Friday, November 22, 2002
1. SUV MILEAGE: THE ADMINISTRATION WON'T
RAISE THE BAR TOO FAR.
A year ago, the House crushed a move to raise the CAFE standard for SUVs
from the present 20.7 mpg to 35 mpg (WN
3 Aug 01). Now the Bush administration is reviewing a proposal to
raise it by a meager 0.5 mpg each year for just three years, starting
with the 2005 model year. Take that Mr. Saudi oil baron! How did they
arrive at the 22.2 mpg figure? Well, they asked the automakers what was
possible. But the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says even a 1.5
mpg increase would be "a real challenge." Gosh, maybe we're asking too
much. Instead of tinkering with the SUVs, why don't we just shorten the
mile? Lopping a mere 127 feet off the mile each year for three years would
meet the same standard. The rest of the world won't care. They went metric
2. CELL PHONES: PROTECTING YOUR SECOND
MOST IMPORTANT ORGAN.
There is no credible evidence that cell phone radiation is linked to cancer
(WN 4 Oct 02) and no reason to think it could
be, but you can't be too careful. Last month we told you about a new line
of Dockers with material that blocks cell-phone radiation if you carry
the phone in your pocket (WN 13 Sep 02).
Now, a company in Norway is selling caps for $53 that have a layer of
woven silver to shield your brain when you hold the phone up to your head.
It also blocks solar UV, but so does a paper hat.
3. MISCONDUCT IN PHYSICS: APS COUNCIL
REVISITS ETHICS AND VALUES.
In what may be remembered as the summer of lost faith, physicists woke
up to find two separate cases of blatant fabrication in physics research.
And it wasn't just two loners: Ninov and Schoen. They had as many as 15
coauthors on some of the papers (WN 19 Jul 02).
This was not supposed to happen in physics. In some soft science maybe,
but not in physics. At its meeting two weeks ago, the APS Council revised
the "APS Guidelines for Professional Conduct" to spell out coauthor responsibility
and added a "Statement on improving education for professional ethics,
standards and practices" www.aps.org/statements/02_4.cfm.
4. GLOBAL TERRORISM WARNING: MAYBE YOU
The first warnings issued by the administration after 9/11 were front
page headline stuff. This week, the New York Times devoted 2 column inches
at the bottom of page A17 to the latest helpful warning. It was truly
a classic: "Terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide
operations or kidnappings."
5. MASS MEDIA FELLOWSHIPS: APPLICATIONS
INVITED FOR SUMMER 2003.
Tired of the media misreporting science? Do something about it. APS supports
a ten-week summer fellowship to allow physics students to work full time
as reporters, researchers or production assistants in a mass media organization.
Priority will be given to graduate students in physics or closely related
fields. The deadline is 15 January 2003. Details at www.aps.org/public_affairs/