Friday, 24 April 1992 Washington, DC
1."ARE WE SO FORTUNATE THAT WE LIVE IN A TIME WHEN WE CAN
DEVELOP THE THEORY OF CREATION?"
Lawrence Berkeley physicist
George Smoot asked at a press conference at the April APS meeting
announcing the latest results of NASA's Cosmic Background
Explorer (COBE) mission. Temperature measurements of the
microwave background with a sensitivity of 60 microKelvin
revealed evidence of 100 million-light-year-wide 15 billion-year-
old density fluctuations speckling the early universe.
Interpreting temperature variations as gravitational gradients,
Smoot generated a gravitational topo map of the universe circa
300,000 Big Bang, which is consistent with inflationary universe
models. The gravitational depressions could correspond to regions
occupied by dark matter, the non-radiative, non-absorptive holy
grail of the cosmologists. "There is going to be a gold rush to
check out our measurements," Smoot said, "People had better get
to work finding the dark matter."
2. BY CONTRAST, ADMIRAL WATKINS ONLY WENT BACK TO WORLD WAR
To relieve the anxiety of scientists over the
consequences of an end to the Cold War, Watkins offered them a WW
II vintage mission during his speech, "The Role of Science in a
Changing World," at the APS/AAPT meeting in Washington.
Scientists, he said, will be the intellectual vanguard responding
to the "economic Pearl Harbor" that has crippled the U.S. He
assured his audience that no national defense laboratories would
be closing since they will be undertaking the "economic Manhattan
Project" necessary to the high-technology arming of the modern
scientific soldiers. The military threat has not entirely
vanished, though. "So long as there is a single nuclear weapon,"
Watkins said, "there will be a Lawrence Livermore and a Los
Alamos." Uncle Sam Wants YOU!
3. LONG-AWAITED SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY REPORT WON'T SATISFY
of self-regulation. At a press conference on Wednesday, the Panel
on Scientific Responsibility and the Conduct of Research released
its findings. Some reporters were clearly incredulous that it
took two years to produce such a timid statement. Even then, two
members of the high-level National Academy panel demurred; they
submitted a minority report that raised concerns about the impact
on intellectual freedom. The statement does not propose specific
guidelines for the conduct of research and in fact stresses that
adoption of such guidelines should be an option for institutions.
But despite its restrained tone, the report calls for fundamental
change. A recommendation that research institutions integrate
programs on scientific integrity into the curricula may not seem
revolutionary, but few such programs exist at the present time.
4. CORRECTION: BROOKHAVEN WOULD CONTINUE HIGH-ENERGY
operations until 1997 under all budget
scenarios. We mistakenly reported last week that a HEPAP
subpanel called for BNL to cease its accelerator operations in
1995 under the low-budget scenario. High-energy physics funding
prospects are scary enough as it is.