Friday, 7 Oct 94 Washington, DC
1. THE PHYSICS OF IMMORALITY: PHYSICIST DERIVES EXISTENCE OF GOD!
Something happens to scientists who spend too much time thinking
about the anthropic principle. In the case of Tulane cosmologist
Frank Tipler, it's an awful book. In "The Physics of Immortality:
Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead," Tipler
contends that "physicists can infer by calculation the existence
of God and the likelihood of the resurrection of the dead to
eternal life in exactly the same way as physicists calculate the
properties of the electron." And even if they can't, they can at
least derive a formula for getting on the best seller list. The
publisher, Doubleday, is betting Tipler got the formula right. Of
course, you won't be resurrected right away; you have to wait for
the end of the universe -- and you're coming back as a computer.
2. THE DEDICATION OF THE NATIONAL HIGH MAGNETIC FIELD LABORATORY
took place on Saturday in Tallahassee--not Cambridge--ending a
four-year controversy that began when the National Science Board
overruled the recommendation of two peer review panels that the
lab be built at MIT (WN 5 Jul 91).
The most important magnetic
field facility in the world was built on time and under budget,
with strong state and local support, effectively silencing its
critics. The NHMFL is a collaboration between the University of
Florida, Florida State University and Los Alamos National Lab.
3. "WE DON'T MAKE EARMARKS, THEY ARE MADE UP HERE ON THE HILL,"
Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch testified yesterday at a
House SS&T Committee hearing. Lots of them, it turns out; in the
five years since John Murtha (D-PA) became Defense Appropriations
chair, nearly $1B of DOD's budget has gone for academic earmarks.
About a third of that went to schools in Pennsylvania, mostly in
the 12th Cong. Dist. -- Murtha's district; the rest went to the
U. of Pittsburgh, which is Murtha's alma mater, and to schools in
the 10th Cong. Dist., represented by Joseph McDade (R-PA) ranking
minority on the Committee. DOD does at least review earmarks for
merit before funding them, but the Chief Financial Officer of DOE
acknowledged that DOE will fund anything appropriators ask for.
4. 1994 IG NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS ARE HONORED, IN A FASHION, AT MIT!
The Physics prize went to the Japanese Meteorological Agency for
its seven-year study of a possible link between catfish wiggling
their tails and earthquakes. The Peace prize went to physicist
John Hagelin for his experiment to reduce crime in Washington, DC
by the coherent meditation of 4,000 TM experts
(WN 25 Jun 93). By
coincidence, Hagelin was holding a press conference to announce
his final results. It was a data analysis clinic; violent crime,
he proudly declared, decreased 18%! Relative to what? To the
predictions of "time-series analysis" involving variables such as
temperature and the economy. So although the weekly murder count
hit the highest level ever recorded, it was less than predicted.