Friday, June 21, 2002
1. HYDRINO ROCKETS: PASCAL'S WAGER IS
ALIVE AND WELL AT NASA.
According to a story in Wired, NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts
is funding a study to test the feasibility of powering a rocket by the
hydrino process. A call to the Director of the IAC in Atlanta confirmed
that an engineering professor at Rowan University will conduct the test.
According to Randell Mills of BlackLight Power, if ordinary hydrogen atoms
make a transition into "a state below the ground state," they become teeny
little things called "hydrinos," liberating large amounts of energy. It's
all in Mill's "Grand Unified Theory of Classical Quantum Mechanics." Is
NASA taking this wacky notion seriously - again? Should we remind NASA
that it tested the hydrino claim 10 years ago when BlackLight Power was
still called HydroCatalysis? NASA was looking for a way to power a mission
to Pluto. Results were "inconclusive." That's NASA talk for "it didn't
2. HOMELAND SECURITY: LIVERMORE LABS
IS JUST A SIDEKICK.
Mass confusion was generated last Thursday by release of the White House
policy book for Homeland Security, which seemed to say that the entire
Lawrence Livermore National laboratory would be moved over to the new
Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But the numbers just didn't add
up, and reporters were scurrying around trying to find out what it meant.
The language of the actual legislation, The Homeland Security Act of 2002,
seemed to clear things up. Section 803 "authorizes the head of any executive
agency, upon the request of the Secretary of DHS, to provide services."
These services include research support in the areas of chemical, biological,
or radiological weapons. So LLNL isn't going anywhere, but DHS will locate
an office at LLNL and the lab will be a "center of excellence" for Homeland
3. MISSILE DEFENSE: DEATH OF THE ABM
TREATY ACCELERATES SCHEDULE
The ABM Treaty, which prohibited sea-based defenses, died last week (WN
14 Jun 02). So the Missile Defense Agency proposed to move deployment
up to 2004, since sea-launched missile defenses, such as the Aegis system,
are already available. All that's needed is an upgrade to cope with the
much faster ICBMs. Missile experts scoff. If you calculate the thrust
needed, there's not a ship in the fleet that could survive launch. That's
even better, exclaims the Navy, we'll have to build new ships.
4. YUCCA MOUNTAIN: SO WHAT ODDS DOES
LAS VEGAS GIVE?
The House already voted 306-117 to override Nevada's veto of the waste
site (WN 7 Jun 02). In Utah, opponents argue
it will seriously hurt the Las Vegas casino business, 600 miles away.
The Mdewakanton Indians, far from Utah, are unimpressed. They have a casino
600 yards from the waste stored by a nuclear power plant.
(Christy Fernandez assisted with this weeks Whats