Friday, 30 March 1990 Washington, DC

1. THE SUPERCONDUCTING SUPER COLLIDER AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 1990
passed the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Wednesday after a contentious 4-hour debate. Although the bill fully authorizes the project, it requires the magnet technology to be successfully demonstrated before the final 80% of the funds are released and puts a $5B cap on the Federal share. The use of the word "cap" should not be taken too literally; it just means DOE will have to go back to Congress the next time the price goes up. The cap assumes $1B will come from Texas and the rest from other foreign sources. But lest the foreign influence get out of hand, the bill limits foreign contributions to 33% of the total cost (fat chance). Even that was too much for Rep. Traficant (D-OH), who was pushing for a "made in America" amendment. There was the usual concern that foreign competitors will benefit from SSC technology, but Rep. Ritter (R-PA) commented that the SSC is not an R&D; project, "It's more like Field of Dreams," a reference to the film fantasy. Elsewhere, Secretary Watkins, who is seeking someone to manage the SSC at the DOE end, complained that a half dozen candidates turned down the job because of low Federal pay.

2. ET TU BRUTUS? OTHER UTAH SCIENTISTS DETECTED NO FUSION ACTIVITY
in Pons' cells over a five-week period following his initial press conference. The celebration in Salt Lake City this week of one year of cold fusion was dampened when a new report by other Utah scientists came out in Nature. They had been allowed to monitor Pons' own cells. No fusion emissions were detected. But Pons complains that the cells they studied weren't quite up to par during that period. The cells did work for a few hours, he said, during which time the computer operating the detectors was off, but stopped when the computer came back on. Darn! Missed it again!

3. A RIFT HAS DEVELOPED BETWEEN THE ASTRONAUTS AND NASA
over the issue of excessive "extra vehicular activity" (EVA), according to Senator Gore (D-TN). In a hearing on Wednesday, Gore said that "space station Freedom is in jeopardy." The project will require redesign following a study panel estimate that astronauts would need to spend 2,200 hours in space suits annually just to perform maintenance (WN 23 Mar 90). A NASA administrator said the numbers were preliminary and implied they would come down as the input was refined; one of the astronauts who conducted the study said the numbers could go either way. The cost will go only one way.

4. IT'S TIME FOR A FUNDAMENTAL REFORM OF U.S. EXPORT CONTROLS.
The Export Administration Act is up for reauthorization. Almost everyone agrees that the current export regulations are harmful to American business. Designed to retard high tech development in the Soviet Bloc, they make less sense with the bloc crumbling. The controls apply to scientific communication as well as strategic goods and led to frequent disputes between the government and scientific societies during the Carter and Reagan administrations.



Bob Park can be reached via email at whatsnew@bobpark.org
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.