Friday, April 14, 2006
1. LUNACY: THE "LUNAR CRATER OBSERVATION AND SENSING SATELLITE."
The excitement is palpable at NASA. If all goes well, Americans
could be landing on the Moon in 2018, just 49 years after the
Apollo 11 moon landing. Aside from a spacecraft to get us there,
all we need is a reason, and NASA is working on that. In 2009,
an SUV-sized spacecraft will smash into the Moon's south pole,
making a big hole and sending up a plume of debris. The last
time they tried this was the 1999 Lunar Prospector. It didn't
kick up squat, so they're gonna hit it harder. What they hope to
see in the plume is water. Water would allow astronauts to "live
off the land," and "could be used to make fuel," Michael Griffin,
the NASA Administrator explained. They are free to use my faucet
if it would solve the fuel crisis here on Earth.
2. ISS: COSMONAUT TO HIT THE GOLF SHOT HEARD 'ROUND THE WORLD.
The new Commander of the space station, Pavel Vinogradov, plans
to drive a gold-plated golf ball from a special platform during
an August space walk. Element 21 Golf, a Canadian company, paid
the Russian space agency an undisclosed amount to allow the
stunt. It would commemorate the 35th anniversary of a golf shot
Allan Shepard hit on the Moon during Apollo 14. Taxpayers were
not amused by Shepard's antics, which appeared to trivialize the
space program, but on the space station it seems appropriate.
3. MIRACLE MEDICINE: WILL GOING TO CHURCH HELP YOU LIVE LONGER?
The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine published a
study by Dr. Daniel Hall of the University of Pittsburgh Medical
Center who found that people who attend weekly religious services
live longer. Dr. Hall, who is also an Episcopal priest, compared
average church contributions to the cost of membership in Bally's
or to taking Lipitor to lower cholesterol, and concludes religion
is more cost effective. Everybody pays the same for Lipitor, but
they put different amounts in the collection plate. What is the
correlation between money individuals put in the plate and their
longevity? Dr. Richard Sloan of Columbia University Medical
Center, author of a forthcoming book, "Blind Faith: The Unholy
Alliance of Religion and Medicine," called the study "silly."
The most obvious confounder is that as their health fails people
are able to attend church less. The obvious solution is to take
money out of the plate to pay for membership in a gym.
4. DOE: SECRETARY OF ENERGY BODMAN DISBANDS HIS ADVISORY BOARD.
He has never met with SEAB. A DOE spokesman explained that the
Secretary, a chemical engineer, has "a science background," and
doesn't need advice. Besides, President Bush doesn't have a
science advisor, and look at how well things are going. When
Ronald Regan became President, he initially declined to name a
Science Advisor. He explained that he knew an engineer back in
California he could call if anything ever came up.