Friday, October 15, 2010


Hal Lewis, a Fellow of the APS, has resigned his APS membership of 67 years. News stories described his resignation as a protest of the official APS position on global-warming; but that's not quite what his resignation letter says. He begins by recounting how things were before the serpent persuaded physicists to taste the fruit of the money tree. An oversight committee of "towering physicists beyond reproach" assured the independence of the study panel. The second paragraph is Hals actual resignation: "How different it is now," he writes. "The giants no longer walk the earth. The money flood has become the raison detre of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame and I am forced with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society." Hal couldnt resist pissing on the APS Global Warming Statement, which he thinks is a scam. The APS statement uses the word "incontrovertible" to describe the evidence for or against global warming. Incontrovertible should be unacceptable to physicists. What sets physics apart from other ways of knowing is openness to revision if better information becomes available. Openness to new knowledge is the most important concept science can offer the world.


Several readers of this column urged me to read "Disconnect: the truth about cell phone radiation, what the industry has done to hide it, and how to protect your family by Devra Davis. The authors name was not familiar to me, but I picked up a copy on my way to the campus health center for my annual flu shot. I opened it in the waiting room. At the top of page 1 was a quote from the Talmud that appealed to me: "Who can protest and does not, is an accomplice in the act." I hereby protest this book. By the time my name was called. I had reached page 21. The author was explaining that the background level of microwave radiation to which we are all exposed is billions of times greater than the natural background level. Should we be worried? She doesn't say. But I recalled another book that started with the same statistics. Paul Brodeur, The Zapping of America: Microwaves, their deadly risk, and the cover-up (Norton, 1977). Devra Davis has given us a rewrite of a 33-year-old book. It was wrong then too. I explained why in my 2001 editorial in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Robert L Park, JNCI, Volume 93, Issue 3, Pp. 166-167.


An article by Eric Bellman in the Wall Street Journal last week may mark the birth of a new era of cooperation between modern medical science and the ancient wisdom of the East. Expectant mothers in India consult their astrologer to find the most auspicious day and time to enter the world, and schedule a C-section with their obstetrician for delivery at that moment. This is a breakthrough but why stop there? Why not learn the most auspicious time for conception? Perhaps there should be a staff astrologer

Bob Park can be reached via email at
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.