6 July 2001
1. ANNIVERSARY: WHAT'S NEW IS SEVENTEEN-YEARS OLD THIS MONTH.
go back only to 1987, the first WN was dated 26 Jun 84. So, what
were our hot topics in July of 1984? The Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty headed our list, followed by missile defense, government
secrecy, math-science education and congressional earmarking of
science appropriations. These are still hot issues in 2001.
This simplifies the task of cutting back our public information
activities. By just changing dates, and perhaps a name here or
there, we can recycle What's New from 1984.
2. ISS: A PROJECTED $4.8B OVERRUN TRANSLATES INTO RESEARCH CUTS.
Even Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chair of the
appropriations subcommittee responsible for NASA's budget and a
strong advocate of the space station, told Space News, "I'm afraid
that with the overruns we're going to be shortchanging the
science." It is ever thus. Three years ago, WN warned:
"Congress will do what it has always done, tell NASA this is
absolutely the last time, and take the money out of science"
(WN 27 Mar 98).
Press releases focus on dimensions, like telling the
public how many acres of solar collectors there are on ISS. But
to shrink the overrun, NASA may need to reduce the crew to a mere
three, and terminate contracts for ISS science equipment still in
3. WHITE HOUSE ENERGY BUDGET: DUMB, DUMBER, OR DUMBEST?
When Congress reconvenes next week, the energy debate will heat up.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is racing
toward a July 25th drafting date for an energy bill that will
likely reverse White House DOE budget cuts. But, as Energy
Secretary Spencer Abraham learned, House Republicans have turned
energy-policy grumbling into a bipartisan sport. This was
demonstrated by dedicated Bush supporter Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD),
who implored Secretary Abraham to explain to the Committee "how
cutting the energy budget when facing a potential energy crisis
isn't dumb." He explained that he is so fond of this president
that he doesn't "want him to look dumb."
4. THE OTHER OPPENHEIMER: A SEARCH FOR THOSE WHO KNEW FRANK.
Best-selling author K.C. Cole (The Universe and the Teacup) is
now writing a book about J. Robert Oppenheimer's somewhat less-
famous younger brother, Frank, a distinguished and controversial
physicist in his own right, who founded the Exploratorium in San
Francisco. The Exploratorium changed forever our image of what a
science museum should be. Cole, a long-time science writer for
the Los Angeles Times, was collaborating with Frank on a book at
the time of his death. She is now looking for people who knew or
were inspired by Frank Oppenheimer
(Stephanie Young contributed to this week's WN.)