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The SSC Deserves Better Criticism...

By | September 7, 1987

Philip Anderson recently spoke out in these pages against the project to build the Superconducting Supercoilider (THE SCIENTIST, June 1, 1987, p. 11). It is true that no major project in history has been without its critics; a requirement of unanimity would have been fatal to all such projects, including the pyramids, the Panama Canal, and all modern accelerators. But I do think we deserve better criticism. Anderson, a distinguished scientist and Nobel laureate, wrote about high-energy physi

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The Tao of Programming

By | September 7, 1987

Something mysterious is formed, born in the silent void. Waiting alone and unmoving, it is at once still and yet in constant motion. It is the source of all programs. I do not know its name, so I will call it the Tao of Programming. If the Tao is great, then the operating system is great. If the operating system is great, then the compiler is great. If the compiler is great, then the application is great. The user is pleased and there is harmony in the world. The Tao of Programming flows fa

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Thier on the Institute of Medicine

By | September 7, 1987

Director of the Institute of Medicine since 1985, Samuel 0. Thier has succeeded in increasing both its budget and its public profile. In doing so, the Brooklyn native has been able to draw upon his experience as an academic physician and administrator. A Cornell University graduate, Thier received his MD degree from the State University of New York at Syracuse in 1960. He went to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston as an intern and eventually became chief of its renal unit, while also jo

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U.K. Pullback Threatens Joint Space Programs

By | September 7, 1987

LONDON—Cooperation between Western Europe and the United States on the manned space station have been thrown in doubt by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s decision not to boost the British space budget. Thatcher’s announcement that there was little immediate hope for an increase in Britain’s $170 million annual spending on civilian space technology dashed the hopes of her partners in the 13-nation European Space Agency that the country would become a leading contribut

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U.K. Schools Compete for New Centers

By | September 7, 1987

LONDON—British universities have been invited to participate in a network of interdisciplinary research centers that will be created if the government provides sufficient funds. The Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) hopes to set up at least 10 such centers during the next three years as part of a new strategy to support state-of-the-art basic research that will have commercial applications. The program is similar in many ways to the new Science and Technology Centers prog

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Export and other controls over the dissemination of “technical data” are part of the federal government’s efforts to inhibit or prevent the transfer of advanced technology of critical military or intelligence importance from the United States to the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations. Some university research results might be technical data of the kind subject to these controls. The present situation of security controls—which for the most part exempts academic

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Weapons Researchers

By | September 7, 1987

LIVERMORE, CALIF.—The nation's nuclear weapons researchers are working in ways that are not inconsistent with a future test-ban treaty, says a University of California panel asked to examine the scientists’ role in the arms race. The university’s Scientific and Academic Advisory Committee failed to find evidence to support accusations that the scientists were trying to block such a ban on testing by designing weapons that must be tested constantly by explosions. Rather, the

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What Science Did Last Summer

By | September 7, 1987

June Brood 10 of the periodical cicada reappeared in the eastern United States. Brood 10 is the largest group of these remarkable insects, which are known (erroneously) in American folklore as 17-year locusts. For 17 years the nymphs linger beneath the surface of the soil. Then millions emerge, climb the nearest tree, shed their skins, sing love songs that would do credit to a heavy-metal rock group, mate, lay eggs, and die. A few weeks later the new nymphs drop to the ground from which their

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When Hutton Talks, Do Scientists Listen?

By | September 7, 1987

The three-day meeting on the origin of the granites that opens in Edinburgh on September 14 is billed as a symposium celebrating the bicentenary of the work of James Hutton. But who is this James Hutton? Could it possibly be that same James Hutton whose name was invoked at another conference but a decade or so ago, the Hutton often referred to as “the father of geology”? Well, yes and no—or rather, yes, yes and no—and thereby hangs a (tragic?) tale. The James Hutton o

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Africans Form Science Union

August 10, 1987

BRAZZAVILLE, CONGO—The continent’s leading scientists and technology experts have agreed to form a Pan-African Union of Science and Technology to apply their knowledge to the enormous economic problems facing their developing countries. The decision was made at the end of an unprecedented week-long meeting here coordinated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The First Congress of African Scientists was funded in part by UNESCO, the United Nations Development Program and th

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