November 1986

Volume 1 Issue 2

The Scientist November 1986 Cover



Is Eureka Too Big For Europe?

LONDON-Next month in Stockholm the 19 members of the Eureka project will discuss whether to accept non-European countries. If they agree to an expansion, the fledgling research enterprise will have taken another big step toward its goal of stimulating collaboration among nations on high technology projects. The Eureka project is meant to force collaborative research and development partnerships between companies drawn from at least two different European nations. The goal is to develop new comm

AIDS Funding Outlook Hazy

WASHINGTON-The drive to quadruple federal funding for AIDS research to $1 billion annually faces an uncertain future within the Reagan administration and in Congress. A star-studded joint committee of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine has urged the massive increase after an intensive six-month study. Its report, issued late last month, also chides the National Institutes of Health for not enlisting enough university researchers in its effort to better understand the

Study Sharpens Debate On Role of Co-authors

WASHINGTON-A still-unpublished paper by two NIH scientists on professional misconduct has spawned sharp debate within the scientific community on the responsibilities of co-authors and the role of lawyers in the publications process. The authors of the 1983 report, Walter Stewart and Ned Feder, have appeared in recent months before two congressional committees and a steadily growing number of university gatherings to discuss their findings and the larger issues it has raised. But the possibility

D Budget Up Again

The information for these stories and the accompanying chart was gathered by freelance writers Bob Westgate and Susan Walton. WASHINGTON-Funding for science research, part of an overall federal budget that is expected to grow little in 1987, has increased significantly in several areas. Congress once again failed to approve appropriations bills for individual departments. Instead, on the day before it adjourned last month, it approved a $576 billion continuing resolution covering most government

Danes Ban Genetic Release

COPENHAGEN-The release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment us now against the law in Denmark. The Law on Gene Technology and Environment, passed this summer, is unique among actions taken by other countries in its being an Act of Parliament. here, rules concerning recombinant DNA research are only advisory. The Minister for Environment has the authority to approve deliberate release of such organisms "in special cases" as defined by the law. The minister also must approve th

Why Scientists Don't Spy

The arrest of Soviet physicist and U.N. employee Gennadi F. Zakharov on espionage charges this fall was the exception that proves the rule. Very little scientific spying is actually done by scientists. An FBI listing of 62 espionage prosecutions from 1945 to the present includes quite a few engineers and technicians and the expected large number of military and intelligence personnel. But other than Zakharov, who was ex changed in October for journalist Nicholas Daniloff after being indicted for

Industrial Giants Ask Researchers To Build Better Supercomputers

ITHACA, N.Y.-Scientists and engineers in American industry desperately need computing power far beyond the capability of today's fastest supercomputers. The computer industry hopes to fill that need-with the help of university researchers. That vision emerged during a conference on supercomputing held last month at Cornell University's Center for Theory and Simulation in Science and Engineering. The facility is one office university centers for research on super-computing established last year b

U.K. Petition Rejects SDI

More than 500 British scientists, including 22 Fellows of the Royal Society, have pledged to refuse any funding arising from the American Strategic Defense Initiative program. In addition, a major trade union representing researchers and technicians is campaigning to keep any contracts from going to U.K. laboratories. The Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs opposes any siphoning of jobs from domestic research into defense. At the same time, a survey of members of the U.S.

Unkind Cuts in Canada

OTTAWA-The National Research Council managed to dampen the celebration of Canadian John Polanyi's Nobel Prize in chemistry last month by announcing on the same day that it was eliminating the section where he did his re search as part of widespread cuts in science funding. The Council said it would save $20 million by eliminating 200 positions and dozens of programs. (The Canadian dollar is worth 72 cents U.S.) About $12 million will be diverted to Canada's space program, to support its communic

EC Budget Under Fire

BRUSSELS-Stalemate appears likely as Common Market research ministers grapple with a plan from the European Commission to spend 6.2 billion pounds ($9.3 billion) on R&D during the next five years. Britain, West Germany and France have broken from their nine BC partners in arguing for a more modest budget than one that would double the amount spent during the previous five years. Several countries also want the Com mission to separate elements of the program so nations can support individual

Nobel Winners Stimulate Research

PHILADELPHIA-The Nobel Prizes are not the result of an election among scientists for "best scientist of the year." But practicing scientists do pass judgment of a kind when they cite other scientists' work in their papers or build on that work to move into a new research area. By that yardstick, this year's laureates are worthy recipients of the prizes from the Swedish Academy of Sciences. All the winners have published work that has been highly cited by their peers and which has led to importan

Insurance Pool Formed

WASHINGTON-A group of biotechnology companies have agreed to form a captive insurance plan to help them cope with the rising cost of liability insurance. The captive plan will give participating companies both product liability and directors and officers' coverage, explained Jeffrey Gibbs, associate general counsel for the 175-member Association of Bio technology Companies. It will provide the 24 companies now interested in the plan with an aggregate limit of $2.5 million in liability coverage,

Welch Prize

HOUSTON-George Pimentel of the University of California at Berkeley has received the Robert A. Welch Award from the Welch Foundation for his work on the chemical laser. The award, which carries with it a prize of $150,000, recognizes extraordinary achievement in chemistry.  


UNESCO Makes Do With Less

PARIS-The corridors and elevators were visibly less crowded than in past years this fail at UNESCO headquarters here. But the shrinking staff is only one sign of the withdrawal of the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore from the United Nations' principal educational and scientific agency. The agency's science and engineering programs have been cut by 37 percent, and its staff reduced from 167 to 126 professionals. Its $16 million budget, rather less than that available to the science

Model to Measure Impact of Technology

The new gallium arsenide computer chips, with processing speeds nearly 10 times faster than silicon, provide plenty of food for thought to an electronics industry hungry for success. But observers still have little to chew on when they try to measure the chips' impact. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers wants to enrich the meal. It has joined with Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief of New York University's Institute for Economic Analysis on a model to help people evaluate the economic imp

Lab Facilities Gap Widens

WASHINGTON-The 50 U.S. universities that spend the most on R&D already average more than three times the research space available at less affluent institutions, according to a new survey re leased late last month by the National Science Foundation. In addition, plans for expanding and refurbishing research space at these institutions in the next five years outstrip by 25 percent similar construction plans at the other 115 schools. What NSF calls the "top 50" schools expect to have 12.3 milli

Animals An Issue In Japan

TOKYO-Tucked away in the back yard of most animal research institutes is a humble pagoda. Armed with a bunch of flowers, some food and water, scientists visit this memorial several times each year to join a Buddhist priest in offering comfort to the souls of their laboratory animals. That ceremony represents the traditional Japanese attitude toward the welfare of animals. But the protests in Other countries against the use of laboratory animals have begun to raise consciousness and generate pres

Release Study Lacks Funding

WASHINGTON-The National Research Council wants to lend an in-dependent voice to the current stalemate on the release into the environment of genetically engineered organisms-but it lacks the cash. Its Board on Basic Biology concluded a two-day meeting last month with a resolution stressing "the scientific and economic urgency" of conducting such a study that would seek a scientific consensus on definitions and on classifications of risk. Last year four federal agencies rejected separate requests


A Town Hall for Science

If you've attended or heard about a New England town meeting, you'll have a good idea of what the Opinion section of THE SCIENTIST is all about. In these pages, you'll find an open forum for addressing the members of your community-the scientific community-on the issues of the day. In letters to the editor and in opinion articles by scientists and by policy-makers in science, these pages will resound with high-energy debate between professionals. Their opinions-informed, closely considered, imbu


Gene Sequencing

The articles on sequencing the human genome (THE SCIENTIST, October 20, pp. 11-12) were noteworthy not so much for the arguments they put forward in support of the project as for their failure to realistically assess the cost, need and impact of such a project. Certainly, one can scan DNA sequences with computers and determine open reading frames, enhancer sequences, RNA polymerase binding sites, etc. However, without supporting data, these determinations are purely hypothetical. The magnitude o


Creationism: Out of the Mainstream

Science, above all, is a methodology for acquiring testable  knowledge about the natural world-the "art of the soluble" in Sir Peter Medawar's apt phrase. It is not and cannot be a compendium of certain knowledge. If the vernacular word "fact" has any currency in science, it can only be defined as "confirmed to so high a degree that it would be perverse to with-hold provisional assent." By this definition, evolution-the observation that all organisms are connected by unbroken ties of geneal

The Supreme Court and the Creationists

OPINION: CREATIONISM Creationism: Out of the Mainstream Stephen Jay Gould  p.10   Statute Attacks All of Science Murray Gell-Mann p.11 Let Science and Religion Stay Separate Francisco Ayala p.11 An Urgent Need to Fight Creationism Dorothy Nelkin p.11   Date:     November 17, 1986 On December 10 the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Edwards v. Aguillard, the suit arising from a 1981 Louisiana law requireing a balanced  treatment" of evolution and "crea

Statute Attacks All of Science

It is most important that the U.S.  Supreme Court affirm the decision  of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the  Fifth Circuit, which threw out a  Louisiana statute mandating the teaching of "creation science." That statute would require that in the public schools of Louisiana the teaching of certain parts of science (which concern "origins" and thus appear to conflict with the claims of particular religious sects) would be selected for special pejorative treatment and would have

Let Science and Religion Stay Separate

The theory of evolution asserts  ' that evolution has occurred  and explains how it occurred.  Biological evolution is a fact established beyond reasonable doubt. Living beings descend from other organisms more and more different as we go farther back into the past. Our ancestors of many millions of years ago were not human. We are related to the apes and other animals by common ancestry. Biological evolution is a fact established with the same degree of certainty as the rotation

Urgent Need to Fight Creationism

After years of studying the creation-evolution controversy, I  have no doubts about the religious intent of the  creationists. As Ayala, Gould and Gell-Mann suggest, creationists are simply using science to bolster their credibility as they seek to bring their religious theories to the public schools. In fact, this goal is made explicit in a creationist newsletter, which advises their vanguard to "sell more science. . . . Who can object to teaching more science?" Yet the creationists h

The Gift-Wrapped Genome

For other articles on sequencing see THE SCIENTIST, October 20, pp. 11-12. Mapping the human genome (let's call it MHG!), is being popularized as the attention-focusing Big Science Project for the 1990s. Like another technological big fix in the military field, MHG! means different things to different people, which is why much of the debate is at cross-purposes. One extreme technocratic version (or is it a caricature?) would suspend all other DNA research in favor of a single centralized machine


When It Smells , Hold Your Nose

Never make up your mind about someone's work until you've heard them under fire on a platform," an old university mentor, Alan Emslie-Smith, said to me many years ago. By stressing the importance of seeing scientists in the flesh, he was not criticizing the learned journals, their editors or their refereeing procedures. He was simply suggesting that the intuitive judgments we all make when reacting to politicians and automobile salesmen were equally appropriate in reacting to physicists and micr

What We Don't Know About Lab Animals

Scientists and members of the public have been drawn increasingly into a serious debate over the use of animals in research and teaching. At the' core of this interchange is the moral justification for animal use, as well as the quality of life for animals in laboratory environments. The latter point, quality of life, is important to all scientists-for practical as well as humane reasons. Animals in distress can confound research outcomes. Primatologists are particularly concerned with this issu

Books etc.

'We Are Counting on Your Help'

Since 1980, Soviet physicist, Nobel laureate and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov has been living with his wife Elena Bonner, a physician, in internal exile in the city of Gorky. Sakharov was banished there with-out trial after he publicly opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In December 1985-following a hunger strike by Sakharov-the Soviets granted Bonner a three-month visa (later extended to six months) to come to the United States to visit her family and undergo multiple bypass su


How to Plan a Lab Building

I am frequently amazed at how difficult it is to convince the prospective owners of a new laboratory building, not necessarily the scientists who will use the building, that they know more about what their needs are than anyone else. Owners often do not realize that they can determine their needs by examining an existing facility-even if it is someone s. Once owners have projected their future needs in programs and people, it is easy to project the need for space. Determining Space Needs Althou


Fuqua: Advice to Scientists

Last March, Rep. Don Fuqua (D-Fla.) startled many in the science community by announcing that he was calling it quits after 24 years in the House, all of it serving on various science-oriented committees. The chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology for the past eight years, the 53-year-old Fuqua has decided to embark on a second career as president of the Aerospace Industries Association, a Washington-based organization representing space and defense contractors. Under his dire

Discovering Ant Language

In 1953, while I was a graduate student at Harvard University, I heard a lecture by Konrad Lorenz on ethology. The experience illustrates the principle that new fields are impelled by one to several great ideas expressible in a few words. The one offered by Lorenz that captured my imagination was the concept of the sign stimulus. Animal behavior, Lorenz said, is organized into modules of fixed-action patterns, complex sequences of sensory and motor actions that accomplish something for the organ

Books etc.

The Human Rights of Scientists

THE WORLD OF SCIENCE AND THE RULE OF LAW A Study of the Observance and Violations of the Human Rights of Scientists in the Participating States of the Helsinki Accords. John Ziman, Paul Sieghart and John Humphrey. Oxford University Press, New York, 1986. 351 pp. $37.   This is a book of major importance for those concerned with human rights and with the special problems that arise in defending the human rights of scientists. Of the three authors, Paul Sieghart is an eminent jurist in intern

Scientific Computing

NUMERICAL RECIPES The Art of Scientific Computing. William H. Press, Brian P. Flannery, Saul A. Teukoisky and William I. Vetterling. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1986. 838pp., illus. $39.50. Example Book (FORTRAN), 187 pp. Paper, $ 18.95. Example Book (Pascal), 246 pp. Paper, $18.95. FORTRAN and Pascal diskettes, $19.95 each. The use of computers is becoming a larger and larger part of the working life of most scientists. 'Twenty years ago obtaining numerical solutions was an arduous ta

Scientific Memoir: Variations on a Theme

MEMOIR OF A THINKING RADISH An Autobiography. Peter Medawar. Oxford University Press, New York, 1986. 221 pp., illus. $17.95; £12.50. THE SMALL WORLD OF FRED HOYLE An Autobiography. Fred Hoyle. Michael Joseph, London, 1986. 191 pp. £10.95. A LIFE IN SCIENCE Nevill Mott. Taylor & Francis, Philadelphia, 1986. 206 pp., illus. $27; £15. "The lives of scientists," writes Sir Peter Medawar, "almost always make dull reading." He is not just being coy. Science, for all its focus on the n

Academic Research To 1940

TO ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE The Growth of American Research Universities, 1900-1940. Roger L. Geiger. Oxford University Press, New York, 1986. 335 pp. $27.50. Among the systems of higher education in Western nations, the American system is something of an anomaly in its size, diversity and capacity to accommodate new lines of research. The American university unites research and teaching, linking higher learning to the broad based system of colleges, in which middle class people ac quire the values, sk

Woods Hole: The Early Days

DEFINING BIOLOGY Lectures from the 1890s. Jane Maienschein, ed. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1 986. 352 pp. $25. Every Friday evening during the summer season at the Marine Bio logical Laboratory in Woods Hole, there is a general lecture for the scientific community on some aspect of biology. This custom dates from the laboratory's founding. During the 1890s, seven volumes of these lectures were published. Defining Biology reprints 10 of the lectures; they serve as a peg on which Jan

Forthcoming Books

This list of forthcoming books has been compiled from the latest information available from publishers. Dates of publication, prices and numbers of pages are tentative, however, and are subject to change. ASTRONOMY A Hundred Billion Stars, (PB edition of 1984 release), Mario Rigutti. MIT Press: Nov, 1986, 316 p, $9.95. Cosmic Impact. John K. Davies. St. Martin's Press: Dec 1986, 192 p, $15.95.     BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE Cerebral Lateralization: Bio logical Mechanisms, Associatio

So They Say

So They Say

Excerpts from American and European media on the conduct of science. CONTENTS Show Some Muscle With Friends Like That What's In a Name? Looking to the Stars Zinos, Winos and Reality Plank's Other Law High Hopes Congress Knows Best Setting Up Shop in Space     Show Some Muscle Too many universities in Britain are over-spending their over-modest budgets in ways that put them in hock to the University Grants Committee and even, on some occasions, the commercial banks; no

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