The way Detlev Ganten, head of Berlin's Charite University Medical Center, tells the story, he was enjoying dinner in early March at the British Embassy in Berlin with a small group of scientists, when the topic of conversation turned to Germany's lack of a National Academy of Sciences. Germany still does not have an Academy despite the strong urging last year by the National Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat) that the regional science academies combine in a national academy. Ganten told the group that he believes Germany's more than half-dozen regional science academies in cities such as Berlin, Heidelberg, Göttingen, and Munich will agree to combine into one national academy before Germany's next national elections in autumn of 2006.

No way, voiced most of the others at the table, including Robert May, president of the Royal Society, the UK's lone national science academy. The naysayers maintained that despite increasing pleas from top...

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