October 1986

Volume 1 Issue 1

The Scientist October 1986 Cover

Departments

News

Graham Faces Tough Agenda In Science Post

WASHINGTON-William Graham, confirmed Oct. 1 as presidential science adviser and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, faces a scientific community skeptical of his ability to affect science policy but hopeful he can represent their interests before the administration. He assumed office in the White House the following day shortly after 3 p.m. The voice vote in the Senate ended a nine-month search for a successor to George Keyworth II, who left the administration J

Firms Forge Black Links

WASHINGTON-Looking for something new after 23 years at Bell Laboratories, Elliott Slutsky became a visiting professor in electrical engineering at Tennessee State University. This fall, three years later, he began his second year of teaching at Howard University. The work is hard, the hours long, and the problems are many. But he is no longer bored. "We're solving problems," he explained. "Besides teaching, I'm working to improve the curriculum. Industry people really can make a difference, be

Congress Hikes NIH Budget

WASHINGTON-The National Institutes of Health will receive an additional $910 million this year in a budget that provides for more than 6,200 new and competing grants, 21 new research centers, no lid on the total number of projects to be funded and no provision to lower the reimbursement rate for administrative indirect costs paid to universities. This good news for scientists comes as part of an agreement between House and Senate conferees on the Institutes' budget for the fiscal year that bega

NSF Begins Paperless Chase

WASHINGTON -Alvin Thaler of the National Science Foundation thinks scientists should not have to play elaborately boring games on their computers to be able to ex change information with their colleagues. A new $2 million program within the Foundation's Office of Information Systems holds out the eventual hope of permitting the free and easy exchange of data that is supposed to be the hallmark of science. The first step is called EXPRES, which stands for EXPerimental Research in Electronic Submi

Report Sees Decline In British Science

LONDON-If international science is a race, Great Britain is beginning to tire. A study published this month shows a steady decline in Britain's scientific performance from 1973 through 1982. The decline is par-ticularly steep in physics, where the country of Maxwell and Lord Kelvin has been overtaken in many respects by France, West Germany and Japan. The Royal Society conducted the study on behalf of the government's science policy advisers after earlier figures suggesting a fall in the country

Typical Survey Scientist Paid $50-60K

The typical U.S. scientist is a white male college professor of around 50 who juggles teaching and research, has been in his job a decade or more, and earns between $50,000 and $60,000 a year, according to a survey of almost 700 researchers undertaken by THE SCIENTIST. His salary accounts for almost all of his income, although he makes a little extra from such activities as consulting, honoraria, writing and, in one case, growing grapes. His employer underwrites a long vacation, sick leave and p

U.S. Agencies Seek Balance In Biotechnology Rules

WASHINGTON-Government agencies, in their zeal to demonstrate support for biotechnology research, may have unintentionally complicated efforts to regulate the burgeoning field, according to federal officials. "We have opened up a complex regulatory world that need not have been," asserted David Kingsbury of the National Science Foundation. There is a growing "tendency to 'do' all of biology," he added, as conscientious regulators "examine things that have been going on for long periods of time. W

Help Ahead on Getting From Lab to Market

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M-Gary Seawright has a confession to make. "I'm probably an entrepreneur in scientist's clothing, and have been all along." The experiences of the former virologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory demonstrate both the perils and pleasures of moving technological discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace. That subject was the topic of discussion at a congressional hearing and a two-day conference here. Seawright left Los Alamos in 1984 to join fellow scientists Randy Bro

Agencies to Alter Length, Focus of Research Briefings

WASHINGTON-Officials at the National Science Foundation are considering major changes in a five-year-old program that provides federal science agencies with information on research topics that are ripe for additional funding. The program was begun in 1982 at the request of George Keyworth II, former presidential science adviser and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. It enlisted researchers in an annual effort to identify a handful of fields where additional fund

Impact of Tax Reform? Experts Hedge Bets

Editor's note: The new tax reform package approved this fall by Congress will affect the scientific community along with the rest of the U.S. economy. THE SCIENTIST talked with representatives of that community about important provisions of the law that. will shape the future of scientific research and development in academia, throughout private industry and in the public sector. Their comments have been combined into a question-and-answer format. What will be the overall im-pact of tax reform o

Colleges Open New Assault on 'Pork' Projects

WASHINGTON-The Association of American Universities has brought together university administrators and congressional staff in a new effort to stop the growing practice of lobbying Congress to obtain funds to build academic research facilities. Known by its detractors as pork-barrel politics, the approach has long been a favorite among those seeking dams, federal buildings and highways. Since 1983, however, it has become the favored route for dozens of universities and research facilities that ha

News

Chinese Move Ahead On Science Reforms

WASHINGTON-China is moving ahead with its reform of science and technology by weaning re search institutes from state support, rewarding scientists who develop commercial products, and encouraging proposals for basic re search from individual investigators. Wu Mingyu, vice minister in the State Science and Technology Commission, discussed these and other developments during a recent 10-day visit to the United States. Wu led a six-man delegation that gathered information on the relationship betwe

Limit on Embryo Use Asked

COPENHAGEN-The use of human embryos in industry should be banned and their use in therapeutic and scientific work strongly regulated, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has recommended to its 22 members. Its recommendation, approved Sept. 25, calls on European governments to forbid "the maintenance of embryos in vitro beyond the 14th day after fertilization." "We realize the scientific world will find this very restrictive," said Bjoern Elmquist, a Danish member of parliament an

Commentary

A Voice for the Science Professional

If there is one area about which I can claim expertise, it is the scientific journal. Whether you call them serials, periodicals, journals, newspapers or monographic series, they all add up to information overload. But just as the world must learn to deal with overpopulation, it must also learn to manage the flood of information. Recognition of that problem led me to found the Institute for Scientific Information 35 years ago. Helping scientists cope with their portion of the information over-lo

Letter

Attack on Academe

The Tax Reform Act of 1986 has become law. The deed is done, for universities and everyone and there seems little further point in arguing over probable effects. The question that remains is why, at a time when Congress is concerned about preserving the nation's economic competitiveness and technological leadership, did it choose to withdraw significant tax advantages from universities, institutions which, given the way American science is organized, are essential to these goals? The two most se

Opinion

Two Cheers for Human Gene Sequencing

The human genome consists of three billion base pairs that encode some 100,000 to 300,000 genes. Could we work out all the sequence of this DNA? What use would that information be? The sequence alone would not tell us, today, what the genes were and how they function. A major goal of biology is to solve the structure-function problem: to be able to predict from the DNA sequence what the structure of a protein might be-and, ultimately, how it might function. The solution to this problem, which ma

A Universe Made of Strings? What's New?

Everything in the universe is made out of strings. So say the proponents of the latest theory to take physics by storm. All the basic particles of which the universe is made are tiny strings instead of points, as previously assumed. Physicists are attracted to the superstring theory because of its beautiful mathematical structure. I am attracted to it because I knew it all along. In the first place, I have seen these strings. They are luminous, and if you pull them you can watch the universe cha

Scientists and Education

Speaking at a Ciba Foundation symposium in London some years ago, Alvin Weinberg talked of the dangers that can arise when a highly technical issue such as nuclear reactor safety is subject to frenetic public debate. "There develops an escalation of contingency," the then-director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory said. "Each unlikely event connected with a reactor, once it becomes a matter of public discussion, seems to acquire a plausibility that goes much beyond what was originally intended. I

Tax Reform: Why All the Whining?

There has been considerable discussion lately about the many ways in which "tax reform" adversely changes the ground rules of operation of independent colleges and universities. Still greater reliance on direct government appropriation is not a good an-swer: that would further erode the pluralism and independence that have been the genius of the U.S. system of higher education and scholarship. In one respect, however, tax reform may encourage private philanthropy. The charitable deduction agains

Tax Reform: Why All the Whining? (2)

There has been considerable discussion lately about the many ways in which "tax reform" adversely changes the ground rules of operation of independent colleges and universities. Still greater reliance on direct government appropriation is not a good an-swer: that would further erode the pluralism and independence that have been the genius of the U.S. system of higher education and scholarship. In one respect, however, tax reform may encourage private philanthropy. The charitable deduction agains

News

Working with Bohr

Almost since I can remember, my ambition was to be a physicist. My parents had both studied physics and worked for a short time in the Cavendish Laboratory, and, although neither made a career in science, I was brought up knowing about physics. At both preparatory and secondary schools, however, my most inspiring teachers taught mathematics, and I left school with a maths scholarship to Cambridge and the ambition to work on quantum theory. That was in 1923, when Sommerfeld and others were still

Press on 'Pork' and NRC Reports

It has been just over five years since Frank Press, a geophysicist of international renown and former science adviser to President Jimmy Carter, was installed as 19th president of the National Academy of Sciences. Press came to the presidency of the 1,800-member Academy with an imposing agenda: to revamp the report-writing process of the National Research Council, to cut personnel and overhead costs, to raise private capital for both the Academy endowment and for special projects, and to dissemi

Books etc.

New Ideas Are 'Guilty Until Proved Innocent'

 In June 1980, Luis and Walter Alvarez and their associates startled the scientific community by announcing that dinosaurs had not died out be-cause of gradually changing environmental conditions 50 million years ago. Instead, they said, mass extinctions took place when an extraterrestrial body slammed into the Earth, throwing a pall of dust and ash over the planet that lasted for years. Initially skeptical, paleontologist David M. Raup helped analyze data on marine fossil extinction that c

The Ethics of Animal Research: Two Views

THE CASE FOR ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION An Evolutionary and Ethical Perspective. Michael Allen Fox. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1986. 276 pp. $18.95. BURKE Many readers are probably aware of the current resurgence of vocal opposition to the use of animals in scientific research. Though nothing fundamental has changed in the arguments and counter-arguments used by antivivisectionists and scientists, the new wave of anti-research propaganda and fund raising has set into motion legislat

The World According to Margulis

MICROCOSMOS Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors. Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. Summit Books, New York, 1986. 301 pp., illus. $17.95. For the past 20 years, Lynn Margulis has been an important intellectual force in the fields of evolutionary biology and Earth history. She has authored provocative hypotheses on such disparate topics as the origins of life, the eukaryotic cell, sex and multicellularity and has championed novel ideas concerning bacterial evolution and the

Genes and Cells In Today's Biology

MOLECULAR CELL BIOLOGY James DarneD, Harvey Lodish and David Baltimore. Freeman (Scientific American Books), New York, 1986. 1222 pp., illus. $42.95.   Molecular Cell Biology is a gigantic new textbook attempting to integrate molecular and cellular bioscience into a "new biology." The book's 25 chapters are divided into four groups. The first group discusses research history, chemical molecules, biochemical metabolism, cytology, subcellular organelles, research models and tools, and basic p

Early Statistics

THE HISTORY OF STATISTICS The Measurement of Uncertainty Before 1900. Stephen M. Stigler. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1986. 427 pp., illus. $25.   Stephen Stigler is a first-rank research worker in statistics. He is also an indefatigable and insightful historian of statistics, delving without fear into the enormous, and often enormously confused, literature of early statistical thinking. Out of the mist, Stigler extracts a truly satisfying intellectual history. The origin of mo

Bookwatch

Forthcoming books listed here come from the latest Information available from publishers. Dates of publication, prices and numbers of pages are tentative, however, and are subject to change.   ANTHROPOLOGY/ARCHAEOLOGY COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH ANDSOCIAL CHANGE: APPLIED AN-THROPOLOGY IN ACTION. DONALD D. STULL, JEAN J. SCHENSUL, eds. Westview Press: Feb 1987, 200 p., $18.95. CITIES OF CLAY: THE GEOARCHAEOLOGY OF TELLS. ARLENE MILLER ROSEN. University of Chicago Press: Oct 1986, 192 p., $22 HB

Technology

Linking Micros to Mainframes

In today's research world, with scientists automating the workbench, improving laboratory data collection, logging experiment reports, and retrieving tests from databases for application in product development, the use of workstations and personal computers is increasing at a rapid rate. Often these useful machines would be even more useful if they could commandeer main-frame resources too. That is one reason why micro-mainframe links, which allow personal computers to be connected to host compu

So They Say

So They Say

Resisting the SDI Temptress Biotech Advances Evade Treaty Math Assumes Priority Position It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature Slicing the Federal Pie Leaving the Sinking Ship Censored Chemistry is Losing the Budget Game Resisting the SDI Temptress For a brilliant scientist, the allure of the Strategic Defense Initiative is hard to resist: Star Wars traffics in some of the most challenging problems in physics, assuages the con-science by promoting defensive weapons and offers fundi

Briefs

LISTS

PEOPLE RALPH E. GOMORY has been appointed chief scientist of International Business Machines Corp. and will head an organization consolidating IBM's divisions of research, technology assessment and university relations. Gomory joined IBM in 1959 as a research mathematician and was named an IBM fellow in 1964. He headed IBM's research division since 1970 and was elected a vice president in 1973 and a senior vice president in 1985. BRYANT W. ROSSITER has joined ICN Pharmaceuticals as vice presiden

Popular Now

  1. How to Separate the Science From the (Jerk) Scientist
  2. RNA Moves a Memory From One Snail to Another
  3. Could a Dose of Sunshine Make You Smarter?
  4. Sweden Cancels Agreement With Elsevier Over Open Access