Friday, March 25, 2005
1. FREEDOM ELEMENT: DO YOU KNOW HOW EASY IT IS TO SELL BALONEY?
In his 2003 State-of-the-Union address, President Bush called for building a Freedom Car, "powered by hydrogen and pollution free" (WN 31 Jan 03). Baloney, but people didn't ask where the hydrogen will come from. They asked if it's safe. Hey, it's fuel -- fuel burns. However, Dr. Addison Bain insists that in the 1937 Hindenburg disaster, it was the paint that burned, and compared it to rocket fuel. More baloney, but guess who bought it (APS News July 2000)? However, A.J. Dessler, D.E. Overs and W.H. Appleby found the burn rate of an actual piece of Hindenburg fabric to be thousands of times too slow. The fire consumed the Hindenburg in 34 seconds. If the 800 foot-long craft was painted with solid rocket fuel, it would have taken 12 hours to burn end to end. Dessler is a PhD physicist (Duke), 26 years as Professor of Space Physics and Astronomy at Rice (15 years as Dept Chair), directed the NASA Marshall Space Sciences Lab (4 years), and is Sr. Scientist at Univ of Arizona, Lunar and Planetary Lab. What about Dr. Bain?
2. DIPLOMA MILLS: MAYBE THEY CAN GET TOGETHER FOR CLASS REUNIONS.
In his memoir, The Freedom Element: Living with Hydrogen, Doctor Bain says he is a former manager of hydrogen programs at Kennedy Space Center, but what is he a "doctor" of? He writes of being "teary-eyed" at finally becoming a PhD, but nowhere mentions his alma mater. Even the bio on the jacket of his book gave no clue. A Google search turned up nothing after Flathead High School in Montana. Someone suggested we try California Coast University, a "distance-learning" university in Santa Ana. That's where Lynn Ianni, the therapist for "The Swan" on Fox Television, became Doctor Ianni in 1998. Although CCU has no campus, that's not a problem; it has no courses. There, in the same graduating class with Dr. Ianni, getting a Management PhD, was Dr. Addison Bain. Now look at me, would you? Here I am getting all teary-eyed too.
3. SCIENCE BY INTIMIDATION: DOES BEING RIGHT COUNT FOR NOTHING?
The 2003 IMAX film "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea," sponsored by NSF and Rutgers, would seem to be just the sort of documentary that science centers thrive on. Not exactly. It was turned down by a dozen Science Centers, mostly in the South, because of a few brief references to evolution. There goes the profit margin. The result is that IMAX films just aren't made if the science might offend the religious right. It's worse in schools. Even if there is no prohibition on teaching evolution, teachers leave it out rather than listen to all the complaints. In the 1925 Scopes trial, Clarence Darrow said, "John Scopes isn't on trial, civilization is on trial." It still is. And it's losing.