Friday, 26 Jan 96 Washington, DC
1. NSF: THE "STONY SILENCE" IS BROKEN -- AT LEAST BY SCIENTISTS.
Responding to last week's alert (WN 19 Jan 96),
physicists buried Capitol Hill in a blizzard of calls/e-mail/etc. -- more than 2000
contacts in 4 days.
And it wasn't just the physicists calling; other societies that issued alerts,
such as the American Society for Cell Biology, report a massive response from
their members. Surprised Appropriations Committee staff said that no one from
NSF or OSTP had made them aware of the severity of the problem.
2. TRAIN WRECK V: DISASTER AVERTED -- NEXT COLLISION IS MARCH 15.
The House passed another temporary spending bill last night, but this
one could be described as a compromise -- a word not much in use in
Washington recently. Most agencies, including NSF and NASA would be
funded at the full FY 95 level; programs targeted for extinction, such
as the Advanced Technology Program, are at 75%.
3. STATE-OF-THE-UNION: SCIENCE FARES WORSE THAN SCHOOL UNIFORMS.
For the second year in a row, President Clinton delivered a long
(61 minutes) list of concerns to Congress without once mentioning
science. And for the second year in a row, Robert Walker (R-PA) issued
a statement chastising the President for his omission (
WN 3 Feb 95). But last year, Walker was
merely "disappointed"--this year, he found it "inconceivable." Walker
criticized Mr. Clinton for continuing "to oppose appropriations bills
containing funds for basic research," which is true, but incidental.
Science is not under attack, it has simply been left out of the debate.
4. DOWSED: THE FBI CLOSES DOWN QUADRO AND ARRESTS ITS OFFICERS.
WN reported on Quadro's high-tech dowsing rods two weeks ago (
WN 12 Jan 96). Saturday, the FBI moved in
and charged the company's officers with fraud in the sale of more than a
thousand of its "Trackers," mostly to law enforcement agencies and
schools. Ace quack buster James Randi described what the FBI found at
Quadro's "secret research facility" in Harleyville, SC: To "tune"
Trackers to substances such as cocaine, a Polaroid photo of cocaine
powder was repeatedly enlarged with an office copier until the molecular
structure could be seen. A tiny piece of the final picture was inserted
into the device. A lawyer for the Quadro Corporation said "It's clear
that the FBI doesn't understand how it works."
5. IBM SCIENCE: BEAM ME UP SCOTTY, IT'S GETTING CRAZY DOWN HERE.
"Stand by. I'll teleport you some goulash...An IBM scientist and his
colleagues have discovered a way to make objects disintegrate in one
place and reappear intact in another," according to an ad in February's
Scientific American. Tipped off by a WN reader, I sent an e-mail to
"askIBM" requesting more information. "Hello Bob," came back, "This is
still under development and no further information is currently
available. Thank You for using askIBM. Roseann." Are they having
trouble with the di-lithium crystals?