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NASA Studies Impact of Mars Flight

By | March 23, 1987

WASHINGTON—A former astronaut's plea that NASA make human exploration of Mars "a primary goal" of the nation's space program has raised concern that such a program would restrict other space science research. Michael Collins, chairman of the Council's Task Force on Space Program Goals, urged the NASA Advisory Council March 3 to undertake a multinational program of Mars exploration as a tonic for post-Challenger malaise. "We need to restore some health to the invalid," Collins said of the a

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New Forum for Technology Managers

By | March 23, 1987

International Journal of Technology Management. Volume 1, Nos. 1/2. Dr. M.A. Dorgham, editor in chief. Inderscience Enterprises Ltd., Geneva, 1986. Professional management is an important topic, and although experience is a key capability, the old practice of learning simply by doing has been obsolete for decades. The microeconomic models, case studies and psychological ideas have had adequate forums in management journals. But technology, partly because of its great range and complexity, has be

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NIH Reverses Cuts in Grants

By | March 23, 1987

WASHINGTON—The National Institutes of Health has halted further cuts in the size of new research grants, an action it took in response to a proposed cut in funding for this year, and begun to restore funds to grants that were reduced. On February 25 NIH reversed a decision, made January 21, that took between 4 and nearly 20 percent from each grant to make sure the agency did not run out of money before the end of the fiscal year September 30. The Reagan administration has proposed that $33

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Progress: Paradox for a Democracy

By | March 23, 1987

The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays. Gerald Holton. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1986. 351 pp., $39.50 HB, $12.95 PB. Both scientific knowledge and the relations between science and society have undergone dramatic changes in the 20th century. Abstract theories like those of relativity and quantum mechanics have provided a basis for the relatively rapid development of powerful new technologies that affect the lives of all members of societ

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Promoting Undergraduate Science

By | March 23, 1987

One year ago the National Science Board, the policy-making arm of the National Science Foundation, issued its report on undergraduate education in science, mathematics and engineering in the United States. The study confirmed fears that the quality of instruction in these fields had eroded during the past decade. It described the situation as a "grave long-term threat to the nation's scientific and technical capacity, its industrial and economic competitiveness, and the strength of its national

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Reasons for Optimism in the Search for E.T.

By | March 23, 1987

I wish to thank Harlan J. Smith for his flattering review of my book The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (The Scientist, February 9, 1987, p. 21). He fears that I'm too optimistic we'll find signs of E.T. within the next decade or so, but there are many reasons for this. First, never before in history will the sky have been searched so thoroughly (for example, by Ohio State, the Harvard/Planetary Society, NASA and the Soviet SETI projects). Also, the Planetary Society is now discussing

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Scientific Ideas Can Be Wrong

By | March 23, 1987

Craig K. Svensson's "A Creationist Responds" (The Scientist, January 26, p. 12) asks a central question: "Who has the right to control which view my child is taught in a public school classroom?" He then answers his question from two viewpoints—parent and professor. Svensson's answer as a parent is clear. Parental religious beliefs should control exposure to ideas. Young people should never be exposed at public expense to ideas in conflict with those of their parents. He alleges constituti

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Shall We Peddle Human Genes?

By | March 23, 1987

Eager to press on with the megaproject to sequence the human genome, molecular biologists are figuring out ways to pay for it. Some of these schemes surely qualify as the most creative financing since Ollie North decided to underwrite Central American wars that U.S. citizens don't want to fight by soaking the Iranians for weapons U.S. citizens don't want to sell them. The Washington Post reports, tongue in cheek, that the scientists have rejected car washes and bake sales in favor of several oth

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So They Say

March 23, 1987

Verbatim excerpts from the media on the conduct of science. Beware Mathematicians! …scientists should always oppose the appointment of pure mathematicians to head scientific committees and institutions. Sir John Kingman [the mathematician appointed to report to the U.K. government on the teaching of English] was formerly director of the SERC, and Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer is the present head of the University Grants Committee. Mathematicians tend instinctively to view research as being don

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Student-Faculty Ties Examined

By | March 23, 1987

CHICAGO—Universities should regulate, and possibly even ban, some relationships between students and those faculty with financial ties to industry, says a Harvard physician who has studied ties between academia and industry. His 1985 survey of almost 700 grad students and postdocs in biotechnology-related fields found that a majority believe the benefits of increased financial support of students and faculty by industry outweigh the risks. A little more than one-third were getting such sup

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