Friday, 18 Aug 95 Washington, DC
1. "ULTRA SLIM-FAST" PROVEN TO REDUCE SCIENCE TEACHERS TO DWEEBS!
It is arguably the most offensive characterization of a scientist since Dr. Strangelove, and it takes just 30 seconds. The scene is a faculty lounge. Fat-assed substitute teacher hyperventilates over ravishing female in revealing knit dress. In what passes for science-speak on the tube, she is explaining how Ultra Slim-Fast does whatever it is they claim it does. "Boy," lardo exclaims admiringly, "you science teachers know everything." As jugs wiggles out of the room she turns and purrs, "I'm Phys-Ed, he's
Science," pointing to a revolting imbecile with a bad complexion, huge spectacles, plastic pocket liner, oversized-bow tie and a bulging Adam's-apple. In this politically-correct era, scientists may be the only group left that advertisers can safely ridicule.
2. HERE'S ONE PROGRAM ULTRA SLIM-FAST MAY NOT WANT TO SPONSOR.
Leon Lederman and Jerry Wheeler have money from DOE and NSF to develop a pilot for a TV series in which scientists would be portrayed as attractive, with-it, good guys. Each week they would use their brains and pluck to expose a different psychic, dowser, astrologer, or maybe a scientific con-artist marketing computer keyboards that are supposed to protect users from electromagnetic fields. They could call it "Quack Watch." Maybe in one episode they could investigate the claims of weight-loss products.
3. NASA CUTS SHUTTLE OPERATING COSTS BY ELIMINATING NON-FLIGHTS.
About a fourth of NASA's $14B budget will go to operate the space shuttle in FY 96. That's down 22%. But a GAO study concludes
NASA must reduce shuttle costs another $2.8 from 1996 to 2000.
How did they cut it this far? The largest single reduction was from simply cutting the planned number of flights from 10 to 7 per year. This causes no problem whatever since not once in the
14-year history of the program has NASA even come close to 10 flights. Now, with the shuttle grounded indefinitely with O-ring trouble, NASA may want to consider an even more realistic number.
4. HEALTH: EAT A LOW-FAT DIET, EXERCISE AND USE A CELLULAR PHONE.
It all started, you will recall, when a grieving widower brought suit against cellular phone companies in 1993 after his wife died of brain cancer (WN 29 Jan 93). "She talked on the phone all the time and put it against her head," he mourned on Larry King Live. How much proof do you want? Well, if you're into statistics, a massive study is underway that will eventually include a million users. Preliminary results based on a cohort of 260,000 found no difference between cellular-phone users and a control group of mobile-phone users. Since the mobile-phone antenna is external, there is no brain exposure. But the most striking finding is that age-specific mortality of cellular-phone users is significantly below that of the overall U.S. population. So skip the broccoli, and spend a little extra time with your cellular phone.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)