Friday, August 6, 2004
1. COLD FUSION: JUST WHEN YOU THINK LIFE CAN'T GET ANY SILLIER.
The cover of Popular Mechanics for August warns that "Cold Fusion Technology Enables Anyone To Build A Nuke From Commonly Available Materials." A nuke? The cold fusion guys can't brew a cup of tea. The article: "Dangerous Science" is by Jim Wilson, whose cover story in April proclaimed the dawn of the age of atomic aircraft powered by hafnium-178 isomer reactors, which don't exist and never will (WN 16 Apr 04). OK, so grownups aren't supposed to read Popular Mechanics, but if the cold fusion faithful think they're going to get a cover story in Time, get over it. DOE recently announced that cold fusion research will be reviewed, and believers imagined they'd been vindicated (WN 02 Apr 04). Wilson says Eugene Mallove of Infinite Energy Magazine assured him that the experimental evidence for cold fusion is too compelling for DOE to ignore. Mallove couldn't be reached for comment.
2. COINCIDENCE: IS YOUR RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR SPEAKING ARABIC?
If it is, you may want to take cover, or seek professional help. In the August issue of Psychology Today, parapsychologist Dean Radin is quoted as claiming random number generators (RNGs) were uncharacteristically coherent in the hours just before the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and again before Madrid. Coincidences like that don't just happen; "events with worldwide impact focus consciousness and that influences the functioning of machines." Radin heads the Global Consciousness Project, with 75 totally deluded researchers around the world monitoring RNGs to see if they predict terrorist attacks. Are RNGs the only machines that act up? What about elevators and missile launchers? This is scary. No, not the machines, the fact that there are that many researchers that haven't got a clue about how things are, and people with money willing to fund them.
3. SPACE EXPLORATION: MESSENGER MISSION TO MERCURY IS LAUNCHED.
No astronauts need apply. The voyage of NASA's Messenger probe will take seven years on a convoluted trajectory that will loop around the inner planets several times to slow down enough to enter a highly eccentric Mercury orbit. The apogee is far enough away to let the probe cool down. Planetologists hope to learn whether Mercury's iron core is still liquid. To explore where no human can ever set foot is the great adventure of our time.
4. LOS ALAMOS: COULD THINGS GET ANY WORSE? THEY ALREADY HAVE.
Add another 4 to the 19 scientists already placed on leave, and research is still at a standstill.