Friday, 23 July 1999 Washington, DC
1. DOE: SENATE WANTS TO CREATE AGENCY FOR NUCLEAR STEWARDSHIP.
By a 96-1 margin, the Senate voted to put the weapons labs in a semi-autonomous agency within DOE. Expressing the concern of the science community that non-defense research not suffer as a result, Burton Richter of SLAC testified at a Senate hearing last week: "This is not World War II...The scientists at the weapons labs have to be able to interact with the rest of the scientific community because all of the science needed for stockpile stewardship is not in the weapons labs. The best people will not go into isolation behind a fence in today's world." In response, the Senate passed an amendment ensuring that the weapons labs continue to do unclassified research in cooperation with other segments of the DOE. Meanwhile, the House debates...and debates... with no consensus imminent.
2. BURP! WAS IT THE OXYGEN IN THE WATER, OR THE AIR IN
According to Sports Illustrated, hockey players in the Stanley Cup finals relied on "oxygenated water" to boost blood-oxygen levels. According to Oxyl'Eau, the Canadian company that sells it, the boosted water has twice the oxygen of tap water, or about 1500 ppm, which is certainly possible if it's bottled under pressure. Assuming the oxygen miraculously ends up in the blood instead of the bladder, how much of this water would it take to supply even 1% of a player's oxygen? A trained athlete playing hard uses about 0.13 grams of oxygen per second. WN calculates that players will need to drink 3 liters in a 60 minute game for a 1% boost. Doable perhaps, but they would need frequent breaks.
3. BANG! RHIC DOESN'T EVEN PERTURB LONG ISLAND.
Could the "Big Bang Machine," a.k.a. Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider, produce "perturbations of the universe"--maybe a black hole--and destroy Earth? The Sunday Times of London reported that Brookhaven director John Marburger had appointed a panel of physicists to investigate. Not exactly. He asked them for a white paper explaining why it's not a worry. In spite of millennium madness, Marburger said this morning that the net effect has been very positive. Reporters from around the world call to ask if there's anything to the story, and end up learning about RHIC.
4. YAWN: STILL WAITING FOR THE "BIG PUSH" ON CTBT?
Nine senators held a press conference Tuesday urging immediate Senate action on CTBT, which has languished for more than 21 months on Sen. Helms' desk
(WN 5 Mar 99).
Citing polls showing overwhelming public support for the treaty, Senator Daschle (D-SD) declared, "We are here to announce that we are stepping up our efforts to end the Senate stalemate." President Clinton, in a show of support, boldly called for "hearings this fall." Sigh! Still waiting.
Helene Grossman contributed to this issue of WHAT'S NEW.