Friday, 1 Jan 93 Washington, DC
1. PRESIDENT-ELECT PICKS JOHN GIBBONS OF OTA FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR.
A nuclear physicist, Gibbons has served as director of the Office
of Technology Assessment of Congress since 1979. In the 1960's,
he led important experimental work related to stellar evolution;
in the 70's he turned to environmental problems. He was recipient
of the Federation of American Scientists' Public Service Award in
1990; in 1991, the APS Szilard Award for physics in the public
interest; and in 1992, the AAAS Abelson Prize for contributions
of a public servant to advancing science. The selection of
Gibbons appears to mark a transition from the "chief scientist"
role of his predecessor to a politically astute facilitator who
can be trusted not to upstage the Vice-President. The low profile
of the science advisor is reflected in the meager coverage given
to the Gibbons appointment, but at least Clinton did not delay
for four months as President Bush did before naming Bromley. In
his acceptance, Gibbons stressed basic research: "We place very
great weight on the intrinsic value of basic science, out of
which has flowed extraordinary and often unanticipated benefits
to society, including enormous enrichment of the human spirit."
2. ONE OF THE ISSUES GIBBONS MUST CONFRONT IS THE SPACE STATION.
Although Clinton and Gore endorsed the space station during the
campaign, some of their key economic advisors are reported to be
advising them to reconsider. An article in the Washington Post
notes that Leon Panetta, who has been picked by Clinton to head
the White House Office of Management and Budget, was a foe of the
station while in Congress. Rep. Louis Stokes (D-OH), who replaces
Bob Traxler (D-MI) as the chair of the VA/HUD/IA appropriations
subcommittee, also voted against the bloated boondoggle. In the
Senate, Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) now call for
killing the station along with the space shuttle. The most ardent
Senate supporter of the orbiting budget buster, Jake Garn (R-UT),
will not be returning. That leaves born-again trekkie Barbara
Mikulski (D-MD) as the most influential champion of the station.
3. ROBERT E. MARSHAK, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE APS, IS DEAD AT 76.
One of the last of the giants of physics who had developed the
atomic bomb at Los Alamos and gone on to become the leaders of
American science, Bob Marshak remained active in particle theory
to the very end. He stepped down as President of City College of
New York in 1979, a job he had taken in 1970 out of a desire to
help the socially disadvantaged. The same commitment was evident
in 1982 when Marshak became APS President and initiated programs
to assist physicists in China and South America. By then he had
moved to Virginia Tech and undergone heart by-pass surgery. One
of my jobs was to accompany him on long walks he took before and
after meetings of the APS Council as part of his recovery. It was
an adventure. An impatient man, he sent off sparks. According
to press accounts, he died while swimming in Cancun, Mexico, "far
from the shore." Bob Marshak never stayed close to the shore.