Friday, 05 February 1988
NSF SUPPORT FOR HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS SHOULD BE RECONSIDERED
according to Erich Bloch. Speaking on the final day of last
week's joint meeting of the American Physical Society and the
American Association of Physics Teachers, the Director of the NSF
pulled the pin on a grenade. Asserting that "priority setting is
part of our responsibility," he argued that "perhaps it is time
that we consider concentrating resources in those areas of
physics where alternative sources of funding do not exist." He
noted that the $42M NSF spent on high energy physics in FY 87 is
over a third of the Physics Division's budget, but less than a
tenth of the total federal support for high energy physics. That
is a somewhat misleading comparison. NSF provides about a third
of the support going to universities for high energy research.
The concern is that university programs tend to get lost at the
DOE. Nor is it just high energy physicists who have taken alarm
at Bloch's remarks. Others fear that the NSF is moving too far
in the support of technology at the expense of basic science.
. THE HUGE NUMBER OF PROPOSALS TO NSF FOR S&T CENTERS
by Bloch as evidence of how badly the Centers are needed. Bloch
set the actual number of proposals received so far at 300-400,
with an additional 350 requests for planning grants, which he
sees as an "encouraging" display of interest. It is, of course,
also true that sales of lottery tickets go up during hard times.
3. 1988 SCIENTIFIC FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY AWARDS
presented by the American Association for the Advancement of
Science on 14 Feb 88 to an engineer and a physicist: ROGER M. BOISJOLY
was a senior engineer at Morton-Thiokol who
repeatedly expressed urgent concern to his superiors about the
booster seal on the Shuttle, and who adamantly opposed the fatal
launch of Challenger due to the projected weather conditions.
RICHARD L. GARWIN, an IBM Fellow at the Thomas J. Watson
Research Center, has taken courageous stands on issues involving
the application of science and technology throughout his
distinguished career. He has been relentless in exposing
technical flaws in the Strategic Defense Initiative. In previous
administrations he shredded the official hype surrounding the
Supersonic Transport and the Anti-Ballistic Missile system.
4.A NEW TASK FORCE OF HOUSE DEMOCRATS WILL EXAMINE STAR WARS
over the next three months and recommend action to the Democratic
Caucus, the formal organization of Democratic members of the
House. Rep. Charles E. Bennett (D-FL), chairman of the Task
Force, said "It would be premature to predict what the report
might say. However I would hope that it will support a balanced
SDI effort which does everything necessary to maintain a strong
defense, but avoids any kind of wasteful crash program."