Friday, 22 January 1999 Washington, DC
1. STAR WARS II: A POLICY SHIFT AWAY FROM RELIANCE ON TREATIES?
It may be difficult to believe that anything was omitted from the
State-of-the-Union laundry list, but the President made no
mention of National Missile Defense. In the Republican response,
Rep. Steve Largent (R-OK) called on the President to "join
Congress in establishing a viable missile defense." In less than
24 hours, the President took him up on it, apparently leaving
Republicans with no issues of their own. Defense Secretary Cohen
announced that the U.S. would pursue NMD even if meant abrogating
the 1972 ABM treaty. That puts Russian ratification of START II
in further jeopardy. Angered by the bombing of Iraq, the Duma
had already put START II on hold
(WN 25 Dec 98).
2STATE OF THE UNION: THERE WAS NOT MUCH ABOUT SCIENCE.
search of the President's 7,552 word speech turned up "science"
twice. There was a passing reference to "medical science" in a
call for passage of a patients' bill of rights. In his proposal
for federal aid to education, he noticed that 4th grade students
in the U.S. outperform their peers in other countries in math and
science but are dead last by the time they reach the 12th
(WN 27 Feb 98).
As Administration pooh-bahs filed into the chamber
before the speech, none of the TV news anchors recognized Neal
Lane, the new Presidential Science Advisor. Maybe next year.
3. Y2K BUDGET: BUDGET COMMITTEE CONFRONTED BY $28B OVERDRAFT.
The Committee staff is looking at ways to make up for election-
year overspending in spite of spending caps
(WN 4 Dec 98),
including possible revision of the Budget Enforcement Act.
4. PODKLETNOV GRAVITY SHIELD: NASA INVESTS ANOTHER $600,000.
The Small Business Innovation Research grant went to Superconductive
Components in Columbus, OH to make a 12-inch superconductive disk
for an experimental shield. It's a coveted Phase II award, which
goes to the top projects. A 6-inch shield built under Phase I
(WN 15 May 98),
but NASA, which has been working on
this for 4 years, hopes a bigger one will. The Columbus Dispatch
quotes a NASA official: "Let your imagination run wild. What
could you do if you could cut gravity 50 percent or negate it
altogether?" Well, for one thing you could build a perpetual
motion machine, in violation of the First Law of Thermodynamics.
5. HYDRINOS: HONEY, I SHRUNK THE HYDROGEN!
BlackLight Power is
relocating to the Princeton, NJ area, having purchased a building
for $2M where RCA once built satellites
(WN 8 Jan 99).
Mills, who says he has a technique for getting hydrogen into a
state below the ground state, explained to the Princeton Packet
that "It's the most important discovery of all time...up there
with fire." Back when BLP was HydroCatalysis, Mills sold one of
his cells to NASA. I guess they're still testing it.