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Europeans Focus on Environment

By | April 20, 1987

LONDON—One of the starkest contrasts between the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl is in the type of scientific research that each has stimulated. After Three Mile Island, reactor operators and regulators throughout the West reassessed the technology and the policies behind nuclear safety. Research in the wake of Chernobyl has focused instead on the environmental effect of the radionuclides released from the reactor. Within a day after news of the accident, for example, the chai

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Fonts of Inspiration: From Spider-Man ...

By | April 20, 1987

Every scientist or technical innovator has had an illustrious predecessor who has paved the way and provided inspiration for some stroke of brilliance. Paul Dirac had Niels Bohr, Pasteur had Lavoisier, Sol Snyder had Steve Brodie. And David Hunter has Spider-Man. Actually, David Hunter has Jack Love, a circuit court judge in Albuquerque, N.M., who saw a Spider-Man cartoon on television in 1983 that helped paved the way for another technical advance: electronically monitored home incarceration. I

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Happenings

April 20, 1987

Robert L. White, William E. Ayer Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University took office this month as director of San Francisco's Exploratorium, a science, perception and art center with more than 600 hands-on exhibits. White succeeds founder Frank Oppenheimer, who directed the center from 1969 until his death in February 1985. Donald J. Osterbrock has been elected to succeed Bernard Burke as president of the American Astronomical Society. Osterbrock, professor of astronomy arid

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How to Write a Good Science Text

By | April 20, 1987

Most established scientists based in universities have probably been approached by book publishers. Acquisitions editors are always searching for essential monographs, timely conference proceedings and outstanding textbooks. The quest for good authors is highly competitive. Most publishers now use subject specialists who are able to use their own judgment when they come across an interesting proposal. These editors visit campuses and attend conventions in order to drum up business. How should th

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Institute Calls Canadians Back Home

By | April 20, 1987

OTTAWA—In 1985 J. Richard Bond, then associate professor of physics at Stanford University, returned to his alma mater, the University of Toronto, to spend a year at its Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. Last June, despite the attractive climate and an offer of tenure from Stanford, the 36-year-old Canadian decided to stay in Toronto. The choice is unusual for citizens of a country that has traditionally lost its best scientists to its southern neighbor. The deciding factor

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Let's Sharpen Up Occam's Razor

By | April 20, 1987

In the otherwise interesting dialogue between Stephen Hawking and Renée Weber in "God as the Edge of the Universe" (The Scientist, February 23, 1987, p. 15), it is unfortunate that as good a scientist as Hawking should "invoke God" to fill the gaps in our cosmological knowledge. I thought Occam's razor had trimmed off such nonsense long ago. If Hawking feels that religious interpretations are really irrelevant, as he implies later in the interview, why did he feel compelled to muddy the wat

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Let's Stand Up for Global Science

By | April 20, 1987

UNESCO's science programs rank among its greatest successes. In fact, a 1984 U.S. interagency panel studying the consequences of a U.S. withdrawal stated that the excellence of UNESCO's science activities alone would warrant continued membership in the Organization. As the U.S. pullout on December 31, 1984 approached, scientists worldwide worried about the impact that a 25 percent reduction in the UNESCO budget—the U.S. contribution—would have on the international Organization's scie

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Make Science Really International

By | April 20, 1987

Internationalize science? Isn't it a!lready international? Not at all. Countries representing only one-quarter of the world's population produce 95 percent of the new science, while the remaining three-quarters contribute only 5 percent. We are, in effect, leaving three-quarters of human brain power unused. Science would progress much faster were this not so. Given the intimate connecbetween science, technology, production and standard of living, a universalization of science would also alleviat

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NASA Seeks Small, Quick Experiments

By | April 20, 1987

WASHINGTON—In an attempt to revive a disheartened space science community, NASA has teamed up with other federal research agencies to design a series of small, inexpensive experiments to be carried by the space shuttle during construction of the proposed space station in the first half of the next decade. The program is expected to run on a timetable more in harmony with the academic career of a typical graduate student than the extended period needed to launch a major scientific experimen

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LONDON—The deaths of four scientists involved in defense research, and the mysterious disappearance of a fifth, are causing considerable speculation here. Although the police initially treated the incidents as unrelated, opposition politicians have highlighted what could be a significant common factor—the men all were involved with advanced signal processing and software. Last August Vimal Dajibhal, 24, a computer programmer with Marconi Underwater Systems, was found underneath a bri

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