Friday, 23 March 1990 Washington, DC
1. SALT LAKE CITY SEANCE CELEBRATES FIRST COLD FUSION ANNIVERSARY!
It was one year ago today that Pons and Fleischmann astounded the
scientific world by announcing that they had achieved deuterium
fusion in a palladium lattice during electrolysis of heavy water.
Cold fusion died barely two months later, when a helium assay of
their palladium cathode found zip--a result they have declined to
make public. Next week, however, more than 30 true believers will
assemble behind closed doors for the "First Annual Conference on
Cold Fusion," sponsored by the National Cold Fusion Institute.
Although non-believers and the press will be barred from technical
sessions, any manifestations will be reported at press briefings.
2. DOE PLANS TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR COLD FUSION TO $2M NEXT YEAR,
according to a story in Nature this week. That is about twice what
they are spending on the non-phenomenon this year. The Director of
the Division of Advanced Energy Projects, Ryszard Gajewski, says
the funds will go to cooperative research between those who have
seen effects and those who have not. The Cold Fusion Panel in its
report was "sympathetic toward modest support for carefully focused
and cooperative experiments within the present funding system."
3. THE SPACE STATION DESIGN IS JEOPARDIZED BY MAINTENANCE PROBLEMS,
according to the New York Times. A NASA panel concluded that the
present design of space station Freedom would require nearly 100
man days of outside maintenance each year, and they don't even have
to mow the grass. That is ten times more "extra vehicular activity"
than NASA regards as acceptable from a risk standpoint. The figure
was arrived at by simply adding up the failure rates of the 5,578
parts external to the inhabited modules, multiplied by the time
needed for space-suited astronauts to replace them, plus preventive
maintenance. Radical redesign may be needed to correct the problem.
The report has created strains, with NASA headquarters trying to
play down the report of its own study panel. Congress will want to
know how such an obvious problem was overlooked for so long.
4. SUPERSALESMEN RISE TO CHALLENGE AS SUPERCOLLIDER COSTS SOAR.
a hearing yesterday before a House appropriations subcommittee, two
of particle physics' most respected scientists, T.D. Lee and Sid
Drell, defended the project as vital to maintaining the scientific
edge of the US. So persuasive were they in selling the Secretary
of Energy on continuing the project, in spite of its soaring price,
that Watkins asked them to do the same job on Congress. It was a
tougher sell. Rep. Conte (R-MA) said Americans are beginning to
see the SSC as a "super-hole." Drell, who said he was confident of
"a fantastic payoff," was also forced to defend the SSC against an
error-filled editorial in the New York Times that favored buying
into the European Large Hadron Collider. In a letter of complaint
to the Times, Roy Schwitters notes that the LHC is only a proposal.
Therefore, he said, "anyone can propound almost any cost estimate."
That, of course, is exactly what Congress is concerned about.