Friday, 26 March 1999 Washington, DC
1. MISSILE DEFENSE: WOULD A LEAKY SYSTEM MAKE US ANY SAFER?
At the APS Centennial Meeting in Atlanta on Monday, Hans Mark, the
Director of Defense Research and Engineering at the Pentagon,
declared that a system to protect the continental United States
against missile attack is feasible and said it would be deployed
by 2010. This is the strongest statement in support of NMD by a
senior member of the Clinton Administration. The two physicists
in Congress, Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), who were on
the same panel, disagree with Mark. Last week they voted against
the National Missile Defense bill that passed overwhelmingly
(WN 19 Mar 99)
. Holt said that "provocative yet permeable defenses
are destabilizing and lead to reduced security." Could missiles
be intercepted? "Yes," Richard Garwin explained in a session on
arms control, "if the launching country cooperated."
2. SPY HYSTERIA: RICHARDSON VOWS TO KEEP DOE LAB SCIENCE
Delivering the Keynote Address at the APS Centennial, Secretary
of Energy Bill Richardson said it is critical that our scientists
do not become isolated from the world: "We can't be intimidated
into closing ourselves off...as steward of the national labs, I
will fight any proposal to close our science." His comment was
received with sustained applause. Meanwhile, the Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Richard Shelby, launched a
formal investigation of possible leaks at Los Alamos
(WN 12 Mar 99)
. The House investigation headed by Representative Christopher
Cox is still classified, but could it have been leaked?
3. PSST! IS IT TOO LATE TO PUT A LOCK ON NEWTON'S PRINCIPIA?
William Safire believes he has figured out the shocking truth
hidden in the Cox report: the "Langrangian codes" were leaked to
the Chinese! He says a book entitled Mathematical Programming
via Augmented Lagrangians is frequently checked out of the Los
Alamos library. Pretty suspicious, huh? He says he spoke to the
author, "David" Pierre, who told him to "check with a physicist."
I think he must have ignored the advice. The authors, by the
way, are Donald (not David) Pierre and Michael Lowe. According
to Dr. Safire, the Chinese used the augmented Lagrangians to
simulate nuclear tests. Was this information leaked to Safire?
No, no, in his Monday NY Times column Dr. Safire says he used
"common sense" to figure it out. He may be on to something
really big. I checked with a librarian at the University of
Maryland the book has circulated there too. Imagine the scope
of this scandal if the book has been read all over the country!
4. ANNIVERSARY: TEN YEARS OF COLD FUSION CELEBRATED IN ATLANTA
Tuesday, March 23, was the tenth anniversary of the Salt Lake
City announcement of the Pons and Fleischmann "discovery." A
session titled "Palladium Electrochemistry," being held this
afternoon at the APS Centennial, will seek to revive the corpse.