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Robots Emerge As Trusty Workhorses In Many Science Labs

By | September 19, 1988

When they first appeared six years ago, they were looked on as something of a novelty. Many people dismissed them, saying, "they're fascinating, but they'll never take over." Today of course they are here en masse, with a tight grip on many scientists' working lives. No, we're not talking about extraterrestrial invaders, but rather mere laboratory robots—although no mechanical device with the elegant sophistication of these modem-day tools could ever be aptly described as "mere" anything.

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Science Goes To The Seoul Olympics

By | September 19, 1988

When Richard McKinney draws his bow and takes aim during the Seoul Olympics next week, he will have an unusual ally-science—in his quest for the gold. Even though he won a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics and is a favorite to grab another medal in Seoul, the United States archer has, for four years, been tested. Measured, observed, and advised by two researchers at Arizona State University. "I think their work has helped me tremendously," McKinney says. "It's one reason I have stayed on t

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Science Grants

September 19, 1988

Below is a list of notable grants recently awarded in the sciences—large federal grants as well as awards of all sizes from private foundations. The individuals cited with each entry are the project's principal investigators. ASTRONOMY Optical interferometry project. $230,000 from WM. Keck Foundation, Los Angeles, to California Institute of Technology; A.C.S. Readhead BIOTECHNOLOGY Training program for research in molecular biology and biotechnology. $188,900 from University of California

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Seven Chemistry Journals Carrying Lots Of Clout

By | September 19, 1988

Calculating the influence and prestige of a given journal in chemistry (or any other field) isn't easy. Different chemists will give different opinions, depending upon their personal perspective and experience. But analyzing the collective judgment of the chemistry community, as reflected in the journals its members most frequently cite, allows for approximations of influence. Merely tabulating total citations, however, won't do. That would give undue advantage to fat journals, which have greate

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Sheep Farm Serves As Lab For Molecular Biology Team

By | September 19, 1988

As much at home in a barn as behind a laboratory bench, a team of 30 young researchers in Scotland is remaking the image of the modern agricultural scientist as they go about their ground-breaking work in molecular biology. While some of their experimentation takes place in the heart of the city—at the 400-year-old University of Edinburgh's modern science complex—some of it is also happening in a far more rural setting. Situated in the foothills of the Scottish Pentlands, five miles

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When writing computer programs in any language, scientists must solve problems that probably have been faced already by many other programmers. It is silly to "reinvent the wheel," as the saying goes, when a variety of routines (subprograms that scientists can plug into programs they're writing) are already available for the most popular computer languages. I spend most of my time programming in Turbo Pascal 4.0 (produced by Borland International), so I am most familiar with the three classes of

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The Shuttle Has Hurt Space Science

By | September 19, 1988

The upcoming flight of the space shuttle Discovery brings a glimmer of light in the dark tunnel of space science in the United States. For the first time in over two years, there is hope that some of the experiments and space probes gathering dust in laboratories will finally get off the ground. But any rejoicing will probably be muted. The fact is that the shuttle has hurt the space science program. It contributed very little while it was flying, and the Challenger accident disrupted the space

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Their Own Fault

By | September 19, 1988

If astronomers are furious at federal funding failures (The Scientist, August 8, page 1), they have only themselves to blame. It is the funding of such "major" facilities as the Very Large Array radiotelescope and the Hubble space telescope that have left little funding for everything else. Astronomers, like everyone else, will have to learn that you.can't have your cake and eat it too. Meanwhile particle physicists are actively lobbying for the superconducting supercollider. Undoubtedly, they t

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Six years ago, neurologist J. William Langston stumbled onto an exciting discovery, a contaminated synthetic heroin that seemed to trigger symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Almost overnight, Langston was thrust into the limelight. Reporters flocked to his office. Foundations invited him to apply for grants. His lab began reporting steady progress in the long struggle toward a cure for Parkinson's, a degenerative disease that affects half a million people in the United States. But success brought

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Tools Briefs

September 19, 1988

New electrically powered microscopic motors, no larger than the width of a human hair, have potential applications in the next few years in both medical and microsurgical equipment and scientific instruments. Bell Labs and the University of California, Berkeley, reported on the new process at the same time, but Berkeley holds a patent on the process, which uses the techniques and materials of semiconductor manufacturing. The rotor in the motor is about two-thousandths of an inch in diameter. Its

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