Friday, 8 Oct 1993 Washington, DC
1. PHYSICIST NEAL LANE HAS BEEN CONFIRMED AS THE DIRECTOR OF NSF.
2. HOUSE AUTHORIZATION BILL SAYS "BASIC RESEARCH" IS NSF MISSION!
Less than three weeks after the Senate VA-HUD-IA Appropriations
Committee presented its vision of the NSF
(WN 17 Sept), the House
science committee countered by unambiguously identifying the NSF
mission: "strengthen basic research and develop human resources
in science and engineering." There is no mention in the bill of
"strategic" research, quantifiable milestones, tech transfer, or
industrial cooperation. And it doesn't suggest a name change to
the NSEF (the E is for engineering:
WN 13 Aug '93). But it does
call for a "strategic plan": the NSF would have to set three-year
goals for each division and develop strict assessment mechanisms.
The House bill strengthens the Academic Facilities Modernization
Program by requiring NSF to take the $250M funding off the top.
It also cracks down on earmarking: any institution that accepts
an earmark will be ineligible for Facilities Modernization money,
and no unauthorized money can be spent on national research
facilities. Senate authorizers will be drafting their version
soon--but will the appropriators abide by a new NSF authorization
bill? Appropriators have ignored authorizers in the past.
3. OTA SAYS THAT U.S. IS ILL-PREPARED TO DISMANTLE NUCLEAR BOMBS.
A study carried out by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA)
finds that there are serious shortcomings in nearly every phase
of the US dismantlement of nuclear weapons, including policy,
management, and storage. First, the government has to decide
whether plutonium is an asset or a liability--should we keep some
handy, store it indefinitely, burn it for energy, or dispose of
it as waste? The OTA also recommends that DOE implement a
management system to improve environmental, health and safety
practices. Questioning the current methods of long-term isolation
of nuclear materials, OTA recommends forming a task force to
study the storage problem. And while the US is trying to figure
out how to dismantle bombs, China is busy setting their's off.
4. STANFORD GETS THE B-FACTORY. Last Monday, President Clinton
settled the location of the B-Factory by announcing Secretary of
Energy Hazel O'Leary's choice of SLAC over Cornell. O'Leary had
commented that "the DOE has a higher margin of confidence in the
ability of the Stanford proposal to meet the project's extremely
high performance requirements, proposed cost and schedule." But
Clinton focused on the negative effects of defense downsizing and
the importance of nurturing the scientific infrastructure in "the
state with one quarter of the unemployed people in America." The
$230M project keeps SLAC from laying off 300 employees next year.
5. eheheh eheh PHYSICIST HITS PAY DIRT yeh yeh yeh. Physicist
Mike Judge's travesty of American youth has taken pop culture by
storm--he's the artist/voice of MTV cartoon Beavis and Butthead.