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Few issues have caused more fear and confusion than the question of the hazards of low-level radiation. There has been a remarkable failure to examine closely the evidence when discussing the issue and planning future studies. As a result, the public’s radiation phobia has been needlessly reinforced, and public money is being used on studies that are bound to be inconclusive. The problem arises, in part, because the general public—and even most scientists—are not aware that

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Upstart Phylogenists Slug it Out Over Primate Data

By | June 13, 1988

Caviling, carping, and quarreling, is this any way to advance science? New HAVEN, CONN. "For a science that deals with the apparently simple question of who is related to whom, phylogeny has been positively littered with bones of contention. The root problem, explains former Yale University taxonomist Charles Sibley, is that a creatures appearance may not always bean accurate guide to its place in the pantheon of beasts. So until recently, phylogenists were left to cavil over the appropriate

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For anyone who has spent hours with pen in hand, poring over a word-processed scientific manuscript and filling in a multitude of blanks with equations and complicated graphs, the latest generation of desktop publishing software may sound like a dream come true. After all, some of these programs combine an array of capabilities that can make the operator the equivalent of a typesetter and layout artist. They allow the fluent integration of different functions— spreadsheets, word processor

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Are Soviet Scientists Publishing Abroad? Nyet Yet

By | May 30, 1988

With General Secretary Gorbachev and President Reagan scheduled to meet in Moscow this week, bets are on that the two leaders will be singing the praises of glasnost. But the policy of more openness (less censorship) has affected "only domestic media such as magazines and newspapers," says Thores Medvedev, an-exiled Soviet scientist, now at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. Indeed, despite the recent appearance of a number of prominent Soviet scientists at foreign meetings,

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Articles Alert

May 30, 1988

BY BRUCE G. BUCHANAN Knowledge Systems Laboratory Stanford University Palo Alto, Calif. " History keeps us honest. Consider, for example, Charles Babbage. Babbage was a genius who anticipated many design features of modem computers, but his ideas had to be reinvented many decades after his death in 1870. A.G. Bromley, "The evolution of Babbage’s computing engines," Annals of the History of Computing, 9 (2), 113-36, 1987. " When organizations introduce electronic mail systems, they oft

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Association Briefs

May 30, 1988

Engineers seem to believe that the work of scientists will drastically alter their lives by the year 2000, according to preliminary results of a study that is being conducted for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. When members of SME were asked to look into the future, they predicted revolutionary advances in biotechnology, laser applications, sensor technology, expert systems, and manufacturing in space. A startling 40% of the 7,560 early respondents didn’t even believe their prese

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Bill Would Promote Drug-Free Labs

By | May 30, 1988

Congress debates proposal that could mean loss of grant money after drug conviction WASHINGTON--University and industry researchers may soon be on the front lines of the government’s war on drugs. For the past several weeks Congress has been debating legislation that would cut off federal research funds from any institution or company where illegal drugs are being used. On April 14, Benno C. Schmidt Jr., president of Yale University testified before a Senate subcommittee about the p

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Brits On The Brink Of Bankruptcy?

By | May 30, 1988

Strong measures to save Imperial College from indirect costs have ruffled scientists’ feathers LONDON--When the tall, spare frame of David Thomas glides into their laboratories, even the crustiest dons at London University’s Imperial College quake inside their tweed coats. For Thomas is the college’s ghost of Christmas future, warning of impending ruin unless scientists mend their financial ways. His message, preached with Welsh fervor, is simple. Imperial College and other

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Chemist With A Conscience

By | May 30, 1988

Matthew Meselson is catalyzed whenever he sees ‘misguided’ national policies CAMBRIDGE, MASS--At age 19, future Harvard biochemist and noted activist Matthew Meselson dropped out of college, went to live in Paris, and pondered forging a career as a Freudian analyst ot na- tions. With youthful hubris, he thought he might be able to explain the genesis of wars and other avoidable human catastrophes by scrutinizing the actions of governments past and present through the prism of mode

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Clay: An Earthy Approach To Clean-Up

By | May 30, 1988

Two years after the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the surrounding lakes and streams are finally returning to their original radiation levels. It took that long for Nature to work the nasty poison out of her system. Should a similar disaster occur today, a new material could do in two weeks what it took Nature two years to accomplish in Chernobyl, predicts Sridhar Komarneni, professor of clay mineralogy at Penn- sylvania State University’s Materials research Lab and Department of Agron

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