Friday, 24 April 98 Washington, DC
1. INFRASTRUCTURE: IT'S NOT JUST THE POT HOLES THAT NEED FIXING.
An Op-Ed in this morning's Columbus Dispatch by physicist Bunny
Clark vented a little road rage at the pork in the $218B highway
bill passed by the House -- the science infrastructure also needs
patching. She urged Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine to join John Glenn in
backing S.1305, the bipartisan research doubling bill. Ignore the
Washington policy wonks who sniff that it?s only an authorization
and not an appropriation; S.1305 has already focused discussion
on the role of research in economic growth, united the scientific
community, and created a vehicle for scientists like Clark to
inform the public and members of Congress about the problem.
2. CARBON DIOXIDE: ODORLESS GAS OR NOT, ACADEMY SAYS IT STINKS.
On Monday, the National Academy of Sciences disavowed any link to
a petition opposing the Kyoto accord
(WN 13 Mar 98), saying: "The
petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of
the Academy." A manuscript mailed with the petition was in a
format virtually identical to that of articles in the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences, although it had never been
published, or even submitted. There was also a note signed by a
former NAS president. The NAS was responding to members of
Congress who assumed NAS supported the petition. The source, a
tiny research institute in Cave Junction, OR
(WN 20 Mar 98),
claims to have collected 15,000 signatures, but did not indicate
how many petitions were mailed -- or who paid for the mailing.
3. EDUCATION: ARE RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES CHEATING UNDERGRADUATES?
"Untrained teaching assistants groping their way...tenured drones
who deliver set lectures from yellowed notes," anybody we know? A
report released by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of
Education bluntly accused the nation's 125 research universities
of false advertising. Students may graduate without ever seeing
the renowned professors listed in recruiting materials or tasting
genuine research, and "without knowing how to think logically,
write clearly, or speak coherently." A commission chaired by
Shirley Kenny, the tough and inspiring president of SUNY at Stony
Brook, scolded the schools and called for creation of "a culture
of inquirers," structured around research and problem solving.
4. SUPERSTITION: POLL REVEALS AN ALARMING GROWTH IN BELIEVERS.
USA Today published a table that purports to compare what people
now say they believe in "somewhat" with beliefs in 1976. UFOs
went up modestly from 24% to 30%, astrology from 17% to 37%, and
faith healing soared from 10% to 45%. The numbers should not be
taken too seriously, but the trend is unmistakable and scary.
5. MICROGRAVITY: IT'S THE HERD SHOT ROUND THE WORLD.
is carrying 2,058 crickets, snails, fish, rats, mice and humans.
In 1991 the shuttle carried 4,238 jellyfish. Forward science!