Friday, 5 September 97 Washington, DC
1. CASSINI: LAUNCH DELAY HAS NASA ON EDGE.
Amid reports that anti-nuclear
protestors are plotting to disrupt the launch of the Cassini mission to
Saturn by parachuting into the Cape or by sending a fleet of boats into
the overfly zone (WN 29 Aug 97), NASA must
now contend with damage to the
spacecraft caused by an unexplained mishap on the ground. The Oct 6
launch date is expected to be set back by at least a week. The launch
window slams shut on Nov 15. Power for Cassini, and the European-built
Huygens probe that will parachute into the atmosphere of Titan, is supplied
by Pu-238 thermoelectric generators. The anti-nukes seem less concerned
about a launch accident than with the Earth flyby that is part of the
complicated quadruple slingshot trajectory of the seven-year journey to
Saturn -- a concern NASA scientists regard as off the wall. Meanwhile,
even tiny Sojourner has two RTGs to keep it warm through the cold Martian
2. BROOKHAVEN: ET TU BRUTE?
Most National Labs look to their congressional
delegations for support. It works differently on Long Island. With DOE in
the middle of an open decision making process on the question of restarting
the High flux Beam Reactor, a process that includes the views of the people
of Long Island, Alphonse D'Amato in the Senate and Michael Forbes in the
House have introduced legislation prohibiting restart. Even Newsday,
the LI newspaper that has not always treated BNL gently, called the
action preemptive, premature and prejudicial. Meanwhile, 600 scientists and
employees at Brookhaven staged a protest rally.
3. NIST: PRESIDENT PICKS RAY KAMMER TO BE DIRECTOR.
Assistant Secretary of Commerce, he will be the first director of the
venerable laboratory not to hold a technical degree, but NIST scientists
were very pleased by the choice. Kammer, whose degree is in English from
the University of Maryland, was the Deputy Director of NIST from 1980-91,
and has also served as acting director. His appointment must still be
confirmed by the Senate.
4. OFFICE OF ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: BATTLE LINES ARE DRAWN.
scientists calling for its elimination (WN 18 Jul 97), the House
appropriations report language calls for $7.5M for the NIH OAM in FY 98,
which is the level requested by the Administration. That's down sharply
from the current level of $12.5M, and presumably reflects the judgement of
NIH Director Harold Varmus. But in the Senate, where this wackiness began
in 1993, the report calls for $13M. A House/Senate Conference Committee
will resolve the difference later this month. They need to hear from
5. THE STORY: PAPARAZZI UNFAIRLY SINGLED OUT.
According to a colleague in
Paris, the French media reported that the Princess consulted her personal
astrologer just hours before the accident. Why then, wasn't she warned?
It would appear to be malpractice.