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Notebook

Bye-Bye, American Pi The Gift Of Life Wanted: Ideas For Advanced Technology Integrity In Research New On The Job Who Says Science Can't Be Fun? It was supposed to be a joke, but some scientists aren't laughing. On July 1, the New York Times published a letter from UC-Berkeley mathematics professor Paul Chernoff that called for his colleagues to ask the government for big bucks to keep the U.S. No. 1 in determining "the entire decimal expansion of pi." The letter was meant to spoof the current t

September 3, 1990

  • Bye-Bye, American Pi
  • The Gift Of Life
  • Wanted: Ideas For Advanced Technology
  • Integrity In Research
  • New On The Job
  • Who Says Science Can't Be Fun? It was supposed to be a joke, but some scientists aren't laughing. On July 1, the New York Times published a letter from UC-Berkeley mathematics professor Paul Chernoff that called for his colleagues to ask the government for big bucks to keep the U.S. No. 1 in determining "the entire decimal expansion of pi." The letter was meant to spoof the current trend toward such big-science projects as the supercollider, the space station, and the earth-observing satellites. But several scientists missed the point and have taken Chernoff to task for his misguided notions. To one letter writer, Charles DeLisi, dean of engineering at Boston University, the topic may have struck a little too close to home. DeLisi is generally considered to have been the architect of the Human Genome Project, biology's first big-science project, while he headed DOE's Office of Health and Environmental Research.

    LifeCell Corp. of The Woodlands, Texas, has received $529,000 from the Defense Department to continue its development of a method to preserve and store human blood at room temperature for extended periods. The U.S. Navy, which made the award, hopes to use the technology in situations in which storing blood is a problem, such as ships at sea, as well as to avoid periodic blood shortages. The project is funded by Phase II of the department's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a government-wide effort to nurture small companies with innovative ideas. LifeCell was founded in 1986 as a privately held spinoff from the University of Texas Health Science Center.


    The Commerce Department's Advanced Technology Program has invited U.S. private industry to submit proposals for individual or cooperative research projects. The $10 million program represents the administration's commitment to what President Bush likes to call "pre-competitive, generic technology" that permits companies to work together until the new product is ready to be manufactured for the market. Congress would like to go further, with Democrats pushing for a $100 million program that the White House says is too costly. In any case, proposals are due September 24 and should be sent to: Advanced Technology Program, B110 Technology Building, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899. For more information, phone (301) 975-5187.


    Diogenes wasn't available, so the National Academy of Sciences has tapped veteran science administrator Edward David, Jr., to chair its new panel on "Scientific Responsibility and the Conduct of Research." The 17-member panel, which has already sponsored two working lunches on scientific misconduct and the proper mentoring of graduate students, hopes to produce a report by the end of 1991.

    Besides David, science advisor to President Nixon and a former executive at Exxon and Bell Labs, its members include distinguished scientists, administrators, philosophers, and lawyers from academia and private industry. The panel is directed by Rosemary Chalk; for more information, phone (202) 334-2425.


    Presidential science adviser Allan Bromley seems to have cemented his ties with the Bush administration by hiring away the former executive director of the Domestic Policy Council as his new chief of staff. Ken Yale, a dentist and lawyer who was active in the 1988 campaign, will replace George Washington University economics professor Bill Wells, who has been filling in on a temporary basis since May . Physiologist John Diggs, a 16-year NIH veteran, has been named deputy director for extramural research. Diggs, who replaces Katherine Bick, has been director of the Division of Extramural Activities at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1982.. Biologist John Ruffin has been named to the new position of NIH associate director for minority programs. He is the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Carolina Central University.


    The organizers of next month's annual meeting of the Association of Science-Technology Centers in Orlando, Fla., have made a bold bid to boost attendance by including in the registration packet a one-day pass for three popular theme parks in the area -- Universal Studios, EPCOT Center, and Sea World. The ploy is one way for ASTC, an association of more than 300 museums and affiliated institutions dedicated to increasing public understanding of science, to make sure that participants experience the slogan of this year's meeting --Making Science Memorable. For more information on the meeting, to be held Oct. 13-16, contact: ASTC, 1413 K St., NW, Tenth Floor, Dept. 47, Washington, D.C., 20005-3405, or call (202) 371-1171.

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