WHAT'S NEW, Friday, 17 November 1989 Washington, DC
LIGHTWEIGHT UNIVERSITIES HIRE HEAVYWEIGHT LOBBYIST--BUT LOSE
anyway! House conferees insisted on earmarking $61M of the FY 90
Defense Appropriation Bill for non-competitive grants to seven
universities, in spite of evidence that Congress is fed up with
the practice. Four of the schools, Lehigh, Scranton, Loyola and
Medical College of Ohio, had hired Cassidy and Associates--the
Washington lobbying firm that specializes in pork-barrel funding
of university research projects that stand little chance in a
review based on merit. Cassidy has been less successful lately.
The University of Utah hired them in its unsuccessful effort to
get $25M in federal funds for cold fusion
(WN 28 Apr 89). Sen.
Byrd (D-WV) became so incensed at the manuvering of Cassidy that
he scuttled a project in his own state
(WN 11 Aug 89). This week,
both houses rebelled and struck the earmarks from the Defense
Bill. It was a stinging defeat. But Cassidy, who charges clients
$10,000 per month, will now try to insert the projects elsewhere.
. FANG LIZHI RECEIVED THE ROBERT F. KENNEDY HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD
in absentia in a ceremony Wednesday night. The distinguished
astrophyisist, who lives in asylum in the US Embassy in Beijing,
has been called "the Sakharov of China." His acceptance speech,
which was read for him, drew an analogy between the "Cosmological
Principle," which states that laws of physics are everywhere the
same, and human rights, which are also universal.
3. JOHN TOLL BECOMES PRESIDENT OF UNIVERSITIES RESEARCH ASSN.,
effective 1 Dec, succeeding Ed Knapp who is returning to research
at Los Alamos. The 72-university consortium operates Fermilab and
has the contract to build the Supercollider. Toll, a high-energy
physicist and Chancellor Emeritus of the 11-campus University of
Maryland system, takes control at an exciting but difficult time:
the final SSC cost is still unclear--and so is federal funding.
4. WALTER MASSEY HAS BEEN ELECTED VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE APS
and will become President in 1992. Massey is the Vice President for
Research at the University of Chicago. A many-body theorist,
Massey received his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis
and has been a professor of physics at Brown and Chicago. From
1979 to 1984, he was the Director of Argonne National Laboratory.
5. THE NSF/EPRI COLD FUSION MEETING WAS DEFENDED BY JOHN WHITE,
the head of the Engineering Directorate at NSF, in a letter to
APS president Krumhansl
(WN 3 Nov 89). The fifty participants,
he says, were selected from 200 applicants. (Yet, of the fifty
chosen, only one had reported negative experimental results.) "A
special effort," he writes, "was made to include skeptical, but
unconvinced physicists such as Dr. Teller." Teller, of course,
was one of the first to endorse the Utah claim. Although White
acknowledges that participants were asked not to talk to the
press, he claims the purpose was to encourage open discussion.