WHAT'S NEW, Friday, 15 September 1989 Washington, DC
W.W. HAVENS JR, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF THE APS, WILL RETIRE
at the end of 1990. The only executive secretary of the Society most
members have ever known, Havens has held the post since 1967. In
the years since, both physics and society have undergone enormous
change. Under Haven's guidance, the APS has remained in step with
those changes. A search is currently underway for a successor.
Val Fitch, the past-president of APS, is leading the search for a
distinguished physicist, with proven managerial ability. Those
wishing to recommend someone for this position should check the
notice on page 109 in the September issue of Physics Today.
. NSF, THE AGENCY WITH NO ENEMIES, TAKES IT ON THE CHIN AGAIN.
This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee accepted its
subcommittee recommendation to give NSF $30M less for research
than the House voted in July
(WN 28 Jul 89)--and the House figure
was $88M below the President's request--and that request was not
enough to keep pace with growth in critical areas of science. A
$20M Facilities Modernization Program would be funded with money
skimmed from research. That won't buy many facilities, but it
would probably eliminate any new research starts. It is not clear
what will happen in conference with the House if the full Senate
backs the Subcommittee on the facilities issue. The House refused
to fund the facilities program, which was authorized last year,
precisely out of fear that the money would wind up coming out of
research. Moreover, the program is burdened with restrictions
that seem designed to ensure that universities that do research
don't get facilities. The subcommittee markup ended with the
members congratulating each other on the fine job they had done.
3. FUSION HAS LOST NONE OF ITS FACINATION FOR THE PRESS.
fusion is now confined to the University of Utah's Chemistry
Department (physicists at the University report they find no
evidence of fusion), and magnetic fusion seems to be receding
ever further into the future. But a report this week in Physical
Review Letters of "cluster-impact fusion" at Brookhaven still got
20 column inches in the New York Times. The experiment consists
of 300 keV singly-ionized droplets of heavy water impacting on a
TiD target. Individual deuterons accelerated to that energy would
produce some fusion, but the energy per nucleon in the cluster is
only a few eV. Fusion is attributed to compressions and high
energy densities resulting from collision spikes, but the details
are not understood and no one is predicting "break even"--yet.
4. THE FY 90 APPROPRIATION FOR MAGNETIC CONFINEMENT FUSION
up at $331M, which is $18M below the administration request. The
conference report expresses concern about the slow progress, but
rather than attempting to micromanage, Congress took the unusual
step of leaving it to DOE to decide how to distribute the money
among the elements of the program. Congress apparently ignored a
request by Robert Hunter to transfer $50M to inertial fusion.