Friday, 02 January 98 Washington, DC
1. GALILEO "PART II": WHAT LIES BELOW EUROPA'S FROZEN SURFACE?
Having completed its two-year primary mission, the reborn Galileo
spacecraft has embarked on the "Europa Mission." Two weeks ago,
Galileo dipped to within 124 miles of the ice-moon, returning new
images of fractures and swirls of mountainous icebergs. In the
next 14 months Galileo will complete 8 more Europa flybys, hoping
to resolve the question of whether there is still a liquid ocean
beneath the ice, warmed by Jovian tides. If so, Europa would be
the best candidate for extraterrestrial life in what has turned
out to be a very lonely solar system. Galileo is a triumph in
spite of its crippled main antenna, thanks to the ingenuity of
its handlers, who rebuilt its central nervous system in flight.
"Galileo is our eyes, ears, touch and taste," explained project
manager, William O'Neil, "It's not some inanimate object doing
this. It's we humans operating the senses we built." While
humans continue the virtual exploration of the solar system, the
astronaut program remains trapped in low-Earth orbit, like a
passenger waiting beside an abandoned stretch of track for a
train that will never come, bypassed by the advance of science.
2. PREDICTIONS: WHAT'S NEW BOLDLY LAYS IT ON THE LINE FOR 1998.
Last year, WN went one-on-one with tabloid psychic Jeane Dixon.
Looking back, WN was six out of six
(WN 3 Jan 97). Playing it
safe, Dixon predicted the Pope, Boris Yeltzin and Frank Sinatra
would have health problems. They barely had a pulse then, but
seem no worse today. Dixon, on the other hand, is dead. She
missed that too. WN dedicates these predictions to Jeane:
- EMF: Researchers who have been studying the EMF-cancer link for
15 years will discover that EMF really causes Alzheimer's.
- WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE ADVISOR: There will be rumors that OSTP
Director Jack Gibbons is about to be replaced.
- THE ENDLESS FRONTIER: Vannevar Bush report will be replaced --
again. Does anyone remember "Science in the National Interest"?
- INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION: There will be additional budget
overruns and further launch delays. Mir will be exciting.
- NIH OFFICE OF ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: An exhaustive search will
fail to turn up any therapies that are not effective.
- WHAT'S NEW will contimue to be error free and noncontroversial.
3. JACKPOT: SCIENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR WINS THE LOTTERY.
He was elected to take money from Washington back to Wisconsin.
week he did. James Sensenbrenner, already one of the wealthiest
members of Congress, won $250,000 on a $1 D.C. Quick Cash ticket.