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AIP Probes Bush, Kerry On Science Issues 54

martensitic writes "Physics Today (the 50-year-old monthly publication of the American Institute of Physics) continues their election-year tradition with this special report, posing nine questions 'in an effort to get the candidates to specifically address questions of interest to the science community'. The 'sometimes direct and sometimes vague' written responses 'show fundamental differences on several key issues.'"
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AIP Probes Bush, Kerry On Science Issues

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  • The Average Voter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by macz ( 797860 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @09:47PM (#10447115)
    It is safe to say that the average voter will have no clue what a responsible stand on any scientific question question might be as most have no responsible, ethical, framework that is consistent and applicable to important scientific issues like these.

    It is also safe to say that after reading this article, an average voter would have lost interest in the first few sentences, wiped the drool from the corner of their mouth, and gone back to finding porn site passwords.

    Of course I can only speak for myself...

    • mean voters (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
      We're nerds (ahem, I'm just a geek...) - we're not the average voters. These are the issues we care about, and on which we make our decisions. Everyone has some special interest that makes them "not the average voter". We are unusual, though, in that we can understand the difference between average, median and lowest common denominator voters.
      • Re:mean voters (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ImaLamer ( 260199 )
        we're not the average voters

        This is true and I think it goes for all intelligentsia, not just computer geeks and nerds. But on the same side I believe we are the ones that are most likley to change other peoples minds on some of these issues.

        No where in the debates will a moderator ask about the science of stem cell research - just the policy because they can't answer on that. Basically it will stick to "moral" questions. However, we are the ones that can inform our fellow citizens that this or that cand
  • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @09:57PM (#10447170)
    Frankly, I hate to see the biased, left-wing liberal media make such a huge issue out of George W. Bush's support for the Geocentric Universe Hypothesis.
  • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @09:57PM (#10447178) Homepage Journal
    Bush:
    Including my FY 2005 budget request, total federal R&D investment during the first term will have increased 44% to a record $132 billion in 2005. My FY 2005 budget request commits 13.5% of total discretionary outlays to R&D, the highest level in 37 years. [...] The federal government has no control over local curricula, and it is not my job to tell states and local boards of education what they should teach in the classroom.

    Kerry:
    The administration has proposed cuts for scientific research and grossly distorted and politicized science on issues from mercury pollution to stem-cell research.

    Seems like the most important difference is in their interpretations of reality itself.
  • A number of scientific societies were trying to get the candidates to do webcast q&a's.

    http://www.hitechtownhall.org/ [hitechtownhall.org]

    Has anyone heard whether the campaigns answered the invitations?
  • Ahem (Score:3, Funny)

    by momerath2003 ( 606823 ) * on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @11:03PM (#10447605) Journal
    you forgot poland. [youforgotpoland.com]
  • Fact Check (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @11:14PM (#10447660) Homepage Journal
    Unlike other constituents, our questions have factual answers. I'd like to see _Physics Today_ factcheck those answers for their readers (us). Their standard deviations from the truth would be as instructive as their answers.
    • Re:Fact Check (Score:3, Insightful)

      by menscher ( 597856 )
      I can factcheck the first question for you. (Disclaimer: I'm a physicist.)

      1. Should we be wasting money on missile defense when scientists have shown it is ineffective?

      Bush: we're doing it no matter what anyone says.

      Kerry: it would be nice, but it's lower priority than stopping the spread of WMDs.

      Physicist: a previous article in Physics Today [physicstoday.org] discussed the issues and showed that it's silly to think that a missile defense system would provide any safety. The only studies that show it's even close n

      • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @11:45PM (#10447799)
        Somewhat off topic...
        During the debate (a few hours ago) Cheney incorrectly referred people to factcheck.com [factcheck.com] instead of factcheck.org [factcheck.org].

        It looks like the guy who registered "factcheck.com" was watching the debate. Check out where it redirects! BWAHAHAHAHA
      • Re:Fact Check (Score:3, Informative)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
        It's disturbing that either of them can say they're spending money on this with a straight face. Bush is a wholly owned subsidiary of the military/industrial complex, and Kerry's Massachussets constituency is led by the Route 128 defense contractors, to say nothing of the Harvard and MIT departments fed on those budgets. I am a DSP programmer, and I know the tech is almost as far away now as it was back in 1988-1992, when Bush Sr. was funding Star Wars covertly for at least $6B:y. If we just spent that mone
  • by Pluvius ( 734915 ) <pluvius3NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @11:22PM (#10447696) Journal
    Bush: We have not identified any need for developing new nuclear weapons.
    Kerry: [A] KerryEdwards administration will stop this administration's program to develop a new class of nuclear weapons.

    Uh, what?

    Rob (I seem to remember reading something about plans for bunker-busting nukes, but I'll let someone else do the research)
    • http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story /0,6903,1096298,00.html/ [guardian.co.uk] The United States is embarking on a multimillion-dollar expansion of its nuclear arsenal, prompting fears it may lead the world into a new arms race. The Bush administration is pushing ahead with the development of a new generation of weapons, dubbed 'mini-nukes', that use nuclear warheads to penetrate underground bunkers. Last week, it gave a quiet yet final go-ahead to a controversial research project into the bunker-buster. T
      • Only problem is before the US announced plans to restart low yield warheads, other nations(Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea) were busy trying to start or expand their nuclear programs. Thus the arms race had already begun we just missed the starting gun.
  • by quintessent ( 197518 ) <my usr name on toofgiB [tod] moc> on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @01:21AM (#10448189) Journal
    * The Earth is less than 6,000 years old.
    * Dinosaur bones and the trillions of other fossils showing various evolving species throughout history were put there by God to challenge our faith that evolution is a Satanic principle.
    * Gay people don't exist, plus they don't deserve any rights in this Flag-loving nation of ours, unless of course they're lesbians who are willing to let me watch.
    * Global warming is helping to speed up the end times so we can get Jesus to come back sooner.
    • Bingo. I would really love to see someone back Bush into a corner on the wacko beliefs which are common to much of his base, and which I suspect he shares. "Mr. President, do you actuall believe X, Y, and Z? And if not, how do you square that with your appeal to fundamentalists who do?" Never going to happen, of course; religion is the last great, um, sacred cow of American politics.
  • I am a physicist. Talking with the professors and faculty at the University I attended, I picked up these critical opinions.

    1. Nuclear power is the way to go. It is cheap, affordable, and the waste really isn't that bad. Besides, we are developing ways to handle the waste properly. Managed properly (meaning, freeing the scientists to continue R&D) will mean we won't need coal plants and gas plants and electrical cars may become a reality.

    Bush scored spot on. "I am going to begin building a new nuclear
    • Don't forget these environmental policies of Dubyah's: * "We need to thin. We need to make our forests healthy by using some common sense ... We need to understand, if you let kindling build up and there's a lightning strike, you're going to get yourself a big fire. 22 Aug 2002 * "We need to thin our forests" 11 Aug 2003
    • by Hittite Creosote ( 535397 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @09:09AM (#10450032)
      Oh, that's just rot. You're a Republican at heart, and you're just trying to read into Bush's statements what you want to hear. If you'd been a Liberal at heart, you'd be reading into Kerry's statements what you wanted to hear.
      no problem is impossible to solve

      If you were a real physicist, you'd know that was wrong. Here's an electron - tell me exactly where it is, where it's going, and how fast.

    • by barawn ( 25691 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @09:12AM (#10450062) Homepage
      Physicists don't drink the kool-aid on global warming. If you can prove that global warming is happening, then that is one thing. Trying to prove it is a bad thing is something else.

      Um. Huh? Physicists are smart enough to know that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and that the Earth has a limited capacity to absorb it. Long term temperature trends show pretty clearly that the Earth is warming up. Much of it may be due to orbital eccentricity drift, but the problem is that CO2 levels are spiking dramatically (due to human activity) as well. This hasn't happened in any period of Earth's history that we can study.

      Physicists would also be smart enough to know that the question isn't whether or not global warming is happening (it clearly is - the top five warmest years on record have happened since 1997, and if you look at the average global temperature, it's clearly going up) but whether or not human activity is causing it. And the problem with this is that we don't know enough about Earth to say it. We don't have a "control Earth". We know that humans are dumping huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere - far more than natural causes. We don't know what that will do. Any physicist worth his or her salt would know that this is, to quote a paleoclimatologist from Ohio State, "is a dangerous, uncontrolled experiment."

      Bush is saying "well... we don't know what dumping huge amounts of CO2 is going to do ... so we're going to keep studying it (while continuing to dump CO2) and if it turns out that it was bad... then we'll stop it". This is insane. It's a very dangerous, very stupid experiment we're playing with by burning huge amounts of fossil fuels.

      If there's one thing Physicists love to talk about it is energy. No one understands what energy is better than physicists. Energy is the end-all idol they worship, if they worship any idol at all. How do we exploit the energy out there? How do we get more and more of it delivered to the masses? If it were up to physicists, we would be doubling our energy production every ten years. There are so many useful things you can do if only you had enough energy! Even time travel is possible with enough energy!

      What in the heck are you talking about?? Physicists would also know that any energy you produce has to go somewhere. And unless we start moving off this planet (which is one thing where Bush is correct - if he wasn't saying it just to be politically correct, as is evidenced by the fact that he didn't back it up in NASA's budget) that energy is going to be dumped somewhere on Earth. I could probably do a back of the envelope calculation figuring out how long it would take to incinerate Earth if our energy production doubled every ten years, but it's not worth the effort. Given that it's exponential growth, though, that number would be well less than probably 100-200 years.

      And I really, really challenge you to find a real physicist who honestly believes that time travel is possible with enough energy.

      Bush is willing to shovel the money they need into their labs.

      News to all of the physicists I know. Well, those that aren't working on weapons programs.
      • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @09:53AM (#10450457)
        I am accelerating towards a brick wall but I'm not sure if the wall was constructed by humans, or whether I will be able to slow down enough to avoid it at all, so instead of cautiously deccelerating I'll just put my foot down and keep accelerating because lack of information justifies arbitrary action.
      • And I really, really challenge you to find a real physicist who honestly believes that time travel is possible with enough energy.

        I have to admit, the original parent isn't being a complete lunatic on this one - genuine physicists have come up with papers on this - see "Closed timelike curves produced by pairs of moving cosmic strings: Exact solutions" J.R. Gott, III, Physics Review Letters, v.66, p.1126 (1991).

        I don't know if he's since accepted the complaints that he's wrong (see S. Deser, R. Jackiw

        • Ahem. The second ref should be S. Deser, R. Jackiw, and G. 't Hooft, PRL, v.68, p.267 (1992).
        • I have to admit, the original parent isn't being a complete lunatic on this one ... except, for this, you have to accept that cosmic strings can exist, and that general relativity is valid in that regime.

          There are plenty of theoretical possibilities for time travel within GR, but none of them are really tractable.

          One of the big problems is the fact that people have basically ended up playing with odd metrics in GR, coming up with bizarre geometries, and then finding out that the matter requirements to gen
      • You're an ego-centric grad student who needs to get off his high horse. You say so yourself, "but more importantly [...] that the best way to live is by being kind to each other." If you aren't informed enough by theories of time and space, don't say they don't exist. That is irresponsible. You cannot have read every view possible on the subject. Ask for clarification. God damn I hate people who are so damn hypocritical. They say, I'm religous, or everyone should be kind to each other, but then go a
        • If you aren't informed enough by theories of time and space, don't say they don't exist.

          Trust me, I know quite a bit about general relativity. I know that GR doesn't forbid closed timelike loops - but I also know that any solution involving closed timelike loops also must involve matter of exotic type, or objects where GR may break down (like black holes, etc.).

          But it's naive to say that time travel might be possible with enough energy. Time travel, if it exists, will require significantly more than just
    • http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,62339,00 . html?tw=wn_story_related

      Scientists: Bush Distorts Science

      The Bush administration has distorted scientific fact leading to policy decisions on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry, a group of about 60 scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, said in a statement on Wednesday.

      The Union of Concerned Scientists, an independent organization, also issued a 37-page report, "Scientific Integrity in Policymaking," detailing the accus

    • You sure don't sound like a physicist.


      3. Energy. If there's one thing Physicists love to talk about it is energy. No one understands what energy is better than physicists. Energy is the end-all idol they worship, if they worship any idol at all. How do we exploit the energy out there? How do we get more and more of it delivered to the masses?

      Do you even know any physicists? If scientists (physicists, etc..) worship anything it's truth and knowledge. The only time we talk about delivering anything t

    • Note how jgardn starts out by saying, "I am a physicist," but soon lapses and refers to physicists as "they" for most of the rest of his rant.

    • Guys like this are trying to systematically hijack the Slashdot mod system. See here. [slashdot.org]

      Looks like the system still works, though...
  • favorite quote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QEDog ( 610238 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @12:25PM (#10452246)
    The Nuclear Posture Review [...] noted that the nation's nuclear infrastructure had atrophied since the end of the cold war

    Well duh, wasn't that the whole point of the end of the cold war? Nuclear disarment?

  • Some of these questions are political, such as positions on nuclear weapons development.

    From a pure science standpoint, it's a no brainer. Research that could lead to new nuclear weapons could also result in new methods to make new artificial elements.

    Only when you involve politics does it get complicated.

    LK
  • to think the candidates have nothing better to do then write multipage answers to every little group that poses some questions.
    Would anyone intelligent enough to walk and chew gum at the same time actually think that the candidates themselves even saw the questions ?

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