Thursday, July 3, 2003
1. NASA: COULD AN ASTRONAUT LEARN TO SURVIVE BY PHOTOSYNTHESIS?
Perhaps the Columbia accident convinced NASA that a backup plan is needed
in case astronauts are stranded on the Space Station (WN
14 Mar 03). According to the Hindustan Times, NASA turned to a survival
expert, Hira Ratan Manek, a 64-year-old mechanical engineer from India.
Manek claims to have survived for eight
years on sunlight, water and a little tea. He is in the United States to
show NASA how he does it. NASA scientists reportedly verified that Manek
survived on water and sunlight for 130 days. The NASA Public
Affairs Office confirmed to WN that the claim is true. This is a bold new
approach. If the laws of nature stand in the way of a solution, it's time
to change the laws. See correction.
2. HAGELIN IN 2003: THIS TIME YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO VOTE.
Yesterday, at a press conference in Washington, John Hagelin - string theorist (PhD Harvard '81), follower
of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and erstwhile Presidential candidate of the Natural Law Party - announced the
formation of a US Peace Government, not to be confused with the one in the Constitution. The two seem to
be on non-intersecting sheets. The Peace Government will focus on the prevention of society's problems, a
task to which traditional government is apparently unsuited. Specific policies include "consciousness-
based total brain education" and creation of Peace Palaces, where advanced practitioners of Transcendental
Meditation will meditate away the tensions of society. Long-time readers of WN will recall the Program to
Reduce Violent Crime in the Nation's Capital, led by Hagelin a decade ago (WN
25 Jun 93) with a similar
strategy. The murder rate in Washington, DC, hit record highs even as one thousand TM experts meditated
(23 July 93). Asked why he is founding a separate government instead of running for President again,
Hagelin explained that elections are a waste of time and energy, and, indeed, "the whole thing is a
mockery." The Peace Government will be an unelected meritocracy, as opposed to our current "rule by the
incompetent." If democratic elections stand in the way of peace, Hagelin argues, it's time to change the
way we choose our leaders.
3. EUROPE: UNIVERSITIES FACE A RESEARCH DRAIN.
In recent weeks there have been a number of concerns raised about research support in Europe. A report in
Nature (19 June) outlined the current controversy in Germany over a plan to reorganize funding for
universities and for the Max Planck and Leibnitz institutes, which some German researchers fear could lead
to undue political influence on science. Last week, a large group of researchers petitioned the French
government to keep the public sector science work force strong; a preliminary plan apparently proposes to
shrink employment through attrition. Finally, a survey of European companies found that many are planning
more and more to spend their R&D money in the US rather than in Europe.
(Andrew Essin contributed to this week’s What’s