Friday, January 28, 2005
1. VISION: WHERE DOES THE ADMINISTRATION GET ITS SCIENCE ADVICE?
On Feb 7, when the President's FY06 Budget Request is released, Sean O'Keefe will announce that no money is allotted for repair of the Hubble Space Telescope. However, money will be provided to drop the greatest telescope ever built into the ocean. Fixing Hubble with astronauts is too dangerous, O'Keefe said. Repairing Hubble with robots is too uncertain, an NRC panel said. It's too expensive anyway, the White House said. On the same day, the White House estimated the budget deficit at $427B. Besides, it wasn't too dangerous for the ISS crew to spend five hours outside yesterday repairing a Russian robot arm. So what's the arm for? It's so astronauts can make repairs without going outside. Hmmm. But why would anyone bother to repair the ISS? It doesn't do anything. Drop the ISS in the ocean, and save Hubble.
2. JIMO: U.S. PLANETARY SCIENTISTS DO IT THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY.
It sounded exciting in 2003 when NASA announced that the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter mission would be the first nuclear-propelled mission under Project Prometheus. But now it looks like a plan to put them off while NASA focuses on Moon/Mars. Kinky is nice, but if conventional will get to Europa, they'll take it. Europa may be the last hope of finding other life in the solar system.
3. OPINIONS: THIS IS A FREE COUNTRY--OPINIONS ARE ANOTHER MATTER.
The Education Department paid commentator Armstrong Williams $240,000 to plug the No Child Left Behind Act. Health and Human Services paid columnist Maggie Gallagher $21,500 to promote the marriage initiative. This is hardly big bucks compared to a guy with a good jump shot, but fans still need to know who's paying. WN gets tons of mail from readers pointing out stories we missed. We use a lot of them - but no one ever enclosed a check.
4. CREATIONISM: SHOULD WARNING MESSAGES BE REQUIRED ON BOOKS?
Manufactures are required to include warnings on labels. Why not text book publishers? Besides, the stickers Cobb County wanted on biology texts weren't exactly wrong - evolution really is "just a theory." (WN 14 Jan 05) Science is open. If someone comes up with a better theory, the textbooks will be rewritten. Although requiring warning labels on medicine bottles is vital, on books they become official doctrine. Several readers suggested stickers for bibles in Cobb County:
"This book contains religious stories regarding the origin of living things. The stories are theories, not facts. They are unproven, unprovable and in some cases totally impossible. This material should be approached with an open mind, and a critical eye towards logic and believability."