WHAT'S NEW by Robert L.Park Friday, 25 Aug 95 Washington, DC
1. "MAJOR EMF REPORT"? OR JUST A MAJOR GOOF BY SCIENCE MAGAZINE?
"Microwave News," a bimonthly newsletter that has been living off news of reported health effects of non-ionizing radiation for 15 years, published what it claimed was a draft report by a panel of the National Council on Radiation Protection. Charles Meinhold,
NCRP President, completely disavowed the document, saying it had
"absolutely no standing." The "report" contains no references, but the information on which it appears to be based has been dismissed by other groups, including the APS, as inconclusive or worse. The document, which calls for "a substantive national commitment to further research," was written by EMF researchers.
Some NCRP members told WHAT'S NEW they believe the statement was leaked precisely because it had no chance of adoption. In fact, the draft hasn't even been approved by the panel itself. If it ever is, it will still face review by selected experts, as well as by the 75 member NCRP Council and 50 "Liaison Organizations." Nevertheless, Science Magazine carried a summary of the Microwave
News story with a headline describing the not-even-a-draft as a
"Major EMF Report," which is the impression Microwave News sought to convey. August news must be slow for Science Magazine to resort to dredging stories from a source like Microwave News.
2. NASA SEES NO URGENCY IN SEARCH FOR "EARTH-CROSSING" ASTEROIDS.
Congress got itself worked up over the asteroid threat last year and called on NASA to produce a 10-year plan to catalogue "Near
Earth Objects." NASA has been providing about $1M per year to locate objects in "Earth-crossing" orbits. At this rate it will take about a century to finish the job. A NASA study team headed by Eugene Shoemaker came up with a 10-year plan calling for $24M to cover the first five years and $3.5M per year thereafter. The
Shoemaker report was delivered to the Science Committee, but NASA recommended against the new program. On the time scale of major asteroid impacts, a hundred years seemed to be soon enough.
3. MISSILE DEFENSE: COMPROMISE EXPECTED WHEN THE SENATE RETURNS.
The first issue when the Senate gets back to work on 5 Sept will be an attempt to soften the Star Wars language they agreed to on the day they left (WN 11 Aug 95). The current language amounts to an immediate abrogation of the ABM Treaty--the compromise puts abrogation off a few years. Senate leaders want to give President
Clinton room to back out of his threatened veto of the defense bill. But it's not clear that Russia would accept the compromise.
Russia could refuse to ratify Start-2 and back out of Start-1.
4. S. CHANDRASEKHAR, WHO SHARED THE 1983 NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS
, died on Monday at 84. His work on collapsed stars led to the theory of "black holes." Subramanyan Chandrasekhar was on the
University of Chicago faculty for nearly 60 years. A highly cultured man, he looked on physics as an aesthetic experience.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)