Friday, 6 May 94 Washington, DC
1. NSF AUTHORIZATION PASSED BY HOUSE--NOW IT'S UP TO THE SENATE!
The bill (H.R.3254) to authorize funding for FY 95 and FY 96 was
approved overwhelmingly (396 to 22), but not before an amendment
by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) cut the level by $208M to bring
it in line with the budget resolution. Nevertheless, the bill
reaffirms that the mission of the NSF is "...to strengthen basic
research and develop human resources in science and engineering."
The Senate, however, has been less interested in authorization,
preferring to micromanage the NSF through appropriations
Sep 93). No one has seen a draft of a Senate authorization; when
one is written, maybe they can omit the "pause"
(WN 15 Apr 94).
2. SCHOOLS BARRING MILITARY RECRUITERS WOULD BE DENIED NSF GRANTS
by the Solomon (R-NY) amendment (passed 330 to 90). His amendment
seems aimed at embarrassing Governor Cuomo, who barred recruiters
from the 29 SUNY campuses because of DOD discrimination against
homosexuals. But a "consistent with applicable law" phrase seems
to reduce the amendment to a "sense of Congress" resolution.
3. ALTERNATIVE HISTORY: RUSSIAN SPYMASTER'S MEMOIRS ARE TRASHED!
First it was the surviving scientists from the bomb project who
reacted in outrage to the claims of a loathsome Stalin era spy
and assassin that four of the West's most famous scientists had
passed bomb secrets to Soviet agents
(WN 22 Apr 94). Then the
historians began shredding the book
(WN 29 Apr 94). Yesterday,
in a statement to Tass, Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service
said the allegations "do not correspond to reality." Moreover,
the statement said, Sudoplatov exaggerated his role; his access
to atomic problems lasted less than a year, and department "S"
had no direct contact with the agents' network. The Schecters,
who did the writing, refer to 20 hours of Sudoplatov's videotaped
reminiscences, but the portion they have made available, which
deals with atomic secrets, is barely three minutes; Gamow is not
even mentioned, and the transcript does not agree with the book.
4. THE COPERNICAN PRINCIPLE AND THE RISE OF ALTERNATIVE SCIENCE.
In case you may have forgotten, the "Copernican principle" states
that we are unlikely to be in any "special place" in space-time.
Therefore, things have a 95% likelihood of being in the middle
95% of their lifetime. This interesting theory was discovered by
physicist J. Richard Gott III (Nature 27 May 93), who used it to
prove--at 95% confidence level--that homo sapiens will be around
for another 200 thousand to 8 million years! Eight days later,
WHAT'S NEW used the same principle to predict how long his theory
would be around
(WN 4 Jun 93). Its calculated demise was between
8pm that evening and 20 April 94--with 95% certainty! So, we can
be 95% confident that if the theory was right, it's already dead.
But if it's wrong, it has a 95% likelihood of still being alive!
We believe this may explain a lot of what's going on these days.