Friday, 14 July 95 Washington, DC
1. SCIENCE FINALLY SHOWS UP ON PRESIDENT CLINTON'S RADAR SCREEN.
In 30 months of presidential speeches, Bill Clinton never once acknowledged the importance of science. He still hasn't, but on
Tuesday he did meet with his Council of Advisors on Science and
Technology for the first time. According to Charles Vest, the
President of MIT and a member of PCAST, Mr. Clinton called for a renewal of bipartisanship in science and technology policy. The only significance was that the President was there to say it.
2. ENERGY APPROPRIATIONS BILL PASSES HOUSE -- WITH A FEW CHANGES.
A $1M earmark for Livermore to study fusion by sonoluminescence, which was backed by Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), was stripped from the bill after Pete Stark (D-CA) suggested that the real purpose was to improve the bubbles in Livermore Valley champagne; $20M for research on a gas-cooled nuclear reactor was also eliminated.
A $45M earmark restored funds cut from solar renewable energy.
3. LHC: FLOOR COLLOQUY IN THE HOUSE DIPS A U.S. TOE IN THE WATER.
While most of the floor debate on an appropriations bill is just posturing for C-span, the occasional colloquy involving the chair of the appropriations subcommittee becomes part of the official record that instructs agencies on how Congress wants the money spent. In Tuesday's floor debate on the Energy and Water bill,
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) asked the chair, John Myers (R-IN), if it was true that the bill provides funding for preparatory work on the LHC. Myers responded that the appropriation includes
$6M for that purpose. If no one objects, that's all it takes.
4. HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE PRESERVES FUNDING FOR NIH.
The Kasich budget plan called for cutting the NIH budget 20% in
FY 96, followed by a freeze until 2002. But subcommittee chair
John Porter (R-IL) sold the House leadership (read "Gingrich") on going the other way, increasing NIH funding by 6% or $642M; not even the freshman budget hawks dared to buck the speaker. The lesson for physics is that there is flexibility in this Congress.
5. WALKER STOPS BEING COY ABOUT WANTING A DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE!
In April he was trying to sound ambivalent (WN 7 Apr 95), but in an interview on NPR this morning, the chair of the House Science
Committee said a Science Department would consolidate NSF, NASA,
NIST, NOAA, EPA and parts of DOE. It was the first time he has specifically included DOE among the departments he wants closed.
6. DISCOVERY OF BOSE-EINSTEIN CONDENSATION OF A GAS IS ANNOUNCED!
BEC is a well-established phenomena in superfluid helium and in excitons, but never before in a gas. It is stunning achievement. Researchers at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in
Boulder announced the discovery yesterday. The announcement was delayed until the work could be reviewed by other scientists.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)