Friday, July 6, 2007
In a feature article in the June issue of Physics Today, John Rigden tells
the story of President Eisenhower convening a meeting of scientists in the
wake of Sputnik that opened a new chapter in the relationship between
science and government. That was 50-years ago. In those 50 years, led by
the U.S., homo sapiens learned more about the laws of nature than in the
previous 50,000 years. But the U.S. is now falling behind.
A front-page story by Peter Brown in the Washington Post on Monday says
the meetings are never listed on the president's public schedule, and
remain unknown to many on his staff, but Bush is summoning "leading
authors, historians, philosophers and theologians to the White House." He
is searching for answers to the collapse of his presidency but scientists
were not consulted. Perhaps it was an oversight by the writer, but it may
explain the number of terminally stupid Bush programs that could have been
averted by checking with freshman science students. They could have told
him: 1) Not even Dick Cheney can break The First Law of Thermodynamics -
hydrogen is not an energy source and for that matter neither is corn
ethanol. 2) Ballistic missiles are easier to make than they are to stop.
3) Because the sexual urge, even of presidents, is shaped by evolution to
insure procreation - girls under 18 need access to Plan B. 4) Embryonic
stem cells are not one-celled people - the "soul" is an ancient
superstition with no legal standing.
A survey of patients at major infertility centers, reported in today's
Science, did just that. In contrast to the prevailing view, they found
that only 22% would even consider donating excess frozen embryos to other
couples. Most patient couples prefer that their excess embryos be used
for research, and if not needed for that, simply destroyed.
Yesterday, a Dublin company, Steorn, was to demonstrate its "Orbo"
technology at the Kinetica Museum in London. Orbo was claimed to produce
unlimited free energy - it didn't. A year ago Steorn was recruiting
scientists (WN 25 Aug 06) to evaluate
Orbo, but you can't pick the reviewers and then call it peer review.
Today Steorn blamed the air conditioning in Kinetica, and said the
demonstration will be delayed a "few weeks." Sure it will.