Friday, April 8, 2005
1. PROLIFERATION: JUST WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS, MORE RELIABLE NUKES.
Three years ago, Pentagon planners hatched the infamous Nuclear Posture Review, a secret plan to publicly oppose nuclear proliferation, while developing a new class of small nuclear weapons meant to blur the line between nuclear and conventional (WN 15 Mar 02). However, free people don't do secrecy well, and the plan was leaked, killing it. No matter, Linton Brooks, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the designated Dr. Strangelove, keeps trying new plans looking for ones he can sell to David Hobson (R-OH), the powerful chair of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, that rarest of fiscal conservatives who will block a dumb weapons program. A year ago it was a new pit facility that can make pits for a new nuclear bunker-buster. Brooks is now pushing for a warhead so reliable that it could be deployed without testing. This is the old Reliable Replacement Warhead plan proposed 30 years ago. It's hard to oppose reliability but the first atomic bomb used in anger was an untested design.
2. MARS: SPIRIT AND OPPORTUNITY JUST KEEP GOING, AND GOING...
NASA is pushing on with plans to stick the next president with a pointless trillion-dollar mission to put humans on Mars or be remembered for ending human space flight. Locked in space suits, astronauts would have only the sense of sight. Meanwhile operations of the twin rovers have been extended another 18 months. They don't need air, water, or space suits. They live on sunlight, never rest, never complain, and have better eyes than humans. When they finally wear out, their switches will be turned off. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to be remembered as the President who led America into an era of truly modern space exploration where no human can ever set foot.
3. 2005 TROTTER PRIZE: AN AWARD FOR OVERLAPPING THE MAGISTERIA.
In February (WN 25 Feb 05), WN commented on a session at this year's AAAS meeting in Washington DC devoted to the proposition that science and religion are "non-overlapping magisteria." But at Texas A&M they see it a little differently: the Trotter Prize is awarded for "illuminating the connection between science and religion." How better to illustrate the overlap than to give the award this year to one of the nation's top pseudoscientists, Dr. William Demski, a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, often regarded as the leading intelligent-design theorist. The Intelligent-Design movement seeks to portray intelligent-design as science. However, by resorting to a supernatural explanation it clearly belongs in some other magisteria.