Friday, 3 Dec 93 Washington, DC
1. CLINTON CREATED "THE NATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL"
to coordinate S&T policies across agency boundaries. It replaces
the Federal Coordinating Committee for Science Engineering and
Technology, National Space Council and National Materials Council.
It includes the Vice President, Science Advisor, National
Security Advisor, Cabinet Secretaries and heads of OMB, NASA, NSF
and EPA. This is the inside Council. The President also created
an outside council, PCAST, the President's Council of Advisors on
Science and Technology, to advise the inside council. PCAST will
consist of 15 members from the private sector, one of whom will
be designated a co-chair, plus the President's Science Advisor,
John Gibbons, who will be the other co-chair. The NSTC will be
asked to undertake an across-the-board review of R&D spending.
2. NASA BETS THE FARM ON MISSION TO REPAIR THE HUBBLE TELESCOPE.
Officials at the space agency have encouraged the idea that this
is a "make-or-break" mission; Hubble was designed to be serviced,
and failure would cast doubt on the feasibility of assembling a
space station. When Endeavour finally got off, the switchboards
at the Houston Space Center were busy with calls from reporters,
but, consistent with recent luck at the agency, most of the calls
concerned an FBI "sting" operation; the investigation reportedly
concerns bribery in the selection of shuttle experiments. Earlier
in the week, President Clinton met with key congressional leaders
to urge support for Russian participation in space station Alpha.
Uneasy about the Russian role, Congress had locked up half of the
station funds pending an explanation
(WN 10 Sep 93). The group
was satisfied with what they heard. It may be urgent, the plant
that once made the Soviet shuttle "Buran" now makes bath tiles.
3. IT'S TIME TO CATCH UP ON THE NEWS FROM "ALTERNATIVE" SCIENCES.
A year ago(WN 4 Sep 92),
we told you about string theorist John
Hagelin's candidacy for President on the Natural Law ticket. His
bid fell a tad short, but in the recent Canadian elections, the
NLP won just two fewer seats than the incumbent Progressive
Conservative Party--which won two seats. A pity, the NLP had hoped
to unleash its super-string unified-field Lagrangian on Canada's
problems. It was three years ago (WN 15 Jun 90) that we reported
the strange events in the cold fusion laboratory of John Bockris
at Texas A&M. Bockris doesn't seem to find tritium anymore, but
things have gotten stranger. Now he mixes a dab of this and that
with saltpeter, ignites the mixture, and POOF! Gold! Just last
(WN 5 Nov 93), we reviewed "The Great
Now it appears that Finland has joined the cover-up! The Finns,
it seems, are obsessive about keeping records, making it possible
to calculate the exposure levels of children living near power-lines
amounting to one-million person years! In the whole cohort
of 134,800 children there were 140 cancers, 5 less than expected.
The only increased risk was for nervous system tumors among boys,
but even that was attributed to one boy who had three tumors.