WHAT'S NEW, Friday, 3 February 1989 Washington, DC
IT'S A LITTLE LATE TO BE CALLING FOR THE EARLY APPOINTMENT
a science and technology advisor. The Carnegie Commission on
Science, Technology and Government just issued its first report,
"Science & Technology and the President." The recommendations do
not differ in any very significant way from a dozen other more
timely statements from scientific organizations calling for early
appointment of an upgraded science advisor. Hopes that Bush
might elevate the position to something like cabinet status have
faded with the passage of time. They sank even lower last week
when it became known that William Graham was asked not to be in a
hurry to pack his bags. At least one well-known corporate VP has
reportedly already turned down the job--but, in a touching
display of professional responsibility, offered to reconsider if
Congress passed a pay raise for top officials. Twelve in a row
refused the offer from Reagan before we got George Keyworth.
. FAINT STIRRINGS IN THE SCIENCE ADVISOR SEARCH were detected
this week. John Sununu is interviewing Ruth Reck for the job.
Reck, a research scientist at General Motors working on
atmospheric modeling, holds a PhD in physical chemistry from the
University of Minnesota and is a member of APS. She is widely
respected in the environmental and atmospheric science community,
where she serves on numerous boards and commissions. Colleagues
say she would be an effective spokesperson for science education
and basic research. Alas, it is already too late to influence
the budget that Bush will present to Congress next Wednesday.
3. PENTAGON OFFICIALS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT AN ANTIMATTER SHORTAGE.
Cosmologists have been worrying about the same thing for years,
of course, but the military types seem determined to do something
about it. According to Aviation Week, "Modification of the new
Texas-based supercollider to produce antiprotons as a by-product
is being studied." This came as news to University Research
Associates, which was just awarded the contract to manage the
gargantuan accelerator. Apparently, however, a few thoroughly
dishonest scientists have deliberately encouraged the Pentagon's
fantasies of antimatter weapons in an effort to pry support for
basic research out of DOD. The SSC injector could be used to
make antiprotons, but it would be hard to build up an inventory.
4. NASA HAS BEEN SHORTCHANGING SPACE SCIENCE ACCORDING TO BILL
NELSON (D-FL), chair of the House Subcommittee on Science, Space
and Technology. At Thursday's hearing on the FY 90 budget
request, NASA Administrator James Fletcher was questioned about
the impact of Space Station Freedom on other programs. NASA made
a commitment to Congress to apply 20% of the budget to space
science. Nelson produced graphs showing it was only 18%; Fletcher
thought that was close. Nelson also complained that NASA, which
is often criticized for lack of long-range planning, had not
complied with the law requiring them to submit a two-year budget.