Friday, 17 June 94 Washington, DC
1. ENERGY & WATER APPROPRIATIONS BILL PASSES THE HOUSE UNSCATHED!
There were only two challenges to the Committee's recommendations
(WN 3 Jun 94):
Leslie Byrne (D-VA) sought an amendment to remove
the $12M the Committee added for the gas cooled reactor, and Dick
Swett (D-NJ) tried to stop construction of the Tokamak Physics
Experiment $67M). Swett, an early cold fusion enthusiast, said
he was not opposed to fusion research, only to tokamaks! Both
amendments were easily defeated. George Brown contented himself
with listing academic pork projects totaling $20M, well below
past years, but more may be added in conference with the Senate.
2. AUTHORIZERS HEED DRELL PANEL -- ENERGY DEPARTMENT UNCOMMITTED.
Less than a month after the HEPAP subpanel released its "Vision
for the Future of High Energy Physics" (WN 27 May 94),
the House Science Subcommittee announced it will introduce a bill that
would direct the Department of Energy to follow the course laid
out by the Drell Subpanel." And less than a year after dancing
on the SSC's grave, Sherwood Boehlert, ranking minority member on
the Subcommittee, threatened to "picket the White House" if the
HEP budget doesn't get the Drell bump of $150M over three years.
But in testimony before the Subcommittee, Martha Krebs, director
of energy research at DOE, was hedging. Getting the $150M
budget increase, she allowed, "will be a measure of my success."
3. "SCIENCE IN AMERICAN LIFE" -- IS SCIENCE THE GOD THAT FAILED?
Tours of the Smithsonian's new permanent exhibit are conducted by
a middle-aged docent wearing a white lab coat and carrying a clip
board. "In the 1920s," he recites, "we thought scientists were
gods. Now we know they're the source of our biggest problems."
That pretty well sums up the exhibit! "Science in American Life"
begins with a recreation of the chemistry lab at Johns Hopkins
where saccharin was discovered in 1879, complete with life-sized
talking manikins of Ira Remson and Constantine Fahlberg. But the
two scientists are not discussing coal-tar chemistry, they are in
a bitter dispute over credit for the discovery. And so it goes.
The focus is not on discovery, but on the public's changing view
of science -- a view that is certain to worsen as a result of the
exhibit. It's all there: mushroom clouds, a family bomb shelter
from the 60s, DDT and CFCs. A section on wartime plutonium
production at Hanford notes that workers' living quarters were
segregated by race and sex. As you leave the exhibit, there is a
sign warning visitors to "Stop and Think! Is gene therapy safe?"
4. BUT CHICAGO IS REPLACING ITS GANGSTER IMAGE WITH A PHYSICIST!
A billboard advertising local favorite Old Style beer pictured Al
Capone with the caption, "Al persuaded all his friends to try Old
Style." After complaints from Italian-Americans, Heilman Brewing
agreed to replace Al with Italian-American Enrico Fermi. Perhaps
the caption will be, "Enrico tried Old Style and went critical."