9 March 2001
1. BROMLEY BATTLES BUSH BUDGET BLUEPRINT.
In a New York Times op-ed today, Yale nuclear physics professor D. Allan Bromley called
on the Bush White House to reevaluate its spending plans for
science. Bromley, the science advisor to President George H.W.
Bush from 1989 to 1993, called "the proposed cuts to scientific
research...a self defeating policy." Lauding Bush's tax-cut,
education and military goals, Bromley said that White House
budget "jeopardizes the nation's ability to achieve any of
[them]." He noted that the tax cut and spending on education
and defense depend upon an estimated $5.6 trillion surplus over
the next decade. That money, he said, comes from the scientific
innovation that drives the economy. He summed up his argument:
"No science, no surplus. It's that simple."
2. MISSILE DEFENSE: A TURKEY IS ON THE MENU--BEFORE IT HATCHES.
The General Accounting Office, the independent, non-partisan,
investigative arm of Congress, has released a highly critical
report on the Bush Administration's plan for a National Missile
Defense system. The space-based infrared satellite system
intended for low earth orbit (SBIRS-low), on which the plan
critically depends, does not exist, even though the Pentagon has
been laboring to produce such a system for fifteen years. The
plan calls for deployment to begin in 2006. The GAO says the
Pentagon "is at high risk of not delivering the system on time,
at cost, or with expected performance." How could this happen?
WN has already pointed out that it's "faith-based"
(WN 2 Feb 01).
3. EMF: POWER LINES MAKE IT BACK INTO THE NEWS - SORT OF.
When the National Cancer Institute released its 1997 study showing no
link between residential exposure to EMF and childhood leukemia,
there was reason to hope power line paranoia might at last die
(WN 4 Jul 97).
Certainly, no tort lawyer would take it to court
again; it's mostly cell phones now
(WN 9 Feb 01).
But in the UK, a report by the National Radiological Protection Board found a
trace of a pulse
Headed by Richard Doll, the first to implicate tobacco smoke in lung cancer, the report
said SOME studies have found a POSSIBLE small risk from exposure
to fields FAR stronger than most people are ever exposed to, but
no plausible mechanism exists. Even this wimpy statement was
enough to elicit a "we told you so" from the fear mongers.
4. MIR: DO SPACE TOURISTS PAY EXTRA FOR THE FUNGI?
As WN reported last year
(WN 28 Jul 00),
solar radiation, unimpeded by Earth's magnetosphere, has created some 250 species of mutant
bacteria and fungi on Mir. But if Dennis Tito (WN 23 Jun 00)is
hoping to dine on space truffles, the aggressive critters that
are devouring the insulation on Mir don't sound that appetizing.
In any case, they are expected to become alien life forms in
about a week when Mir makes its long-awaited return to Earth.