Friday, 16 November 1990 Washington, DC
1. AT CERN, "NOBEL DREAMS" ARE TROUBLED BY MONEY PROBLEMS.
at the European accelerator in Geneva has been slowed down by a
"work to rules" strike. The staff is refusing to use personal
autos on lab business and all communication is by written memo--
no e-mail, phone or FAX messages. It began as a one-day strike
last June to protest CERN salaries and benefits, which have not
kept up with the cost of living for six years. Carlo Rubbia, CERN
director, negotiated an agreement with the staff, but in October,
the CERN Council, made up of representatives of the participating
countries, rejected the agreement, precipitating the slowdown.
2. THE CONTROVERSY HAS FOCUSED ATTENTION ON CERN'S PENSION FUND--
from which Rubbia has been borrowing for LEP, the Large Electron
Positron collider. He is reportedly having trouble making the
interest payments. This has dampened enthusiasm for the Large
Hadron Collider project, which is intended to beat the SSC to the
Higgs boson. Germany, the largest contributor to CERN, is said to
be reluctant to go forward until CERN "puts its financial house
in order." Rubbia, meanwhile, has been pressuring the heads of
European labs not to defect to the SSC. Some European physicists
are said to be attending SSC meetings with bags over their heads.
3. CONGRESS IS CONCERNED ABOUT FOREIGN CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SSC.
The report accompanying the SSC appropriation
(WN 19 Oct 90)
calls on the Department of Energy to "accelerate the process" of
securing firm foreign commitments. According to an article in
New Scientist, however, Japan, from which DOE hoped to get $1B,
has delayed sending a team to Waxahachie and is leaning against
participation. The White House, which is pressuring Japan to
contribute to Desert Shield, is rumored to have told DOE to go
easy. The best offer has come from Soviet scientists. In spite
of near economic collapse, the Soviets would provide up to $200M
of in-kind support to one of three US consortia competing for a
contract to build a detector to search for the Higgs resonance.
4. THE BLOCH LEGACY AT NSF: PHYSICS GETS SHORTCHANGED AGAIN!
we reported two weeks ago, there is no real growth in the FY 91
NSF budget for research, which is up by only 6.2%. For physics,
things are even worse. The allocation within NSF will hold
Physics, Chemistry and Math to 4.1% to make room for things like
Centers. Materials Science goes up only 4.2% and within Materials
Science, Condensed Matter is likely to do worse than average.
5. NATIONAL MEDAL OF SCIENCE RECIPIENTS INCLUDE FIVE APS MEMBERS.
President Bush presented the award to 20 scientists on Tuesday.
Among them were Allan M. Cormack, Mildred S. Dresselhaus, Nick
Holonyak Jr, Edwin M. McMillan and Robert V. Pound, all fellows
of the American Physical Society. Millie Dresselhaus, who served
as President of APS in 1984, was described by President Bush as
"arguably the most important woman physicist of her generation."