Friday, September 30, 2005
This week, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told USA Today that
both the space shuttle and the International Space Station were
mistakes. His candor is admirable, but after all, these were not
Bush initiatives, and Griffin's opinion of them was known before
he was tapped for the top job. What is disturbing is that
Griffin pledged to complete the ISS before the shuttle is retired
in 2010. There are no plans to send a shuttle to service the
world's greatest telescope, but the schedule calls for 18 shuttle
flights to finish the ISS, plus 10 ISS supply missions that's
an average of 5.6 shuttle flights per year. Anyone who would bet
on getting 28 flights out of these rickety-old jalopies has been
living on some other planet. Even with a crew of just five,
that's 140 rolls of the dice. That's a big gamble to support a
space station that is now acknowledged to be of little value.
Yesterday, a group of the nation's leading scientists, clergy and
legal scholars announced the formation of the Campaign to Defend
the Constitution, an online grassroots movement to combat the
threat posed by the religious right to American democracy, public
education and scientific leadership http://www.defconamerica.org.
The Campaign's first "DefCon Alert" is a map showing the nation's
top ten "islands of ignorance," where science education is under
attack - including, of course, the Dover school district.
The first week of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District got
underway on Monday. Eight families are suing the school board
over a requirement that a statement on Intelligent Design be read
to students before classes on evolution. The first witness for
the plaintiffs was Ken Miller, a Brown U. biologist who wrote
Finding Darwin's God, which demolishes intelligent design. An
attorney for the School Board, probing for softness in support of
Darwin, asked, "Would you agree that Darwin's theory is not the
absolute truth?" "We don't regard any scientific theory as the
absolute truth," Miller replied. That just about said it all.
4. fiction n. Imaginative creation that does not represent truth.
For weeks the news was dominated by Katrina and Rita, which drew
their energy from the record warm waters of the Gulf. The news
this week included satellite images of an open ocean. What made
it news was that it was the Arctic Ocean, where the ice cap is
rapidly shrinking. What do you do if you're Chair of the Senate
Environment and Public Works Committee and you've assured people
over and over that global warming is "the greatest hoax ever
perpetrated on the American people"? If you're Sen. James Inhofe
(R-OK), you hold a full committee hearing and invite a science
fiction writer to testify. Michael Crichton, author of "State of
Fear," an environmental thriller in which environmentalists cook
up evidence to keep federal bucks coming, was Inholfe's expert.