Friday, 19 November 1999 Washington, DC
1. HFBR: SECRETARY RICHARDSON LOOKS TO THE STARS FOR GUIDANCE.
The Secretary of Energy announced on Tuesday that the High Flux
Beam Reactor will be permanently closed. WN today spoke with
Julius Hastings, the distinguished Brookhaven scientist, now
retired, who holds the patent on the unique undermoderated core
design of HFBR. Hastings had sought a meeting with Secretary
Richardson to correct misinformation coming from a group led by
movie star Alec Baldwin. Hastings, a Fellow of the American
Physical Society, was turned down and even rebuked for seeking
the meeting. According to a story in yesterday's Southhampton
Press, others have been more successful. Mr. Baldwin personally
arranged a private meeting between Richardson and supermodel
Christie Brinkly in Washington last month.
2. GOT MILK? BUDGET LOCOMOTIVE NEARLY COLLIDES WITH DAIRY HERD.
With the exception of NIH, funding for most science agencies had
already been settled as Congress and the White House headed for
yet another train wreck over the remaining catch-all spending
bill. However, in a last minute compromise with the President,
the bill that the House passed yesterday contained an across-the-
board cut of 0.38% that affects even the agencies that thought
they were in the clear. To prevent a shutdown of the government
at midnight, the Senate then passed a resolution keeping things
running until Dec 2. Senator Kohl (D-WI), who had threatened to
force a shutdown over a milk-price feature of the bill, backed
down. These annual games of chicken invariably produce a final
bill laden with slabs of reeking pork
(WN 16 Oct 98),
including science projects that have not suffered the indignity of peer
review. This bill is no exception. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK)
awarded another $15M to his pet project to harness the aurora
borealis, as he has done every year since 1990
(WN 2 Nov 90).
3. LOS ALAMOS: SPY INVESTIGATION NOW POINTS AWAY FROM THE LAB.
To use Lincoln's description of Douglas's arguments, the case
against Wen Ho Lee now seems "thinner than the homeopathic soup
made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that starved to death."
The Cox report focused almost exclusively on Los Alamos as the
source of leaks
(WN 28 May 99).
Post today, an analysis of errors in the Chinese documents that
set the spy hunt off narrows the focus to "integrators" outside
the Lab, casting more disrepute on the Cox report
(WN 16 Jul 99).
4. HUBBLE TROUBLE: SPACE TELESCOPE IS PLACED IN SAFE HOLD.
On Saturday, another of Hubble's six gyroscopes died, leaving only
two still working. At least three are needed for the science
program. A repair mission is scheduled for Dec 6
(WN 12 Nov 99).