Friday, 6 March 98 Washington, DC
1. MIR: WELL, IT'S BETTER TO BE LOCKED IN THAN LOCKED OUT.
give you some idea of the kind of day it was, the radio link that
allows reporters to listen in on conversations between the crew
and Mission Control was turned off. "Many things happened besides
the unyielding hatch," said the deputy flight director, but he
didn't elaborate. It was to be the day the cosmonauts would go
outside and shore up a dangerously dangling solar panel, damaged
in a collision with a garbage truck last June
(WN 27 Jun 97). The
attempt ended when a frustrated (out of control?) cosmonaut broke
three spanners in a futile attempt to open the hatch. They were
not the right wrenches for the job, but they couldn't find the
right one in the cluttered station. The missing wrench turned up
two days later, but officials decided against another wrenching
experience and postponed the repairs until the next cargo ship
delivers a fresh supply of wrenches and tranquilizers in April.
2. SPACE STATION: THE COUNTDOWN CLOCK NEEDS RESETTING.
web site for the International Space Station gives the time till
launch of the first component as 115 days, which would be the end
of June. Try early September. Another ten weeks or so will be
added soon, and it's not just the Russian cash-flow problem this
time; the American-built hardware is not ready either. The delay
is very upsetting to Rep. Ralph Hall (D-TX), who has assured his
constituents that the ISS is looking for a cure for cancer
(WN 30 Jun 95).
"What am I supposed to tell them?" he lamented.
3. MOON: ROBOT PROSPECTOR DISCOVERS ROCKET FUEL!
"For the first
time, we know that when we go to another planetary body, we can
fuel up," exulted chief scientist Alan Binder, quoted in the
Washington Post. Whoa! Have these people no shame? The water
was detected in lunar soil at the bottoms of craters near the
poles at concentrations less than 1%. Bruce Murray, a Cal Tech
planetary scientist, pointed out to the New York Times that it
would be cheaper to bring water from Earth than to mine it from
these deposits. Besides, if water is fuel, who needs OPEC?
4. HOMEOPATHY: DOES CHEWING GUM ALSO REMEMBER?
remedies are exempted by law from FDA rules, but it's the "law of
infinitesimals" that drives physicists up the wall. Homeopathic
remedies exceed the dilution limit -- they are so dilute that not
a single molecule of the active ingredient remains. According to
homeopathists, water somehow remembers the stuff that used to be
there. Now a company is marketing a homeopathic smoking cessation
gum called CigArrest. According to "The Cancer Letter," the
makers of Nicorette, who were forced to conduct clinical trials
and abide by FDA label requirements, have begun legal action to
compel the FDA to hold CigArrest to the same rules. The 1938 law
that exempts homeopathy mentions solutions, but it says nothing
about chewing gum. Scientists are watching with interest.