Friday, 10 Dec 1993 Washington, DC
1. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE UNVEILS "COUNTER-PROLIFERATION" POLICY!
In a speech on Tuesday, Pearl Harbor Day, Les Aspin acknowledged
that the US may not be able to prevent the spread of nuclear
weapons to rogue states or terrorist groups. It's scant comfort
that they may be 40 years behind us, he observed; in 1953 the US
had fission bombs and a delivery system. We must therefore "add
the task of protection to the task of prevention." Translation:
we need a theater ballistic missile defense system, a compliant
ABM treaty, and an aggressive posture. "We have to be prepared
to fight a Desert Storm when the enemy has a small number of
nuclear weapons," Aspin warned. "We cannot let future Saddams
escape attack." Alas, North Korea doesn't seem to be listening.
2. SECRETARY OF ENERGY UNVEILS A BOLD NEW "OPENNESS INITIATIVE"!
On the same symbol-laden day, Hazel O'Leary began to pry open the
shutters to let a little light into the obsessively secret Energy
Department. No one seriously questioned the need for secrecy
during the Cold War, but the abuses revealed in the initial batch
of declassified documents are poignant reminders of the terrible
price a democracy pays for secrecy. In one appalling series of
experiments, 18 people were given doses of plutonium without
their knowledge. Among other facts revealed on the first day of
the initiative: the US conducted 1,051 nuclear tests of which 204
were never announced; the US produced 89 metric tons of weapons-grade
plutonium--enough for about 15,000 warheads; of the 12,000
tons of mercury used in the lithium-6 enrichment process at Oak
Ridge, about 325 tons ended up in the East Fork of Poplar Creek.
3. INERTIAL CONFINEMENT FUSION IS INCLUDED IN DECLASSIFICATION!
At least some of it. Zapping deuterium and tritium with lasers
and such began as weapons simulation studies, but proponents say
inertial fusion could be superior to magnetic fusion as an energy
source. Secrecy has hampered comparison of the two methods.
4. MAGNETIC CONFINEMENT FUSION AT PPPL SETS POWER OUTPUT RECORD!
Last night, the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab finally began
high-power D-T experiments. Using a "50-50" D-T mixture, the Tokamak
Fusion Test Reactor produced 3 MW of fusion power for about one
second. Break-even is still a long way off; the Q, which is the
ratio of the fusion power produced to the power that went into
heating the plasma, was about 1/8. Nevertheless, as of last
night, TFTR has achieved all the objectives set for it in 1975.
On hand to celebrate was Lyman Spitzer, who founded PPPL in 1951.
He was also celebrating NASA's successful repair of the Hubble
telescope; Spitzer first proposed an orbiting telescope in 1946.
5. COLD FUSION FAITHFUL HOLD THEIR FOURTH ANNUAL SEANCE IN MAUI!
Who says cold fusion isn't practical? As some of us slog through
the slush, this tiny band of true believers sips cool drinks in
celebration of MITI's $30M 4-year "new hydrogen energy" project.