Friday, 7 Jan 1994 Washington, DC
1. WHOA! HIGH-ENERGY PHYSICISTS ARE RILED BY COMMENT ON LHC COST.
Last week, WHAT'S NEW used a figure for the cost of the LHC taken
from a report in Nature. I have since been given a crash course
in European cost accounting, taught by a lot of angry high-energy
physicists. Course synopsis: 1) If CERN counted costs the way we
do, the LHC estimate would be $4.5B, which is less than the SSC,
but still a lot of bucks; 2) it costs less because CERN already
has a tunnel and a cafeteria (what am I missing, isn't that the
point?); 3) the LHC is only good for maybe a third of the SSC
energy, which could leave it impotent. Actually, it was not my
intention to compare costs, or virility, or justice. I just
wanted to point out that: 1) if the U.S. wants to participate,
CERN seems willing, even eager (not a foregone conclusion); 2)
the U.S. share of the cost would be modest relative to the cost
of the SSC; 3) in which case Congress might jump at the chance.
The only obstacle seems to be the ponderous U.S. budget process.
2. MEANWHILE, STANFORD WILL INAUGURATE THE ASYMMETRIC B-FACTORY
next Tuesday. The $177M accelerator (yes, I know, they already
have a tunnel and a cafeteria) will study CP violation. It's the
first major high-energy project since the SSC was terminated.
The object is to explain why the universe isn't half anti-matter.
The LHC is meant to figure out why there is matter at all.
3. VERNON EHLERS IS ELECTED TO THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES!
Physics graduates from little Calvin College in Grand Rapids have
long been sought by leading graduate schools. For 17 years, one
of the reasons was Professor Vern Ehlers. A nuclear physicist
from Berkeley, where he was a student of Bill Nierenberg, Ehlers
is an expert on the environment. He is also an APS member and has
served on POPA. His interest in politics dates to the early 70's
when he became science advisor to then-Congressman Gerald Ford.
He was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1983
and to the State Senate two years later. In December Ehlers, a
Republican, won a landslide victory in a special election to fill
the vacancy created by the death of Paul Henry. Henry caused a
stir last year when he introduced a bill to discourage the use of
federal funds to support foreign graduate students
3. CHARLES KENNEL PICKED TO HEAD NASA'S MISSION TO PLANET EARTH!
The UCLA physics professor is an APS Fellow. He has served on
the Physics Planning Committee and was a member of the APS panel
on directed energy weapons in the Star Wars era. An astro-plasma
physicist from Princeton, Kennel is Associate Director of UCLA's
Institute for Plasma Physics and Fusion Research. It could be a
tough year for Mission to Planet Earth; the White House has just
warned NASA to expect a $250M cut in its $14.5B budget. It could
be twice that according to appropriators
(WN 12 Nov 93). Since
the space station and shuttle are being treated as fixed costs,
the cuts are expected to fall most heavily on space science.