8 June 2001
1. "THE SCIENCES": THE VOICE OF SCIENCE IS GROWING FAINTER.
New York Academy of Sciences will cease publication of its 40-
year-old award-winning magazine immediately. These days, with
the public being sold everything from perpetual motion to
magnetic insoles, all in the name of science, the decision to
pull the plug on what is surely the world's classiest science
magazine comes as a rude shock. Beautifully written and edited,
"The Sciences" demonstrated that good science is not incompatible
with literacy and a sense of humor. Rather than head shots of
scientists and experimental schematics, for example, it has been
illustrated with art gleaned from galleries everywhere. The
connection between the science and the art is often whimsical. I
have long imagined that the person who selects the art to go with
the science must surely have the world's most enjoyable job.
2. GLOBAL WARMING: IS THE SCIENTIFIC DEBATE COOLING DOWN?
National Academy this week delivered a report on global warming,
requested by the Bush administration. While emphasizing the need
for additional climate research to reduce uncertainties, the
report concluded that global warming has taken place in the last
50 years as a result of human activity. According to the report,
this conclusion "accurately reflects the current thinking of the
scientific community." Indeed, there are hints of a scientific
consensus. Rather than scoffing at the idea, critics now seem to
argue that if there is warming, it's probably good for us.
3. MISSILE DEFENSE: IS SOMETHING BETTER THAN NOTHING?
of Defense Rumsfeld is pushing for a rudimentary missile defense
by the end of President Bush's current term in 2004, whether it
has been fully tested or not. He's unlikely to get any argument
from the Defense Policy Board, which will be headed by super
hawk, Richard Perle. An Assistant Secretary of Defense in the
Reagan administration, Perle was a chief Pentagon architect of
Reagan's hopelessly impractical Star Wars missile defense
(WN 13 Mar 87).
Carl Sagan called once him "the Prince of Darkness."
4. EMF: ABC NEWS DISCOVERS CANCER CLUSTERS.
Three older men,
working in the same office in Albuquerque, NM, came down with
breast cancer. Male breast cancer is a fairly rare disease,
suggesting a possible environmental cause. Monday, they appeared
on ABC Good Morning America, with their lawyers, to discuss what
Diane Sawyer called a "chilling medical mystery." Guess what?
They solved the mystery. It had to be the electromagnetic fields
from a power vault next to their office. Never mind that other
offices have power vaults and no male breast cancer. There was
no statistician on the show to discuss clustering, no cancer
researcher to discuss the results of epidemiological studies
(WN 4 Jul 97)
and no scientist to explain why EMF at power line
frequencies cannot create mutant strands of DNA.