Friday, 26 March 93 Washington, DC
1. SENATOR MOYNIHAN (D-NY) SAVES B-FACTORY FROM THE PORK BARREL!
When high-energy physicists first began whooping it up for a B
factory, it was given lower odds than cold fusion. Nobody argues
CP violation isn't important, but new accelerators are a tough
sell when a supercollider is being built. DOE and NSF politely
reviewed B factory proposals from Cornell and SLAC and said "no,"
and if they changed their minds, there would have to be a review
to choose between proposals. So it was a shock when an earmark
for a B factory at SLAC showed up in George Bush's "baseline
(WN 8 Jan 93)
. This week, Sen. Moynihan (D-NY) persuaded
OMB to remove the earmark, thus preserving the virtue of physics.
2. SHUTTLE STAYS ON GROUND--BUT SHUTTLE COST IS ALREADY IN ORBIT!
Even as NASA was aborting a scheduled launch of Columbia due to a
faulty valve, a far more serious flaw in NASA's bookkeeping was
getting attention in the New York Times. In calculating the cost
of Space Station Freedom, NASA uses a figure of $44M each for the
associated shuttle launches. That would pay for the extra fuel
and in-flight meals--which is like equating the cost of launching
an aircraft carrier with the bottle of Dom Perignon they break on
the bow. The Times article cited a recent University of Colorado
study which determined the cost of an "average" shuttle launch
from the cost of the shuttle program divided by the launch rate.
At the present rate, the cost per mission comes out to be $1.1B;
it goes up to about $1.7B if development costs are added in, but
that has to be spread over the life of the program. Using honest
numbers for the cost of the shuttle would more than offset the
reduction from shrinking the station. The Colorado study was
authored by Roger Pielke and Radford Byerly. Byerly is now Chief
of Staff of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
3. MATERIALS PHYSICISTS OPPOSED TO REALIGNMENT OF NSF DIVISIONS!
As WHAT'S NEW reported two weeks ago, there is an ongoing
examination of organizational boundaries within the Mathematics and
Physical Sciences Directorate of NSF. At the APS March Meeting
in Seattle, the executive boards of the Divisions of Condensed
Matter Physics and Materials Research of the APS adopted a joint
statement opposing any move of Condensed Matter Physics and Solid
State Chemistry out of the Materials Research Division. Such a
move, they argued, would only inhibit interdisciplinary research.
The co-chairs of a recent National Academy study of Materials
Science and Engineering for the 1990's expressed the same concern
in a letter to Walter Massey. The directors of three of the NSF
Divisions (Materials, Physics and Chemistry) responded that any
changes will be designed to enhance interdisciplinary research.
4. AGENCIES MUST ELIMINATE ONE-THIRD OF THEIR ADVISORY COMMITTEES
to comply with a 10 Feb Executive Order. In the Math and Physical
Sciences Directorate of NSF, only the committee that advises the
Assistant Director will remain by the end of the fiscal year.