Friday, October 14, 2005
After nominating Harriet Miers for a seat on the Supreme Court,
President Bush sought to reassure religious conservatives by
stressing Miers' evangelical Christian roots. Bush said it's
part of who she is. He's right, but traditionally the personal
religious views of nominees are not taken up in the confirmation
process. If the First Amendment is upheld, it shouldn't matter.
So forget religion. Far more important in the Twenty-First
Century is the nominee's views on science. There are, after all,
few cases that come before the courts today that do not have a
scientific component. Scientists must construct a list of basic
questions that would give some insight into the nominee's views
on science. For example: do all physical events result from
earlier physical events, or can they be caused by clasping your
hands, bowing your head, and wishing? Send your suggestions to
What's New. WN will print the best of them.
Senator Sam Brownback has been more public than other Republican
senators in raising questions about the nomination of Harriet
Miers. A prayer-group-Republican from Kansas who wants to be
President, Brownback has an open mind on the question of religion
in politics: it can be either a Protestant conservative, or
conservative Catholic. Brownback, now Catholic, has been both.
Gregory Olsen, the third tourist to buy a $20M ticket to the ISS
(WN 26 Apr 02), has returned
from his week at the world's most exclusive spa. He gushed to an
Associated Press reporter: "It was kind of like this wondrous
thing." Unlike Dennis Tito, who had stomach problems during his
week at the ISS, Olsen played the fantasy-adventure game all the
way, even taking along his own science experiments. WN is
confident that Olsen's scientific studies, whatever they are,
will be as important as those conducted by NASA on the ISS.
Wednesday, in a demonstration of growing confidence in its human
space-flight program, China launched two taikonauts on a five-day
mission to low-Earth orbit, and did it in full view of the world.
While Shenzhou VI poses no military threat, it is a demonstration
of economic strength; China can now afford to squander vast sums
on pointless programs. Happily, this serves world peace by
diverting China's resources from more dangerous adventures.
Like that other prize with a similar name, you gotta be patient.
This year, the Ig went to John Maidstone from Australia for an
experiment to measure the flow of black tar through a funnel.
Begun in 1927, one glob drips every nine years. He shared the Ig
with a colleague who died between the second and third drops.