Friday, 2 November 1990 Washington, DC
1. WALTER E. MASSEY HAS RESIGNED AS VICE PRESIDENT OF THE APS,
citing his nomination to be the director of the National Science
Foundation. Ernest M. Henley, who was just elected to follow
Massey, will therefore move directly to President-Elect. Henley
is director of the Institute for Nuclear Theory at the University
of Washington, where he has been chair of the Physics Department
and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. A Berkeley PhD, he
is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and recipient in
1989 of the APS Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics. A
special election will be held to select a new Vice President.
2. MASSEY'S FIRST YEAR ON THE JOB WILL NOT BE AN EASY ONE; NSF's
FY 91 appropriation suffered a devastating last-minute cut! As
What's New reported (19 Oct 90), a House/Senate Conference agreed
to an 8.9% increase for NSF research. Conference agreements are
usually final--not this time. The budget summit gave OMB final
say on scorekeeping. To salvage as much of the defense budget as
possible, OMB refused to let logistical support for the Antarctic
Program be charged to the DOD. One consequence was to eliminate
any real growth in NSF research, which now goes up by only 6.2%.
3. AND THINGS ARE GOING TO GET WORSE BEFORE THEY GET BETTER.
five-year budget agreement limits domestic discretionary spending
in FY 91 to $182.7B and $191.3B in FY 92, a growth rate of just
4.7%--and it drops to 3.7% the following year. The "zero sum
game" is no longer a hypothesis. Yet, even as it claps a lid on
discretionary spending, Congress continues on a wild earmarking
binge that is funding some of the world's wackiest projects.
4. CONSIDER AN ALASKA SENATOR'S PROJECT TO HARNESS THE AURORA.
Sen. Ted Stevens proposes to capture the gigawatt or so of energy
in the electrojet formed by the interaction of the solar wind
with Earth's magnetic field. Is this really practical? Is it
ever! The Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska is
getting about $10M per year in pork-barrel research funds and now
Stevens has tossed in a $25M supercomputer center. Actually, the
Geophysical Institute director seems to think they are developing
a new communications system in which the aurora borealis would
serve as a gigantic antenna for low-frequency radio transmission.
But why straighten the Senator out? Let the good times roll.
5. GORDON & BREACH CASE DISMISSED BY GERMAN APPEALS COURT. APS,
AIP and Henry Barschall were sued by G&B over a survey of cost
effectiveness of physics journals. G&B, which came out on bottom,
claimed the survey was biased. A lower court dismissed the case,
but G&B appealed--and lost again. Martin Gordon, G&B Chairman,
claimed moral victory, but must have had difficulty with German.
Harry Lustig, APS Treasurer, who represented APS and AIP at the
Frankfurt hearing, observed that "we wish them the same success
in Switzerland and France," where G&B has filed similar suits.