Friday, 5 Nov 1993 Washington, DC
1. JOHNSTON DELIVERS CLEAR MESSAGE: "BIG SCIENCE" MUST BE GLOBAL.
At her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Martha Krebs, picked four
months ago to replace Will Happer as head of the DOE Office of
Energy Research, listened stoically as Senator Bennett Johnston
(D-LA) did most of the talking. Still smarting from the clobbering
the SSC took from the House, he warned scientists that mega-projects
are going to have to be international, and singled out
magnetic fusion as a case in point. Johnston wants action on the
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) before
going ahead with Princeton's Tokamak Physics Experiment (TPX). If
ITER is an example, international cooperation won't come easily.
It took 18 months longer than expected to get agreement between
the US, Japan, Russia and the European Community--and they only
agreed then by putting off the tough stuff like picking the site.
When they couldn't agree on where to put a design center either,
the Solomonic solution was to build three centers. The one in
San Diego must be headed by a Russian, the one in Garching by an
American, and the one in Naka by a European. You get the idea.
2. ALPHA MAY NOT BE SCIENCE, BUT IT'S BIG AND IT'S INTERNATIONAL.
The US and Russia agreed on a plan to graft Alpha, a scaled-down
version of Space Station Freedom, onto Mir-2, a scaled-up version
of Space Station Mir. The hybrid is being called "Ralpha." It
will be assembled in the same orbit as the present Mir. The plan
will be discussed with the other international partners next week
in Montreal. They are nervous about Russian participation, but
not nearly as nervous as the aerospace industry, which does not
seem at all thrilled by the prospect of the US saving $4B.
3. JOHN PEOPLES WILL TAKE OVER AS DIRECTOR OF THE SSC LABORATORY,
replacing Roy Schwitters, who bailed out last week
Peoples will continue to serve as director of Fermilab. "What we
need now are some lawyers, not physicists," according to Shelton
Smith, the new head of the Texas National Research Laboratory
Commission. The TNRLC is responsible for protecting the state's
investment in the SSC, which Texas figures at more than $400M.
4. "THE GREAT POWER-LINE COVER-UP": BRODEUR DISCOVERS CLUSTERS!
Well folks, Paul Brodeur has done it again. "Calamity on Meadow
Street" and "The Cancer at Slater School" have moved from the New
Yorker to hard cover. But now, Brodeur has the mechanism figured
out--power-line fields stimulate production of a growth hormone
that promotes development of brain cancers and stuff. And there
are new cases. Between 1990 and 1992, two students at a private
elementary school on East 76th Street in Manhattan, which is next
to a Consolidated Edison substation, developed leukemia! Magnetic
fields in the school measured 10 milligauss! Actually, you have
to stand in the middle of a field to get much less than that. But
that just shows how ubiquitous the problem is. A new pocket-size
EMF monitor at just $99 will help you to avoid such hazards.