Friday, August 13, 2004
1. DIETARY GUIDELINES: ADVISORY PANEL EMBRACES "THE PHYSICS PLAN"
This week, the 13-member federal advisory panel revising Dietary Guidelines for Americans held its final meeting in Washington. Responding to the currently fashionable low-carbohydrate diets, the panel flatly stated there is no value in using the glycemic index and recommended that to maintain weight calories consumed should not exceed calories expended. This of course is just the What's New "physics plan" (WN 25 Feb 00) the only diet plan endorsed by the First Law of Thermodynamics.
2. HUBBLE: NASA INTERVIEWS ROBOTS FOR ASTRONAUT REPLACEMENT JOB.
Having declared a service mission to Hubble to be too risky for mere mortals, NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe told engineers at the Goddard Space Flight Center on Monday to begin serious work on a robotic mission to Hubble in 2007. His decision may have been prompted by a malfunction of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph. The leading candidate for the Hubble assignment is Dextre, a two-armed Canadian robot. The only concern comes from those who question the wisdom of risking leading edge technology on a mission for which human volunteers are readily available.
3. LOS ALAMOS: MISSING DISKS MAY HAVE ONLY EXISTED ON PAPER.
The word from Los Alamos this week is that the missing disks from the weapons division, which have had the government in an uproar (WN 16 Jul 04), never existed. A sheet of 20 labels was printed out and entered into the database, but only 18 were used. As a result, 23 scientists were placed on leave and research has been halted for weeks as the FBI hunted for two nonexistent disks. If this incident was really a clerical error, rather than a consequence of the lab's "culture of arrogance," then somebody owes these scientists an apology.
4. MENTAL HEALTH: STOP MONKEYING AROUND AND GET BACK TO WORK.
Scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health claim they have a cure for procrastination. A recent study shows that dopamine causes the brains of primates to visualize the time and effort required for a task. This is demoralizing, causing us to goof off and delay work to the last minute. By blocking the receptors, the scientists transformed lazy lab monkeys into workaholics. What's New is going to try the technique out and see if it works, maybe next week, or maybe the week after.
5. NEW NUKES: BENNETT BILL REQUIRES PUBLIC DEBATE BEFORE TESTING.
The leak of the notorious Nuclear Posture Review two years ago (WN 15 Mar 02) implied that, in spite of denials, there are plans to develop a new class of small nukes.
Paul Gresser contributed to this week's issue of What's New.