Friday, 1 October 1999 Washington, DC
1. MISTAKE ONE: NASA FLUNKS METRIC CONVERSION.
one system of units to another has been the downfall of countless
students of science. Now we learn that confusion over units also
spelled doom for the Mars Climate Orbiter. NASA is scurrying to
figure out how the error could have gone undetected, but the most
shocking revelation is that the agency that has come to symbolize
high-technology has not fully converted to metric. A spokesman
at NIST seemed unconcerned by the glacial progress of the metric
conversion initiative. Metrification, he explained, will come
gradually with usage as the younger generation is exposed to it.
2. MISTAKE TWO: JAPANESE WORKERS ADD TOO MUCH URANIUM.
reported to be the world's 60th criticality accident since 1945.
The problem occurred at a uranium processing plant when too much
uranium was added to a mixing tank. The off-site risk appears to
be small, but the incident reawakens public concern just as there
were signs that the moribund nuclear power industry in the US
might still have a pulse. It may be significant that in all the
news stories about the accident, the amount of uranium involved
was given in pounds rather than kilograms.
3. MISTAKE THREE: DEMOCRATS THREATEN TO LAUNCH BIG PUSH ON CTBT.
Yesterday, Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) called their bluff,
scheduling an Oct. 8 vote on the test ban treaty, without benefit
of hearings and after only ten hours of debate. It was seen as a
test of party loyalty, and influential Sen. John Warner (R-VA),
who was believed to be leaning toward the treaty, announced that
he now planned to vote against it. Under those circumstances it
would be unlikely that the treaty would get the needed 67 votes.
That set off a flurry of negotiating. The latest word is that
there is an agreement to put off the vote until Oct. 18.
4. MISTAKE FOUR: WHAT'S NEW GOOFS IN FREE ELECTRICITY STORY.
apologize to the Wall Street Journal. WN reported that the WSJ
had carried a full-page ad on Sep 17 for a demonstration of free-
(WN 24 Sep 99).
Wrong! The ad was actually carried
by USA Today, although the WSJ carried such an ad two years ago
(WN 18 Jul 97).
Dennis Lee, CEO of Better World Technologies, has
now launched his 45 city tour. At a meeting in Columbus, Ohio
Lee urged people to sign up to get a free electricity machine
installed in their homes and get disconnected from the grid
before the Y2K crisis. He explained that the government's plan
is to deliberately create a crisis so "they can declare martial
law and take your guns away." He said their ad had gotten the
attention of "just about every attorney general in the country."
He wouldn't actually demonstrate the free electricity
technology. "If you show a free electricity machine," he
explained, "they will shut you down." He said he did that in
1988 and they put him jail. "I'm doing this for one reason only--
God said `do it.'"