Friday, 21 May 93 Washington, DC
1. HEARINGS ON REAUTHORIZATION OF THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
began yesterday in the House. What a difference six months makes.
Last year's hot button, "technology transfer," was never touched
as representatives of university associations and scientific and
engineering societies all agreed that "curiosity-driven research"
is the first priority of the NSF. Testifying for the APS, Ernest
Henley, Past President, warned that the research community has
been allowed to grow faster than the research budget, spreading
resources too thinly. "Increasing the investment will not solve
any problems if the growth of the community is not controlled,"
he said. "The NSF may have to be even more selective in funding,"
and universities should "consolidate and cooperate." Authorizing
legislation is intended to set spending caps and define policy.
2. GEORGE BROWN REJECTS RADICAL RESTRUCTURING OF SPACE STATION!
"I don't want to just put a hunk of infrastructure up in space,"
the chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee
said at a press conference yesterday. A scaled-down version of
Freedom is the only option Brown will support; he gives any other
design a 10% chance of surviving. Authorizing legislation
introduced by Brown calls for spending $1.9B per year on the station
until FY 2000 when it is to become operational. That would exceed
the $9B limit imposed by the Administration, but Brown claims it
is needed to meet international commitments. Brown was joined by
Ralph Hall (D-TX), chair of the Space Subcommittee, who explained
why a space station is important. "We must find the elusive cure
for cancer," Hall said, "that's why I'm still in Congress. We
haven't found it on Earth, maybe we can find it in space."
3. FUNERAL FOR STRATEGIC DEFENSE INITIATIVE MAY BE PREMATURE!
"I may not be a Rhodes Scholar," Ronald Reagan told an audience
at the Citadel with characteristic understatement, "but if we can
protect America with a defensive shield, we should do so." The
former President was reacting to the announcement that his "Star
Wars" program had been terminated
(WN 14 May 93). Not to worry,
Ron, we see little evidence of Star Wars being cancelled. The
Strategic Target System (STARS) to defend against multiple-war-head
ICBM's still plans on 13 launches over a 10-year period,
even though multiple warheads were banned by START II. And the
test of a Topaz reactor
(WN 15 Jan 93) in Earth orbit is still
planned, despite objections from the Astronomical Society.
4. SAUDI PHYSICIST AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST REPORTEDLY ARRESTED!
Professor Muhammad Al-Mas'ari of the Physics Department of King
Saud University is said to have been arrested Saturday, while he
was in the process of reporting human rights violations to the
media. There is no information on his whereabouts or status. The
arrest is believed to be part of a Saudi campaign to suppress a
group called the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights.
Today is the 72nd anniversary of the birth of Andrei Sakharov.