Friday, 21 Oct 94 Washington, DC
1. "NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR U.S. HISTORY": SCIENCE? WHAT SCIENCE?
This stupifyingly PC version of American history is expected to
be approved under the Goals 2000: Educate America Act of 1994; it
will then become the history standard for grades 5-12. "History,"
it explains in the preface, "is an extraordinarily dynamic field
today." Is it ever! It's being completely reinvented! We used
to joke about the Soviets rewriting history to make it fit their
politics. But whatever history is, science isn't part of it. A
word search of the 250-page document turned up only one reference
to "science"--in a list of activities from which women have been
excluded. Nor could I find mention of a single scientist. But
then, George Washington also failed to make the cut. A search
for "scientific" turned up the following gem: "The swordplay of
the U.S. and the Soviet Union rightfully claims attention because
it led to the Korean and Vietnam wars, Berlin airlift, the Cuban
missile crisis, American intervention in many parts of the world,
a huge investment in scientific research and environmental damage
that will take generations to rectify." So may this history.
2. PHYSICS ON VIDEO: "THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF ELECTROMAGNETISM."
Physics faculty have been receiving advertisements from Films for
the Humanities & Sciences in Princeton, NJ, for a new series of
three videos on "The Uses of Electricity." The trilogy, which
consists of Medical Applications, Harmful Effects, and Microwaves
and Weaponry, was produced in England. We paid $149 to get a look
at Harmful Effects. The scene opens in Fishpond, Dorset, in the
shadow of a 400kV power line: local residents are complaining of
tiredness, the town's health officer says suicides are up, and a
farmer complains that his chickens are laying scrambled eggs.
This is not surprising, we are told by "American scientist Robert
Becker," who was "twice nominated for a Nobel prize." Could this
be the same Dr. Becker (an orthopedic surgeon) who found in 1963
that admissions to psychiatric treatment facilities go up during
solar magnetic storms? The very same. Well, you get the idea.
3. NATIONAL IGNITION FACILITY GETS GO AHEAD FROM THE WHITE HOUSE!
Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary will announce later this evening
that the President's FY96 budget request will call for a National
Ignition Facility to be built at Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
The total cost of the huge laser system is put at more than $1B.
In the first year, however, the Administration is only expected
to ask for about $6M for design. Nevertheless, it's a new start,
and new starts are an endangered species. The NIF must surely
have been cleared with the Galvin Committee, which is preparing
its recommendations for the future of the weapons labs. LLNL is
pinning its hopes for survival on the NIF, which will be used for
research on inertial confinement and nuclear weapons. Secretary
O'Leary is expected to be joined by embattled Senate candidate
Dianne Feinstein at Livermore for the official announcement.