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December 14, 1987

Superconductivity and acquired immune deficiency syndrome are remote from each other on the spectrum of research problems. But, like most other scientific matters of our time, they exist in a political dimension, since Washington controls money and policy for research. The different responses accorded these problems by the Reagan administration provide a tale of values—and it’s not a pleasant one. The political response to superconductivity was swift, sure-footed, and backed with

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Soviets Urged to Shorten Life of State Secrets

By | December 14, 1987

BRUSSELS—In 1972 Victor Brailovsky, then a 37-year-old cyberneticist, and his 32-year-old wife Irma, a computer scientist, applied for a visa to leave the Soviet Union. Four years later Victor was granted permission to emigrate to Israel but Irma was not. The reason, according to Soviet authorities, was that “she had been able during her work to listen and hear something secret.” Fifteen years later the Brailovskys finally arrived in Israel. Last month, at a meeting here orga

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Split on Abortion Delays Bioethics Panel

By | December 14, 1987

WASHINGTON—The start of a report to Congress on fetal research, due next May, is being delayed by differences on abortion among the 12 congressional members of the Biomedical Ethics Board. Last August the board was able to appoint only the dozen “expert” members to its advisory committee. Their disagreements have prevented their filing the two slots reserved for citizens “who possess no specific expertise” in research, medicine or ethical issues. The advisory com

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The Memoir of an Insider's Insider

By | December 14, 1987

MAKING WEAPONS, TALKING PEACE A Physicist’s Odyssey from Hiroshima to Geneva. Herbert F. York. Basic Books, New York, 1987. 392 pp. $22.95. The most curious thing about Making Weapons, Talking Peace is the title itself; here we have strong implications of duplicity on the part of an unnamed culprit (the United States?, the Soviet Union?) whom the author intends to expose for wearing a peaceful mask while covertly engaged in war-like machinations. Happily, the book is nothing of the sort

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The Ravishing Rules of the Game

By | December 14, 1987

CELLULAR AUTOMATA MACHINES A New Environment for Modeling. Tommaso Toffoll and Norman Margolus. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1987. 222 pp. $30. Addiction to cellular automata games is a sort of disease, like the PC Disease that afflicts the so-called computer hacker. Ever since mathematician John Horton Conway devised the game Life in the late 1960s, the disease has run rampant among scientists that are fascinated with cellular automata and the unique operations that these massive arrays of

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U.K. Embryo Research Law Is Now in Embryo

By | December 14, 1987

LONDON—Britan’s in vitro fertilization teams are preparing for a major battle to defend their research against hostile lawmakers. The U.K. government last month published the framework for comprehensive legislation to regulate IVF treatment and embryo research. But in a neat sidestep, ministers gave members of Parliament the option of either authorizing experiments under strict limitations or in effect banning research entirely. Debate on the legislative proposal is expected to

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We Must Deal Realistically With Fraud and Error

By | December 14, 1987

Several years ago Patricia Woolf; a respected sociologist of science whose specialty is misconduct, testified before Congress that scientists who observe scientific misconduct not only have an obligation to report the mis- conduct, but that failure to do so would plactheir careers in jeopardy. She said that there are “considerable penalties” for the “scientist who knows but doesn’t tell.” The facts suggest otherwise. In this. issue of THE SCIENTIST, three scient

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Where Are We Headed in Space?

By | December 14, 1987

THE SPACE STATION A Personal Journey. Hans Mark. Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 1987. 288 pp $24.95 SPACE The Next Twenty-Five Years. Thomas R. MoDonough. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1987. 228 pp. $17.95. SPACE 2000 Meeting the Challenge of a New Era. Harry L Shipman. Plenum Publishing Corp., New York, 1987. 442 pp. $19.95. The Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy of 1986 and the rash of launch failures that followed it left the U.S. space program in a quagmire of uncertainty and recriminati

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WASHINGTON—White House science adviser William Graham has formed a new committee to shape administration policy in the life sciences. The 24-member coordinating committee will be chaired by Beverly Berger, assistant director for life sciences in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. It will consist of representatives from nine Cabinet-level departments and nine federal agencies, including several with the duty to regulate rather than finance research in the life sciences. The co

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AGU Takes Larger Role In Science Policy Debate

By | November 30, 1987

WASHINGTON—The American Geophysical Union, a 20,000-member scientific society best known for its journals and professional meetings, is becoming more active in shaping federal policy on Earth and space science research. AGU’s higher proffle includes polling its members on science policy questions and setting priorities for geophysical research. It may eventually include active lobbying on Capitol Hill. Until recently, the 70-year-old non-profit organization has focused almost e

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