Friday, 25 Feb 1994 Washington, DC
1. A "WHITE PAPER" ON "BIG SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION"
was released by George Brown at the AAAS Meeting in San Francisco
last Saturday. Brown, chair of the House Science, Space and
Technology Committee, proposed three initiatives: 1) in the
short-term, all research projects in excess of $50M should be required
to have Congressional authorization (the SSC never did) to help
ensure sustained Congressional support; 2) in the mid-term, OSTP
should prepare a forecast of the big-science projects that will
be needed through 2010; and 3) in the long-term, a panel drawn
from the G-7 nations should establish big-science priorities.
2. BROWN PLEDGES TO CONTINUE THE FIGHT AGAINST ACADEMIC EARMARKS!
At a press conference in San Francisco, he declared his intention
to use the NSF authorization to bar any university that accepts
earmarked funds from receiving NSF grants. Unfortunately, some
of the major beneficiaries of earmarks, such as Wheeling Jesuit
College, have probably never had an NSF grant; still, it would be
an effective deterrent for research universities. At a session
on "Science After the SSC," APS President Burton Richter deviated
from his prepared talk to comment on the controversy. The SS&T
Committee is enlightened, he said, because it conducts real
hearings to establish the facts. "But it is not the SS&T Committee
that has been making science policy. You need only look at the
reports of the appropriations committees. They hold no hearings
and take no evidence; the reports express the opinions of a few
staffers....Science has to become an interest group; it has to
express itself strongly. If it does not, a few people will make
science policy and take that policy in an irrational direction."
3. ALTERNATIVE SCIENCE: SPY CASE REVIVES POLYGRAPH CONTROVERSY!
The arrest of Aldrich Ames, former head of counterintelligence at
the CIA, focused attention on the CIA's reliance on lie detectors
to ferret out moles. Ames took scores of polygraph exams over the
years, and never flunked once. Is it possible lie detectors lie?
Recall the 1986 case of Larry Chin, a career CIA analyst and spy
for China; he also fooled the polygraph. In 1983 I was waiting to
testify before the House Security Subcommittee. OTA Director John
Gibbons was summarizing a study of the scientific validity of the
polygraph for the subcommittee. Loosely paraphrased, Gibbons was
explaining that these things couldn't distinguish between a lie
and the sex act. Seated next to me was General Richard Stillwell
(ret.) of the CIA. He had no idea who I was, but he could contain
himself no longer; leaning toward me, Stillwell muttered, "I wish
these damn scientists would leave intelligence to the experts."
4. THE BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY GOES ON-LINE!
Beginning with the March Meeting in Pittsburgh, you can request
an e-mail version of the Bulletin. Send your e-mail request to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include your e-mail address in the message. The
Bulletin will contain epitome, sessions, and titles and authors.