Friday, March 31, 2006
The long-awaited study of intercessory prayer for coronary bypass
patients was released yesterday (see last week's WN). A small
increase in complications, attributed to "performance anxiety,"
was found in a subset of patients who were told that strangers
were praying for them. Otherwise, there was nothing. Scientists
are relieved of course; science is tough enough without having to
worry that somebody on their knees in East Cupcake, Iowa can
override natural law. The study of 1800 patients took almost ten
years and cost $2.4M, mostly from the Templeton Foundation. Of
course, there are calls for further study. Where do we start?
What are the units of prayer? Do prayers of Pat Robertson count
more than those of death-row inmates? What is the optimum
posture of the supplicant? Where can we learn these things?
On 23 March 2006, D2Fusion, Inc., a subsidiary of Solar Energy,
Ltd., issued a press release to announce that cold-fusion pioneer
Martin Fleischmann had agreed to serve as "senior scientific
advisor" to produce a cold-fusion heater. Seventeen years ago,
on 23 March 1989, the University of Utah held a press conference
to announce the discovery of "cold fusion" by Martin Fleischmann
and Stanley Pons. Fleischmann modestly told the press that cold
fusion was so far capable only of 'heating water for a cup of
tea." D2Fusion believes "he still holds the secret."
Two months ago in his State of the Union address, President Bush
lamented America's "addiction to oil." But on Wednesday, the
White House announced that the Corporate Average Fuel Economy
(CAFE) standard for SUVs would only be raised 1.5 mpg from the
current 22.5 mpg to 24 mpg by 2011. Three years ago when the
CAFE standard was raised by the same amount WN called for
shortening the length of the mile instead. But things are worse
now. WN now suggests we leave the mile alone and tighten up the
country a little. Shorten all the nation's roads by 127 feet per
mile, which achieves the same savings and cut down on asphalt.
The New York Times last Sunday reported that major investors,
including Bill Gates and Vinod Khosla, are getting serious about
ethanol. Investors have always had ethanol problems when the
economy is doing badly, but this is ethanol as fuel, and the plan
is to make it from agricultural cellulose waste products, not
corn. It would be lot greener than hydrogen and might even work.
Confirmation by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that the extinct
ivory-billed woodpecker has been rediscovered in Arkansas is
being challenged by amateur birders. Stay tuned.