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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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Dutch Shift Approach to Funding

By | March 23, 1987

AMSTERDAM—The Dutch government is moving toward a system of funding large research institutions by supporting a limited number of broadly defined goals rather than by issuing grants to thousands of individual investigators. The change is expected to give the institutions greater independence to allocate funds and make the process more responsive both to the needs of the scientific community and to national priorities. The current system encourages conflict between scientists and government

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EC Science Budget Deadlocked

By | March 23, 1987

BRUSSELS—European research ministers are making a last-ditch effort to break a stalemate over the Community's five-year budget for research and development. Last month the ministers rejected a Belgian plan for a budget of $6.4 billion (5.8 billion ECU)151;a compromise between the $8.5 billion demanded by the European Commission and the $4.4 billion suggested by the three largest member states (Britain, France and West Germany). At stake is the future of the EEC's collaborative research pro

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Einstein's Peculiar Kind of Realism

By | March 23, 1987

The Shaky Game: Einstein, Realism, and the Quantum Theory. Arthur Fine. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1986. 198 pp. $25. The Shaky Game gives an excellent, well-documented account of Einstein's concept of realism. The title comes from a statement made by Einstein. Referring to quantum theorists, he said, "Most of them simply do not see what a risky game they are playing with reality." According to Arthur Fine, the risky (or "shaky," as he calls it) game puts traditional physics in je

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Exiles in Pursuit of Beauty

By | March 23, 1987

The uncle I knew best was a noted mathematician, who reached the top of the French academia when he was 38 and I was 13. His example showed that science was not fully recorded in dusty tomes but was a flourishing enterprise, and becoming myself a scientist was always a familiar option. This might have set me now on the usual pattern of fond reminiscences of teachers and postdoctorate mentors. But, in fact, I seem to have fled from teachers, mentors and existing disciplines. As a result, no one i

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Happenings

March 23, 1987

Peter Day, director of the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge, U.K., has been named director of the new Center for Biomolecular Research in the Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at Rutgers University's Cook College. Day, a leading authority in agricultural biotechnology, will take on his new position this summer. The new $30 million center is expected to open later this year. Frederick P. Brooks Jr., professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina for the past 22 ye

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HHMI to Boost, Broaden Spending on Research

By | March 23, 1987

WASHINGTON—The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has promised to increase its spending by $500 million during the next decade as part of an agreement this month that ends its longstanding dispute with the Internal Revenue Service. Researchers, science students, and teachers at U.S. schools and universities may eventually be among the beneficiaries of the settlement, which requires HHMI to spend an additional $50 million a year above the $200 million it now devotes to medical research. The ag

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How to Review Science Books

By | March 23, 1987

To be a scientist is, among other things, to be a reviewer, for without the review process science would have no greater claim to truth than any other way of knowing. While peer review does not ensure that science's grasp of reality will always be firm, it does at least serve as a sort of collective feedback mechanism, minimizing spasms of error or prejudice that can lead isolated researchers astray. Realizing this, most scientists accept the task of reviewing proposals and manuscripts for publi

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Keep Informed Judgment in Funding

By | March 23, 1987

The most controversial subject in academic science policy recently is the dispute over the effects of the growing practice by which institutions seek and receive from Congress specially earmarked appropriations for research facilities. To a remarkable degree, decisions about who should be funded to do science have been made on an essentially nonpolitical basis, even though government has been the main patron. There has never been the slightest doubt that Congress has had the power and the right

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Keeping Track Of The Women In Science

By | March 23, 1987

I appreciate Margaret Rossiter's comments about my book Women in Science: Antiquity Through the Nineteenth Century (The Scientist, February 9, 1987, p. 18). Rossiter recognized the difficulties involved in collecting scattered data and rendering it into a useful reference volume. She made a point that I think is important, that "once left out of a biographical dictionary, persons tend to be omitted from subsequent history and memory of their accomplishments essentially vanishes from sight and ho

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