Friday, December 10, 2004
1. HUBBLE: NRC CALLS FOR SENDING A SHUTTLE MISSION TO REPAIR IT.
The problem was never with the space telescope. The problem from the start has been the Shuttle. Mankind's greatest scientific instrument was built under a NASA decree that anything that goes into space must go there by way of the shuttle. That meant Hubble had to be put in low-Earth orbit, which is far from ideal for observations. Moreover, Hubble was designed for routine shuttle maintenance visits. NASA said shuttle launches would be weekly, but five or six times a year was the best they could do. After Columbia, O'Keefe decided it's too dangerous for astronauts to service Hubble, we'll have to use robots. But if astronauts can't go to Hubble, how they gonna go to Mars? This week, the National Research Council said it's not likely that NASA could complete development of a robotic mission before Hubble breaks down, and called for a mission of the rebuilt shuttle to repair Hubble. Could we be seeing the influence of the astronaut lobby? Like who needs astronauts if a robot can fix Hubble?
2. SNAFLU: YOU READ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL FOR MEDICAL ADVICE?
The Bush Administration announced Wednesday it intends to buy 1.2 million doses of flu vaccine from Germany. If you can't wait, the WSJ gave its list of options last week. FluMist was their top pick, but you gotta be under 50 to get it. I don't remember ever being under 50. After hand washing, WSJ lists Oscillococcinum. WSJ checked with a "research methodologist" at Sloan-Kettering. He said it probably doesn't prevent flu but may cut its duration by 6 hours. Six hours! They can tell that? WN bought a 6-dose carton, a three-day supply. Of what? Boiron, the maker, says it's from duck livers, but the homeopathic dilution is listed as 200C. That's gotta be a record. It's also impossible. Maybe they could help Balco with a homeopathic performance enhancer.
3. COLDER-THAN-EVER FUSION: THIS BOOK WON'T END THE CONTROVERSY.
Several cold-fusion proponents took the trouble this week to send WN the announcement of a new book, The Rebirth of Cold Fusion: Real Science, Real Hope, Real Energy by Steven Krivit and Nadine Winocur. It was clearly timed to coincide with release of the DOE report. The book drew praise from Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Josephson, and Martin Fleischmann, among others. It's not in the bookstores here yet, but Amazon lists it. The authors are editors of New Energy Times, which calls itself "Your best source for cold fusion news and information." Krivit has a bachelor's degree in business management, Winocur maintains a private psychotherapy practice. They've got the right qualifications.