Friday, 13 Oct 95 Washington, DC
FLASH! HOUSE REPUBLICANS AGREE TO KILL COMMERCE -- BUT SAVE NIST!
Chairs of eleven committees that oversee Commerce just agreed to
a revised Commerce Dismantling Act that would preserve both NIST
and NOAA in a new National Institute of Science & Technology.
1. PARTICLES: NOBEL COMMITTEE DISCOVERS A COUPLE OF OVERSIGHTS.
Two Americans, Frederick Reines of the University of California,
Irvine, and Martin L. Perl of SLAC, both of whom are Fellows of
the American Physical Society, shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in
Physics. The discovery of the neutrino by Reines and Clyde L.
Cowan forty years ago provided the direction for the "standard
model" of fundamental particles. Twenty years later, Perl's
discovery of the tau lepton nailed it down by demonstrating the
existence of a postulated third family of fundamental particles.
2. NOBEL PEACE PRIZE IS AWARDED TO MANHATTAN PROJECT PHYSICIST.
Joseph Rotblat, a member of the APS, was one of eleven scientists
behind the Russell-Einstein manifesto that led to the Pugwash
Conferences. Pugwash deals with the responsibility of scientists
for their inventions. Rotblat, who studied nuclear physics under
Chadwick, was one of the few non-citizens at Los Alamos. He left
when it became apparent that Germany would not get the bomb and
switched to medical physics. At 87, he remains active in Pugwash.
3. CHEMISTRY PRIZE IS AWARDED FOR WORK IN ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY.
Paul Crutzen, Mario Molina, and Sherwood Rowland shared the 1995
Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their pioneering work in atmospheric
chemistry, particularly concerning formation and decomposition of
the ozone layer. In the words of the Swedish Academy: "...the
three researchers have contributed to our salvation from a global
environmental problem that could have catastrophic consequences."
4. DANA ROHRABACHER DID NOT SHARE THE NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY.
Just three weeks ago, Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA) presided over a
hearing on "Stratospheric Ozone: Myths and Realities," stacked
with scientists who deny the evidence of CFC destruction of the
ozone. In yesterday's debate on the omnibus science bill (WN 6
Oct 95), Rohrabacher defended the emphasis given to a minority
scientific view. He noted that at one time the consensus of the
scientific community was that the sun revolved around the earth.
Alas, to wear the mantle of Galileo, you must first be right.
5. HOUSE PASSES THE OMNIBUS CIVILIAN SCIENCE AUTHORIZATION ACT.
It sailed through 248 to 161, in spite of a contentious debate
over the extent to which the bill gutted long-range environmental
research. The significance of the bill is unclear; it is unlikely
ever to become law. There are no plans for a similar bill in the
Senate, which is not very keen about authorization bills anyway.
However, it could influence House Appropriations Subcommittees.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's
and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)