Friday, 14 Oct 1994 Washington, DC
1. 1994 NOBEL PRIZE IS WON FOR DEVELOPMENT OF NEUTRON SCATTERING!
The prize was shared by Bertram Brockhouse of McMaster University
for neutron spectroscopy, and Clifford Shull of MIT for neutron
diffraction. It was based on work they did nearly a half century
ago, but neutron scattering has since become indispensable in the
study of light-atom crystallography, atomic motion in solids, and
magnetic materials. Ironically, Nobel recognition comes as rumors
circulate that DOE has dropped the Advanced Neutron Source from
its FY96 asking budget; Congress rejected DOE's request for funds
to begin construction of the troubled reactor in the current year
(WN 1 Jul 94). It's been ten years
since the Seitz-Eastman panel
ranked ANS as the second-highest priority for materials science
facilities, behind a 6 GeV synchrotron photon source (WN 3 Aug
84). The Advanced Photon Source is nearing completion at Argonne
National Laboratory; it is ahead of schedule and within budget.
2. COURT UPHOLDS NSF'S POLICY OF WITHHOLDING NAMES OF REVIEWERS!
A year ago, an NSF panel rejected a proposal from Dynamic In Situ
Geotechnical Testing, Inc. to evaluate a device for testing soil
stability in earthquake prone areas. Wanda Henke, the president
of the company, wanted to know who found fault (so to speak) with
her proposal. In spite of assurances of confidentially, NSF
provided her with a list of the 12 panel members(!), but declined
to identify the four that drafted written evaluations; naturally,
Henke went to court. It was the first test of whether a federal
agency could withhold, under the Privacy Act, names of reviewers
who evaluate grant proposals. A District Court judge ruled that
NSF acted properly under an exemption to the Federal Privacy Act
protecting identities of persons who evaluate federal contracts.
3. A DOE "TASK FORCE ON STRATEGIC ENERGY RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT"
has been named by Secretary Hazel O'Leary. The Secretary wants
an independent assessment of DOE's $1.8B portfolio of applied
energy R&D programs. The high-level panel is chaired by Daniel
Yergin, President of Cambridge Energy Research Associates and
author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, "The Prize: The Epic
Quest for Oil, Money and Power." There is ample representation
of "oil, money and power" on the 31-member task force. Only five
could be classified as academics and only three mention research
in their biographies, including Mark Ross, professor of physics,
University of Michigan, and David Shirley, VP at Penn State, a
physical chemist. At the first meeting on Wednesday, Secretary
O'Leary asked the panel for an interim report on DOE priorities
by 1 June 1995 as part of a new National Energy Policy Plan.
4. DOD LOOKS TO COMMERCIAL SECTOR FOR CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGIES!
In the preface to "Defense Science & Technology Strategy," John
Deutch, Deputy Secretary of Defense, acknowledges that DOD must
increasingly rely on commercially derived products for its needs.