Maglev's Benefits for Baltimore
In his Nov. 6 letter, Kenneth Sands wrote regarding the $900,000 contract to study the feasibility of maglev in Maryland. With all the high technology companies located in our area, we are in a unique position to play a major role in the development of maglev.
But Mr. Sands has also raised some valid concerns about maglev which I would like to address.
This study we are about to undertake is to evaluate the best route for a maglev to link Washington and Baltimore and to assess various transportation integration issues.
The study is not to develop maglev technology or to prove the viability of the technology. That is being done by the federal government through a comprehensive maglev program.
In fact, Martin Marietta, a member of the team conducting our study, was involved in studies sponsored by the federal government to look at such issues as safety and brings that background to our local study.
Regarding his concern with vandalism, I would like to quote Dr. Richard J. Gran, who leads the effort by Grumman's team to develop an American technology: "Mr. Sands correctly worries about the possibility of a collision between a vehicle that is traveling at 300 miles per hour and an object on the guideway . . .
"In our design we raise the guideway structure so that it clears all overpasses -- there is no way that someone can get above the guideway to 'drop' something on it.
"In addition, since the guideway is raised, it is very difficult for anyone to find a way to climb onto the guideway and interfere with the moving vehicles.
"Mr. Sands also expresses a common worry about the magnetic fields that are generated by maglev. Once again this is an issue that we too are concerned about. Our design has magnetic fields in the passenger compartment that are at the same levels as the magnetic field on the Earth."
While Mr. Sands is correct in that no American technology has been road-tested, there are maglev systems operating very efficiently in Germany and Japan. Maglev was developed first in America and now with renewed federal support we have the opportunity to demonstrate our technological superiority by creating a more efficient system that is less costly than that of the Germans or Japanese.
Maglev has the potential of alleviating infrastructure problems by reducing both ground and air traffic congestion; solving pollution problems with emission-free transportation; decreasing this country's need for foreign fossil fuel, and creating a significant new revenue base and potentially lucrative export market.
Baltimore has the opportunity to be in the vanguard of this development. Locally, we see it providing jobs, increasing tourism and enhancing Baltimore as a location for businesses and housing for those who want access to the District of Columbia.
Phyllis M. Wilkins
The writer is executive director of Maglev-Maryland.
Plea to Legislators
This week the Maryland General Assembly will hold a special session in Annapolis to deal with the state's fiscal crisis. Speaker pro tem Nancy Kopp predicts a most difficult and frustrating session at best.
I predict that more gridlock, political opportunism, horse trading antics and the art of filibuster are bound to cost we, the people, $17,000 per day for every day they meet.
As a voting, tax-paying citizen, I would hope to see the members of the General Assembly put their differences aside and work together as a team.
They should rededicate themselves to the process in serving the people of Maryland and not in their own self-interests.
Your Nov. 1 article on the Maryland Biotechnology Institute references statements by M. James Barrett that the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology has a poor record for economic development because it has produced only one patent.
Such criticisms do not reflect the reality of CARB's mission and its successful interactions with industry both in Maryland and elsewhere in the country.
CARB is a unique entity that was formed as a partnership between the University of Maryland, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology and Montgomery County.
CARB is staffed by 11 principal scientists (six from MBI and five from NIST), guest scientists, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and technicians.
This mix of state, local and federal co-operation has been highly successful and should serve as a model for the development of research institutes for the future.
CARB develops molecular models of protein structures and characterizes the properties and interactions of biological macromolecules.
This mission requires that hands-on collaborative research with industry, rather than the creation of patents, be the primary mode of technology transfer. This is precisely why CARB has been working directly with industry through most of its short life.
CARB staff members have formal collaborative research agreements with companies such as IBM, ICN Biomedicals, Procter & Gamble and Cray Research.
CARB also works closely with such local companies as Quantex Inc., Martex Inc. and Pulse Medical Instruments to provide consultative research services.
In several cases, CARB has assisted companies in qualifying for federal grants to support their research and product development.
This is an impressive record for an organization with a limited budget that began laboratory operations only five years ago.
Lura J. Powell
The writer heads the biotechnology division of NIST.
BCCC and the City
Some of us citizens of Baltimore are not aware of the fact that there seems to be a rather good junior college right here in our midst, called Baltimore City Community College (BCCC).
When parents begin to consider college for their youngsters, they tend to overlook the advantages of junior college. But maybe this tendency could be reversed.
I believe that early exposure to college life could do many things. To name a few: guarantee increased future enrollment, build confidence in the capabilities of junior colleges, help to create a solid community/college relationship, and encourage the young and very young to become familiar with "their" college campus.
If all this is true, then why are there no BCCC community relations people around, trying to reach out to the community?
They could be fostering such programs as story telling, scientific demonstrations, puppet shows, drama/dance groups, etc. These types of things are being done in the surrounding areas but, oddly enough, not here in the city.
Get on the band wagon, and try to cure some of the city's ills.
The current spate of letters and columns concerning Gov. William Donald Schaefer's "defection" illustrate vividly what is wrong with our country. We forget too often that we are Americans first, with all of the privileges that citizenship brings.
For some silly reasons, we are supposed to be social, ethnic, racial and political bigots. More often than not, unfortunately, the media promote this.
If you are of better than average means, you are supposed to support big business and its sometimes unholy practices.
If you are Serbian, you are expected to support ethnic cleansing. If you are African American, you were counted on to vote for Alan Keyes. If you are Jewish, you cannot speak out against whatever the Israeli government does. If you are Irish, you are supposed to provide moral and financial support for terrorist activities of the motherland.
All of this is patent nonsense.
That the governor chose to support a candidate from another party may be eyebrow-raising, but it was his right as an American if in his conscience that was the way to go.
Better than 75 percent of Americans are somewhat knowledgeable on who is who, though some of that knowledge may be tainted by media. We have education. Our life experience dictates conscience. Religion also should play a part, as long as it does not reach fanaticism.
Governor Schaefer is to be commended for not being a hypocrite. Whether some people like it or not, he was exercising his constitutional right in this "democracy" we call the United States of America.
Richard L. Lelonek