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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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Japan Struggles to Fit Into Agreement on SDI

By | November 30, 1987

TOKYO—Some four months after Japan agreed to join the Strategic Defense Initiative championed by the Reagan administration, the scope and nature of its participation remain unclear. “We have only just finished studying what kind of cooperation and what kind of regulations are involved,” said Koji Inoue, assistant section chief of the Aircraft and Ordinance division of Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). “So far, no specific corporations.

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Learning to Debunk Phony Ad Claims

By | November 30, 1987

A large passenger transport organization in Britain issued a poster rejoicing over the reliability of its services The poster compared the number of occasions when passengers reached their destinations in accordance with the timetable with the number of delayed arrivals. “The red dots ran late,” said the headline. “The black dots ran on time.” And the message seemed clear enough. Black dots so greatly outnumbered the red ones that they appeared to occupy almost the whol

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Let's Put an End to Textbook Nonsense

By | November 30, 1987

It took half a century to get NH4OH out of our high school and college chemistry textbooks. Arrhenius hypothesized its existence around the turn of the century because ammonia dissolves in water to form a basic solution, and his definition of a base required it to contain an OH group. Diligent research in the 1920s and 1930s failed to provide evidence for it, Lewis structures suggested it was impossible, but it was in our textbooks up to the late 1970s. That’s not the only error in chemi

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Letters

By | November 30, 1987

In the interview in the September 21, 1987 issue (p. 14) Edward Teller says: I believe that this situation is a quite peculiar one. For instance, a number of technical people working on SDI have submitted to the Physical Society their arguments, to be published together with the original report. They were refused. And I believe that it is really a sad situation where, in questions of such great importance, free speech does not prevail in science, where free speech should be most highly honored

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New Head Expands U.S. AIDS Effort

By | November 30, 1987

WASHINGTON—The office that coordinates efforts among Public Health Service agencies to fight AIDS is being expanded in both size and scope, according to Peter J. Fischinger, the recently appointed PHS AIDS coordinator. “We want to get to the point where we are proactive in dealing with the problems,” said Fischinger, who is on leave for one year as deputy director of the National Cancer Institute. To do so, a new post of deputy AIDS coordinator has been created and the offi

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Next Time, Remember Ramanujan

By | November 30, 1987

One hundred years ago on Decem ber 22, a most extraordinary mathematician was born in the town of Erode, 160 miles from Madras in Southern India. Srinivasa Ramanujan Aiyangar was the son of a petty accountant and a bailiff’s daughter. He grew up in Kumbakonam, where his father worked. At the age of 15 he borrowed a copy of A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure Mathematics by G.S. Carr, which lists some 6,000 theorems but gives no proofs. Captivated, Ramanujan set about finding the pro

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