Saturday, Mar 02, 2013
1. BRAIN ACTIVITY: COMING UP IN THE FY 2014 BUDGET REQUEST.
Although sequestration goes into effect today I cant seem to remember
why. In his 2013 State of the Union address last month President Obama
cited brain research on Alzheimer's disease as an example of government
investment in the best ideas. This month, Congress gets the presidents
budget request "Every dollar we invested in mapping the human genome,"
President Obama pointed out, "returned $140 to our economy." A week later
on the front page of the New York Times, John Markoff described the Brain
Activity Map Project as a greater challenge than the Human Genome Project.
Still, it would be a remarkably bold proposal in the midst of an epic
partisan dispute over the sequestration fiasco.
A recent Nature editorial (Nature 494, 281, 2013) characterized the failure
of much of the world to continuously gather data on births and causes of
death as a "scandal." According to the Nature editorial, the World Health
Organization (WHO) dissolved the Health Metrics Network (HMN), created with
$50 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to correct the
problems. It should have been the International Agency for Research on
Cancer (IARC) that the WHO dissolved. The IARC incorrectly labeled cell
phone radiation as "possibly carcinogenic," which it clearly cannot be, as
pointed out in J Natl Cancer Inst (2001) 93 (3): 166-167.
Dennis Tito, who became the first private space tourist when he paid the
Russians $20m for a ticket to the International Space Station (ISS) in
2001, created Inspiration Mars to send a "couple" on a flyby of Mars if he
can find other obscenely-wealthy space junkies to share the cost. Diversity
standards raise questions about what Tito means by a "couple." The trip
would take advantage of the alignment of heavenly bodies in January 2018 to
do a flyby of Mars and return to Earth in the relatively short time of 501
days. The struggles a private cargo capsule had trying to reach the space
station Friday reinforce the notion that spaceflight remains a challenging