What's New | 6 Mar 00:07 2010

What's New Robert L. Park Friday, March 5, 2010

WHAT’S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 5 Mar 2010   Washington, DC

1.  ALARM!  AHMADINEJAD SAYS IRAN HAS LASER ENRICHMENT.
"For now," the Iranian President said on Saturday, "we do not intend to use 
it." He is, of course, a notorious liar.  Whether he has it or not, the 
worst thing the United States could do at this point is to allow Global 
Laser Enrichment to proceed with plans to construct the first commercial 
laser enrichment plant in the US.  It would be hailed by Ahmadinejad as 
justification for Iran to proceed with such a facility.  His announcement 
focuses attention on the timely Opinion article in yesterday's 
Nature: "Stop Laser Uranium Enrichment," by Francis Slakey and Linda Cohen. 
The article calculates that the mean US household savings from laser 
enrichment of uranium would probably be less than two dollars a month.  
Because of its relatively small size the laser technology could be 
misappropriated to secretly enrich uranium for weaponry. The authors urge 
the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to assess proliferation risks in the 
licensing process.

2.  MANNA: ISN’T THAT A GIFT FROM HEAVEN?
The town of Odessa, MO, population 4,818, located somewhere east of Kansas 
City, needs jobs.  So when a company, Manna of Utah, said it wanted to 
build a plant there employing 3000 people, folks cheered.  All the town had 
to do was provide $90 million in revenue bonds and a site.  The company 
even flew local officials to Florida for a demonstration of the "world-
changing" technology that would be built there.  It's a home generator 
developed by Maglev Energy in Largo, Florida, which is leasing the 
technology to Manna of Utah. State Representative Mike McGhee (R-Odessa) 
said the product would be the "equivalent of the light bulb."  Steve Everly 
of the Kansas City Star thought it might be a good idea to check with 
scientists and engineers, including Bob Park.  The mayor of Odessa, Tony 
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What's New | 13 Mar 00:08 2010

What's New Robert L Park Friday, March 12, 2010

WHAT’S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 12 Mar 2010   Washington, DC

1.  TRIANA: WHERE IS THE DEEP SPACE CLIMATE OBSERVATORY?
You’ve seen the snapshot of the sunlit face of Earth, taken by Apollo 17 
astronauts on 7 Dec 1972, more than 100 times.  It's the “blue marble,” one 
of the most widely distributed photographic images in existence.  It always 
moves us, but never changes.  Al Gore dreamed of a continuous live image 
transmitted from a solar satellite located at the L1 point between the 
Earth and the Sun.  Gore chose to call it Triana after Rodrigo de Triana., 
the crew member on the Pinta who first sighted the New World.  But it has a 
far more important scientific purpose in the climate debate: is Earth's 
climate determined entirely by the Sun, or is there a component of 
anthropogenic warming?  Built and paid for, Triana’s launch was delayed 
into the Bush administration by the Challenger disaster.  Bush didn’t want 
anything to have Gore's initials on it, so the name was changed to the Deep 
Space Climate Observatory.  But Bush didn't like that either, so the 
mission was canceled.  But Triana, or DSCOVR, thankfully was not 
destroyed.  It was locked up in Guantánamo, or a maybe a warehouse in 
Greenbelt, MD.  A year ago Congress voted the money to refurbish DSCOVR, 
but we’ve heard little since.  WN finds it’s getting an extreme makeover.  
The opposition to DSCOVR is based on the fact that the L1 is a retro-
reflection (hotspot) point.  And so it is, but DSCOVR will not be exactly 
at the L1 point. It will orbit the L1.   In any case it is possible to 
analyze hotspot reflections.

2.  CLIMATE OF FEAR:   NATURE CALLS IT A "STREET FIGHT."
In an editorial this week, Nature acknowledges that "climate research has 
taken a very public battering in recent months," and so it has.   A few 
climate scientists ignored the simple rules of such a fight at considerable 
cost.  Rule one: never imagine that your e-mail conversation is bound to 
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What's New | 19 Mar 22:09 2010

What's New Robert L. Park March 19, 2010

WHAT’S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 19 Mar 2010   Washington, DC

1.  IMAGINARY SCIENCE: THE GREAT DRUG WAR SOUTH OF THE BORDER.
The United States and Mexico are separated by a 3000 km border that 
stretches across the most forbidding desert in North America. Mexican drug 
traffickers, for whom the US drug market is El Dorado, are fighting a 
bloody war with the democratically elected government of Mexico over 
control of the border.  According to Monday’s New York Times, outgunned 
Mexican officials spent more than $10 million to purchase high-tech dowsing 
rods to detect caches of drugs, or weapons or anything else you have in 
mind.  The first application was as a golf-ball finder sold in Golf-Pro 
shops, http://bobpark.org/WN96/wn012696.html .  The Mexican army says the 
devices are extremely helpful.  Made in the UK by Global Technologies Ltd., 
the GT 200 has no sensors.  Priced at more than $20,000, it’s a plastic rod 
attached to a hand grip by a swivel, allowing the rod to point in any 
direction depending on the orientation of the handle.  That also describes 
the ADE 650 sold by ATSC Ltd., another UK company which recently sold 1,500 
imaginary detectors to the Iraqis to search for explosives at checkpoints 
http://bobpark.org/WN09/wn110609.html .    Could Global Technologies and 
ATSC be the same company, switching names and locations to avoid exposure. 

2.  IMAGINARY PENALTIES: AT WHAT POINT IS IMAGINARY SCIENCE CRIMINAL? 
The British government took action, notifying Mexico and other countries 
that the GT 200 "may not work."  Of course it "works"; it just doesn't 
detect anything.  That's not its purpose.  Human Rights Watch is worried 
that people are actually being arrested and charged solely on the basis of 
readings from the device.  That could happen; in the United States, 
however, local law enforcement agencies use these devices to justify 
probable-cause for searches.  Whether it's done with a willow branch or a 
GT 200, dowsing falls in a special category of voodoo science, along with 
(Continue reading)

What's New | 26 Mar 23:48 2010

What's New Robert L. Park March 26, 2010

WHAT’S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 19 Mar 2010   Washington, DC

1. SIR JOHN TEMPLETON:  THE MAN WHO TRIED TO BUY SCIENCE.
He was Born into a middle-class family in the Bible-belt town of 
Winchester, TN. His parents, devout Presbyterians, emphasized the virtues 
of thrift and piety.  Templeton learned both lessons so well that in 1968, 
he renounced his US citizenship and moved to the Bahamas, becoming a 
British citizen to avoid the US income tax.  Having become one of the 
richest men in the world, he was knighted by the Queen.  While Templeton 
may have genuinely believed the Christian myth, he also respected science.  
Why shouldn't he?  After all, the scientific revolution led to the 
fantastic growth in the world economy that made him a billionaire.  
Believing that science and theology are two windows onto the same 
landscape, he set out to persuade scientists to delve into religion.  He 
went directly to the American Association for the Advancement of Science 
with an offer of $1 million to create the AAAS Dialogue between Science and 
Religion. Not everyone was happy about the AAAS selling part of its soul to 
Templeton.  Two years ago Templeton died, but the monster he created 
carries on without him.

2.  A BIGGER PRIZE: HOW MUCH WOULD IT TAKE TO BUY THE NAS?
Francisco Ayala, an evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist at the 
University of California, Berkeley was awarded the 2010 Templeton Prize in 
a ceremony yesterday at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC.  
A genuinely good person, Ayala authored "On Being a Scientist," a NAS 
pamphlet on scientific ethics that should be part of the education of every 
scientist.  Ayala is a staunch opponent of Intelligent Design.   The first 
recipient of the Templeton Prize was Mother Theresa in 1973; in 1982 it was 
Billy Graham, and in 1993 Charles Colson of Watergate fame, but his award 
was delayed until he got out of prison.  Most of the others who won the 
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