Water drops the focus of Columbia lab experiment

The Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Space shuttle Columbia's chief scientist jiggled cherry tomato-sized drops of water yesterday, as the rest of the crew tiptoed around to avoid spoiling the laboratory experiment.

Astronaut Kathryn Thornton used sound waves to bounce one drop at a time inside an enclosed chamber. The levitating drops quivered and at times flipped and spun based on the sound volume, alternating between spheres and ovals.

''It looks beautiful,'' a ground controller said.

The ''beauty'' was short-lived. Within an hour or so, the first drop splattered on the interior wall of the chamber. So it was on to a bigger drop No. 2.

Scientists want to better understand how liquids behave in weightlessness in order to contribute to medical research on Earth, most notably in developing capsules containing insulin-producing cells for transplantation into diabetes patients.

In another fluid experiment, scientists working by remote control from Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., applied electric charges to silicone oil surrounding steel and sapphire hemispheres aboard Columbia. By creating buoyancy forces similar to those on Earth and other planets or stars, researchers hope to learn more about ocean and atmospheric flows.

Using Russia in Bosnia 'not easy' Christopher says

The Associated Press

NEW YORK Secretary of State Warren Christopher voiced frustration yesterday about finding a suitable way for Russian troops to help enforce peace in Bosnia.

''It will take some ingenuity,'' Christopher said in giving reporters a downbeat account of his dinner meeting Saturday night with Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev.

''It is not going to be easy,'' Christopher said.

The topic is on the agenda for President Clinton's meeting today at Hyde Park, N.Y., with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Administration officials said last week they were doubtful the two leaders can find a solution.

Yeltsin has been sharply critical of NATO, which will take charge of the peacekeeping operation. At the same time, the Clinton administration insists Russian troops be under NATO's command and that Moscow cover the cost.

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