Friday, February 9, 2007
Congress, however, is still trying to put together a 2007 budget.
The 2008 request isn't great news for every field of research,
but in physics, NSF, NIST and the DOE Office of Science did well.
In the absence of a 2007 budget, agencies are still spending at
2006 levels. However, a resolution adopted by the House does
call for 2007 increases at NSF, NIST, and the DOE Office of
Science. The Senate will presumably take up the House resolution
soon. In any case, a 2008 budget won't pass Congress before
October. Meanwhile, the Iraq War and the climate are both
heating up, and the Democrats committed themselves to balancing
the budget. This is not very promising for science funding.
The "space-exploration" component of the request, got one of the
largest increases. "Exploration" has come to mean "exploration
by astronauts," so we decided to let you know how "exploration"
is going. The only space being explored right now is the orbit
of the ISS, about 400 km above Earth. It was a big week on the
ISS: The cooling system was overhauled. In the process, two
records in space walking were set. NASA announced that station
commander Michael Lopez-Alegria now holds the U.S. record, 61 hrs
and 22 min, while astronaut Sunita Williams set the women's
record at 22 hrs and 27 min. Way to go guys! The Mars Rovers,
Spirit and Opportunity, of course, set records every day, but
they don't count because they aren't people. On the positive
side, robots never require psychological counseling.
"Pastor Ted" resigned as president of the National Association of
Evangelicals after he admitted buying meth from his male
prostitute (WN 3 Nov 06) .
He has since undergone three weeks of intensive counseling
overseen by four evangelical ministers, and emerged "completely
heterosexual." NASA might want to talk to his therapist.
Several readers last week took WN to task over the population
question. Should we force abortions, they ask, or jail parents,
or take even more stringent measures? That doesn't seem to be
necessary. Among affluent and educated nations, native-born
populations are stable or shrinking now. Their growth is almost
entirely by immigration. All that's needed is to remove our
legal obstacles to birth control, and raise the standard of
living and educational level of impoverished nations. That would
probably be enough. If not, reduce tax deductions and other
fecundity incentives. A few will still behave irresponsibly, but
society can tolerate them in the name of freedom as we do with
those who are environmentally insensitive.