Friday, 17 April 98 Washington, DC
1. DOE: WHITE HOUSE SILENT ON REPLACEMENT FOR SECRETARY PENA
Deputy Secretary Betsy Moler was figured to be the likely choice
to follow Federico Pena, who announced he will depart June 30.
Moler, who served previously as chair of the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission, is popular within the agency, but she was
also expected to get the job last year. Clinton is under
pressure to appoint another Hispanic. That would seem to favor
Rep. Esteban Torres (D-CA), who is not running for reelection.
There could be a cabinet shuffle: Bill Richardson, Ambassador to
the UN and Dan Goldin, who has shown talent for liposuction of
bloated bureaucracies, have both been mentioned. Madeleine
Albright would like to see Richardson get the job, a lot of
people in NASA would like to see it go to Goldin.
2. APS COUNCIL: CONCERN OVER GROWING INFLUENCE OF NONSENSE.
morning, the elected Council of the American Physical Society,
meeting in Columbus, OH, asked the Panel on Public Affairs to
prepare a statement, written in language that can be readily
understood by the general public, of what science is, and what
distinguishes it from other human activities. It is to be shared
with other scientific organizations developing a response to the
alarming spread of nonsense calling itself science. The Council
discussion made it clear how difficult it will be to agree on
such a statement -- and how important. It is a debate that should
involve everyone who loves science.
3. 1997 PIGASUS AWARDS: ANOTHER COVETED FLYING-PIG TROPHY.
weeks ago (WN 3 Apr 98), we reported winners in the first two
categories. WN is pleased that the award in category #3, "for
the media outlet that reported as fact the most outrageous
supernatural, paranormal or occult claim," went to ABC-TV News,
"for their unquestioning and enthusiastic endorsement of "cold
fusion, ESP, psychokinesis, astrology, magnetic therapy, and all
sorts of questionable alternative healing modalities." We at WN
are proud to note that we informed our readers of each and every
one of these ABC reports during the year.
4. RESEARCH INVESTMENT ACT: SENATOR DURBIN (D-IL) SIGNS ON.
Illinois Senators (Carol Mosely-Braun is the other) are now
cosponsors of the bipartisan S.1305. The Lederman Op-Ed in the
Chicago Tribune (WN 3 Apr 98),
which has been widely quoted in
Washington, may have prompted Senator Durbin.
5. COLD FUSION-7: VANCOUVER MEETING REPORTS MORE THAN HEAT.
preferred term among believers is now "chemically-assisted
nuclear reactions." Nowadays it seems to transmute gold into
base metals, neutralizes radioactivity and works fine with
ordinary water. We note that the probability of N miracles is
equal to the probability of one miracle to the Nth power.