Friday, 11 Dec 92 Washington, DC
1. EXTRAORDINARY $100M GIFT TO SCIENTISTS IN FORMER SOVIET
George Soros, the Hungarian-born founder of the Soros
Foundation, announced Wednesday that he will personally
contribute $100M to an emergency fund to shelter science from
economic collapse of the former Soviet Union; he established the
International Science Foundation for the FSU to administer the
gift. The impact of such a sum is enormous, since the salary of a
junior scientist in the FSU is only $10-12/month at the current
exchange rate. It was about a year ago that the American
Astronomical Society appealed for contributions to colleagues in
the FSU. That was followed in March by an appeal from APS
President Henley to physicists. In April, the Sloan Foundation
agreed to match the APS funds up to $30K; Sloan later raised that
to $100K. In July, the Soros Foundation contributed $500K. In
August, NSF awarded a grant of $100K to APS, bringing the APS
total to $700K. Pleased with this "pilot program," Soros made
his grand gift to all FSU science.
2. YOUTH WILL BE SERVED--BUT NOT ON THE APPROPRIATIONS
Jaime Whitten (D-MS), who has served in the House for a record 51
years, has been ousted by the Democrats from his powerful post as
chair of the Appropriations Committee. The unneeded Advanced
Solid Rocket Motor, which is built in Whitten's district, has
become a symbol of abuse of the appropriations process. Whitten,
who held the chair for 14 years, is 82 years old and ailing. He
will be replaced as chair by William Natcher (D-KY)--who is 83!
THE DREAM OF FIELDS: WILL CRAIG FIELDS HEAD A DUAL-USE
Fields was fired as director of DARPA in 1990 for
pushing such dual-use technologies as HDTV (WN 4 May 90). A hero to many on
Capitol Hill, Fields saw that military systems are more likely to
benefit from civilian spin-offs than the other way around. But
that was too close to a dreaded "technology policy" for the Bush-
whackers. Today he heads MCC (the Microelectronics & Computer
Technology Corp.) in Texas. According to a Los Angeles Times
story, Fields is on the short list to run a new "dual-use" DARPA.
4. THE SPIN-DOCTORS ARE WORKING ON THE NSF COMMISSION'S
, just four days before NSF must submit its FY 93
Operating Plan to Congress. The plan must explain how the
recommendations of the Commission on the Future of NSF will be
implemented and how those recommendations address the issue
raised by a Senate subcommittee report. The Senate called for NSF
"to take a more activist role in transferring the results of
basic research from the academic community to the market place."
That could be tough. The report of the NSF Commission said,
"Failures in the market place have not been the result of slow
transfer of academic science to industry." A "Dear Colleague"
letter from Walter Massey gives his spin on the Commission
report: "A prominent theme stands out. Linkages, partnerships,
and collaboration should be touchstones for all NSF programs."
Others may find that theme hard to detect.