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The Plight of Academic 'Marginals'

By | July 27, 1987

Major universities employ many Ph.D.s in academically marginal positions. Neither postdocs nor full-fledged faculty, these scientists populate an academic never-never land made possible by the availability of research support and made miserable by the difficulty of obtaining such support and by their ambiguous status in the institution. These scientists have such titles as "assistant research anatomist" or search associate," although some carry the usual academic titles along with the unusual re

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Third World Seeks Place for lts Journals

By | July 27, 1987

HAMBURG, WEST GERMANY—A new journal in a developing country must find a way to convince local scientists that it is a suitable home for their research work without setting standards that will scare them away. Delegates to the Fifth International Conference of Scientific Editors discussed that problem and others at a recent meeting here organized by the International Federation of Scientific Editors' Associations (IFSEA). Participants proposed various ways to encourage efforts by journal ed

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To Err is Not Divine

By | July 27, 1987

Ian Stewart, in the June 29, 1987 issue, advocated "Selling Mathematics to the Media" (p. 18). His enthusiasm led him to remark that "many mathematicians act as if putting an error into print is the End of the World. . . one need not. . . be too fearful of the odd blunder in print. The readers don't treat all this stuff as gospel, chaps." I commend his zeal, but protest such a cavalier attitude about the principle of veracity in publication. Occasional error is unavoidable, but should be experie

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Too Much Theory Ruins Museums

By | July 27, 1987

In the early 19th century, most natural history and science museums were lit-tie more than cabinets of curiosities whose purpose was to delight and amaze people with the extravagant and the bizarre. In both the United States and Europe, little effort was made to organize the collections in any sort of coherent fashion; stuffed dugongs often sat next to meteorites and mastodon bones. These private cabinets full of oddities and the exotic were mostly a form of amusement for the wealthier classes.

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What Chemists Do To Explain Their Work

By | July 27, 1987

In Hugh D. Crone's article "Chemists Must Explain Their Work Better" (The Scientist, May 4, 1987, P. 24), he states that "chemists should strive much more vigorously to present their professional image to the public and to offer their services as sources of chemical information," a statement with which I heartily concur. I take issue, however, with his statement "I cannot think of any chemical, biochemical or toxicological society that issues news releases on topics of current interest. If they

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'Rabi' and Alvarez': Tedious, Vain Portraits

By | July 13, 1987

Rabi: Scientist and Citizen. John S. Ridgen. Basic Books, New York, 1987. 352 pp. $21.95. Alvarez: Adventures of a Physicist. Luis W. Alvarez. Basic Books, New York, 1987. 292 pp. $19.95. Tuesday is too nice a day to write reviews about scientific biographies if for no other reason than Tuesday follows Monday and Monday follows Sunday. Now on Sunday one takes a stroll through the grounds of the local conservatory, sits on a bench near the statue of Rimsky-Korsakov in Leningrad or outside the ch

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A Search for the Write Stuff

By | July 13, 1987

Peter Ward, a marine biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, is fascinated by the chambered nautilus, the lone survivor of an entire subclass of molluscs that emerged some 500 million years ago. In the course of thinking about how to open this world to the public—whom he calls "the real supporters of science"—Ward received a flyer describing a new publishing venture by the New York Academy of Sciences. The result is In Search of Nautilus, one of the first in a series d

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APA's Guidelines For Animal Experimentation Defended

By | July 13, 1987

I was surprised at Donald J. Barnes' lack of information regarding the American Psychological Association's efforts to ensure the humane and responsible use of laboratory animals ("The Humane Community Does Do the Funding"). APA's enforceable code of ethical principles demands that APA members adhere to extensive guidelines for ethical conduct in the care and use of animals. These guidelines detail APA policies concerning the acquisition and care of animals and recommend standards for specific

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APS Report Has Numerous Errors

By | July 13, 1987

A distinguished roster of American scientists contributed to [the American Physical Society report on directed-energy weapons]. The product of their endeavors was released to the public by the Council of the American Physical Society as an important contribution to the national debate over the best means of ensuring the survival of the American nation. In my view, however, this report is not worthy of serious consideration in that vital debate. This may seem an unduly severe indictment of a doc

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Biotech Safety Issue Downplayed

By | July 13, 1987

AMSTERDAM—In a session specifically devoted to safety, participants at the 4th European Congress of Biotechnology held here last month expressed virtually no concern about potential dangers during large-scale production of microbes containing recombinant DNA or following the release of such organisms into the environment. Kees Winkler from the University of Utrecht, in views that were not challenged, argued that because such bacteria—like those in the natural world—would have

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