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The Case Against Gene Sequencing

By | November 16, 1987

T he debate over complete sequencing of the human genome continues at a fever pitch. Indeed, this sequencing has become the biologists’ cause celebre for the waning years of this decade. While many have spoken forcefully in favor of this sequencing, the voices of opposition, at least in public, have been more muted. Many think it foolhardy and retrogressive to argue against a project that promises to yield a mountain of new data. With the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Inst

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The Chicken and the Egg, Revisited

By | November 16, 1987

French Biology in the Decades Before Darwin. Toby A. Appel. Oxford University Press, New York, 1987. 305 pp. $35. Did the egg determine the chicken or did the chicken determine the egg? In organisms, does form determine function or does function determine form? These two questions make equal sense or nonsense, but by centering her presentation on a particular debate regarding relationships between form and function, Toby Appel has illuminated brilliantly the French intellectual scene in the

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U.K. Defense Jobs Unfilled

November 16, 1987

LONDON—Higher salaries at private companies have left Britain’s Ministry of Defense with hundreds of vacancies in its $12 billion procurement office. Ten percent of the 9,200 specialist posts are now unfilled. The problem is particularly acute among electrical and electronics engineers who assess, order and monitor the performance of sophisticated weapons systems. “We face a diabolical situation in defense procurement,” said Jenny Thurston, assistant general secretar

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U.S. Groups Help Chileans Oust Rector

By | November 16, 1987

WASHINGTON—In what one observer called “its strongest international response in years,” the U.S. scientific community played a role in the ouster late last month of the unpopular government-appointed head of the University of Chile in Santiago. The National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Medicine and the American Association of University Professors sent letters to Chilean President Gen. Augusto Pino- chet and

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WEST BERLIN—The chief funding agency for West German university scientists has proposed an ambitious expansion of its budget for the next three years. “The 1990s could become a time of blossoming for the German universities,” said Hubert Markl, president of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).” The DFG, the German counterpart to the US. National Science Foundation, administered a budget of $600 million last year. That figure represents about 5 percent of the mo

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Waste Not, Want Not: The Fate of a New Industry

By | November 16, 1987

TECHNOLOGY IN THE 1990s Utilization of Lignocellulistic Wastes. B.S. Hartley, P.M.A. Broda and R.J. Senior, eds. The Royal Society, London, 1987. 568 pp. £30. It’s rare, on the opening morning of a conference, to hear the chairman ruminating that the chosen subject is no longer strictly relevant, and indicating that we may as well repack our bags and go back home. But that is exactly what happened at the Royal Society’s meeting last year on the possibility of securing both e

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What Tonegawa' s Nobel Doesn't Mean

By | November 16, 1987

In the wake of the news that Susumu Tonegawa of MIT had been chosen as the 1987 Nobel laureate in medicine (See THE SCIENTIST, November 2, 1987, P. 4), an article by Stephen Kreider Yoder appeared in the Wall Street Journal (October 14, 1987, p. 30) under the headline “Native Son’s Nobel Award Is Japan’s Loss: Scientist’s Prize Points Up Research System’s Failings.” The writer asserted that Tonegawa’s prize is “as much an embarrassment as a victo

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36 States Bid for Sematech Center

By | November 2, 1987

WASHINGTON—Thirty-Six states would like to be home to the central research facility for a proposed $250 million-a-year program aimed at developing cheaper and better semiconductors. Congress, spurred by concern over declining U.S. competitiveness, is preparing to pour up to $100 million a year into the joint government-industry venture. An industry panel assigned the task of picking a site for the semiconductor technology program—known as Sematech—has been “overwhelme

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ACS Seeks To Restore Lost Luster

By | November 2, 1987

WASHINGTON—On November 6 the American Chemical Society will celebrate National Chemistry Day. The posters proclaiming that "chemistry is everywhere” are part of the society's campaign to blunt the impact of such environmental disasters as Bhopal and Love Canal and, at the same time, gain crdit for some of the recent advances in medicine and biotechnology. Even as ACS is looking outward, however, it is also trying to harmonize its dual roles as a professional society and as an advi

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Australian Budget Squeezes Science

By | November 2, 1987

SYDNEY—Australian scientists are bracing for an era of tighter government funding for basic research following release of the federal budget. Although the country’s fiscal year began July 1, the new budget was not announced until mid-September because of elections held July 11. The delay was unsettling for Australia’s research community, which in one way or another derives about 80 percent of its support from the government. Government minister John Dawkins has bluntly to

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