Friday, 25 September 98 Washington, DC
1. SCIENCE POLICY: EHLERS STUDY WARNS OF A "VALLEY OF DEATH."
"Unlocking the Future," the long-awaited national science policy
study headed by Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), was unveiled yesterday.
The tightly-worded study (74 pages) put top priority for federal
funding squarely on basic research, but warned that industry
continues to shift emphasis toward the development end of the
spectrum, creating a widening "valley of death" in applied
research. To encourage the private sector to fill the gap, Ehlers
calls for a permanent R&D tax credit. The real test will be who
gets behind the study. So far, White House science advisor Neal
Lane says the study is "harmonious with the President's goals,"
and it has been praised by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and
the bipartisan Senate Science and Technology Caucus. It can be
2. SPACE STATION: NASA WANTS ANOTHER $660M TO BAIL OUT RUSSIA.
NASA is still trying to salvage Russian partnership in the
International Space Station. Unless there are assurances that
Russia can deliver the service module by next September, the 20
Nov launch must be scrubbed
(WN 4 Sep 98).
Science Committee chair, roared that taxpayers should not be
punished for Russia's failures and the Administration's mistakes.
He calls for reducing the science benefits Russia would get as a
full partner. Oh, please don't throw me in the briar patch!
3. NSF: JOE DEHMER NAMED DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION OF PHYSICS.
APS Fellow, he was for many years a senior physicist at Argonne.
He is currently a group leader in the NIST Physics Lab.
4. CTBT: PAKISTAN AND INDIA MAY BE READY TO SIGN.
about the success of the May tests still mounting
(WN 18 Sep 98),
both countries are anxious to escape the economic sanctions
imposed by the industrial nations. That would leave North Korea
as the only holdout. Meanwhile, North Korea's missile test
(WN 18 Sep 98)
may have been less saber rattling than advertising
what's for sale. Most countries don't develop weapons anymore;
they just buy off the shelf, and North Korea needs the money.
5. TECHNO-THRILLER: CLANCY FALLS VICTIM TO BAD INTELLIGENCE.
hallmark of a Tom Clancy novel is the use of emerging high-tech
devices by the good guys. In his latest novel, "Rainbow Six,"
ex-Navy SEAL Tom Clark wipes out a nest of terrorists using the
DKL LifeGuard, which can spot people at 500 feet through concrete
and steel by the electric impulses of their heart beats. Is this
possible? No. The "electronic circuits" aren't even connected.
But is it marketable? Very. The LA Police and the Department of
Energy paid up to $14,000 each for some number of these devices.
Alas, in a double-blind test at Sandia Labs it did no better than
chance. It is, in fact, a dowsing rod with buttons and lights.