Friday, 29 July 1988

a report by the Office of Technology Assessment, warns against counting on "spinoffs" from defense programs to counter the aggressive Japanese effort. Half of the $95M budgeted for HTS R&D in FY 88 will be spent by the Department of Defense. According to the OTA report, most of the DOD share will go for specialized applications, such as SDI, with limited potential for commercial use. Another $27M will go to the DOE, mostly to the national laboratories which have "yet to demonstrate the ability to transfer technologies rapidly and effectively to the private sector." The report concludes that "R&D funded by the DOD and DOE will help support commercialization, but a dollar spent by one of these agencies will probably buy substantially less in terms of the Nation's technology base than a dollar spent by NSF." The NSF share of the HTS budget is only $14.5M.

is the most recent competitiveness legislation being drafted. It includes a National Superconductivity Program. Although the draft has not been made public, the author, Rep. Marilyn Lloyd (D-TN), Chairwoman of the Energy Research and Development Subcommittee, held hearings on Wednesday. The stickiest issue, as with every bill seeking to utilize national laboratories more effectively, is intellectual property rights. This latest attempt to solve the problem would permit basic research results to be broadly disseminated, but provides no definition of basic.

last week about the GAO report on the accuracy of statements concerning the X-ray laser? Perhaps. Livermore officials protested the use in WHAT'S NEW of the terms "wildly exaggerated," to characterize statements of Teller and Wood, and "slightly less outrageous," to characterize official laboratory statements. If anyone was misled, let me assure you that the rather low-key GAO report did not use such colorful adjectives. They represent my reaction to the evidence presented by the GAO. After rereading the report, I think I got it just about right. Wild? Consider the following reference to Super-Excalibur from Teller's letter to Ambassador Nitze, Chief US Arms Negotiator: "For example, a single X-ray laser module the size of an executive desk which applied this concept could potentially shoot down the entire Soviet land-based missile force, if it were to be launched into the module's field of view." The report notes that the letter was written before any tests of the Super-Excalibur concept had been conducted! It was also reported by WHAT'S NEW that recent legislation "requires" the University of California to appoint oversight officials to hold down the hype. A Livermore spokesman says the measure contains no binding language and merely "requests" the University to increase its oversight of the laboratory. It will.

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.