Friday, 18 Nov 94 Washington, DC
1. ASTRONOMY SCANDAL GROWS! THE "MISSING MASS" IS STILL MISSING!
Is "dark matter" really dark, or just ordinary stuff residing in
dim little stars that can't be seen with ordinary telescopes?
If it's ordinary matter, new surveys with Hubble should have been
swarming with "red dwarfs." Instead, they came up almost empty.
That leaves 90% of the matter in the universe still unaccounted
for. That's just fine with physicists, who secretly fear running
out of mysteries. This should intensify the search for WIMPS.
2. APS OBJECTS TO THE SMITHSONIAN'S "SCIENCE IN AMERICAN LIFE"!
At its meeting on 6 Nov 94, the elected Council of the APS asked
President Burton Richter "to convey its profound dismay" over an
exhibit at the Museum of American History
(WN 17 Jun 94). In a
letter to the Smithsonian's Secretary, I. Michael Heyman, Richter
said APS members found the exhibit to be "a portrayal of science
that trivializes its accomplishments and exaggerates any negative
consequences." Richter offered the cooperation of the APS in
developing a more balanced portrayal of the impact of science.
3. AND NOW WE HAVE THE "NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR WORLD HISTORY."
The same group that managed to leave science out of U.S. history
(WN 21 Oct 94) has now
done the same for world history. Well,
science is not entirely neglected: in one exercise, students are
asked to discuss why science has "failed to eradicate hunger,
poverty and disease." Neglect of science appears to be a natural
consequence of the demotion of Western civilization. This latest
product of the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA
has been greeted as warmly as its U.S. standards. In an appeal to
historians to resist "these fierce attacks," Ross Dunn, an editor
of the standards, warns that "critics are attacking the entire
enterprise of world history and its teaching practitioners." Wow!
4. HOUSE CLEANING: BOB LIVINGSTON (R-LA) TO CHAIR APPROPRIATIONS.
The ranking member, Joseph McDade (R-PA), stepped aside because
he's under indictment. The next three in line, Myers (IN), Young
(FL) and Regula (OH) were reportedly passed over because of their
opposition last year to the Penny-Kasich spending cuts
(WN 12 Nov 93).
The best strategy for science this year may be to support
prayer in schools and persuade the kiddies to pray for science.
5. CRITICAL READERS SAY "CRITICAL MASS" LACKED A CRITICAL CAVEAT!
Anyone could tell you that mixing bombs and power reactors is not
a good idea; huge numbers of readers reminded me of this after I
screwed up a comment on the use of enriched uranium in neutron
sources (WN 4 Nov 94)--and then
dug the hole deeper a week later
(WN 11 Nov 94). I am,
of course, deeply grateful for their help,
but I am reluctant to attempt any more "clarifications." Not
since I attributed a biblical passage to John, which was actually
from Acts (WN 8 May 92),
have I had this much reader response.