WHAT'S NEW, Friday, 25 August 1989 Washington, DC
ARE 60 HERTZ FIELDS ADDLING OUR BRAINS AND CAUSING LEUKEMIA?
A recent series in The New Yorker by Paul Brodeur on the hazards
of low frequency electromagnetic fields has produced an epidemic
of electrophobia. His shocking revelations will soon appear in
book form. It all began in 1976 when an unemployed epidemiologist
in Denver concluded that childhood victims of leukemia often
lived near power transformers. In no time at all, women who sleep
under electric blankets began having miscarriages, people living
near power lines began committing suicide and physicists who use
computer terminals became disoriented. Just be grateful that we
use 60 Hertz and not 45 or 75; an EPA researcher discovered that
the effect of alternating magnetic fields on brain tissue is
greatest at frequencies that are odd multiples of 15. As Brodeur
correctly observes, almost all scientists are skeptical of these
effects. He interprets this as evidence of a massive cover up.
. WHY JOHNNY CAN'T READ A TECHNICAL MANUAL.
Concern over the
deplorable state of science literacy in the US has begun to reach
Congress. H.R. 3122, the Science and Technology Literacy Act of
1989, introduced by David Price (D-NC), would earmark NSF funds
for development of better science textbooks, provide NSF matching
grants to create new technology for science literacy training
programs, and encourage community colleges to work with business
to train employees. H.R. 3154, the Science Museum Assistance Act,
introduced by George Brown (D-CA), would provide NSF grants to
museums to develop new science exhibits and educational programs
intended for the general public. Brown also has a bill (H.R.
2270) to provide NSF grants to develop innovative undergraduate
science courses. Congress is far more willing to give NSF new
responsibilities than to fund existing programs adequately.
3. THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION OPPOSES WAIVING THE RETURN REQUIREMENT
for the 40,000 Chinese students in the US on J-1 visas. Under the
current rules they must return to China for two years before they
are eligible to seek permanent-resident status. The "J" status
was established to alleviate the "brain drain" problem, but would
now expose returning Chinese students to persecution at home. The
Administration, however, is concerned that a waiver of the two-year
return requirement will jeopardize our student visa program
with China. Under suspension of the rules on the last day before
the summer recess, the House ignored the Administration and voted
to waive the return requirement. The Senate had already included
a similar waiver in immigration reform legislation
(WN 14 Jul 89). There are 26 separate
legislative proposals dealing with
China still to be resolved when Congress returns after Labor Day.
4. A RECENT PROPOSAL TO LOCATE THE SUPERCOLLIDER IN EARTH ORBIT
contends the cost would be comparable to Waxahachie. The Unison
Corp. said it would create more spin-offs--and provide a mission
for the space station. DOE has no plans to reopen site selection.