Friday, 9 March 1990 Washington, DC
1. BLOCH SAYS CRITICS OF SUPERCONDUCTOR FUNDING ARE "DEAD WRONG."
During testimony at a House Authorization Hearing for NSF, the
NSF Director was questioned by Reps. David Price (D-NC) and David
Nagle (D-IA) about NSF priorities in superconductor research,
citing a Washington Post article that reported inadequate funds,
a shift from individual investigators to user facilities and
centers that focus on short-term goals. While acknowledging that
funding of individual investigator proposals had declined from
38% to 30%, Bloch noted that individuals use the centers and
facilities. He contended that there are few complaints. Others
might wish to address their opinions to Reps. Price and Nagle.
2. THE FIVE-YEAR DOUBLING OF NSF WILL BE DELAYED--ABOUT 30 YEARS
for core research programs--and more will be less! In real terms,
most core research programs have lost ground since 1987, when the
doubling was supposed to begin. An analysis by Jack Crowley and
Patricia Levy of the Association of American Universities finds
that, at this rate, when research finally doubles around 2020,
inflation will have shriveled its value by about two thirds.
3. GORDON & BREACH ARE LINKED TO A LIBRARY SERIALS SURVEY.
March issue of American Libraries, news medium of the American
Library Association, reports that in January research libraries
in this country received a questionnaire about science journals
on the letterhead of the Foundation for International Scientific
Cooperation. Some librarians became suspicious when they got to
a question asking if an article by Henry Barschall, comparing the
cost-effectiveness of journals, would influence their decisions
on subscriptions. They were aware that Gordon & Breach Scientific
Publishers had filed suit in Switzerland, West Germany and France
against the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical
Society and Barschall, claiming his article had damaged their
business (WN 2 Mar 90).
Indeed, librarians critical of Gordon &
Breach's pricing had also been threatened with suits. A copy of
the survey was sent to Richard Meserve, Washington attorney for
the physicists, who traced the postage meter number to the New
York offices of--who else--Gordon & Breach! An editorial in the
same issue of American Libraries observes that scientists value
"the free exchange of differing views, unstifled by law suits."
The editorial compared the actions of Gordon & Breach, which have
alienated both its subscribers and its contributors, to a whale
committing suicide by deliberately beaching itself.
4. A LLNL PROPOSAL TO USE INFLATABLE SPACECRAFT WAS PUNCTURED
the NRC panel reviewing strategies for the Moon/Mars mission
(WN 2 Mar 90). While calling for
more intense scrutiny of options,
the panel made it clear that a Livermore proposal to use Kevlar
modules was not what they had in mind. According to the panel,
the proposal "underestimates the many practical and difficult
engineering and operational challenges involved."