Friday, 5 December 97 Washington, DC
1. DEFENSE: PANEL CALLS FOR A TRANSFORMATION OF U.S. FORCES.
The Pentagon should scrap its two-war scenario and prepare for
"homeland defense" against electronic sabotage and terrorist
strikes using chemical and biological weapons. Even abroad, the
US is ready for the kind of war that will never be fought again;
forces should be reshaped into smaller units capable of faster
deployment to far-off places with more accurate weapons, enhanced
satellite defenses and better protection against chemical and
biological attacks. The National Defense Panel, chaired by Philip
Odeen, President and CEO of BDM International, was mandated by
Congress a year ago to review the military force structure.
2. DISARMAMENT: INTERNATIONAL AGENCY VERIFIES NUCLEAR CONVERSION.
Dilution of highly enriched uranium to create low-enriched fuel
for use in commercial power plants is taking place at the DOE's
Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Energy Secretary Federico
Pena announced on Monday that the conversion is being monitored
by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors. It is the
first time any nation has submitted the process to verification.
The US has declared 174 metric tons of highly-enriched uranium
excess to defense needs and is committed to the purchase of 500
metric tons of commercial fuel diluted from Russian weapons.
3. NUCLEAR IRRADIATION: FDA APPROVES ITS USE FOR RED MEAT.
last month (WN 14 Nov 97), Sen. Domenici
(R-NM) listed refusal to
use radiation to kill E. Coli on beef as one of our nation's
mistakes in nuclear energy. This week, it was approved by the
FDA with barely a peep from opponents; attitudes may be changing.
4. NASA: PROGRAM LOOKS "TOWARD VISIONARY INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL."
"Warp Drive, When?" is the title of a new NASA Web site. The
goal of the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics (BPP) program is to
hasten the day when we can "travel to distant stars as easily as
in science fiction." Not just any science fiction, of course;
the inspiration is Star Trek. This may need a few breakthroughs:
1) propulsion without propellant, 2) superluminal travel, and 3)
an infinite source of on-board energy. It won't be easy, so we'd
better start now. A workshop on propulsion breakthroughs held at
NASA Lewis in August (WN 15 Aug 97)
looked at everything from
gravity shields to inertia modification and tapping zero-point
energy. You should take the time to explore the new site at
and don't forget to click at the bottom of the page to hear Star
Trek music. I asked Lawrence Krauss, author of the delightful
bestseller, "The Physics of Star Trek," about the BPP program.
He simply quoted New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger, "I
like to keep an open mind, but not so open my brains fall out."