Friday, October 31, 2003
1. MICROGRAVITY: LEAKED "WHITE PAPER" FINDS "VOODOO SCIENCE."
In an internal critique of human life sciences research on the
International Space Station, Lawrence Kuznetz, a professor at the
Baylor College of Medicine and a senior research manager for a
NASA academic consortium, describes human health experiments as
"pitiful" and "voodoo science not worth the cost." He finds that
"few if any of the experiments have valid controls...The line
between real and wishful science is continually being blurred."
He saw no progress in finding "countermeasures" against health
problems. The paper was posted on the web just days before
Congressional hearings began on the ISS. With Shuttle transport
grounded, malfunctioning air, water and radiation monitors on the
ISS can't be replaced. Those in Congress who pushed for the ISS
talk in terms of "protecting our investment," while others just
want to know how we're going to bring it down.
2. MICRO-IMPORTANCE: PROTEIN-CRYSTAL-GROWTH IN MICROGRAVITY.
review conducted at NASA's request, the National Research Council
concluded on Mar 1, 2000 that,"The enormous investment in protein
crystal growth on the shuttle and Mir has not led to a single
unique result." On Wednesday, in a Senate Commerce and Science
Committee hearing, an obscure physicist testified that a crystal,
allegedly grown in space, was found to have been grown in
Australia (WN 21 Feb 03). In spite of the NRC finding and this
fraud, a former astronaut continued to fly protein crystal growth
experiments on the shuttle, including the final Columbia mission,
and is listed on research planned for the ISS. "And they still
haven't grown one crystal that hasn't been grown on Earth?" Sen.
Bill Nelson (D-FL) asked. "Not one," the physicist replied.
3. EMISSIONS: SENATE REJECTS CAP ON GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS.
was the first test of Congressional sentiment on mandatory caps
on industry emissions. Co-sponsored by John McCain (R-AZ) and
Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), it was trounced 55-43, but proponents
were encouraged that it did that well; they note it took 10 years
to get acid rain legislation. McCain vowed "we will be back."
4. ARSENIC: YOU GET TO DIE WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS.
Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a major health problem in
developing countries. Not to worry. The Science and Development
Network http://www.scidev.net is ready to help. The stated aim of
London-based SciDevNet is to help the developing world make
informed decisions on science-related issues. Isn't it nice to
have SciDevNet? The cure for arsenic poisoning? Homeopathic
arsenic trioxide -- rat poison. Won't that put more arsenic in
your system? Not at all. The recommended dilution far exceeds
the dilution limit -- you won't get a single molecule, and you
can drink your arsenic-laden water without a care.