Friday, 10 Mar 95 Washington, DC
1. GALVIN DEFENDS RECOMMENDATION ON A NATIONAL IGNITION
FACILITY (WN 3 Feb 95)
. In Congressional hearings yesterday, Robert
Galvin was asked about a story in the San Francisco Examiner that his
Task Force on the National Labs was badly split on the NIF; more
panelists opposed NIF than supported it, the paper said. Galvin
responded that the count given to the Examiner was taken before the
panel had "all the information." He felt the majority view was reflected in
the Task Force report at the end. Disgruntled panelists feel the
information that mattered was the announcement by DOE Secretary
O'Leary, two weeks before the election and three months before the
Task Force released its report, that she backed NIF ( WN 21 Oct 94),
leading some to think it was a "done deal."
2. ARE DERIVATIVE-CRAZED PHYSICISTS RUNNING AMOK ON WALL
Derivative trading bankrupted one of the richest counties in
the nation, it destroyed the oldest bank in England and some think it could
bring down the world banking system. Who's responsible for this mess?
Physicists, according to "60 Minutes" on CBS. "When Wall Street fell in
love with computers 15 years ago, it hired a lot of very smart people with
PhDs in physics and mathematics, but not much background in finance,"
the reporter explains. "They sit around their computers concocting
complex formulas no one can understand." A "60 Minutes" financial
expert picks up the theme: "Physicists do well with billiard balls, they do
well with atoms, they do passably well with protons and electrons, but
they don't do well with people whose behavior they don't understand."
The fund managers, bankers and investors, presumably, were
3. AFTER THEY BLOW UP THE BANKING WORLD, IS YUCCA
In a paper submitted to the New York Times, two
physicists at Los Alamos contend the planned underground nuclear
storage facility could go critical. Although weapons-grade Pu would be
stored in sub-critical batches, they argue, it could in time leak from its
containers and disperse into the surrounding medium, which could act as
a moderator, setting off a nuclear explosion. One of the authors, Charles
Bowman, heads a competing program to transmute fissile waste in an
accelerator. An internal LANL review team found "no technical merit" in
the paper, but said the authors should be free to submit it to a
peer-reviewed journal. They may not have had the NYT in mind.
Senators Bryan and Reid of Nevada, who oppose the dump, accuse
DOE of suppressing the controversy, while Sen. Johnston (D-LA), who
supports the Yucca Mountain plan, sees release of the paper to the NYT
as an abuse of peer review.
4. AND A GERMAN PHYSICIST HAS CONFIRMED THAT WATER
Reporting on a 10-year German government study
of dowsing in arid regions, Hans-Deiter Betz of the University of Munich
says, "it works, but we have no idea of how or why." All things
considered, this may not go down as a really great week for physicists.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's
and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)