley isn't on the short list -
despite her interest in DOE lab operations
(WN 19 Nov 99).