Friday, November 18, 2005
The $16.5B NASA spending bill Congress sent to the President, with
an extra $50M for Hubble repairs, is actually a little more than
the President asked for. Michael Griffin has the final say on a
Hubble repair mission, but he won't decide until after the shuttle
flight set for May. Meanwhile, preparing for an unlikely Moon-Mars
mission is costly. NASA says it will save $344M by halting life-
sciences research on the ISS. That was about the only scientific
research left. So what's this turkey for? A NASA spokesman told
the Orlando Sentinel that lengthy visits to the station are the key
to preparing astronauts for a return to the Moon. It seems more
likely that research on the ISS was of little value anyway. This
is one more sign that human spaceflight is headed for extinction.
Last week WN commented on the spectacle of televangelist Robertson
calling down the wrath of God on a bucolic village in Pennsylvania.
Kitzmiller v. Dover School District, which wound up testimony two
weeks ago, turns on the issue of whether Intelligent Design is a
scientific theory, as its proponents insist, or religion in drag.
Several WN readers noted that this influential Christian evangelist
has demonstrated that ID is religion. If Kitzmiller is appealed,
as seems likely, WN urges that Robertson be called to testify.
A front page story in Monday's Wall Street Journal describes the
spread of college courses questioning evolution. The driving force
is the Templeton Foundation, which provides start-up funding for
guest speakers, library materials, research and conferences.
Between 1994 and 2002 Templeton funded nearly 800 courses. Over a
3-year period Guillermo Gonzalez at Iowa State collected $58,000
(WN 3 Jun 05). ID should be
taught in college, but it should not be confused with science.
Earlier today, the Rev. George Coyne, the director of the Vatican
Observatory said that "intelligent design" is not science and does
not belong in science classrooms. This seemed to put the chief
astronomer firmly on the side of Cardinal Poupard, head of the
Pontifical Council for Culture and orthogonal to Austrian Cardinal
Schoenborn (WN 8 Jul 05), and
perhaps to Pope Benedict XVI, as we saw last week.
A one year study, backed by NIH, found that the weight-loss drug
Merida is more than twice as effective if accompanied by a program
of diet and exercise. Why am I not surprised? This is, after all
the Physics Plan, first proposed in WN six years ago: "Burn more
calories than you consume and we guarantee you will lose weight,"
(WN 25 Feb 00). It is the only
weight-loss plan endorsed by the First Law of Thermodynamics.