Friday, 22 August 97 Washington, DC
1. SPACE STATION: GAO SAYS OVERRUNS COME OUT OF SCIENCE BUDGET.
Before Congress left town, Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AK), who has
announced he will not run again, went down fighting in his lonely
battle against the space station. In an eloquent hour and a half
speech to an empty Senate chamber, Bumpers quoted from the 1991
congressional testimony of APS President Nicolaas Bloembergen
that "microgravity is of microimportance." He also quoted a new
GAO report that is not yet public. WN has obtained a draft; it
states that in the period from April 96 to May 97 cost overruns
on the $100B ISS more than tripled. NASA transferred $462M from
science to development to cover these overruns -- and there is
another six years of assembly to go. Bumper's amendment to kill
the International Space Station lost by more than two to one.
2. MIR: RUSSIAN STATION CONTINUES TO PROVIDE DISASTER TRAINING.
"It's invaluable experience," according to Jerry Grey of the
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Well, if
that's what NASA is looking for, Mir is the right machine. It
explains the decision to replace science experiments on the cargo
manifest of Atlantis with additional repair parts. Atlantis is
scheduled to take astronaut David Wolf to Mir on Sept. 25. On
the bright side, neither the raiding of the ISS science budget
nor the dropping of planned "science" experiments on Mir is
expected to have any noticeable impact on scientific progress.
3. ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: ABC NEWS LOOKS AT BIOMAGNETIC THERAPY.
Last week's health report on ABC News said, "It has been called a
secret weapon to deal with aches and pains" -- little magnets you
attach to an injured area. They cost up to $89 each and you can
find them at your golf pro shop. (While you're there you can pick
up a Quadro Tracker golf ball finder. The instructions caution
that the ball you find may not be YOUR ball, since the Tracker
"is tuned to the average DNA of golf balls.") We see celebrity
athletes like Dan Marino using the magnets, but how do they work?
An uh "expert," identified as the CEO of the company that sells
them, explains: "Humans are magnetic, every cell has a positive
and a negative side to it." It's up to reporter Juju Chang to
put this technical jargon into words the audience can relate to.
With the aid of an animated graphic, she explains that "magnets
create a weak electric charge that increases blood flow to the
injured area." The graphic confirms this. Still no scientists?
Wait, here comes a man in a white lab smock now! Sigh, it's a
physical therapist who has done "research" on magnet therapy. Ok,
so a physical therapist is not exactly a scientist. He found no
physiological effects. Conclusion? "Research is needed to find
out if magnets work." Juju sums up: "The effectiveness of magnets
has not been definitively proven." You could say that. She adds
a caution, don't use them around credit cards or pregnant women.