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Say No to a 'Dumb, Dangerous' Program

By | February 23, 1987

Nearly 7,000 research scientists at more than 110 physics, computer science, chemistry and other hard science departments at leading universities in the United States have signed a pledge to neither solicit nor accept funding from the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO). This figure includes more than 3,800 senior faculty members and nearly 60 percent of the combined faculties of the top 20 physics departments in the country. Our position against SDI was summarized in a letter circu

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SDI Boycott Violates Academic Freedom

By | February 23, 1987

The controversy generated by the Strategic Defense Initiative has quite naturally spilled over to university campuses. SDI-sponsored research at universities has become a vehicle for expression of concern about military research at universities generally, as well as about the merits and dangers of the SDI program itself. People question whether either the university qua university or individual faculty members should accept SDI funding. Despite my own deep concern about the goals of SDI, I would

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We Must Be Technologically Competitive

By | February 23, 1987

The principal responsibility of the U.S. government, and that of any free nation, is to provide for the economic well being of all of its citizens and for the national security. It seems, however, that the state of our economy and trade relations are treated today as secondary to geopolitics and defense issues in the thinking of the executive branch. The expanding U.S. budget and trade deficits are symptomatic of the real ailment in the United States: the decline of our industrial base and a pen

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An Urgent Need to Map Biodiversity

By | February 9, 1987

The scientific imagination has been stirred by a call for complete sequencing of the human genome (The Scientist, October 20, 1986, pp. 11-12). The prospect is attractive because it offers an Everest-like goal, the entrainment of new advances in high technology, and the promise of practical applications in medicine. A close parallel exists in the mission envisioned by other biologists to describe and characterize the remainder of life on Earth. Where the genome project will search inwardly to ma

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Journal Editors and Co-authors

By | February 9, 1987

I am surprised that New England Journal of Medicine subscribers have heard no more from Benish, Cryar, Lind-Ackerson, Benish, Popp, Hourani, Rutt, Junger, Goldstein, Fibs, Barbas, Rist, Sugar, Cryar and Mellinger. You may remember them as the authors of a famous letter to NEJM in which they announced a tie for the honor of writing the paper in that journal with the greatest number of authors in 1985 (NEJM, vol. 313, 1985, p. 331). The accolade went jointly to Lauristen, Rune, Bytzer, Kelbaek, Je

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Our Unknown Martyrs

By | February 9, 1987

Behind every famous scientist who died or suffered greatly for his work there stand in serried ranks hundreds of others—the unknown martyrs of science. For them there is no roll of honor, no shrine of remembrance. No sacred flame burns for them in any academy, and if their names were briefly known to colleagues, they were soon forgotten again. This is the gratitude of mankind remembering its unknown soldiers everywhere, but not its scientists. The dramatic accident of the space shuttle Cha

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Stewart-Feder (Finally) in Print

By | February 9, 1987

The appearance of Walter Stewart and Ned Feder's long-pending paper analyzing John Darsee's fraudulent scientific publications is extremely good news. It should be reassuring, both to scientists and to those who pay their bills. It shows that the system works. The venerable Nature, which published the paper in its January 15 issue, has once again served science well. The publication process was certainly protracted; various versions of the paper have been under consideration there and elsewhere

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... And His Future

By | January 26, 1987

The whole world of science is celebrating the return of Andrei Sakharov to his home and workplace in Moscow. This happy event not only signifies a change for the better in the political climate in the Soviet Union, it also shows that the continued public protests on his behalf were not futile. The world scientific community stood firmly by one of its most distinguished members through along, deeply troubled period. This support could not protect him entirely from unjust and brutal treatment, but

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A Creationist Responds

By | January 26, 1987

I read with great interest the Opinion pieces in which the "danger" of creationism was discussed by several able scientists (The Scientist, November 17, 1986, pp. 10-11). Unfortunately, none of these authors offered any help in resolving the controversy. Name calling, of which both sides are amply guilty, will do nothing to solve the dilemma facing our public school system. If I may be so bold, allow me to present the concerns that those of us who are biblical literalists have about the teaching

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A New Look at Contraceptives

By | January 26, 1987

Ibsen's dictum "minorities are always right" cannot be correct: minorities seldom agree, so they cannot all be right. It would be more correct to say that "majorities are always wrong—partially if not completely." In the past, when research was usually a part-time job or a hobby, scientists were less apt than they are now to follow safe and fashionable lines of work. We were less specialized and moved from subject to subject in a manner that worried grant-giving committees then, and would

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