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The Ripening Of Science In England

By | March 23, 1987

The Age of Science. David Knight. Basil Blackwell, New York, 1986. 240 pp. $24.95. This new book by David Knight, senior lecturer in history of science at the University of Durham, might plausibly be described as a popular survey of English science and its cultural role from 1789 to 1914. "Survey," however, scarcely does justice to Knight's program. Rather than scaling historical peaks for the perspectives they offer, Knight leads his reader on a brisk ramble through overgrown byways of Victoria

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The SSC Crowns 50 Years of Advances

By | March 23, 1987

The Superconducting Supercollider, the $6 billion particle accelerator whose construction was just endorsed by the President, is inevitable. The only serious questions surrounding it for the past half dozen years have been when and where. Why inevitable? Because the SSC is the unarguable means of answering the most fundamental scientific questions we can formulate: How are the forces of nature related, and what does that tell us about the underlying structure and behavior of matter? Progress in

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U.S. to Test New Pay Plan For Scientists

By | March 23, 1987

GAITHERSBURG, MD—The government could attract and retain a greater share of top-quality scientists and engineers if it could offer them more competitive salaries, hire them more quickly, and award raises and promotions on individual performance. That belief, held by research administrators both inside and outside government, is the driving force behind a five-year experiment at the National Bureau of Standards. Responding to a successful demonstration project begun in 1980 at two Navy work

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LONDON—The United States and its European partners remain far apart on how the planned space station should be managed after three days of talks late last month in Paris. "There was no evolution in the U.S. position," said Jean Arets, head of international programs for the 13-member European Space Agency. "It is difficult to know where we go from here." The original timetable for the manned station, which also involves Japan and Canada, called for all partners to agree by this summer on th

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Wall Street More Bullish On Biotechnology Firms

By | March 23, 1987

WASHINGTON—Biotechnology stocks, whose prices rose an average of 60 percent last year, should continue to do well this year as the industry expands, analysts predict, although individual companies may continue to have problems. Linda I. Miller, vice president for biotechnology research at Paine Webber Inc. in New York, last month told a seminar at The Brookings Institution here that the biotechnology industry has seen its risk factors decline and opportunities increase following the "turmo

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Was That Really A Reasonable Proposal?

By | March 23, 1987

Craig Svensson's view (The Scientist, January 26, p. 12) that one particular version of the sacred writings of one of the world's many religions is the sole arbiter of truth, and thus that the truth of any observation, logical deduction, or integrating hypothesis can be assessed only by comparison with those particular writings, must seem to most of us to be intellectually parochial. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Svensson is sincere in believing himself to be reasonable and open-minded when

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What Creationists Really Seek

By | March 23, 1987

Craig K. Svensson, in his article "A Creationist Responds" (The Scientist, January 26, p. 12) mocks his religion as surely as he conceals his objective. Creationists regularly do both. The creationists' nominal objection to the teaching of evolutionary biology is a red herring. What they really seek is the abolition of all education in natural science. They cannot settle for less, because information that impeaches biblical literalism is conspicuous in a score of disciplines, from physics and as

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What Entropy Is, and Is Not

By | March 23, 1987

To judge from the writings of C.R Snow, entropy and the second law of thermodynamics were once indelicate subjects. Now things have changed, and on the cocktail party circuit we hear of entropy in art, entropy in economics, entropy in urban decay, and other erudite-sounding applications. A most difficult concept in physics is being applied to confused areas in the social sciences, with the impression being conveyed that this increases our comprehension. I have before me a letter from Jeremy Rifk

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A Geological Near-Miss

By | March 9, 1987

The hypothesis that the present distribution of the continents is due to the breaking up and drifting apart of the fragments of a single continent was first put forward in 1912. However, largely because of the First World War and the extreme antipathy to German science and scientists that followed it, the hypothesis remained not only unaccepted but almost unknown for many years in the former allied countries such as Britain and America. I first heard of it in 1923 from an American physicist at O

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AMA Report Urges Boost In Research

By | March 9, 1987

CHICAGO—A five-year study by the American Medical Association and 171 other public and private organizations to influence the future of health care policy in the United States has recommended a 10 percent annual increase in NIH funding, tax breaks for pharmaceutical and other companies that conduct biomedical research and increased cooperative ventures between universities and private industry. The report's findings were summarized here February 16 at the annual meeting of the American Ass

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