Friday, May 6, 2005
1. SCOPES II: EVOLUTION ISN'T ON TRIAL, CIVILIZATION IS ON TRIAL.
State Board of Education Hearings on teaching evolution in Kansas schools began yesterday in Topeka. A string of PhD witnesses proved that a PhD is not an inoculation against foolishness. One of the first was Jonathan Wells, a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute. A graduate of Unification Theological Seminary, Wells was "chosen" by Sun Myung Moon to enter a PhD program. He was inspired to, "devote my life to destroying Darwinism." Wells went on to earn a PhD in Theology from Yale and a PhD in Biology from UC Berkeley. Another witness against evolution is Mustafa Akyol, the spokesman for a fundamentalist Muslim organization in Istanbul that intimidates teachers into giving the Genesis account of creation. Jack Krebs, vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science, one of the science organizations boycotting the hearings, complained that, "they are trying to make science stand for atheism." Of course that's what they're trying to do, but it's also true that many scientists are atheists. After all, we assume that events have natural causes. As we learn more about causes, God's domain keeps shrinking, or at least moving, like God's Little Acre in the Erskine Calwell novel. I leave the extrapolation to the reader .
2. NATIONAL PRAYER DAY: PRESIDENT BUSH INVOKES INTELLIGENT DESIGN.
Yesterday was also the 54th annual National Day of Prayer. In an East Room ceremony, President Bush said, "Freedom is our birthright because the Creator wrote it into our common human nature." Sigh. He went on to say "we celebrate the freedom to pray as you wish, or not at all." Oh good. On Capitol Hill, Tom DeLay (R-TX), speaking from his soapbox in the Cannon House Office Building, called for spending, "less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees."
3. TABLE TOP FUSION: TOTAL MEDIA CONFUSION OVER UCLA FUSION DEVICE.
Last week, WN pointed out that media stories about a UCLA neutron generator were, uh, uninformed (WN 29 Apr 05). High-energy deuterium ions strike a deuterium-loaded target. Now and then you get d-d fusion, as Rutherford did in 1934. The new wrinkle is a pyroelectric crystal to generate the accelerating voltage. The Economist on April 30 totally mangled the story, referring to it as cold fusion in an editorial (it's VERY hot fusion). The story speaks of "energy from crystals" (groan), and winds up with Dr. McCoy on Star Trek.
4. THE HEINZ AWARDS: TWO FORMER APS PRESIDENTS ARE RECIPIENTS.
Presented by the Heinz Family Foundation since 1994, the $250,000 prizes recognize individual achievement across a spectrum of activity. Of the six recipients of this year's award, two served as president of the APS. Sidney Drell of Stanford was APS president in 1986. A theorist and arms control advisor, he received the award for contributions in the "Public Policy" category. Mildred Dresselhaus of MIT was APS president in 1984, formerly at MIT, scientist, researcher, educator and trailblazer for women in the sciences was the recipient in the category of "Technology, the Economy and Employment." It was a joy to have worked for them both.