Friday, 13 March 98 Washington, DC
1. CO2: "A WONDERFUL GIFT FROM THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION."
You may have received a petition card in the mail this week urging
the U.S. government to reject the Kyoto global-warming accord.
The return address was a P.O. Box in La Jolla. It came with a
note signed by physicist Frederick Seitz, an 8-page "review" of
the environmental consequences of carbon dioxide--all good--and a
6 Dec 97 op-ed from the Wall Street Journal. The op-ed explains
how we can all make this a better world: burn more hydrocarbons.
This "moves them from below the ground and turns them into living
things... No other single technological factor is more important
to the quality, length and quantity of human life than the
expanded and unrationed use of the Earth's hydrocarbons." The
only thing missing was any hint of who paid for the mailing. The
APS has not taken a position on the issue -- perhaps it should.
2. COLD FUSION: UNIVERSITY OF UTAH ABANDONS PATENT PURSUIT.
days from now the world will celebrate the ninth anniversary of
the announcement by the University of Utah of the discovery of
"cold fusion." Utah anticipated a bonanza in licensing fees, but
instead, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, spent as
much as $1.5M in legal fees in a futile effort to patent the
technology. Pons and Fleischmann, the "discoverers," had the
option to take up the fight, but the University never heard from
them. Fleischmann, however, is to be a speaker at the 7th
International Conference on Cold Fusion in Vancouver in April.
Pons, for the first time, is not on the program. The dwindling
band of true believers meets each year hoping for good news, but
MITI, the sponsor of ICCF-6 pulled out last summer
(WN 29 Aug 97).
This year, for the first time, there is no sponsor.
3. ASTEROID: FOR HOLLYWOOD IT'S A DREAM COME TRUE.
cosmic "close call" vanished even more swiftly than
Comet Swift-Tuttle, which made headlines five years ago.
In less than a day,
the closest approach of 1997 XF11 in the year 2028 grew from
30,000 miles to 600,000. Meanwhile, Hollywood is revising the
estimated profits from "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon" upward by a
similar factor. In Washington, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is
calling for an asteroid defense program, and Edward Teller said
it's not likely to hit us, but we should send a probe anyway.
What a wonderful plot: far from becoming obsolete, those who had
protected us from the evil empire would now save us from cosmic
disaster. Others suggest that before we get into mitigation, we
should invest in evaluating the threat -- identify near-Earth
objects and work out their arrival times -- if any. If a threat
is discovered, that should give us plenty of time to get ready.
4. EMF: NIEHS REPORT FINDS NO LINK TO MAMMARY GLAND TUMORS.
Claims that studies on rats suggest a link to breast cancer were
just laid to rest by a major National Toxicology Program study.