Friday, 5 July 96 Washington, DC
1. NASA: LOCKHEED PICKED TO BUILD THE "REUSABLE LAUNCH VEHICLE."
Six months ago, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin told U.S. rocket developers they "should hang their head in shame" at the $10,000 a pound cost of putting a payload in orbit (WN 23 Feb 96). The goal of the X-33 is launch payloads at one tenth the cost with a single-stage-to-orbit unmanned reusable vehicle. Skeptics doubt the cost can be cut more than 50%. Moreover, estimates are based on as many as 40 launches per year -- but what would they be launching? Golden gushed that the new vehicle will allow hundreds of astronauts to travel to space each year. Aughhh!
2. JAPAN: SUPPORT FOR BASIC RESEARCH EXPECTED TO DOUBLE BY 2000.
A two-year economic slump in Japan resulted in a sharp cut back in corporate research. The response of the government, however, has been very different. The first response was to increase the number of post-doctoral fellowships for foreigners (WN 3 Nov 95). Now, responding to a recommendation of the Science Council of Japan (WN 19 Jan 96), the government has announced plans to double its investment in research by the year 2000. The emphasis will be on upgrading university faculty and research facilities.
3. NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING: LAWYERS LICK THEIR CHOPS.
Less than a year after his election as President of the National Academy of Engineering, Harold Liebowitz was unelected by a vote of 1179-179. The Council of the National Academy of Sciences had censured Liebowitz four months earlier (WN 1 Mar 96), but before they could vote him out, NAE members had to approve a change in bylaws to allow a recall. Elected to the $270,000, perk-laden job for a six-year term, he has vowed to take it to the courts.
4. ETHICS: DAVID BALTIMORE IS VINDICATED -- JOHN DINGELL IS NOT.
A federal appeals board last week rejected all 19 charges of misconduct against Thereza Imanishi-Kari who collaborated with Baltimore on a disputed 1986 paper. When Baltimore defended her in Congressional hearings, Dingell called on the Secret Service for forensic examination of her laboratory notebooks. The Secret Service determined beyond any doubt that she kept really sloppy notebooks (WN 18 May 90). Exoneration has taken ten long years.
5. CELLULAR PHONES: PHYSICIST CONTRIBUTES TO THE EMF NOISE LEVEL.
According to physicist Theodore Litovitz, radiation from digital cellular phones could result in adverse health effects. Lucky for us, the Catholic University professor has discovered that the biologic response can be blocked by generating low-frequency random electrical noise. Professor Litovitz previously marketed a computer keyboard that generated EMF noise to block harmful effects of coherent fields emanating from computers (WN 27 May 94). WN is confident that not a single person who used the Litovitz keyboard suffered any harm from their computer's EMF.