Friday, 9 Sep 94 Washington, DC
1. THE 1994 NATIONAL MEDAL OF SCIENCE RECIPIENTS ARE ANNOUNCED!
Albert Overhauser, Stuart Distinguished Professor of Physics at
Purdue, was among the eight. Best known for the dynamic nuclear
polarization effect that bears his name, he also predicted spin
and charge density waves, for which he received the 1975 Oliver
Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society. In introducing
the recipients at a press conference yesterday, Jack Gibbons, the
President's Science Advisor, stressed the practical dividends of
Overhauser's discoveries. Overhauser remarked that he "did not
foresee any application." Gibbons also noted that the prediction
of the Overhauser effect was initially greeted with skepticism.
Reflecting a widely held public perception, a reporter asked how
Overhauser had overcome the notorious resistance of scientists to
new ideas. Overhauser said that in less than a year Slichter at
Illinois had confirmed his prediction experimentally, and that
ended the doubts. Asked why he chose physics, he said, "Here, but
for one extraordinary physics teacher, goes a saxophone player."
2. "A SPACE PHYSICS PARADOX": SPENDING MORE -- AND GETTING LESS!
Although funding of space physics research has increased in the
past decade, a National Research Council report concludes that
its effectiveness has declined. The report attributes much of
this decline to "ever-increasing reliance on large programs," as
well as rising university overhead rates and poor planning and
management. The report also warns that, not only is the average
age of researchers increasing, young researchers are less likely
to become experimentalists; "In a field as empirically driven as
space physics, this is an ominous trend." Its not hard to find
reasons: in the 60's, the average time from start to launch of an
experiment was 3 years, about right for a graduate student; by
the 90's it was up to 9 years. In an era of shrinking budgets,
this is gloomy stuff. So NRC has created a new "Future of Space
Science" panel to figure out how to spend less -- and get more.
3. UFO UPDATE: AIR FORCE ADMITS WRECKAGE WAS NO WEATHER BALLOON!
You will recall that Rep. Steven Schiff (R-NM) has been putting
pressure on the Air Force to come clean about the 1947 "Roswell
(WN 14 Jan 94).
At his request the General Accounting
Office initiated an audit to locate all records relating to the
incident. In support of that effort, the Air Force initiated a
systematic search for records, and Air Force Secretary Sheila
Widnall released all persons involved from security obligations
that might have restricted their statements. What emerges from
the Air Force report is that the debris was from Project Mogul, a
top secret NYU program to detect Soviet a-bomb tests using long-
range balloons. This, of course, does not explain why humanoid
aliens with suction cups on their fingers were on board
(WN 4 Sept 92).
NEXT WEEK: Was a police psychic used to read the mind
of the dog that witnessed the murders in the O.J. Simpson case?