Eager to encourage government-industry collaboration on the potential uses of high-temperature superconducting materials, the Reagan administration has rushed to announce an initiative that may be more snap than substance. The April 21 designation of Los Alamos, Argonne, and Oak Ridge national laboratories as superconductivity pilot centers went unaccompanied by additional funding or staff. Furthermore, acknowledged an Energy Department press spokesman, the department has no current plans to evaluate or expand the program to other labs if it succeeds in generating commercial interest in some of the research taking place. Asked how DOE plans to coordinate the program, the spokesman said, "It’s up to the labs to work out the details with industry. We don’t want to tell them what to do."
The creation of a National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders looks like a good bet as Congress moves this year to reauthorize the National Institutes of Health. NIH officials have traditionally opposed the balkanization of the biomedical research enterprise, arguing that it is an inefficient way to allocate scarce resources. But supporters believe their cause will receive higher visibility, not to mention additional funding, if it doesn’t have to share the limelight with another disease.
The fruits of a $20 million gift from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation were on display last month at the official dedication of the new West Coast offices of the National Academy of Sciences. The 48,000-square-foot building is on seven acres adjacent to the University of California at Irvine. It has already hosted several conferences, and will serve as the site for many of the nearly 1000 study committees that operate under the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. Chairman At Brookhaven, Walter Kato has been appointed chairman of the Department of Nuclear Energy at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He succeeds Herbert Kouts, chairman for the past 10 years, who will work on special projects within the department. Kato, who has spent more than 30 years in the field, will oversee programs in reactor safety, nuclear safeguards, and advanced reactor design and analysis.