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What Natural Selection Doesn't Answer

By | April 6, 1987

Alexander Rosenberg, in reviewing Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker (The Scientist, January 12, 1987, pp. 23-24), says that "natural selection… and it alone, can explain the most puzzling facts … that the organization of living things reveals." I beg to disagree. First, no scientist should ever claim that any one theory must be right. But more important, if one looks closely into the idea behind natural selection, it is difficult to see what it does explain. It does not account f

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What Viruses Might Do for a Living

By | April 6, 1987

Imagine, if you will, a committee of our brightest biochemists meeting in the late 1960s trying to make guesses about what might be happening next in the field of molecular biology. If they'd stayed up all night for weeks at a time, it is highly improbable that anyone could have guessed that recombinant DNA would happen next, or that this research technology would soon become the most important advance in biological science of the 20th century, much less that we would be purifying and scrutinizi

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What Will Gene Sequencing Create?

By | April 6, 1987

Human gene sequencing, the outcome of years of research in the field of molecular biology, has made possible the analysis, prevention and treatment of certain diseases and an understanding of the probable variation of the normal human genome. The urge to better human life has led to scientific advance to such an extent that it will soon be possible to create a human genetic map. But one must realize that a human being is a creation of a living being who has evolved through a billion years of adj

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Where Can Science and Policy Meet?

By | April 6, 1987

Twenty years ago, the politicians began to realize that science policy was too important to be left to the scientists. Now, the scientists have learned that it is also too important to be left to the politicians. Both sides need to talk to each other, but they face each other across a gap of comprehension. As J.L. Heilbron pointed out recently (The Scientist, March 9, 1987, p. 11), there is a real job here for the historians of science. They have had to master the languages of both science and p

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...And Grappling With Its Risks

By | March 23, 1987

Averting Catastrophe: Strategies for Regulating Risky Technologies. Joseph G. Morone and Edward J. Woodhouse. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1986. 215 pp. $17.95 The year 1986, which began as we were still reeling from Bhopal, brought Chernobyl's reminder of the international potential of major technological accidents, Challenger's reminder of the fallibility of even the most sophisticated engineering management systems (and human hubris), Lake Nyos' reminder that nature itself is not

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TOKYO—An American physicist and two agronomists, one American and one Indian, will receive the 1987 Japan Prize at ceremonies here April 14. Theodore Maiman, the father of laser technology, is being honored for his work in electro-optics. In the category of improvements of biological functions, the award is being shared by Henry Beachell and Gurdev Khush. Maiman will receive a cash award of $330,000; Beachell and Khush will share an equal amount. The Prize, established in 1985, is awarded

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Citation Inadequacy Via Databanks

By | March 23, 1987

Any research paper that contained a reference list consisting only of the titles of the journals consulted and not their years of publication, volume and page numbers, and the names of the authors would surely be rejected out of hand by editor and referees alike. Right? Not so. Increasing numbers of papers are being submitted with references in precisely this form, and they are being accepted without question. The authors of the papers, the editors of the journals and the referees all seem unawa

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Creationism is a Sound Science

By | March 23, 1987

I find the claims of both Gould and Ayala, that evolution is fact, outrageous (The Scientist, November 17, 1986, pp. 10-11). The very foundation of evolution, which assumes that order and complexity evolved from chaos, contravenes science. The second law of thermodynamics dictates that order spontaneously gives way to chaos as time proceeds. Consider the DNA molecule. Evolutionists postulate that the first nucleic acids formed in the primeval oceans, which were rich in organic compounds. The sta

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Creationists: Please Have More Faith

By | March 23, 1987

I'd like to respond to Craig K. Svensson's article "A Creationist Responds" (The Scientist, January 26, 1987, p. 12). First, speaking as a scientist, it seems to me that the science curriculum taught in the public schools should be determined primarily on the basis of the science that practicing scientists are doing. A look at the scientific literature shows that this means evolution, not creationism. It's not even that mainstream scientists are, as is often suggested, closed to alternative idea

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D

By | March 23, 1987

BOSTON—A court settlement last month that requires an environmental assessment of the military's biological warfare program could bolster efforts to define the impact of other federally funded research programs. The Defense Department agreed to such an assessment February 12 to resolve a suit brought by the Foundation on Economic Trends, a public interest organization founded by Jeremy Rifkin. The suit, filed last fall in U.S. District Court, claimed that the Pentagon had violated the Nati

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