Friday, 28 Oct 94 Washington, DC
1. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE ANNOUNCES $170M IN "FOCUSED" AWARDS.
year ago, the DOC asked a select group of industrial and academic
scientists what research would have the greatest economic impact,
would receive strong industrial support and would require federal
funding. The Administration liked what it heard--or vice versa.
The money is going exclusively to healthcare and info technology.
2. "WE SUPPORT RESEARCH; NOW WHICH NATIONAL LAB WOULD YOU CLOSE?"
Twenty percent of the activities of the national labs is related
to basic research, and the DOE's Basic Energy Sciences Advisory
Committee (BESAC) wants to make sure that the 20% does not go
unnoticed. With the Galvin Committee's outline for the future of
the national labs due Feb. 1, a representative of BESAC asked,
and was given the opportunity, to brief the committee on the
virtues of basic research. Evidently, the committee had a more
immediate concern: gloomy budget forecasts. They questioned the
surprised BESAC rep on the '90 euphemisms for "firing," such as
"consolidating resources" and "streamlining management." After
dodging a question on which weapons lab to close, he was asked,
"How do you think things would function if Germantown (the DOE
headquarters for project management) were closed down?" Gulp!
3. THE FUTURE OF BESAC RESEARCH. In order to provide "friends at
the Office of Management and Budget with some ammunition to fight
for money," BESAC formed a panel to research and write a report
on the return on taxpayers' investment in basic energy research.
But, at the recent BESAC meeting, an update of the panel's effort
met with doubt--reflecting a growing uncertainty over what the
government expects and what the times require. "Explaining the
past won't make any difference," one BESAC member observed, "the
Administration and Congress are looking for change." When another
member insisted that advertising the successful investments of
the past was crucial for future public support, he was countered
by a member who dismissed the need for promotion, claiming "the
public is already willing to fund science, but at a lower level."
Of course, a pop science book or a physics movie couldn't hurt.
4. POPULAR BOOK ON SCIENCE POPS-UP. Harper Collins Publishers
has just released "The Most Amazing Science Pop-Up Book." The
discussions of basic science are alongside pop-ups like a record
player and a microscope. Written for kids 9 and up, you can pass
it to Capitol Hill staffers when they ask, "Why fund science?"
5. HOLLYWOOD MOVIE ABOUT FEYNMAN'S LIFE--SURELY, THEY'RE JOKING?
Theoretical physics isn't a traditional box office draw, so actor
and director Matthew Broderick is relying on the steamier side of
the physicist's life. Broderick's "Infinity" merges the Feynman
intellect with "Pretty Woman" to create a sort of "Brief History
of Time" with an active libido. The film opens early next year.