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U.S. Controls Hamper Trade With Allies

By | February 9, 1987

WASHINGTON—The Japanese buy infrared, optical lasers from the American firm of Spectra-Physics for the cutting, welding and heat treating of various manufactured products. But each time any of its lasers need servicing or spare parts, Spectra-Physics has to navigate the slow and complex U.S. export licensing procedure that was created for another purpose, namely, to ensure that certain types of advanced technology do not pass to the Soviet Union and its allies. Although the San Jose-based

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'Biotic Revenge' and the Death of Dinosaurs

By | January 26, 1987

By way of his recent attempt to contrast the hard and "woolly" sciences, Beverly Haistead (The Scientist, December 15, 1986, pp. 12-13) posed the question of how to account for surviving species in the face of Alvarez's asteroid impact hypothesis of dinosaur extinction. We would like to suggest an alternative interpretation of the demise of dinosaurs based on a unique psychological capacity in many animal forms today. Tony Swain has called attention to the fact that during the Cretaceous period

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'Should Science Be Stopped?'

By | January 26, 1987

"Hope tiptoed back into the world, armed with sachets of benign bacteria," writes Nigel Calder is his new book The Green Machines (Putnam, 1986). It crept back into a world tottering on the brink of nuclear war, a world full of common people disgusted with the moral bankruptcy of the modern nation-state and the unwillingness of political leaders to do anything constructive to stop the madness. Writing from the vantage point of 2030 A.D., Calder envisions these people commandeering the "green mac

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... And His Future

By | January 26, 1987

The whole world of science is celebrating the return of Andrei Sakharov to his home and workplace in Moscow. This happy event not only signifies a change for the better in the political climate in the Soviet Union, it also shows that the continued public protests on his behalf were not futile. The world scientific community stood firmly by one of its most distinguished members through along, deeply troubled period. This support could not protect him entirely from unjust and brutal treatment, but

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A Creationist Responds

By | January 26, 1987

I read with great interest the Opinion pieces in which the "danger" of creationism was discussed by several able scientists (The Scientist, November 17, 1986, pp. 10-11). Unfortunately, none of these authors offered any help in resolving the controversy. Name calling, of which both sides are amply guilty, will do nothing to solve the dilemma facing our public school system. If I may be so bold, allow me to present the concerns that those of us who are biblical literalists have about the teaching

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A New Look at Contraceptives

By | January 26, 1987

Ibsen's dictum "minorities are always right" cannot be correct: minorities seldom agree, so they cannot all be right. It would be more correct to say that "majorities are always wrong—partially if not completely." In the past, when research was usually a part-time job or a hobby, scientists were less apt than they are now to follow safe and fashionable lines of work. We were less specialized and moved from subject to subject in a manner that worried grant-giving committees then, and would

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Andrei Sakharov's Return...

By | January 26, 1987

Nothing in recent developments in the Soviet Union has been as exciting and pleasing as the release of Andrei Sakharov after nearly seven years in exile. His return was long overdue, and the exile (which was illegal even by Soviet standards) was entirely unnecessary. It cost dearly the health of Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner, and inevitably damaged scientific cooperation between the East and West. I have known Sakharov since the summer of 1964, when he made his short but strong speech at

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Basic Science Budget Remains Flat at NASA

By | January 26, 1987

WASHINGTON—With the Space Station leading the way, NASA has requested a 16 percent increase in its research and development activities as part of a $9.5 billion budget for next year. R&D would rise from $3.1 billion this year to $3.6 billion under the proposal for fiscal year 1988. The fastest growing program within that category is the Space Station, projected to grow from $420 million this year to $767 million in the new budget. That increase, however, may draw fire from a Congress worri

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Biotechnology Industry's Movers and Shakers

By | January 26, 1987

Biotechnology: The University-Industrial Complex. Martin Kenney. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1986. 324 pp. $23.95. Divergent economic pressures on university scientists fueled the development of small biotechnology companies and thus the entire fledgling industry. Pressures came in one form as a need to gather support for research; in another, from the realization that molecular biology could make money. In this way, a new academic "industry" world was created. This concept is the thes

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LONDON—Strategic research in Britain should be funded by a new route that is independent of the support given to academic science through the University Grants Committee and research councils and the customer-contractor relationship used by government departments for applied research. This view is contained in a new report on civilian R&D from the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, a body of ten peers with considerable experience in science and engineering. The repo

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