Friday, 12 September 97 Washington, DC
1. BROOKHAVEN: BROMLEY URGES SUPPORT FOR NEUTRON SCATTERING.
In April, the APS Council warned that the US has already lost its position
of leadership in neutron scattering science and is in danger of ceasing
to be a major player. The likelihood of that happening increased
dramatically last week when Senator Alfonse D'Amato and Representative Michael
Forbes introduced legislation to prohibit restart of the High Flux Beam Reactor
(WN 5 Sep 97). That would leave the US
with just three major neutron scattering facilities. The timing suggests that
the bill will be attached as an amendment to the DOE appropriation,
which must be completed this month. Yesterday, in letters to the two
lawmakers, APS President Allan Bromley characterized the legislation as
"unwise and unwarranted" from a scientific standpoint. But if the HFBR
is not to be restarted, Bromley urged them to help convince Congress to
strengthen America's position in neutron scattering research.
2. DEFENSE BUDGET: BASIC RESEARCH OR WATER-SOLUBLE BOMBERS?
of the House and Senate are meeting to resolve major differences in the
FY 98 Defense budget. The Senate version would increase basic research
("6.1" in Pentagon talk) funding by 7.8%, in line with the Administration
request, reversing a five-year trend which has seen 6.1 programs slashed
22%. Apparently irked by the Pentagon's failure to request additional
B-2 stealth bombers, however, the House retaliated by slashing 6.1 another
4.4%. (The entire 6.1 budget would not pay for one B-2.) The Pentagon hit
back, releasing a report that the not-so-stealthy bombers become even less
stealthy if left out in the rain.
3. FERMILAB: HISTORIC MAIN RING IS RETIRED WITH DIGNITY.
After 25 years,
the plug will be pulled on Monday, and the Main Ring will be cannibalized to
complete the new Main Injector. In 1997, the 400 BeV proton accelerator was
used to find the bottom quark. In 1995, with the Main Ring now serving as an
injector to the Tevatron, the top quark was found. The new Main Injector,
which will increase proton-antiproton collisions by a factor of ten, is
expected to be commissioned in 1999. The rebuilt CDF and D-Zero detectors
should be ready a year later. What then? Beyond the LHC at CERN, scheduled
for 2005, studies are underway of a possible muon collider or a super SSC with
a 300-mile ring.
4. MIR: HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARINGS ON SAFETY.
officials still spinning the line about valuable experience in crisis
response (WN 25 Jul 97), the Committee
leadership asked NASA's Inspector General for a report on astronaut safety.
The shocking response, based on the observations of the first four US
occupants, raises serious questions not only about safety, but about the
quality and value of the science. There have been no experiments at all
since the June 25 collision, but science has not suffered noticeably.
WN will report on the hearing next week.