Friday, 18 October 96 Washington, DC
1. U.S. NOBELISTS SPEAK OUT ON DECLINING SUPPORT FOR SCIENCE.
Of the ten nobelists announced last week, six are from the U.S. Of the six, five were supported in their prize winning work by the NSF. Yesterday, at a press conference in Washington, the five returned the favor. Lee, Osheroff and Richardson, who shared the physics prize, joined chemistry winners Smalley and Curl in a passionate appeal for stable, long-term support of basic science. The five argued that science, particularly basic science, is in a state of decay in the US. Industry, it was pointed out, no longer supports basic science, and federal support as a percentage of the GDP is declining. Bob Richardson referred to science as the "invisible" issue in the fall political campaign and lamented the "abysmal" state of science education in the United States.
2. REPORT ON SCIENCE AND MATH EDUCATION: "NO ONE'S AT THE HELM."
In fact, there is no helm. On Tuesday, the results of the Third International Math and Science Study were released. Supported by the ubiquitous NSF, the study found US standards unfocused and aimed at the lowest common denominator. "A Splintered Vision: An Investigation of U.S. Science and Math Education" concludes that the poor performance of American students is to be expected, in light of our fragmented curriculum. Moreover, U.S. textbooks, which cover far more topics than is typical in other countries, emphasize the less demanding. They are, according to the report, "a mile wide and an inch deep." (Converting that to metric: 1.61 kilometers wide and 2.54 centimeters deep.) Unfortunately, the same criticism applies to this wordy, unfocused report.
3. APS & AIP ANNOUNCE 1997-98 CONGRESSIONAL SCIENCE FELLOWSHIPS.
Fellowships are for one year, usually running September through August. Fellows work on the staff of a congressional committee or on the personal staff of a member of Congress. Qualifications include a PhD in physics or closely related field, demonstrated interest in science policy and, preferably, some experience in applying science to societal problems. The stipend is $45,000 plus travel, relocation and health insurance allowances. For details check http://www.aps.org/public_affairs/
4. ERASING THE DWEEB IMAGE: 1997 STUDMUFFINS OF SCIENCE CALENDAR.
The tasteful motif this year, for those who might not recognize it, is a model of a testosterone molecule. This year's calendar features a significantly greater skin-to-Lycra ratio, and for the first time, a Nobel laureate, Rich Roberts, as Dr. December. He shared the 1993 prize in medicine for the discovery of split jeans. Just call the toll-free number (888) PHD-DATE. But there is competition! The Annals of Improbable Research is calling for entries for the Annual Swimsuit Issue. Age, sex, physical condition or area of science are not barriers to entry. Send your entries to Swim Suit, Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238.