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Make Science Really International

By | April 20, 1987

Internationalize science? Isn't it a!lready international? Not at all. Countries representing only one-quarter of the world's population produce 95 percent of the new science, while the remaining three-quarters contribute only 5 percent. We are, in effect, leaving three-quarters of human brain power unused. Science would progress much faster were this not so. Given the intimate connecbetween science, technology, production and standard of living, a universalization of science would also alleviat

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Radiation Biology Needs Physicians

By | April 20, 1987

The world faces a growing deficiency in the number of medical scientists who are well informed about the delayed effects of ionizing radiation. This deficiency is growing because the physicians who entered the field in the early 1950s are now reaching retirement age. No one is following them because career opportunities in human radiation biology have become less appealing than those in other fields. The excitement about research in radiation biology has diminished over the years since the dropp

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To Archimedes' Bathtub

By | April 20, 1987

Not only has the replacement of the bath by the shower aided in the spread of Legionnaire's disease, it may well lead to a decline in inventiveness. The earliest account of scientific discovery that has come down to us is the story of Archimedes, who solved a problem in applied science (a non-destructive assay of a gold crown) while in his bath. Whether or not the legend is true, bathers will know that the solitude and relaxation of lying in a hot bath—or a cold one during a sticky Sicilia

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A New Agency for Science Historians?

By | April 6, 1987

In his piece on "Historians and Science Policy," J.L. Heilbron makes a timely point with his usual cogency and wit. The science of the twentieth century is distinctive in its scale, its specialization and its close coupling with economic and military concerns. An individual instrument such as the Superconducting Supercollider may cost billions of dollars. The payoffs on research in biotechnology can make or break long-established corporations. Plainly, the mechanisms by which science policy is a

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Gravitating Toward Wave Theory

By | April 6, 1987

In October 1954 I arrived at King's College, London, as the new professor of applied mathematics. In a small department with a small research group, the choice of topic for myself and my closest colleagues was clearly crucial. I felt it had to be a subject not widely pursued at the time because we could not compete with the big battalions. Having already had some interest in the theory of gravitation and having at London C.W. Kilmister, with F.A.E. Pirani soon to follow me from Cambridge, the ch

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NIH Must Meet the Hughes Challenge

By | April 6, 1987

For the past 30 years the forefront of biomedical research has been synonymous with the efforts of the U.S. research community, shaped and financed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Now NIH's pre-eminence is at risk, challenged by the emergence of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) as a leader in the field. Since 1985, HHMI—with assets of $45.2 billion—has spent the better part of $485.4 million at 48 academic centers. Hughes researchers, many of them former stars o

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The Moral Costs of IVF Research

By | April 6, 1987

The Vatican's March 10 condemnation of artificial methods of reproduction, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), is certain to be the cause of considerable controversy both within and without the scientific community, and among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The pronouncement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says that "uncontrollable application of such techniques could lead to unforeseeable and damaging consequences for civil society." In addition to outlawing artificial

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What Viruses Might Do for a Living

By | April 6, 1987

Imagine, if you will, a committee of our brightest biochemists meeting in the late 1960s trying to make guesses about what might be happening next in the field of molecular biology. If they'd stayed up all night for weeks at a time, it is highly improbable that anyone could have guessed that recombinant DNA would happen next, or that this research technology would soon become the most important advance in biological science of the 20th century, much less that we would be purifying and scrutinizi

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Where Can Science and Policy Meet?

By | April 6, 1987

Twenty years ago, the politicians began to realize that science policy was too important to be left to the scientists. Now, the scientists have learned that it is also too important to be left to the politicians. Both sides need to talk to each other, but they face each other across a gap of comprehension. As J.L. Heilbron pointed out recently (The Scientist, March 9, 1987, p. 11), there is a real job here for the historians of science. They have had to master the languages of both science and p

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Citation Inadequacy Via Databanks

By | March 23, 1987

Any research paper that contained a reference list consisting only of the titles of the journals consulted and not their years of publication, volume and page numbers, and the names of the authors would surely be rejected out of hand by editor and referees alike. Right? Not so. Increasing numbers of papers are being submitted with references in precisely this form, and they are being accepted without question. The authors of the papers, the editors of the journals and the referees all seem unawa

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