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The Human Face of Science

By | December 15, 1986

Why do we wait until the death of our colleagues to commemorate the achievements of their lives? Among scientists, the first biographical account is too often the obituary notice. And even when written by a well-informed associate, the biography or obituary, being essentially a view from the outside, cannot substitute for the rich personal details and revealing statements found in first-person accounts. There are many kinds of records that we and later generations require for a substantial under

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The Revenge of the Soft Scientists

By | December 15, 1986

I have nothing against the hard sciences, mathematics, physics or chemistry. Sadly, however, some philosophers take physics as the measure of what science is all about: you measure and count and weigh and perform experiments, which you can do over and over again. Biology hovers uncomfortably between the two worlds—the hard and the woolly. Hard biology tends to be molecular, physiological, experimental, while at the other extreme is woolly natural history— bug collecting and such like

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The Rise of Theoretical Physics

By | December 15, 1986

INTELLECTUAL MASTERY OF NATURE Theoretical Physics from Ohm to Einstein Christa Junnickel and Russell McCommach. University of Chicago, 1986, Vol. 1 The torch of Mathematics, 1800-1870. 378 pp. Bibliography, Index. $55. Vol 2 The Now Mighty Theoretical Physics. 1870-1925. 455 pp. Plates, Bobliography, Index. $65. At center stage in the current theater of history of science is the interaction of science with the societies that support it. The most promising and popular locus for study of this int

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U.K. View Is 'Sobering'

By | December 15, 1986

BRISTOL, ENGLAND—A survey of adults in Britain has found that: Three-quarters believe astrology is scientific, but only a bare majority believe ecology is; 33 percent of the population believe that penicillin attacks viruses; 20 percent see carbon dioxide as the chief cause of acid rain; 37 percent believe proteins “provide most of the energy needs of the human body,” and 19 percent chose vitamins. Only 36 percent chose carbohydrates. Those sobering findings are pa

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We Know What Lab Animals Need

By | December 15, 1986

Behavioral researchers have criticized the recent mandate to provide for the "psycho logical well-being" of captive primates as nebulous and premature given the state of objective knowledge of well-being. Their professed ignorance is not surprising since much behavioral research on primates has involved deliberately damaging well-being. This is ironic since most of these studies have been undertaken in an attempt to provide animal models of human problems, presumably with the long-term goal of p

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Who Caused Chemistry's Toxic Image?

By | December 15, 1986

Chemists are beginning to recognize that chemistry, or at least chemicals, frighten the average person. “Chemical” is used to mean “unnatural,” and is usually preceded by “toxic.” How did this bad public image of chemicals and chemistry develop? I believe chemists themselves are primarily responsible for the public image of chemistry. First, we all are more or less responsible for our choice of project. In academic re search, we can work on almost anything fo

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Witch Hunting in the Universities

By | December 15, 1986

NO IVORY TOWER McCarthyism and the Universities. Ellen W. Schrecker. Oxford University Press, New York, 1986. 464 pp.$24.95. In 1948 a special committee of the Washington state legislature interrogated 11 University of Washington professors about their connections with the Communist Party. The University, feeling compelled to react to revelations made to the committee, conducted extensive hearings of its own into the activities of three of the 11 who refused to cooperate with the investigation

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'We Are Counting on Your Help'

By | November 17, 1986

Since 1980, Soviet physicist, Nobel laureate and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov has been living with his wife Elena Bonner, a physician, in internal exile in the city of Gorky. Sakharov was banished there with-out trial after he publicly opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In December 1985-following a hunger strike by Sakharov-the Soviets granted Bonner a three-month visa (later extended to six months) to come to the United States to visit her family and undergo multiple bypass su

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A Town Hall for Science

By | November 17, 1986

If you've attended or heard about a New England town meeting, you'll have a good idea of what the Opinion section of THE SCIENTIST is all about. In these pages, you'll find an open forum for addressing the members of your community-the scientific community-on the issues of the day. In letters to the editor and in opinion articles by scientists and by policy-makers in science, these pages will resound with high-energy debate between professionals. Their opinions-informed, closely considered, imbu

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Academic Research To 1940

By | November 17, 1986

TO ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE The Growth of American Research Universities, 1900-1940. Roger L. Geiger. Oxford University Press, New York, 1986. 335 pp. $27.50. Among the systems of higher education in Western nations, the American system is something of an anomaly in its size, diversity and capacity to accommodate new lines of research. The American university unites research and teaching, linking higher learning to the broad based system of colleges, in which middle class people ac quire the values, sk

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