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Jack E. Oliver took two major risks 17 years ago when he moved from Columbia University to Cornell University to rebuild the geology program. First he proposed a research project that relied on an untested scientific technique. Then he proposed an unusual strategy for carrying out the fieldwork. In his quest to probe the 25-mile-thick slab of rock that makes up the earth’s crust, Oliver wanted to use sound waves to describe subterranean structures. But he didn’t buy the fleet of

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IBM's New PC Line: What's In It For Scientists?

By | July 11, 1988

IBM PS/2 HANDBOOK Richard Dalton with Scott Mueller Que Corp.; Carmel md., 359 pages, $19.95 Like it or not, the PS/2 will be the standard personal computer of the future. Why? Because IBM says so. That’s the underlying premise of the IBM PS/2 Handbook, and since it’s my best guess too, that explains some of my enthusiasm for the book. And what are the implications of the new machine’s inevitable ubiquity as far as scientists are concerned? Well, although the PS/2 will be

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Industry Briefs

July 11, 1988

Is a genetically engineered tomato still a tomato? Biotech firms and major food companies are addressing questions such as this through the newly formed International Food Biotechnology Council. The Washington-based group has been charged with drawing up guidelines to evaluate the acceptability of food, food ingredients, and food processes arising from biotechnology. Co-organized by the International Life Sciences Institute and the Industrial Biotechnology Association, the council has 30 membe

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Job Opportunities On Rise For Geology Instructors

By | July 11, 1988

Job openings in college and university geology departments may increase in the next decade, suggest data from the American Geological Institute. An AGI survey of the ages of geologists shows that schools have few young faculty members but a bulge of older ones moving toward retirement, a good set-up for a hiring boom. In the total population of geologists, about 29% are 34 or under, says Nicholas Claudy from AGI. But inacademia, only 17% are that young. The upper end of the age scale is sk

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Letters

By | July 11, 1988

I read with interest the article on recent U.S. and Chinese policies and their possible impact on Nobel-quality research (The Scientist, May 30,1988, page 1). Mr. Reed presented an insightful look at Chinese scientists in U.S. universities. The facts surrounding the breakthrough in superconductivity last year have been confused by the media, however, and I am writing to clarify the history of the event. It is all the more interesting in the context of Mr. Reed’s article in that my cla

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National Lab Briefs

July 11, 1988

Before engaging in joint research projects with foreign companies, directors of national labs must find out if the companies have barred U.S. scientists from their facilities. The problem with that bit of congressional xenophobia, buried within the 1986 Technology Transfer Act that encourages commercial spinoffs from federal labs, is that no one has yet discovered any such shut-outs. In an effort to uncover culprits, the executive branch has told the Commerce Department to collect case histor

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At a groundbreaking celebration last fall in Kyoto, Japan, officials of the Kyoto Research Park Corp. and Philadelphia’s University City Science Center (UCSC) watched as a Shinto priest blessed the construction site. Several months later, in March of this year, the Japanese officials visited Philadelphia and planted a symbolic cherry tree on the Science Center’s grounds. Both ceremonies were held in honor of an unprecedented agreement, formally announced at the Philadelphia tree-p

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PNAS, Too

July 11, 1988

Which multidisciplinary journal of science has the greatest impact in terms of citations? It’s Nature by a nose. From 1979 to 1987, Nature nearly tripled its impact, a measure of quality and utility calculated annually by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). Science also dramatically improved its impact rating over the period, while Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) remained mostly unchanged. To determine a journal’s impact, ISI coun

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Potential

By | July 11, 1988

Employed in fields ranging from forensics to astrophysics to industrial chemistry, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) systems vary considerably in price, performance, and flexibility. Before investing in one of these instruments, scientists should define how they plan to use the technology and which materials they will examine with the equipment. Manufacturers say that basic infrared spectroscopy technology has neared maturity; as a result, most standard units produced by differ

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Private Institute Briefs

July 11, 1988

Mononucleosis, the “kissing disease,” has brought the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation and Johnson & Johnson closer together. Last month, the FDA approved a six-minute mononucleosis test, named Monoalert, that is the first product to reach the market as a result of a 1983 agreement between the research institute and the company. Scientists at Scripps originally identified the amino acid sequence in the virus that causes mono, and constructed a synthetic peptide that detects a

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