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The Shuttle Has Hurt Space Science

By | September 19, 1988

The upcoming flight of the space shuttle Discovery brings a glimmer of light in the dark tunnel of space science in the United States. For the first time in over two years, there is hope that some of the experiments and space probes gathering dust in laboratories will finally get off the ground. But any rejoicing will probably be muted. The fact is that the shuttle has hurt the space science program. It contributed very little while it was flying, and the Challenger accident disrupted the space

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Their Own Fault

By | September 19, 1988

If astronomers are furious at federal funding failures (The Scientist, August 8, page 1), they have only themselves to blame. It is the funding of such "major" facilities as the Very Large Array radiotelescope and the Hubble space telescope that have left little funding for everything else. Astronomers, like everyone else, will have to learn that you.can't have your cake and eat it too. Meanwhile particle physicists are actively lobbying for the superconducting supercollider. Undoubtedly, they t

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Six years ago, neurologist J. William Langston stumbled onto an exciting discovery, a contaminated synthetic heroin that seemed to trigger symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Almost overnight, Langston was thrust into the limelight. Reporters flocked to his office. Foundations invited him to apply for grants. His lab began reporting steady progress in the long struggle toward a cure for Parkinson's, a degenerative disease that affects half a million people in the United States. But success brought

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Tools Briefs

September 19, 1988

New electrically powered microscopic motors, no larger than the width of a human hair, have potential applications in the next few years in both medical and microsurgical equipment and scientific instruments. Bell Labs and the University of California, Berkeley, reported on the new process at the same time, but Berkeley holds a patent on the process, which uses the techniques and materials of semiconductor manufacturing. The rotor in the motor is about two-thousandths of an inch in diameter. Its

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University Briefs

September 19, 1988

In their campaign against the use of animals in research, animal rights activists have been trying to gain access to universities' animal care and use committees. The activists, whose methods range from direct pressure to lawsuits, have been successful in a number of states, including Washington and Florida. But on August 18, animal rightists suffered defeat when a lawsuit against the University of California system was dismissed. An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled that the 10 animal c

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What Went Wrong; What To Do About It

By | September 19, 1988

The overall record of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration during the nearly 30 years of its existence has been a brilliantly successful one, in many different ways. NASA has provided the scientific and technical foundations for a wide array of direct human services, most notably in worldwide communications, in improved understanding of the physical and chemical conditions for all forms of life on Earth, and in the global survey of natural resources. It has sponsored a golden age of

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When The Space Shuttle Flies Again, Let's Use It Better

By | September 19, 1988

[Editor's note: If all had gone according to plan, the space shuttle Discovery would have already blasted into orbit to usher in a new, if more modest, era of manned space flight in the United States. It didn't happen; delays have pushed the expected launch date back to at least next month. To some space scientists, like James Van Allen (see below), Discovery's plight is just another sorry reminder of NASA's wrongheaded policies. By relying almost exclusively on the shuttle to launch payloads, V

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“Where do you see the most important or interesting progress occurring in immunology over the next few years.” That was the question recently put to some two dozen senior immunologists by the editorial staff of the Institute for Scientific Information’s Atlas of Science: Immunology. The scientists surveyed—a distinguished, international group that represents academia, independent laboratories, and industry—serve as the editorial advisory board of the journal. In

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A Brief History Of Dubious Science

By | September 5, 1988

Benveniste’s “high-dilution” experiments are not the first to raise concern about science journals’ proper response to unconventional results. Twice before, Nature published papers dubious enough to warrant accompanying editorials questioning the results. And in one eerily parallel precursor incident, Nature’s then editor actually swooped down on a yet another Paris lab with “The Amazing” Randi and a third party to debunk unorthodox results—and

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Heinz R. Pagels, executive director and chief executive officer of the New York Academy of Sciences, died in a mountaineering accident on July 23 while attending the summer session of the Aspen Center for Physics. A theoretical physicist, Pagels, 49, worked in the areas of relativistic quantum field theory and cosmology and was noted as being a popularizer of science. He authored three books on science: The Cosmic Code (1983); Perfect Symmetry: The Search for the Beginning of Time (1985); an

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