Friday, 28 September 1990 Washington, DC
1. WHEELING JESUIT COLLEGE CHOSEN FOR TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER!
Well, not exactly "chosen." The "National Center" turned up in
the VA/HUD/Independent Agencies appropriations bill
(WN 14 Sep 90), which passed the full
committee this week. A spokesman at
the 1400 student college, contacted today, was somewhat vague
about just what technology would be transferred where by the $5M
NASA facility. The college is in West Virginia--the home of Sen.
Byrd, the Committee chair. Just last year Byrd introduced a bill
to curb the influence of pork-barrel lobbyists
(WN 11 Aug 89),
but it was sharing credit with lobbyists he objected to, not the
pork. The other scientific pork that can be identified among the
dozens of projects earmarked for states of Committee members is
an earthquake engineering center at the University of Nevada. It
comes too late to prevent panic along the New Madrid fault.
2. WILL A DEVASTATING EARTHQUAKE HIT THE MIDWEST ON DECEMBER 3?
All along the New Madrid fault in the Mississippi Valley, schools
and businesses are scheduled to close that day, following the
prediction of Iben Browning that an alignment of the planets will
produce a major quake. Anyone who believes that is probably also
holding palladium futures. For four decades, Browning, whose
formal training is in physiology, has been successfully marketing
his preposterous pseudoscientific claptrap to clients who should
know better. He once sold the Defense Department on a scheme to
train whales to carry nuclear weapons into Soviet ports and had
many in NASA convinced that a spacecraft attempting to land on
the moon's surface would sink two miles into a layer of dust.
3. THE SENATE FINALLY RATIFIED THE 1974 THRESHOLD TEST BAN TREATY
prohibiting underground nuclear tests with yields greater than
150 kilotons. Although both nations have professed to adhere to
its provisions, ratification stalled over compliance questions
after Reagan charged the Soviets with cheating. The charge later
proved groundless. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) is still grumbling
about cheating, but the vote was 98-0. Also ratified was the
1976 Peaceful Nuclear Explosives Treaty. Ratification clears a
major hurdle to further progress on disarmament negotiations.
4. THE UPCOMING SPACE STATION FREEDOM PRELIMINARY DESIGN REVIEW
was previewed yesterday in a hearing of the House Space Science
and Applications Subcommittee. Optimistic testimony from NASA
brass gave little hint of recent problems. Assembly of Freedom
is expected to require a total of 28 shuttle missions--and right
now NASA has its hands full trying to launch two per year.
5. WHERE, YOU MAY BE WONDERING, IS THE SSC COST ESTIMATE? DOE
was supposed to provide its final "hard estimate" to Congress by
17 August (WN 7 Sep 90).
Now, six weeks late, the report has
been written, but it is being held up by the Office of Management
and Budget. OMB reportedly thinks the estimate is too low.