What's New | 6 Dec 00:40 2008

What's New Friday December 5, 2008

WHAT’S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 5 Dec 08   Washington, DC

1. TRIANA:  WHY DOES THIS ADMINISTRATION HATE IT SO MUCH?
Could it be because Al Gore’s initials areon it?  They changed the name, 
but the initials wouldn’t rub off.  Three years ago while Congress was out 
of town for the Christmas break, I heard NASA was quietly terminating 
Triana, a.k.a. DSCOVR, http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN06/wn010606 .  How 
could this happen?  The $100 million observatory was already built.  It 
was meant to answer the most fundamental question of climate science: what 
is the energy balance between solar radiation falling on Earth and 
reflected or reradiated energy?  Global warming deniers all claim solar 
variation is the major factor in global climate change.  Is it?  Well, 
Triana is the only experiment that can unequivocally answer that 
question.  But I couldn’t find a single global warming denier who wanted 
it tested.  So I wrote an op-ed for the NY Times; but maybe nobody read 
it, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/15/opinion/15park.html .  It’s still 
timely; the NY Times should feel free to reprint it without change.  

2. DSCOVR: A DICK CHENEY SHOTGUN BLAST BLINDS THE WORLD.  
The Nov 19, 2008 online Nature news, reported that the NASA 
reauthorization bill ordered the agency to come up with a plan for 
DSCOVR.  The article quoted Francisco Valero of Scripps, the mission’s 
principle investigator, who estimated that it would take $117 million to 
refurbish and launch DSCOVR.  The Air Force offered to launch it, but 
incredibly, only if all Earth observation equipment is removed.  This led 
me to wonder if there could be a national security reason.  No, Dick 
Cheney just doesn’t want to hear about global warming.  DeSmogBlog, the 
best of the environmental blogs, quotes an unnamed source within NASA who 
spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying Cheney was the hatchet man, 
intent from the beginning on killing DSCOVR, and keeping Bush’s 
(Continue reading)

What's New | 13 Dec 00:15 2008

What's New Friday December 12, 2008

WHAT’S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 12 Dec 08   Washington, DC

1.  ENERGY TRANSITION: OBAMA MAKES A PERFECT CALL.
Steven Chu has been selected to be Secretary of Energy in the Obama 
Cabinet.  Physicists in particular are elated; at last a genuine scientist 
will head the agency that funds the majority of physics research in the 
US.  The position had usually been filled by political insiders.  Chu 
shared the 1997 Nobel Prize with Bill Phillips for laser-cooling of atoms, 
and is currently the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National 
Laboratory.  Under Chu the lab is a center of research into biofuels and 
solar energy.  He is a member of the Copenhagen Climate Council.  Alas, 
there will be pressure worldwide to abandon carbon reduction to ameliorate 
the economic downturn.

2. ENERGY FROM WATER: IS CNN FLACKING FOR BLACKLIGHT?
Yesterday, in the middle of the afternoon, I turned on CNN to see if there 
was any news.  Two heads were talking about BlackLight Power, which had 
found "a way to extract all the energy we need from water."  There was a 
picture of Randy Mills in the background holding something technical.  
The "she" head said "it sounds like a great idea."  The "he" head agreed.  
(So do I, if you can make it work.)  He said big companies have invested 
$60 million, so it must work.   I tried to find yesterday’s exchange on 
Google just now.  No luck, but I found other CNN reports from last summer 
that sounded just like it.  CNN should talk to Steven Chu; In 2000, Chu, 
along with other Nobel Prize winning physicists, was asked by a reporter  
about people investing in BlackLight.  Chu’s response was not as colorful 
as some.  "I feel sorry for them," he said softly.

3.  NASA REGRESSION: THE TRANSITION IS NOT GOING SMOOTHLY.
NASA is a thorny problem for Obama.  NASA administrator Mike Griffin is 
(Continue reading)

What's New | 19 Dec 23:45 2008

What's New Friday December 19, 2008

WHAT’S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 19 Dec 08   Washington, DC

1.  TERRIFIC CHOICES: A CLEAR MESSAGE ON THE ENVIRONMENT.
Any concern that the economic crisis would soften the resolve of the Obama 
administration to deal with the sad state of the environment was swept 
away today by the choice of Harvard physicist John Holdren to be 
presidential science advisor, and Oregon State marine biologist Jane 
Lubchenco to head the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric 
Administration.  Both have battled industry opposition to climate 
initiatives.  Along with Steve Chu as Secretary of Energy they should form 
a powerful block of scientists in the Obama administration.  It will 
almost certainly be the most influence science has had in the White House 
since the Eisenhower administration.  But we don’t have much time.  Let me 
tell you what no one else is saying publicly: every step we take to 
improve the environment will soon be wiped out by population growth.  The 
fact is that we are already beyond a sustainable population.  We can’t 
keep talking in terms of reducing the rate of growth.  That’s the second 
derivative.

2. BAD CHOICE: IT’S ONLY AN INAUGURAL INVOCATION, BUT… 
The story about science nominees didn’t make it into today’s early edition 
of the NY Times.  With a tiny headline and postage stamp-sized head shots, 
it was hidden on page A6 of the Wash Post beside an almost full-page 
Macy’s “parfum” ad.   The story that got the attention was that Rick 
Warren, pastor of the humongous evangelical Saddleback Church in Orange 
County, is going to deliver the inaugural invocation.  A Wash Post photo 
shows Warren and Barrack Obama with arms around each other’s shoulder.  
Gays, offended by Warren’s opposition to gay marriage, are pissed.  But 
Warren also opposes plan B, in vitro fertilization, abortion rights and 
stem-cell research.  Clear-headed humans should all be offended by that.  
(Continue reading)

What's New | 27 Dec 01:09 2008

What's New Friday December 26, 2008

WHAT’S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 26 Dec 08   Washington, DC

1.  PCAST: OBAMA CONTINUES TO MAKE GOOD SCIENCE CHOICES. 
His choices have one thing in common: they are as different as they could 
be from those they will replace.   Science is emerging, somewhat shaken, 
from the most secret presidency in our history.  The success and 
credibility of science are anchored in the willingness of scientists to 
openly expose their ideas and results to challenge by other scientists.  
Just before Christmas, Obama tapped Harold Varmus and Eric Lander to head 
the President’s Council of Science Advisors, a task they will share with 
John Holdren.  According to the NY Times, Obama pledges to listen to their 
advice "especially when it is inconvenient."  Varmus, who shared the 1989 
Nobel Prize in Medicine with Michael Bishop for their discovery of the 
origin of retroviral oncogenes, resigned as head of NIH early in the Bush 
presidency to concentrate on the open-access system for scientific 
papers.  He believes that scientists should have control over the 
dissemination of their research rather than journal editors; so do I.   
The culture of openness is perhaps the most important discovery of 
science.  Government should try it.

2.  THE WAGER: WHO ME, GET BETWEEN EHRLICH AND SIMON?
Blogers from the NY Times to the Atlantic have brought up the famous bet 
between biologist Paul Ehrlich at Stanford and the late libertarian-
economist Julian Simon at the University of Maryland.  You will recall 
that Ehrlich authored the Population Bomb in 1968, predicting disaster 
resulting from uncontrolled population growth.  Simon argued that 
everything that happens when population grows is good, at least for 
business.  Ehrlich thought a group of five metals would increase in price 
as they became scarce.  Simon thought the price would drop as new sources 
were found.  In a famous bet Simon won hands down and Ehrlich paid off.  
(Continue reading)

What's New | 27 Dec 06:13 2008

What's New Friday December 26, 2008

WHAT’S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 26 Dec 08   Washington, DC

PLEASE DISCARD EARLIER VERSION.  I DEEPLY REGRET THAT THERE WAS AN 
UNFORTUNATE SWITCH IN NAMES IN ITEM 2. THIS IS THE CORRECTED VERSION!  

1. PCAST: OBAMA CONTINUES TO MAKE GOOD SCIENCE CHOICES. 
His choices have one thing in common: they are as different as they could 
be from those they will replace.   Science is emerging, somewhat shaken, 
from the most secret presidency in our history.  The success and 
credibility of science are anchored in the willingness of scientists to 
openly expose their ideas and results to challenge by other scientists.  
Just before Christmas, Obama tapped Harold Varmus and Eric Lander to head 
the President’s Council of Science Advisors, a task they will share with 
John Holdren.  According to the NY Times, Obama pledges to listen to their 
advice "especially when it is inconvenient.  Varmus, who shared the 1989 
Nobel Prize in Medicine with Michael Bishop for their discovery of the 
origin of retroviral oncogenes, resigned as head of NIH early in the Bush 
presidency to concentrate on the open-access system for scientific 
papers.  He believes that scientists should have control over the 
dissemination of their research rather than journal editors.   The culture 
of openness is perhaps the most important discovery of science.  
Governments should try it.

2.  THE WAGER: WHO ME, GET BETWEEN EHRLICH AND SIMON?
Blogers from the NY Times to the Atlantic have brought up the famous bet 
between biologist Paul Ehrlich at Stanford and the late libertarian-
economist Julian Simon at the University of Maryland.  You will recall 
that Ehrlich authored the Population Bomb in 1968, predicting disaster 
resulting from uncontrolled population growth.  Simon argued that 
everything that happens when population grows is good, at least for 
(Continue reading)


Gmane