Friday, March 5, 2004
1. POLITICAL SCIENCE: THE ADMINISTRATION ANSWERS THE SCIENTISTS.
Barely a week after 60 prominent scientists issued a statement charging the Bush administration with manipulating the science advisory process (WN 20 Feb 04), the White House delivered an eloquent response – two advocates of stem cell research were abruptly ejected from the Council on Bioethics, and replaced on the panel by three appointees whose opposition to stem cell research is solidly faith-based. Anybody else want to speak up? John Marburger, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, has apparently been assigned the task of belittling the scientist’s statement, but the 60 prominent scientists who signed aren’t backing down.
2. ADVERTISING: WHAT IF AN ENEMY MISSILE HAD JUST BEEN LAUNCHED?
The question is asked in the new Lockheed Martin ads that appeared this week on TV and in newspapers. An inbound missile is shown, with a cloud-shrouded "target city" far below. "What would it take to stop it?" the ad asks. Answer: "Information, speed and accuracy in a multi-layered system that integrates all three. Decisive action. Missile Defense." But there is no missile defense, and for that matter, there is no missile. The only place a missile could be coming from is Russia, and that’s why we still maintain a deterrent. The Lockheed Martin ads just happened to coincide with the first commercials of the Bush campaign. We have been tested, one says, but the challenge was met with "faith, families and sacrifice."
3. BUBBLE FUSION: CORPSE OF "SONOFUSION" IS SAID TO BE TWITCHING.
A new claim of desktop fusion from collapsing bubbles is coming out. It’s been two years since Taleyarken et al. at Oak Ridge National Laboratory reported in Science magazine that they had observed 2.5 MeV neutron peaks correlated with sonoluminescence from collapsing bubbles (WN 01 Mar 02), but others could not confirm their results. By mid summer the bubble had burst (WN 26 Jul 02). That was remarkably similar to the lifetime of cold fusion. But now Taleyarken has new results that some say are more convincing. Perhaps we should wait for independent confirmation. Cold fusion, of course, still has believers, but not much confirmation.
4. MOON-MARS: IF FACTS CHANGE, A REASONABLE MAN CHANGES HIS MIND.
An editorial in today’s New York Times points out that a few months ago astronaut John Grumsfeld was a "Hubble-hugger" who described his two Hubble repair missions as the most important achievement in his life. Now he defends the decision to kill Hubble (WN 23 Jan 04). Have the facts changed? Yes, Grumsfeld is now NASA’s Chief Scientist.