School Nixes Plan to Buy Supercomputer
In the wake of concerns raised by the Department of Commerce over Japanese companies' submitting below-cost bids to build a supercomputer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the school announced early this week that it had cancelled plans to buy one of the ultra-powerful devices.
MIT Provost John Deutch said that he made the decision not to buy a supercomputer, which would cost about $10 million spread out over five years, after he received a letter from Acting Secretary of Commerce Bruce Smart that expressed concern over Japanese bidding practices.
In the letter, Smart explained that the federal government was concerned that in an effort to penetrate the U.S, supercomputer market, Japanese companies might try to sell the computer below production cost. If that were to occur, American companies, who would not sell at below cost, would not be able to furnish a supercomputer at a competitive price.
The federal government does not object to MIT's buying a supercomputer, said Commerce Department spokesman Desiree Tucker. "The letter was meant to assure MIT that we had no problem with [the purchase]," Tucker said.
After MIT announced that it would pay up to $2 million a year for five years for a supercomputer, the university received five bids, three from American companies and two from joint Japanese-American ventures, according to Ken Campbell, an MIT spokesman. MIT planned to use the computer for basic research in particle physics and engineering.
Dumping goods at below cost is a violation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade agreed upon by 92 countries, including the United States and Japan, Tucker said.
Despite the university's decision to cancel bidding, MIT Provost John Deutch insists that MIT was not pressured into the decision. "The image that the federal government is a bully and that MIT is a wimp is just not true. We alone made a judgement on the issue," Deutch said. UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
Leary, in `Loosely Structured' Speech, Proves He is Wacky as Ever
Former Harvard professor Timothy Leary, who believes that people should be able to take drugs if they want, caused a minor uproar last month when he gave a speech to 1000 students at the University of Pennsylvania.
In the speech, which The Daily Pennsylvanian called loosely structured, Leary described television evangelist and Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson as a "nitwit" through whom his congregation had psychedelic experiences.
"It's a full-blown, schematic, psychedelic experience going on there," Leary said, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported. "Meanwhile, the camera is panning the congregation and they're all high. They're as high as kites," Leary said.
Leary also criticized drug enforcement officials for not having "real" knowledge of drugs, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported.
The drug enforcement official "doesn't know a thing about his job," Leary said. "He's never taken a drug himself and he's never sat down and had a real conversation with someone who's used drugs," he said.
In the 25,000 years that people have used marijuana, only 12 people have died from using the drug, Leary told the students.