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We Must Be Technologically Competitive

By | February 23, 1987

The principal responsibility of the U.S. government, and that of any free nation, is to provide for the economic well being of all of its citizens and for the national security. It seems, however, that the state of our economy and trade relations are treated today as secondary to geopolitics and defense issues in the thinking of the executive branch. The expanding U.S. budget and trade deficits are symptomatic of the real ailment in the United States: the decline of our industrial base and a pen

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What Cost the Supercollider?

By | February 23, 1987

For decades, increasingly expensive particle-accelerator projects have been advocated in language almost identical to that now being used to promote the $6 billion superconducting supercoflider (SSC), including promises of "scientific leadership," "spin-offs," of technological and medical "breakthroughs," and so forth. But there is only meager evidence that past promises have been fulfilled and that present promises are any more credible. In a story on the SSC, The New York Times on January 19 s

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Workshop Promotes Robotics in the Lab

By | February 23, 1987

SANTA FE, N.M.—The Department of Energy believes robotics and other automated processes can free molecular biologists from much of the tedious work now performed manually in their laboratories. But responses among the 160 scientists, technicians and research administrators who attended a workshop on the subject here last month suggest the department needs to work on its sales pitch. The three-day meeting was organized by Tony Beugelsdijk, a chemist specializing in laboratory robotics at Lo

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AAAS: On the Brink of Gradual Change

By | February 9, 1987

WASHINGTON—Next week's annual meeting in Chicago will permit the American Association for the Advancement of Science to carry out its fundamental mission of promoting the public understanding of science. But something of even greater importance to the 139-year-old organization will take place after the meeting, when a successor to Executive Director William Carey will be announced. Carey, 70, is retiring March 31 after serving for a dozen years as head of the oldest, largest and most prest

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Altering the Public Image of Science

By | February 9, 1987

Storm Over Biology: Essays on Science, Sentiment, and Public Policy. Bernard D. Davis. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1986. 324 pp. $22.95. "What is this, a vanity publisher?" This, according to The New York Times, was Stephen Jay Gould's response to the printing of these provocative essays. In contrast, I am grateful that Bernard Davis has seen fit to publish them in book form, as I am with each new collection of Gould's charming essays. The book consists of 44 chapters, all but one reprinted f

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An Urgent Need to Map Biodiversity

By | February 9, 1987

The scientific imagination has been stirred by a call for complete sequencing of the human genome (The Scientist, October 20, 1986, pp. 11-12). The prospect is attractive because it offers an Everest-like goal, the entrainment of new advances in high technology, and the promise of practical applications in medicine. A close parallel exists in the mission envisioned by other biologists to describe and characterize the remainder of life on Earth. Where the genome project will search inwardly to ma

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Anatomy of an American Museum

By | February 9, 1987

Dinosaurs in the Attic: An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History. Douglas J. Preston. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1986. 244 pp., illus. $18.95. To paraphrase Robert Hutchins, whenever the urge to write an institutional history arises, it is best to let the urge pass. Dinosaurs in the Attic is the exception to the dreary litany of the past which characterizes most institutional histories. Here is a thrilling "Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History." The book is a

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Are We Gearing up for Biological Warfare?

By | February 9, 1987

Thank you for Seth Shulman's useful article on military funding for research on biological warfare (BW) (The Scientist, December 15, pp. 1, 8). It is highly significant that between 1981 and 1987—the Reagan years—Department of Defense funding for BW has gone up by a factor of five. Let us recall also that in his status as President of the Senate, Vice President George Bush twice broke a tie vote on the production of binary nerve gases, both times in favor of producing them. One of th

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Backlash Chills Labs In China

By | February 9, 1987

The recent political shakeup in China, including the expulsion of several prominent scientists from their university or academy poets, is sending shock waves through the larger scientific community there, according to some Western observers. "What has happened is a serious damper on the scientific and intellectual community in general," said Otto Schnepp, a chemist at the University of Southern California who was science counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from 1980 to 1982. "How this will

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Bilingual Debut in Canada

By | February 9, 1987

OTTAWA—The new year also brought Canadians a new science magazine, the only English-language one of its kind for the general public. Science and Technology Dimensions is a "privatized" version of Science Dimensions, a 17-year-old publication of the National Re search Council of Canada. The Council also published a French language version called Dimension Science. A Montreal firm, Science & Technologie Mondex Inc., which published the French-Canadian magazine Science et Technologie, last ye

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