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June 13, 1988

The Scientist has asked a group of expert. to periodically comment upon recent articles that they have found noteworthy. Their selectIons, presented here in every issue, are neither endorsements of content nor the result of systematic searching. Rather they are personal choices of articles they believe the scientific community as a whole may also find i.nteresting. Reprints of any articles cited here may be ordered through The Genuine Article, 8501 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19004. BY SOK

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Association Briefs

June 13, 1988

No other scientific field has as many Nobel laureates per capita as the field of crystallography, and the American Crystallographic Association boasts five living Nobelists among its members. Six laureates—including all five ACA member Nobelists—will be in Philadelphia from June 26 to July 1 for the association’s annual meeting. Their symposium on Methods and Applications in Macromolecular Crystallography helps explain why conference organizers are predicting the highest atte

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The Japanese think so and have-tried to sign up super startups who can’t attract U.S. corporations to their superwares SACRAMENTO, CALIF--"It’s too low-tech for some people," admits Ray Anderson cheerfully. "But I like the idea: using low tech to make high tech." Anderson casts a slightly apologetic glance around his company’s big workshop. A crazy quilt of clutter fills it: stacked chairs, boxes, empty Pepsi cans, silvery asbestos-lined gloves, metal shelves, wooden benches

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Dorothy Pierce was a good pal to the four people who worked for her. They all called her “Dottie.” But as a supervisor, she also had to be tough enough to motivate her team of biotech researchers when the going got rough—and it did, it got very rough at Richmond, Calif. based Stauffer Chemical. The team’s moniker? The corn transformation group. Its task? To become the first scientists in the world to implant a foreign gene into maize. That was a year ago. Today, the fiv

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Do You Need A Workstation Or A Personal Computer?

By | June 13, 1988

Although many scientists have access to supercomputers, special-purpose parallel processors, and all kinds of other heavy-duty number-crunching facilities, they still face the question of what to put on their desks. Whatever goes on the desk—or in the corner of the lab— should be able to communicate with remote computers, handle daily chores such as word processing, and even crunch some numbers. A few years ago, the options were relatively clear. Personal computers didn’t do

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Entrepreneur Briefs

June 13, 1988

When he couldn’t find a job, the Depression forced Lewis Harris to become an entrepreneur. In 1933, he opened his own research, development, and testing lab with only his new degree in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of Nebraska and $100 he had intended to use for his honeymoon. (The wedding was postponed for two years, until business was steady.) Last month, Harris Technology Group was named Nebraska’s Small Business of the Year, one of the few science-minded companie

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Faculty salaries seem to be losing steam, according to the latest annual survey from the American Association of University Professors. In 1986-87, the average salary levels for all disciplines rose 5.9%, but in 1987-88 the increase was only 4.9%. Adjusted for inflation, the increase was less than 1%. Private independent institutions gave bigger raises than did public or church-related universities. Salaries differed according to region. The highest average salary ($43,590) came from the Pacif

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Feeding Frenzy Over Science Fraud

By | June 13, 1988

Congress is in a tizzy; science leaders are worried legislation could do harm to the innocent WASHINGTON--Fraud in science has become a cause célébre among Washington politicians. For a two-week period this spring, it seemed that everywhere one looked there were concerned and aggrieved congressmen. And as the politicians aired the dirty linen of science in public and fulminated over measures they claimed needed to be taken to assure the public that science would be pursued in a spot

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Until recently, most artificial-intelligence researchers accepted the view that thinking consists of the manipulation of discrete symbols, such as the written or spoken language. With this understanding, they achieved a degree of progress, notably in machine understanding and generation of natural-language communication, in symbolic mathematics programs, and in the automatic proving of theorems and assertions by machines. Groups at MIT, Carnegie-Meilon, and Stanford dramatically extended theore

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Funding Briefs

June 13, 1988

NSF has elevated its programs in instrumentation and related areas to the level of a division in the Directorate of Biological, Behavioral, and Social Sciences. The new Division of Instrumentation and Resources includes such programs as instrumentation and instrument development, field stations, database software development, history and philosophy of science, ethics and value studies, and special projects such as science and technology centers. John Wooley is acting division director. The fir

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