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Science Meetings' Five-Star Prices

By | January 12, 1987

The cost of participating in international scientific conferences steadily rises. Currently, registration fees range from $100 to $500 or more. While scientists may grumble among themselves about these high fees, they continue meekly to pay them. Are these high fees justified? It seems to depend, in part, on the kind of conference. Nonprofit groups like professional societies, research institutions and universities set a fee that covers the actual costs of the meeting. If an outside subsidy is a

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Science Needs Critics

By | January 12, 1987

The professions of science administrator and science writer have become well established in recent years. The first arose in response to the rapid growth of the scientific enterprise and the second in response to its increasing importance to society. And the growth of science has spawned other science-supporting or parascience professions such as the science publicist at research institutes (see "Good Science Needs Good Reporting," The Scientist, December 15, 1986, p. 13). Yet more are in prospe

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A war surplus searchlight was the unlikely piece of equipment which a young English chemist, George Porter, pressed into the service of science during the late 1940s. As a Cambridge researcher following five years in the Royal Navy, he was investigating chemical reactions thought until that time to be instantaneous in nature and, thus, unmeasurable in the laboratory. Porter's ingenuity paid off Barely 20 years later, he shared the 1967 Nobel Prize in chemistry (with Manfred Eigen and Ronald Norr

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So They Say

January 12, 1987

Verbatim excerpts from the media on the conduct of science. Underwriting Science "I think it's probably true that we've been living off the investments we made in technology years ago," says Sally Ride, the young astronaut who became highly visible in the agency's [NASA's] management after serving as a member of the Rogers Commission. "We've recognized this in the last year, and realized the need for NASA to start investing again in basic R&D…." Other observers wonder whether Star Wars wil

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So They Say

January 12, 1987

Robert K. Adair has been appointed associate director for high energy and nuclear physics at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Adair was previously associated with Brookhaven as a graduate student in 1949 and as a researcher for the department of physics from 1953 to 1959. Since that time, he has been a professor of physics at Yale University. Peter H. Quail of the University of Wisconsin will head the first research team appointed to the Plant Gene Expression Center in Albany, Calif. The new cent

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Space Research Carries On

By | January 12, 1987

WASHINGTON—Smaller payloads, alternative boosters and suborbital flights are making it possible for space scientists to carry out their experiments in the aftermath of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger one year ago this month. NASA's billion-dollar budget for space science survived relatively unscathed for the current year, and officials are hopeful that the same will be true for fiscal 1988. But flight time, not money, is the biggest immediate problem for scientists, acknowled

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The ABCs of Abstract Science

By | January 12, 1987

For years, scientists and historians have wondered why the Chinese, who introduced technological innovations like gunpowder, paper, iron smelting, and the segmental arch bridge to the Western world, never developed abstract science. Robert K Logan, a physicist with a special interest in phonetics, postulates in his new book The Alphabet Effect (William Morrow & Company, 1986) that the rise of the phonetic alphabet in the West was a necessary precondition for the development of modern science. Th

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The Cost of Lab Remodeling

By | January 12, 1987

This Is the second in a series of three articles on lab design. The first article was "How to Plan a Lab BuildIng" (The Scientist, November 17, 1986, P. 15). An upcoming article will deal with furniture for laboratories. Sooner, or later, everyone working in a laboratory building must face the perplexing question of whether to build a new one or remodel the old one. The answer depends on many considerations. Let's look at some of the more obvious ones. Time. Are you under time constraints that w

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The Surfaces of Black Holes

By | January 12, 1987

Black Holes: The Membrane Paradigm. Kip S. Thome, Richard H. Price and Douglas A. Macdonald, eds. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1986. 367 pp., illus. $40 HB, $14.95 PB. Black holes have entered our everyday discourse, used as metaphors for entities like the U.S. federal budget that swallow up all the country's resources. Astrophysically, black holes are formed when a sufficiently large amount of matter occupies a sufficiently small space. Gravity becomes so strong that the matter collap

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Time to 'Interfere' in Science Ed

By | January 12, 1987

Nearly all recent surveys of science and mathematics curricula in our secondary schools paint a picture of gloom and doom. A cross section of high school curricula and faculty taken across the United States reveals a lack of consistency in both the number and quality of courses. The research-oriented colleges and universities that draw upon today's high school graduates to populate their freshman classes are, however, generally blasé about the situation. A great deal of the colleges' effort

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