Friday, 8 August 97 Washington, DC
1. BROOKHAVEN: AUI WILL NOT SUBMIT A BID TO MANAGE THE LAB.
Lyle Schwartz, President of Associated Universities, Inc., announced
this week that AUI, which managed BNL for 50 years, will not bid for a
new management contract. Explaining the decision, Schwartz pointed
out that the DOE request for proposals to manage the lab calls for a
contracting team. However, Martha Krebs, Director of the DOE Office
of Energy Research and an ex-officio member of the board that will
evaluate the proposals, publicly stated that, "AUI, as presently
configured, is not acceptable." Schwartz notes bitterly that such
statements "effectively eliminated" AUI by discouraging potential team
partners. SUNY Stony Brook and Battelle make up the only announced
team so far, but Newsday reports that RPI and Westinghouse are
teaming to make a bid.
2. PERFORMANCE ANXIETY: LIMP RESPONSE BY SCIENCE AGENCIES.
The 1993 Government Performance and Results Act requires agencies to
submit strategic plans to Congress by 30 Sept explaining how they
plan to measure performance. House Science Committee Chair James
Sensenbrenner (R-WI) this week warned NSF, DOE, Commerce and NASA that
their strategic plans are deficient. The problem, of course, is
finding an appropriate metric for research output. Scientists worry
that a metric will inevitably shift the emphasis toward research goals
that are easily quantified. Basic research would almost certainly
suffer in that case. Some agency officials are therefore arguing for
peer review evaluation as the metric.
3. FREE ENERGY: "OVER UNITY" DEVICES GENERATE FREE PARANOIA.
Among the 80 or so sessions at the 32nd Energy Conversion Engineering
Conference in Honolulu last week, four were devoted to "Innovative
Concepts," which turned out to be a euphemism for violations of the
first law of thermodynamics, e.g. free energy from space quanta
manipulation, Patterson cells (cold fusion), high-density charge
clusters, etc. Does this look like a really hot field or what?
Alas, there was less than meets the eye. All four sessions were
organized and chaired by Patrick Bailey, an engineer at
Lockheed-Martin, who gave his affiliation as the Institute for
New Energy. Bailey also gave most of the talks. The talks were
content free, but there were important questions raised like,
"Is there an attempt by the government to suppress free energy
devices?" and "Why is project HAARP planning to modulate the aurora
at frequencies similar to brain waves?"
4. ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: MORE FROM THE NATION'S TOP HOMEOPATH.
Wayne Jonas, director of the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine, was
interviewed in the current issue of the OAM newsletter. "We have
people in both extremes," he said, "advocates who believe in their
alternative therapy wholeheartedly and not in science, and skeptics
who disbelieve it wholeheartedly and believe in science. The truth
is that reality is probably somewhere in between."