Friday, September 15, 2006
Who would have thought that relations between the U.S. and the
UN's International Atomic Energy Agency could get worse? The
IAEA complains that a House Intelligence Committee staff report,
"contains erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated information"
about Iran's nuclear program. Sound familiar? A caption in the
House report says Tehran is "enriching uranium to weapons grade,"
but the facility shown only enriches to 3.6%, enough for power
production, but far from the level needed for weapons. Before
the U.S. invaded Iraq, the IAEA had insisted, despite American
objections, that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, and
later showed that some White House claims were based on forged
documents. After the fall of the Saddam government, the U.S
blocked IAEA inspections of damage to Iraq's nuclear facilities.
But in a stunning vindication of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei,
director general of IAEA, was awarded the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize
(WN 7 Oct 05) .
The world's most expensive scientific laboratory installed
additional solar panels yesterday, capable of producing 100
kilowatts or so of additional power for experiments. The panels
cost $372 million to build, and about three times that much to
send up to the ISS. Stand by for important new results. The only
unique feature of a space environment is micro-gravity. One of
the things you could study in micro-gravity is cavitation in
spherical drops of water. A paper just published in Phys. Rev.
Lett. reports important new insights from such studies except
the experiments weren't done in space. They were done on a
European Space Agency aircraft flying in parabolic arcs.
The President told a group of conservative journalists this week
that the "confrontation between good and evil" in the struggle
with international terrorism has led to a revival of religious
devotion. He believes it to be the Third Great Awaking. That may
be, we secular types could fail to notice a revival or two, but
according to Wikipedia we've already had four Great Awakenings. A
survey released yesterday by Baylor University, however, does find
Americans to be more active in religion than supposed. Baylor is
a strict Baptist college in Waco, Texas. It was a frequent target
of the late 19th century journalist William Cowper Brann, who
published The Iconoclast. Brann's style was much like that of
H.L. Mencken a generation later, and the Iconoclast had world-wide
circulation. He printed frequent exposes of prominent Waco and
Baylor citizens, and was shot to death on a Waco street.