2 February 2001
1. STAR WARS: COUNTDOWN TO DEPLOYMENT.
Force has boldly
announced the day, in fact the very second, when Star Wars will
technology has a pebbled history. NASA pulled the Space Station
Countdown Clock off the web after delays and cost overruns forced
(WN 1 May 98).
At least the Air Force is giving
itself eleven years. Maybe this is what President Bush has in
mind when he says he'll support faith-based organizations.
2. RUDMAN COMMISSION RELEASES REPORT: ANOTHER CALL FOR DOUBLING.
Four years ago, a group of science societies pronounced declining
research budgets a threat to prosperity and national security. The "7-Percent Solution"
(WN 16 May 97)
for FY 1998 morphed into a call for doubling federal science budgets that skeptics said
would fall on deaf ears. It did not, and this week a bipartisan
United States Commission on National Security, co-chaired by
former senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman, weighed in, stating
that "the inadequacies of our systems of research and education
pose a greater threat to U.S. national security over the next
quarter century than any potential conventional war...." It
called for doubling the federal R&D budget by 2010, elevating the
President's Science Advisor to oversee the task, resuscitating
the national labs and passing a National Security S&T Education
Act to "produce the needed numbers of science and engineering
professionals as well as qualified teachers in math and science."
3. BOEHLERT SETS SCIENCE COMMITTEE PRIORITIES.
With the departure
of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the House Science Committee
is ready for a rehab project. This week its new chair, Sherwood
Boehlert (R-NY), began the task with his "maiden speech" to the
University Research Association, vowing to "build the Science
Committee into a significant force...to ensure that we have a
healthy, sustainable and productive R&D establishment." Three
issues will dominate: science and math education, energy policy
and the environment. Of the "Doubling Bill," which Sensenbrenner
opposed, Boehlert said he would like to find a way to pass it,
because "it would put Congress on record as saying that science
spending is a real priority." He pledged "to run the Committee
in a way that would make Einstein smile." WN is smiling already.
4. ROEMER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT.
A mid-July press conference to
call for cancellation of the International Space Station (ISS)
used to be an annual event in Washington. Standing in front of a
mike, surrounded by scientists, Tim Roemer (D-IN) would detail
the failures of the ISS. In 1993 he came within a vote of killing the behemoth
(WN 25 Jun 93).
He was always an endangered species in Congress, taking a firm stand without doing a
political calculation. Alas, there is no one to take his place.