Friday, August 18, 2006
Three members of the Science Committee of the NASA Advisory
Council, including its chair, are out the door today for giving
advice. Wes Huntress of the Carnegie Institution of Washington,
was previously NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science.
In March he testified before the House Science Committee that the
President's "Vision for Space Exploration" has forced NASA "to
cannibalize the agency's science program." Gene Levy, professor
of physics and Provost at Rice, said "a strong commitment to
science is not the kind of advice" NASA was looking for. The
chair of the Committee, Charlie Kennel, Director of the Scripps
Institute, apparently resigned to protest the action. Jack
Schmitt, chair of the Council, said he will serve as acting chair
until a replacement for Kennel can be found. Like who would want
the job? NASA has been in total free-fall since President Bush
announced his "Vision for Space Exploration" two years ago.
Feeling a little disoriented today? Small wonder: Mercury in Leo
forms a frictional square with Jupiter in Scorpio. That's really
big, but we're not certain what it means anymore. A committee of
the International Astronomical Union proposed a new definition of
"planet" which will be voted on next week in Prague. A planet
would be defined as a body in orbit around a star and big enough
for gravity to make it round. Well, almost round. You may think
it doesn't matter to you if Ceres is round or cubic, but if it's
cubic, it won't be a planet and therefore won't affect whether
you're gonna meet a mysterious stranger today that will change
your life. Ceres is a problem even for Vedic astrologers, who
don't consider planets beyond Saturn.
Science magazine reports today that key staffers are hard at work
on the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), important
legislation that could influence science spending for years. Can
a bill pass before November elections? Not likely. Staffers are
working, but as usual, members of Congress skip town in August.
They'll have plenty on their plate when they get back. The plan
is to recess on Oct 6 to campaign. The party in control happens
to be the party that's in trouble; they'll give themselves plenty
of time to campaign. To make matters worse they want to run on
cutting spending, and Iraq refuses to wind down.
The weekend seminar in early September will examine the impact of
of Darwin's theory on Catholic teaching of creation. The Popes
"student circle" includes Austrian Cardinal Schoenborn whose
support of intelligent design created controversy a year ago
(WN 15 Jul 05) .