[EAS]WHAT'S NEW Friday, 4 Jul 03
pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Thu Jul 3 15:25:46 EDT 2003
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I'm forwarding you another issue of Bob Park's "What's New".
Items 1. and 2. are "Looney-Tune" items of which there is a
dismaying and steadily increasing supply. --PJK
WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 4 Jul 03 Washington, DC
(Andrew Essin contributed to this week's What's New.)
1. NASA: COULD AN ASTRONAUT LEARN TO SURVIVE BY PHOTOSYNTHESIS?
Perhaps the Columbia accident convinced NASA that a backup plan
is needed in case astronauts are stranded on the Space Station
(WN 14 Mar 03). According to the Hindustan Times, NASA turned to
a survival expert, Hira Ratan Manek, a 64-year-old mechanical
engineer from India. Manek claims to have survived for eight
years on sunlight, water and a little tea. He is in the United
States to show NASA how he does it. NASA scientists reportedly
verified that Manek survived on water and sunlight for 130 days.
The NASA Public Affairs Office confirmed to WN that the claim is
true. This is a bold new approach. If the laws of nature stand
in the way of a solution, it's time to change the laws.
2. HAGELIN IN 2003: THIS TIME YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO VOTE.
Yesterday, at a press conference in Washington, John Hagelin -
string theorist (PhD Harvard '81), follower of Maharishi Mahesh
Yogi, and erstwhile Presidential candidate of the Natural Law
Party - announced the formation of a US Peace Government, not to
be confused with the one in the Constitution. The two seem to be
on non-intersecting sheets. The Peace Government will focus on
the prevention of society's problems, a task to which traditional
government is apparently unsuited. Specific policies include
"consciousness-based total brain education" and creation of Peace
Palaces, where advanced practitioners of Transcendental
Meditation will meditate away the tensions of society. Long-time
readers of WN will recall the Program to Reduce Violent Crime in
the Nation's Capital, led by Hagelin a decade ago (WN 25 Jun 93)
with a similar strategy. The murder rate in Washington, DC, hit
record highs even as one thousand TM experts meditated (23 July
93). Asked why he is founding a separate government instead of
running for President again, Hagelin explained that elections are
a waste of time and energy, and, indeed, "the whole thing is a
mockery." The Peace Government will be an unelected meritocracy,
as opposed to our current "rule by the incompetent." If
democratic elections stand in the way of peace, Hagelin argues,
it's time to change the way we choose our leaders.
3. EUROPE: UNIVERSITIES FACE A RESEARCH DRAIN. In recent weeks
there have been a number of concerns raised about research
support in Europe. A report in Nature (19 June) outlined the
current controversy in Germany over a plan to reorganize funding
for universities and for the Max Planck and Leibnitz institutes,
which some German researchers fear could lead to undue political
influence on science. Last week, a large group of researchers
petitioned the French government to keep the public sector
science work force strong; a preliminary plan apparently
proposes to shrink employment through attrition. Finally, a
survey of European companies found that many are planning more
and more to spend their R&D money in the US rather than in
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND and THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY.
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the
University or the American Physical Society, but they should be.
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