Friday, June 13, 2003
1. HOMESTAKE, SD: A MINE IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE.
What do you do with a 125 year-old gold mine when the gold's gone?
Well, if it's 8,000 feet under the Black Hills of South Dakota,
with excellent infrastructure already in place, you might turn it
over to a bunch of physicists for a Deep Underground Science and
Engineering Laboratory (WN 4 Jan 02). At least you might if you get
the government to assume all liability for any environmental infractions
that come to light. Or you could just flood the depths and submerge any
violations; Barrick Gold Corp. of Toronto may have opted for the latter.
Two weeks ago, an NSF site panel figured Homestake would make the world's
best laboratory for neutrino studies and the search for proton decay. That's
not a guarantee that Barrick will be off the hook, however, and this
week the mining company turned off the pumps that keep the mine dry.
2. INTELLIGENT DESIGN? NO SIGN OF IT IN LOUISIANA'S LEGISLATURE.
A resolution before the Louisiana House Education Committee
opposes the use of "textbooks that do not present a balanced view of the
various theories relative to the origin of life but rather refer to one
theory as a proven fact." Why is it they don't say what they have in mind?
It's because the Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that public schools may not
include creationism in a science curriculum. Intelligent design is
creationism that has evolved protective coloring, and its proponents
now resort to this sort of "equal time" proposal. The Louisiana resolution
follows a failed attempt earlier in the legislative session to censor textbooks
outright if they teach only evolution. The legislature goes home June 23, so we'll
know by then if science education in Louisiana will survive to fight
another day...stay tuned.
3. PUBLIC TELEVISION: "UNLOCKING THE MYSTERY OF LIFE."
Tuesday, Maryland Public Television aired a high image-quality
documentary that pretended to be science. The program, produced by Illustra
Media, marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery by Watson and Crick,
but the Nobelists won't be pleased. The blurb in the MPT schedule sums it up:
"A growing number of scientists now think that DNA and the complexity of life
point to purpose and design in nature." The Discovery Institute, which
distributes the documentary, is committed to replacing evolution with
intelligent design and is extremely well-funded. This is Phase II, the
"publicity" phase of what the Discovery Institute calls the "Wedge Project."
The idea is to use "intelligent design" as a wedge to get religion into science
education, and evolution out: Phase I was research, Phase III will be legal
challenges and a focus on the terrible social implications of evolution.
"Unlocking the Mystery of Life" was
shown earlier in Michigan and Texas. It may turn up on Public Television