Friday, 5 May 95 Washington, DC
1. FBI FINDS NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT SUDOPLATOV'S SPY
One year ago, Pavel Sudoplatov rescued himself from
obscurity by alleging in his memoirs that Fermi, Bohr, Oppenheimer and
Szilard were witting sources for the Soviet KGB (WN 22 Apr 94). At the
urging of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the FBI
undertook a review of its classified files. In a brief letter, FBI Director
Louis Freeh asserts the FBI has information that argues against
Sudoplatov's allegations. Unfortunately, he offers no more
documentation than Sudoplatov did--which is none. The FBI's reluctance
to release 50 year-old files is testimony to the need for the Clinton
declassification order (WN 21 Apr 95).
2. APS ADOPTS STATEMENT ON "POWER LINE FIELDS AND PUBLIC
The Council of the American Physical Society, by a vote of
29-1, declared that purported health effects of power line fields have not
been scientifically substantiated, and the cost of mitigation and litigation
"is incommensurate with the risk, if any." Since EMF was first linked to
cancer in 1979, epidemiological evidence has grown ever fainter and
proposed mechanisms more speculative. The Council action, taken at its
22 April meeting, was a result of several years of discussion and
monitoring of the issue by the APS Panel on Public Affairs, and was
endorsed by the leaders of the Biophysics Division of the Society. This
is the strongest position on the EMF issue taken by a major scientific
3. SECRETARY O'LEARY SAYS SHE WANTS TO "CUT THE CRAP OUT
What she has in mind is a 27% reduction in the agency's
employees over the next five years and elimination of 24 DOE offices
around the country. The staff in Germantown, MD will be cut about half.
The Secretary insisted the cuts will enable DOE "to do our work better
and at lower cost," raising the question of why it wasn't done earlier.
Predictably, Rep.Walker (R-PA) commended Secretary O'Leary, but
added that, although downsizing the bureaucracy is a useful first step,
"reorganization is not the end of the walk."
4. HYDROGEN BILL IMPOSES A SPENDING CAP ON ENERGY SUPPLY
The Hydrogen Future Act (WN 31 Mar 95) that passed the
House this week limits spending on energy supply R&D to the FY 95 level
for the next three years. Hydrogen research must therefore be offset
by cuts in other energy supply programs. That raises a curious problem.
Hydrogen (despite what the bill says) is not an energy source; unless
the Second Law of Thermodynamics can be repealed, the energy to
extract hydrogen from water is greater than the energy released by
burning it. Backers speak optimistically of using solar energy for
production, but solar energy research is one of the energy supply
programs that can expect to be cut to help pay for the hydrogen
research. It might be a good idea for the Office of Technology
Assessment to study the feasibility of the technical goals--if Congress
weren't about to abolish OTA.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's
and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)