Friday, August 23, 2002
1. MISSILE DEFENSE: RUMSFELD DISCOVERS
So far we've spent maybe $95B trying to stop ballistic missiles, but it's
not going too well (WN 14 Jun 02). The solution?
Find a missile that's easier to stop. According to the Washington Post,
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld sent the White House a classified memo warning
that cruise-missile technology is the really big threat these days. The
low-flying, air-breathing missiles are hard to detect and hard to distinguish
from friendly aircraft, but the technology to defeat them already exists.
All it would take is a lot of money. Hey, this is looking better and better.
The prospect of an entire new defense system that costs a bundle is likely
to prove irresistible to the superhawks in Congress.
2. AIRPORT SECURITY: DOES NASA PLAN
TO READ YOUR MIND?
A story on the front page of Saturday's Washington Times claimed NASA
is working on a device to read terrorists minds at airports. NASA would
use "non-invasive neuro-electric sensors" to pick signals up from the
heart and brain. Sigh, the only thing worse than polygraphs, which don't
work, would be brain scanners that do. But does anyone really believe
NASA could build such a device? Gimme a break, NASA can't read its own
mind. The NASA News Room person insisted they knew nothing about it, but
the WN researcher persisted and found a NASA press release denying the
3. HERBAL LOWS: $MULTIBILLION INDUSTRY
THREATENED BY TESTING.
Sales of herbal medications have soared since passage of the 1994 Dietary
Supplement and Health Education Act, which allows natural supplements
to be marketed without proof of safety, efficacy or purity. Mindful of
the popularity of alternative health claims, Congress showers money on
NIH's Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. But a remarkable
thing has happened. NIH has begun testing many of the popular herbal medications.
The most important discovery in the history of medicine was the randomized
double-blind test. It allows us to find out what works and what doesn't.
So far, herbals are in the "doesn't" category: St. John's Wort doesn't
relieve depression, but it does interfere with some cancer drugs; echinacea
doesn't ward off colds and flu; ephedra causes frequent injuries and even
death; and this week we learn that ginkgo biloba doesn't enhance memory
in people over 60. There's another one, but I can't remember it.
4. FREE ENERGY: THE PATENT OFFICE DECIDES
TO TAKE ANOTHER LOOK.
In April, we reported that Patent 6,362,718 had been issued for a Motionless
Electromagnetic Generator that "extracts energy from a permanent magnet."
We are happy to report that the Patent office will now test and certify
patent examiners on a regular basis and will change the way it recruits
examiners. Oh yes, and the Patent Commissioner ordered a Reexamination
of Patent 6,362,718.