Friday, 16 January 98 Washington, DC
1. TIME TRAVEL: AT 76, JOHN GLENN STILL HAS THE RIGHT STUFF.
NASA will announce today that Senator Glenn will be a member of
the Discovery crew for a flight in October. By then he will be
77. NASA will insist the decision has something to do with
research. It doesn't. It has everything to do with knocking
down arbitrary age restrictions. John Glenn's first trip into
orbit 36 years ago had symbolic significance in a Cold War fought
with symbols. This trip is also symbolic. Among the criticisms
being voiced, the strangest is that it's too risky. At 77?
2. IGNITION: GOVERNMENT APPEALS COURT BAN ON USE OF NIF REPORT.
Just before adjourning in November, Congress exempted National
Academy of Sciences panels from the Federal Advisory Committee
Act (WN 21 Nov 97). However, a court order prohibiting DOE from
using the report of the "Committee for the Review of the Inertial
Confinement Fusion Program," which recommended construction of
the National Ignition Facility, still applies (WN 9 May 97).
Last week, the Justice Department appealed the lower court
ruling. Just why it matters now is not clear. DOE made the
decision to go ahead with NIF construction without the report.
3. BUDGET: RUMORED INCREASES FOR SCIENCE KEEP GROWING.
economy and the universe seem to be abiding by the same laws.
Several groups at the American Astronomical Society meeting last
week presented evidence that the universe will keep expanding
forever, casting doubt on the inflationary model. Perpetual
expansion and the death of inflation seems the be story of the
economy as well. This seems to have triggered a sort of bidding
war over support for science, with the Administration determined
not to be upstaged by Congress (WN 9 Jan 98). Science is expected
to be a focus of President Clinton's State of the Union message
on 27 Jan. The President praised science in his speech last year,
but his budget request did not match the rhetoric (WN 7 Feb 97).
4. SCIENCE TALENT SEARCH: WESTINGHOUSE BOWS OUT AFTER 57 YEARS.
In fact, there is no Westinghouse. Since it acquired CBS two
years ago, Westinghouse had been morphing from a technology
company to a media giant. Last month, it changed its name to CBS
Corp. This week, Science Service, the non-profit organization
that administers the awards, was told to look for a new sponsor.
Over the years, Westinghouse scholars have gone on to win 5 Nobel
prizes and scores of other honors in science and mathematics.
5. CLONING: EHLERS CALLS ON CONGRESS TO APPROVE A BAN.
by the plans of physicist Richard Seed (WN 9 Jan 98), physicist
Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) is urging swift passage of two anti-cloning
bills he introduced during the last session. H.R.922 would
prohibit the use of federal funds for research on cloning humans;
H.R.923 would make it illegal to clone human beings in the U.S.