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Decoding the Music of the Spheres

By | November 30, 1987

The principal contributions to astronomy that I have been able to make in the past 50 years of my professional life involve the study of binary stars—in particular, pairs of stars that are so close as to mutually eclipse each other in the course of each revolution and that, in so doing, exhibit characteristic telltale changes of light. The importance of such systems is that they offer us the only possible means to determine the masses and absolute dimensions of stars other than our Sun.

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Drug Panel Asks Protection For Volunteers

By | November 30, 1987

LONDON—The U.K. Medicines Commission is calling for a clampdown on independent contractors who hire healthy volunteers to test experimental drugs, but the code may never be enacted. The drug regulation agency, headed by Rosalinde Hurley of London University, wants a register of contractors, limits on payments to experimental subjects, and guarantees that the volunteers will get full medical backup and nofault compensation if they suffer side effects. Its proposal is prompted by concern

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Engineers Need the Liberal Arts

By | November 30, 1987

In its development, the American engineering profession has drawn upon two competing yet complementary traditions: the hands-on, muddy-boots pragmatism inherited from Britain and the elite, science-oriented approach of the French polytechnique. Science and mathematics gradually have taken a central position, with emphasis being placed upon their creative application. The less theoretical “hardware” aspects of technology have been delegated in part to graduates of two-year technici

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European Role in Space Strengthened by Accord

By | November 30, 1987

LONDON—Western Europe has solidified its position as the world’s third major force in space following an agreement by the 13-nation European Space Agency to develop its own manned space capability by 2000. The agreement, reached at a meeting earlier this month of ESA ministers in The Hague, also promises to strengthen the hand of the European nations in their final round of negotiations with the United States over participation in the U.S.-led international manned space station p

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F. Mayor's Vision for a Renewed UNESCO

By | November 30, 1987

The,. election this month of Federico Mayor Zaragoza as the new director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization inspires hope for the future of the agency. When 142 of 158 member states—an mipressive majority—cast their ballots for Mayor, they signaled a common desire that the organization move forward and, in the words of the new director-general, “keep what must be kept and modify what should be changed.” In choosing Mayor to g

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Fight Looms Over Control Of U.S. Data

By | November 30, 1987

WASHINGTON—A quiet battle is being waged here to win control over certain types of unclassified information, including scientific data, despite the Reagan administration’s decision earlier this year not to broaden such control. The decision last March not to create a new category of “sensitive hut unclassified” information has not stopped the Pentagon’s National Security Agency from continuing to set policies for defining and protecting classified information. No

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Forthcoming Books

November 30, 1987

BIOCHEMISTRY Physiology of Metabolism. David D. Davies, ed. Academic Press: December, 318 pp, $85. Volume 12 of The Biochemistry of Plants: A Comprehensive Treatise. Discusses physiological structure and the role it plays in metabolic pathways in plants. Methodology. David D. Davies. Academic Press: December, 257 pp, $65. Volume 13 of The Biochemistry of Plants: A Comprehensive Treatise. Discusses the application of recent chemical techniques to biochemical problems in plants. BIOLOGY R

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Genentech Patent: Will Licensing Be Required?

By | November 30, 1987

Many US. scientists cloning genes in microbes could be affected by a patent awarded this month to Genentech Inc. of South San Francisco. The decision’s scope remains to be seen, but some observers believe that the impact may be slight—a sign, they say, of the growing maturity of the biotechnology industry. The question of which institutions or researchers must seek a license from Genentech, and at what stage in the process, is “a legal quagmire,” according to Iver Coo

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Happenings

November 30, 1987

The congressional board of the Office of Technology Assessment appointed four new members to four-year terms on the Technology Assessment Advisory Council, effective February 1988: Neil Han, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Economics, Iowa State University; James C. Hunt, chancellor of the Health Science Center and vice president for health affairs, University of Tennessee; Joshua Lederberg, president, Rockefeller University; and Sally Ride, Stanford University. Center for Internat

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WEST BERLIN—Just one month after signing an agreement on scientific cooperation with its other half, West Germany has strengthened ties to another Eastern bloc country. The Federal Republic and Hungary have agreed on a framework of cooperative projects in all areas of science, engineering, the humanities and the social sciences that is similar to the one reached in September with East Germany (see THE SCIENTIST, November 2, p. 1). The initial list of 32 research projects covers such area

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