WHAT'S NEW (in my opinion), Friday, 10 Dec 1993 Washington, DC 1. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE UNV

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WHAT'S NEW (in my opinion), Friday, 10 Dec 1993 Washington, DC 1. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE UNVEILS "COUNTER-PROLIFERATION" POLICY! In a speech on Tuesday, Pearl Harbor Day, Les Aspin acknowledged that the US may not be able to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue states or terrorist groups. It's scant comfort that they may be 40 years behind us, he observed; in 1953 the US had fission bombs and a delivery system. We must therefore "add the task of protection to the task of prevention." Translation: we need a theater ballistic missile defense system, a compliant ABM treaty, and an aggressive posture. "We have to be prepared to fight a Desert Storm when the enemy has a small number of nuclear weapons," Aspin warned. "We cannot let future Saddams escape attack." Alas, North Korea doesn't seem to be listening. 2. SECRETARY OF ENERGY UNVEILS A BOLD NEW "OPENNESS INITIATIVE"! On the same symbol-laden day, Hazel O'Leary began to pry open the shutters to let a little light into the obsessively secret Energy Department. No one seriously questioned the need for secrecy during the Cold War, but the abuses revealed in the initial batch of declassified documents are poignant reminders of the terrible price a democracy pays for secrecy. In one appalling series of experiments, 18 people were given doses of plutonium without their knowledge. Among other facts revealed on the first day of the initiative: the US conducted 1,051 nuclear tests of which 204 were never announced; the US produced 89 metric tons of weapons- grade plutonium--enough for about 15,000 warheads; of the 12,000 tons of mercury used in the lithium-6 enrichment process at Oak Ridge, about 325 tons ended up in the East Fork of Poplar Creek. 3. INERTIAL CONFINEMENT FUSION IS INCLUDED IN DECLASSIFICATION! At least some of it. Zapping deuterium and tritium with lasers and such began as weapons simulation studies, but proponents say inertial fusion could be superior to magnetic fusion as an energy source. Secrecy has hampered comparison of the two methods. 4. MAGNETIC CONFINEMENT FUSION AT PPPL SETS POWER OUTPUT RECORD! Last night, the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab finally began high- power D-T experiments. Using a "50-50" D-T mixture, the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor produced 3 MW of fusion power for about one second. Break-even is still a long way off; the Q, which is the ratio of the fusion power produced to the power that went into heating the plasma, was about 1/8. Nevertheless, as of last night, TFTR has achieved all the objectives set for it in 1975. On hand to celebrate was Lyman Spitzer, who founded PPPL in 1951. He was also celebrating NASA's successful repair of the Hubble telescope; Spitzer first proposed an orbiting telescope in 1946. 5. COLD FUSION FAITHFUL HOLD THEIR FOURTH ANNUAL SEANCE IN MAUI! Who says cold fusion isn't practical? As some of us slog through the slush, this tiny band of true believers sips cool drinks in celebration of MITI's $30M 4-year "new hydrogen energy" project. Robert L. Park opa@aps.org The American Physical Society


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