Friday, November 14, 2003
1. LAWRENCE LIVERMORE LAB: IT WILL NOT BE RENAMED AFTER TELLER.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), chair of the Armed Services Committee,
had sought to include the name change in the $400B defense bill
(WN 7 Nov 03). Key democrats, including Ellen Tauscher (D-CA),
whose district includes the lab, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
opposed the change. Hunter backed down, but his retreat may have
had less to do with opposition than to the very vocal support for
the name change from peace activists. The public, peace groups
argue, would instantly link the Edward Teller National Laboratory
with the H-bomb, whereas they may be unclear about what goes on
at a place called the "Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory."
Much of what really goes on at the lab, of course, is necessarily
secret. But not as secret, perhaps, as it's supposed to be. The
DOE Inspector General reports 12 missing keys to the facility,
nine master keys and three magnetic key cards. It's reminiscent
of the capricious hard drive at Los Alamos (WN
11 Aug 00), but
LLNL officials say they will have to change "only 1,300 locks."
2. THE TRUTH: WHAT'S WORSE THAN A LIE DETECTOR THAT DOESN'T WORK?
A lie detector that does work. Such a device would invade our
inner sanctum of privacy. Now that everyone, with the exception
of DOE, knows the polygraph is less than worthless (WN
03), the search is on for a lie detector that finds out what
people are thinking about. Most of the research has centered on
brain scans that indicate which areas of the brain are activated.
Now it's claimed that functional magnetic resonance can even
distinguish between recall of true and false memories
I don't want to know. It's not the things I forget that bother
me; it's the things I remember clearly that never happened.
3. QUESTIONS: 25 PROVOCATIVE QUESTIONS FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES.
On the 25th anniversary of its Science Times section, the New
York Times posed 25 of "the most provocative questions facing
science," and sure enough, we at What's New were provoked. The
questions ranged from practical, "What Should We Eat?" to
unanswerable, "What Came Before the Big Bang?," which is a really
great question. But some were just dumb, like "Will We Ever Find
Atlantis?" Have you been losing sleep over that one? Has anyone
in the last hundred years? "Will Humans Ever Visit Mars?" The
answer is we already have. We were taken there by a lap-sized
robot named Sojourner. The great adventure of our time is to
explore where no human can ever set foot. For the first time in
human history we can do that. But the NYT reporter turned to
Robert Zubrin, of the Mars Society, who wants to create a
breathable atmosphere on Mars, at a time when we're having
trouble keeping our own atmosphere breathable. Go figure.