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The Quest for Symmetry in Nature

By | May 18, 1987

Fearful Symmetry: The Search for Beauty in Modern Physics. Anthony Zee. Macmillan, New York, 1987. 384 pp. $25. For once I agree with the dust-jacket testimonials: this is an excellent book. Were a review not required I would let it go at that. Anthony Zee is a distinguished particle physicist who presently holds joint appointments at the University of California and the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Santa Barbara. In Fearful Symmetry he has written a sprightly, partisan history of 20th

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U.S. Disinvites Soviets From Ocean Research

By | May 18, 1987

WASHINGTON—The Reagan administration has barred the Soviet Union from participating in an international scientific program to which the Soviets had already accepted an invitation. The decision was made by President Reagan late last month on national security grounds, after the Defense Department objected to the Soviets' participation in the project, which will analyze the composition of the ocean floor. The Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) is supported by the United States, the United Kingdom,

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Unorthodox Science Fuels Biosphere Space Trial

By | May 18, 1987

TUCSON. ARIZ.—Find a wealthy benefactor. Assemble a small group of hard-working people committed to a common goal, and let them teach themselves what they need to know. Enlist a few respected scientists who are kindred spirits. Discourage contact with the outside world. And shoot for the stars. That approach is not the usual way science is done in this country. But then Biosphere II is not run-of-the-mill science. Rather, it's an attempt to create a 2.5-acre, enclosed ecological system th

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A Co-Author Declines

By | May 4, 1987

I enjoyed very much reading the article "Opting Out of the Numbers Game" . I hope that some attention is paid to the sentiments expressed. I spent better than 20 years in academia. I do not mean to pat myself on the back, but I have declined to be co-author on more papers than I have been a co-author. Sometimes I felt I was added as a co-author because I walked through the lab and I was better known internationally than were the primary authors. A number of bitter arguments resulted when I decli

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A Controversial Christian Guide for Teachers

By | May 4, 1987

Editor's Note: Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy, published last October by the American Scientific Affiliation of Ipswich, Mass., a "fellowship of Christians in the sciences," has been distributed to more than 50,000 high school biology teachers in the United States. According to the organization, the 48-page booklet "represents a broad middle ground respecting both science and religion" and "shows how to untangle legitimate religious questions from scientific questions so that origi

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WASHINGTON—Although public attitudes toward the chemical industry have grown more negative during the past six years, more than 80 percent of Americans support the work chemists do and feel they have made important contributions to medicine and society. A survey of 1,448 adults, done last year for the American Chemical Society, found that 51 percent rated chemical companies unfavorably, compared with 41 percent in 1980. Frank Bigger, a spokesman for the ACS, said the change is due in part

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An Inspired Flash in the Fog

By | May 4, 1987

Dans les champs de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits prepares. —Louis Pasteur During the 1920s, more than 400 small power stations provided Britain's electricity supply. These local generating stations were owned by municipalities, local authorities and private companies, and operated at various voltages and frequencies: 50, 40 and 25 Hz, and direct current. It was recognized that this situation was far from ideal, not to mention uneconomic, as each local station had to p

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Board Decision on Animal Patents Sparks Debate

By | May 4, 1987

WASHINGTON—A U.S. patent board ruling last month significantly boosts the odds for approval of some of the pending applications for patents on genetically engineered animals. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, while rejecting for other reasons an application for a patent on an oyster, ruled that there is no legal reason why such patent protection should be denied. The decision may lead eventually to the marketing of new breeds of faster-growin

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Cambridge Tests Tech Transfer

By | May 4, 1987

LONDON—All over Europe, politicians and planners are wondering if small, science-based companies can regenerate fading economies hit by the decline in such traditional industries as shipbuilding and steelmaking. In their search for answers, Cambridge, England, has emerged as a living laboratory to test the economic value of such businesses and the process through which academic innovations are transferred to industry. Cambridge, which as little as 10 years ago was known primarily for its c

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Can Peer Review Be Improved?

By | May 4, 1987

The December 15, 1986 issue of The Scientist contained an excerpt from Drummond Rennie's piece on peer review in JAMA (vol. 256, pp. 2391-2392, November 7, 1986), which included the statement "The function of peer review, then, may be to help decide not whether but where papers are published and to improve the quality of those that are accepted." This function is now performed by peer reviewers of scientific journals and granting agencies. Peer review as practiced now, however, poses a serious o

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