Friday, June 27, 2003
1. HYDROGEN SCAM? NUCLEAR POWER, WE'RE TOLD, IS A HYDROGEN WELL.
Many readers of What's New took umbrage with last week's diatribe called "The
Hydrogen Scam." They point out that hydrogen can be produced in ways that do
not produce greenhouse gases. Sure, but will it be? 95% of the hydrogen currently
produced in the United States comes from steam methane reforming (WN
31 Jan 03), which belches CO2 and does nothing to promote energy independence.
Is a hydrogen economy an idea whose time has come? Maybe, but we need a more
open congressional discussion of the administration plan, and less docile coverage
by the media.
2. DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: PENTAGON PLANNERS MAY NEED GINKO BILOBA.
The New York Times on Monday described the shoddy research done in support of
scientific claims made by supplement makers. Under the 1994 Dietary Supplement
and Health Education Act, supplement makers aren't required to prove that their
product is either safe or effective, so they don't really need to do any research.
But if they make scientific claims for their product, and they all do, they
may have to back it up in court. They won't be able to: recently, NIH has begun
to subject one magic herb after another to randomized double-blind testing,
which one after another have failed miserably (WN
23 Aug 02). Yet, also on
Monday, the Washington Post ran a totally credulous story on a project of the
Pentagon's Combat Feeding Program to put herbal substances into lozenges and
transdermal patches, to get the healthful properties of the natural remedies
flowing in the bloodstream as quickly as possible.
3. PUBLIC ACCESS TO SCIENCE: WITH LIBERTY AND RESEARCH FOR ALL.
On Wednesday, Rep. Martin O. Sabo (D-MN) released a draft of the Public Access to Science Act, which will eliminate copyright protection for publications stemming from federally funded research. The laudable goal of this measure is to make research easily accessible via the internet. Sabo's move appears to further the goals of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), chaired by Harold Varmus, a group that wants to see scientific publishing move away from the subscription-based economics, which they claim limit the availability of the research. PLoS will release its first "open-access" journal, PLoS Biology, in October, and plans to release PLoS Medicine next year.
4. POWER LINES AND CANCER: DEAD HORSE IN HAMPTONS FLOGGED AGAIN.
Long Island turns out to be just like the rest of world: power lines don't cause cancer there, either. That is the not entirely unexpected result of a large study, to be published next Tuesday. The study began in 1996 and studied the exposure of over 1000 women to magnetic fields; no correlation with breast cancer showed up. Does this result reassure the local activists? Not in the least. "I don't think anyone should be satisfied," the president of a local activist group told the Associated Press. "I think we need to push on."