7 September 2001
1. FREE ELECTRICITY! YES FOLKS, DENNIS LEE IS STILL AT IT.
A full-page ad in Newsweek for Sep 10 announces a 50-state tour to
demonstrate a perpetual motion machine and many other amazing
inventions. The name "Dennis Lee," which is well known to the
Attorneys General of several states, did not appear in the ad,
but this is his show. We first saw him in 1997 in Hackensack,
NJ. An NBC News camera crew intended to film a demonstration of
a perpetual motion machine that ran on ambient heat. An NBC
producer asked us to join them, but the machine failed
(WN 18 Jul 97).
Two years later, ABC News asked us to go to Lee's show in
Columbus, Ohio, one stop in a 45-state tour announced in a full
page ad in USA Today. This perpetual motion machine relied on
"permanent magnet motors" and the "Fourth Law of Motion," but Lee
didn't actually demonstrate it. "If you show a perpetual motion
machine," he explained, "they will put you in jail"
(WN 1 Oct 99).
He's done some hard time for his scams, but the failure of
government agencies to stop such obvious fraud is discouraging.
2. DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: YES FOLKS, THEY'RE STILL SELLING EPHEDRA.
A year ago, WN reported a UCSF Study showing that ephedra, a
popular herbal supplement, has serious side effects. The active
ingredient is ephedrine, which is closely related to the street
drug "ecstacy." Ephedra is sometimes advertized on the net as
"herbal ecstacy." The only thing that has happened since is that
fatalities are up. Yesterday, the Public Citizen Health Research
Group petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban dietary
supplements containing ephedra. Good plan, except the FDA has
tried for years in the courts to ban the stimulant. They are
blocked by Congress and the 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health
Education Act, passed in response to a huge lobbying campaign by
the supplement industry. It exempts "natural" supplements from
requirements to test for safety, purity or effectiveness.
3. NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION: WE TRADED IT FOR MISSILE DEFENSE?
The imperative of American defense policy for half-a-century has
been to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, but we have now
turned our back on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and about
to abandoned the ABM treaty, and the administration is reassuring
China that if they'll soften opposition to NMD, we'll be happy to
share test results and we won't mind if they build a bigger
missile fleet and resume testing.
4. ONE YEAR AFTER BOB'S ENCOUNTER WITH A TREE, WN STILL LIVES.
The cost of writing What's New was for more than 18 years borne
solely by the American Physical Society. This year, APS made
cuts to Public Information. The Physics Department at the
University of Maryland has now graciously offered to help support
WN by making the writing of it part of Bob's teaching assignment.