Friday, 12 November 1999 Washington, DC
WARNING!!! THIS ISSUE MAY CONTAIN THEORIES.
1. OKLAHOMA: THERE IS A THEORY THAT CREATIONISTS ARE BOOKBURNERS.
Last Friday, the state textbook committee discovered that biology
textbooks refer to--gasp!--evolution, which we all know is only a
theory. The panel voted to have stickers affixed to the textbooks
to warn unwary students that they contain dangerous references to
evolution, "... a controversial theory some scientists present as
a scientific explanation for the origin of living things such as
plants, animals and humans." Alabama also requires an "only a
theory" disclaimer on its biology textbooks.
2. KANSAS: WHO YOU GONNA BELIEVE, GENESIS OR JURASSIC PARK?
lot of Kansans, the answer seems to be "both." According to a
Gallup poll, 45% accept a literal interpretation of the bible,
which puts the age of the Earth at about 6,000 years. But in a
poll released by the Kansas City Star, 81% said they thought
dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. WN, of course, is above
saying "we told you so"
(WN 20 Aug 99).
Overwhelmingly in the Star
poll, the people of Kansas affirmed their belief in God, but by a
solid 52% they disagreed with the School Board decision to
eliminate evolution from the curriculum. Only 32% supported the
board, with the remainder undecided. So much for the creationist
theory that the decision reflected public opinion.
3. SPACE: THE OTHER Y2K PROBLEM? SOLAR ACTIVITY.
NASA is trying to
squeeze its Hubble repair mission into the gap between next week's
Leonid meteor shower and the end of the millennium. No computer
problems are expected, but NASA doesn't want to be surprised.
Originally set for October, the mission was delayed by wiring
problems that grounded the entire shuttle fleet. ISS assembly has
also come to a halt, but that won't affect science. Next year,
however, begins a period of increased solar activity that threatens
satellites, astronauts and the earthly power grid. Meanwhile, a
review panel reporting on the Mars Climate Orbiter fiasco, blamed
management and training. The other theory is that it wouldn't have
happened if NASA were metric
(WN 1 Oct 99).
4. FREE ELECTRICITY: DENNIS LEE GENERATES SKEPTICISM IN PHILLY.
was to have been the grand finale of his nationwide tour, but the
bad press was catching up
(WN 29 Oct 99).
Only a couple of hundred
showed up, and that included his long-time nemesis, electrical
engineer Eric Krieg
Most free energy scams
claim new physics, but Lee resurrects old perpetual motion schemes
based on a misunderstanding of classical physics. His discovery is
that they still have the power to bamboozle. He appeals to
Christian fundamentalists by claiming that God told him how to
extract electricity from the air. If this violates some physical
principle, well that's only a theory.