Friday, 21 July 2000
1. GROAN! LIGHT IS REPORTED TO TRAVEL FASTER THAN LIGHT.
real news in physics was that the tau neutrino, the last of the
fermions predicted by the Standard Model, had been discovered at
Fermilab. But front page headlines across the country were
proclaiming, "The Speed of Light Has Been Broken." It's now
going to be impossible to characterize any claim as physically
impossible without people scoffing: "that's what they said about
the speed of light." At WN, we're already getting triumphant
phone calls and e-mails from Einstein deniers. Charles Bennett
at IBM Watson points out that this is little more than a confused
rehash of an old story, where the peak of the wave packet leaving
the "superluminal" medium is causally related to just the leading
edge of the wave packet entering the medium. "Rolf Landauer is
dead," Bennett sighed, "and someone needs to complain for him."
2. DOD: SNAFU PROVES INFORMATION DOESN'T PROPAGATE FASTER THAN c.
Q: How long does it take for the right hand to find out what the
left hand is doing? A: Twelve hours - the time it took for the
DOD to give, then rescind, its award for "superior execution of
security responsibilities" to satellite maker Loral Space
Sciences. For the past three years, Loral has been under a grand
jury probe for giving sensitive information to China.
3. LOS ALAMOS: PRESIDENT CLINTON SIGNS COMPENSATION BILL.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is now organizing the
process whereby Los Alamos fire victims will be compensated for
losses sustained during last May's catastrophic conflagration.
The $661M authorized by the bill includes $455M for fire victims
and $138M for damages to the laboratory complex. In its long-
awaited report on the Cerro Grande fire, GAO recommends that a
peer-review process be created to review prescribed burn plans.
4. CRYONICS: HEADS, YOU LOSE.
Another cryopreservation company
has gone out of business. However, CryoCare, founded in 1993 by
a science fiction writer named Charles Platt, claims its two
"patients" are still being cared for. The patients are in fact
disembodied heads. Presumably, the theory is that, by the time
technology is ready to reactivate the head, building a new body
should be a snap. A futurist named FM-2030, who had arranged for
cryopreservation, died just last week. He was revising his book
"Countdown to Immortality," when he was stricken. Perhaps an
appropriate anthem would be, "Freeze a jolly good fellow."
5. KANSAS: SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS AFTER THE SCOPES TRIAL.
of the Aug 1 Republican primary in Kansas is the school board.
"Democracy got us into this," said one activist, "and democracy
will get us out"
(WN 13 Aug 99).
More about this next week.
(Maria Cranor contributed to this issue of What's New.)