Friday, 25 November 1988
THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE STUDY OF THE SSC IS DISPUTED
by the DOE. In a letter to the Director of the CBO, Robert
Hunter, the recently confirmed Director of the Office of Energy
Research, concentrates his fire on the cost issues raised in the
CBO report (WN 18 Nov 88), but promises a more complete analysis
later this month. Hunter is particularly incensed by the use of
an "average" figure for cost overruns of recent DOE accelerators,
which amounts to an attempt by the CBO to base a statistical
analysis on a sample of four. While acknowledging large overruns
on Tevatron I and Energy Saver, Hunter attributes this to new
technology development and points out that "...the SSC does not
require major component development, and consequently can be
costed with confidence." Moreover, he complains, the report
"...frames for the Congress a choice among false alternatives."
Hunter is not alone in his criticism of the CBO study. Several
members of the high-energy community have complained that the CBO
study is riddled with errors and unsubstantiated statements.
. THE STEALTH BOMBER WILL COST 15 TIMES AS MUCH AS THE SSC--and,
according to two recent reports, will add little to our military
capability. Before the press was even allowed to view the B-2
from a respectful distance, the Federation of American Scientists
released "The Case Against the Stealth Bomber" by John Pike and
David Bourns. The Union of Concerned Scientists joined the fray
the following day with "The Stealth Bomber and Targeting Mobile
Nuclear Forces" by Michael Brower. Both reports question the
ability of the B-2 to carry out its primary mission of tracking
down and destroying mobile missiles in a prolonged nuclear war.
How stealthy is it? Well, the cost of the B-2 program escalated
to a mind-numbing $70B without any public debate. That, by the
way, is also the projected cost of Phase I of SDI
(WN 7 Oct 88).
Judged against these programs, the nation's investment in basic
research, including the SSC, is hardly an extravagance.
3. A NATIONWIDE SURVEY OF HIGH SCHOOL PHYSICS TEACHERS
conducted by the American Institute of Physics. The results are
at least as disturbing as the reports on the stealth bomber. Our
field is not popular. Although 96% of high school students attend
schools that offer physics, only about 20% actually take any
physics. That's understandable. About a third of the teachers
of physics are "draftees" who were trained in other fields.
4. MOON-STRUCK SCIENTISTS ARE GATHERED IN LOS ANGELES
17th International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, a
meeting founded and funded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Among the
international participants are two prominent American physicists
with long-standing involvement in Rev. Moon's Conference. Alvin
Weinberg, former director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is
listed as the Conference Chairman. Frederick Seitz, who was once
the APS president, is one of the two featured plenary speakers.