December 1986

Volume 1 Issue 3

The Scientist December 1986 Cover



Select Scientists Get Long-Term NIH Grants

WASHINGTON-Her scientific challenge is daunting: to understand better how the AIDS virus is transmitted among heterosexuals. But an even bigger problem facing Margaret Fischl was her prolonged absence from the task to prepare her application for renewed support from the National Cancer Institute. An associate professor of internal medicine and director of the AIDS Clinical Research Program at the University of Miami Medical Center, Fischl knew the renewal process also would mean a new round of r

Italy Eyes Science Ministry

MILAN-Scientific research, long neglected in Italy despite its position as the sixth largest Western industrial economy, could receive greater recognition next year within a new government. A full-fledged Ministry of Scientific and Technological Research is being sought by Luigi Granelli, who for the past three years has been Minister without Portfolio with responsibility for both science and technology. He has made for-mal recognition of full ministerial status for his department a condition fo

Funding Crunch, Politics Plague Science Council

LONDON-A financial crisis and the politics of apartheid, played out within a continuing battle between the developed and the developing nations, pose serious problems for the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). The Council, formed in 1931, is made up of 20 international scientific unions and 71 national academies and research councils representing millions of scientists in a variety of disciplines. For years it has worked to coordinate scientific research worldwide with UNESCO, wh

Military Spending Spurs Interest In Research on Biological Weapons

Date: December 15, 1986 BOSTON-A sharp increase in U.S. military spending for research on biological warfare agents has raised concern about its effect on related fields and sparked debate on the nature of the work. The Defense Department expects to spend $73.2 million in 1987 on biological weapons research, a figure that has risen from $14.9 million at the start of the Reagan administration. Douglas Feith, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy, told a House sub-co

NSF Sends A Verbal Aftershock

WASHINGTON-NSF Director Erich Bloch has administered a public wrist-slapping to the president of the State University of New York at Buffalo for material in its proposal for an Earthquake Engineering Research Center that was copied from another document on the subject. "It's not plagiarism.' Bloch told members of the National Science Board at their recent meeting, "but it is copying without acknowledgement. I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill, but it was sloppy work and I think we

International Review Sought for Release

WASHINGTON—A group of public interest organizations has asked the United Nations to develop international standards for the re lease of genetically altered organ isms into the environment in the wake of recent experiments by American researchers in Argentina and New Zealand. The organizations, which included the Committee for Responsible Genetics, the Environmental Policy Institute, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, also asked the U.S. government to re view all federally funded g

Small Business Grants: A Program That Works

WASHINGTON—A small Salt Lake City horticultural firm thought it had a marketable idea when it found strains of a fungus that significantly improves the ability of plants to absorb water and nutrients. But Native Plants Inc. didn't have enough money to conduct the necessary research, and venture capital companies weren't interested in an unknown company. Enter the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, an attempt to share a small part of the federal R&D budget with small, high-

U.K. View Is 'Sobering'

BRISTOL, ENGLAND—A survey of adults in Britain has found that: Three-quarters believe astrology is scientific, but only a bare majority believe ecology is; 33 percent of the population believe that penicillin attacks viruses; 20 percent see carbon dioxide as the chief cause of acid rain; 37 percent believe proteins “provide most of the energy needs of the human body,” and 19 percent chose vitamins. Only 36 percent chose carbohydrates. Those sobering findings are pa

French Teens Hopeful About Science

LONDON—Nearly 90 percent of French teenagers expect scientists to find a cure for cancer within 20 years. A little more than 40 percent believe science will eliminate hunger in that time, 61 percent think it will make daily life easier, and 15 percent expect scientists to have “blown up the world.” These forecasts come from a survey of 5,000 adolescent readers of the French general interest magazine Okapi. The results indicate considerable optimism about science coupled with a

Americans Confident Of Leaders In Science

WASHINGTON—There is no single survey of American attitudes to-ward science that compares with the British and French polls. How-ever, the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation regularly reviews existing surveys in its biennial Science Indicators, an assessment of the overall state of American science and technology. The 1985 edition reports: Forty-seven percent of 943 respondents to a 1985 survey said they had a “great deal of confidence” in scientific le

NSF Offers New Funding For Women

WASHINGTON—The National Science Foundation has added two awards to its Research Opportunities for Women program that will provide funds for planning grants and career advancement. “The new programs were de signed to provide further opportunities and more flexibility to women scientists and engineers,” said Margrete S. Klein, program coordinator for the Research Opportunities for Women pro-gram. “The Research Planning Grants encourage women to pre pare grant proposals and

D Mold

AUSTIN, TEXAS—The Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) violates some fundamental precepts of establishment science. But four years after its creation by a dozen of the country's major high-technology firms, it shows promise of providing American industry with a new model for getting the results of science off the bench and into the market place. The corporation imposes severe restraints on the free exchange of information—both with the outside world and in-hou

Science Lobby Seeks Funds

WASHINGTON—A clearer focus and greater financial support from private industry hold the key to the survival of the National Coalition for Science and Technology. The Coalition, formed in 1981, has struggled to persuade the scientific community that it needs an overtly political organization to advocate greater resources for science. Its new slogan, “NCST—The Science Lobby,” is meant to highlight its broad focus and set it apart from the hundreds of associations and orga

Ban Likely

SYDNEY—The Australian government appears ready to follow the state of Victoria in passing a law that bans embryo experiments. According to Melbourne researcher Ian Trounson, a pioneer in work on test-tube babies, these moves threaten to stifle progress in the prevention of genetic abnormalities and the improvement of success rates for in vitro fertilization.


Dutch Plan Information Institute

AMSTERDAM—A graduate-level institute to train experts in micro-electronics and information science, based on collaboration between industry and government, will open next fall in The Hague. The impetus for the new school, to be called The Hague Advanced School of Applied Informatics, came from a report last year that predicted an annual demand for 2,900 information scientists in this country, where universities could produce at most 1,200. That report, financed by the government and some

Funding Crisis Forces Britain Closer to Pulling Out of CERN

LONDON—A decision this month by Education and Science Secretary Kenneth Baker on how to allocate the additional 24 million pounds ($34 million) that the British government has promised to spend on science research is expected to push the country closer to dropping out of CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) and ending its support of particle physics. The Advisory Board for the Research Councils met late last month to advise Baker on solutions to the crisis facing academi

Search for Animal Alternatives Faces Rough Road

NEW YORK—Revlon has decided to end its support of a major university research effort into in vitro alternatives to the use of animals in product testing and research. Its action is the latest obstacle to progress in a field hampered by inadequate funding and differing approaches to the problem. The Laboratory for In Vitro Toxicologic Assay Development at The Rockefeller University was created six years ago by Revlon after intense pressure by animal rights activists to find an alternative

Old-Boy Network Alive, Poll Says

Date: December 15, 1986 WASHINGTON-Irregular funding and public ignorance are major problems facing scientists today, according to a survey of members of the scientific honor society Sigma Xi. The respondents believe that the distribution of government grants depends largely on "who you know" and that it is difficult for institutions lacking state-of-the-art equipment to obtain funds. The survey of more than 4,000 scientists in the United States and Canada was conducted by Sigma Xi as part of it

Argonne, Chicago Form Technology Transfer Unit

CHICAGO—A joint venture between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory marks another step forward in the burgeoning campaign to hasten the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace. The new corporation will be responsible for developing business applications for discoveries made not only at Argonne, which is operated by the university for the Department of Energy, but also within the various university laboratories. The new joint venture makes use of

Biologists Rebut U.K. Rankings

LONDON—Two biologists from Sheffield University have applied citation analysis to rebut departmental rankings developed by the University Grants Committee as a basis for future funding. The Grants Committee has consistently refused to explain the basis of its rankings, although they are thought to rest on peer review and the size of grants obtained from such sources as the Science and Engineering Research Council. “It is astonishing that the costs of production should largely determ


The Human Face of Science

Why do we wait until the death of our colleagues to commemorate the achievements of their lives? Among scientists, the first biographical account is too often the obituary notice. And even when written by a well-informed associate, the biography or obituary, being essentially a view from the outside, cannot substitute for the rich personal details and revealing statements found in first-person accounts. There are many kinds of records that we and later generations require for a substantial under


Increasing Human Rationality

Although nuclear war is seen as irrational because the consequent destruction could extinguish human civilization and perhaps all human life, the advent of nuclear war is a real and present danger. We cannot depend on human rationality to avoid it any more than we could to avoid past wars. The problem, then, is how to improve the chances for rational behavior. I don't believe that we will become twice as rational by haying half as many missiles, or by moving them twice as far from their intended

We Know What Lab Animals Need

Behavioral researchers have criticized the recent mandate to provide for the "psycho logical well-being" of captive primates as nebulous and premature given the state of objective knowledge of well-being. Their professed ignorance is not surprising since much behavioral research on primates has involved deliberately damaging well-being. This is ironic since most of these studies have been undertaken in an attempt to provide animal models of human problems, presumably with the long-term goal of p

Evolution Means Cooperation, Not Just Competition

We appreciate Andrew H. Knoll's review of Microcosmos (THE SCIENTIST, October 20, 1986, p. 20). It is, however, conservative. In many ways the tradition in biology has been an extension of the capitalist world view. People bridle when they hear that evolution is a cooperative phenomenon, that the biosphere represents the joint activities of those organisms, past and present, adept at surviving in each other's presence. They contrast this with the notion that evolution means competition among ind

Argentine Vaccine Test Not a Secret

To describe the recent test of a vaccinia recombinant rabies vaccine in Argentine cattle as an attempt to avoid or sidestep governmental regulations of the United States and Argentina totally mistakes the motivation for conducting the test and what actually occurred. The test was conducted in Argentina not to evade U.S. regulations but because rabies is a problem of such magnitude among Argentine cattle. The Argentine test was not conducted in secret, as stated in your article [see p. 11]. Befor

Author Reverses Views On Animal Rights

In their reviews of my book The Case for Animal Experimentation (THE SCIENTIST, October 20, 1986, p. 19, 20, 22), Robert E. Burke and Jerrold Tannenbaum agree that it succeeds in explaining the nature of scientific research involving animals and in elucidating the requirements of humaneness. Tannenbaum, however, expresses the opinion that the philosophical argument of the book is "superficial, dogmatic and unconvincing" (p. 19). He concludes that I "offer a curmudgeonly philosophy that begrudges


Biotech's Public Image: How to Provoke Regulation

Genetic engineering is never far from the headlines and the evening news. But most of the recent news has been dismaying for those who keep hoping that biotechnology will start learning from its own history that it has an image problem. Earlier this year, three different U.S. government agencies rebuked biotechnologists for conducting product testing outside the existing regulatory framework, sometimes in secret. In a separate incident, it was revealed that the Pan American Health Organization,

Who Caused Chemistry's Toxic Image?

Chemists are beginning to recognize that chemistry, or at least chemicals, frighten the average person. “Chemical” is used to mean “unnatural,” and is usually preceded by “toxic.” How did this bad public image of chemicals and chemistry develop? I believe chemists themselves are primarily responsible for the public image of chemistry. First, we all are more or less responsible for our choice of project. In academic re search, we can work on almost anything fo


A Fly-By-Light Discovery

HUMOR Author: GREGORY BYRNE Date: December 15, 1986 What do you get when you cross a firefly and a tobacco plant? Tobacco that glows in the dark? Yes, word has come from the University of California, San Diego, of a remarkable new discovery that pushes scientific re search into the 21st century and beyond. It's not in the area of particle physics, laser technology or magnetic resonance imaging, but it's bound to be the biggest noise since the Big Bang. They've made tobacco plants that glow i

The Revenge of the Soft Scientists

I have nothing against the hard sciences, mathematics, physics or chemistry. Sadly, however, some philosophers take physics as the measure of what science is all about: you measure and count and weigh and perform experiments, which you can do over and over again. Biology hovers uncomfortably between the two worlds—the hard and the woolly. Hard biology tends to be molecular, physiological, experimental, while at the other extreme is woolly natural history— bug collecting and such like

Good Science Needs Good Reporting

Today's major research universities routinely “buy” scientists to help turn their most promising research programs into world-class ones. Why, then, after spending so much money to woo these big time scientists and their research entourages, don't more institutions do a better job of telling the world about the success of their research activities? Of course, many universities do try to publicize their researchers' work. But few devote as much attention to promoting re search resul


How to Develop Link Networks

This is the second of three articles on micro-mainframe links that will appear in THE SCIENTIST over the next few issues. The first appeared on October 20, 1986. Author: RONALD F. KOPECK Date: December 15, 1986 You must give some thought to planning how you want to link personal computers. This does not have to be a lengthy process. In fact, the quicker you assimilate what you need to do, the better. But before you can begin to formulate ideas about how you will link, you need to have a clear

Books etc.

Rosbaud: Midwife to Fission

Educated, cultured, sophisticated, the scientist Paul Rosbaud was a leading figure in Nazi society. But operating as “The Griffin,” he was also Britain s most valuable agent-in-place, relaying reports on arms and technology to the Allies. He authored the “Oslo Report,” which documented Ger man rocket work at Peenemünde—a warning that went unheeded until it was too late. In his book The Griffin (Houghton Muffin Co., 1986), Arnold Kramish reports for the first ti


NIH's Raub on Misconduct

Author: Tabitha M. Powledge Date: December 15, 1986 In August, William F Raub, a 20-year veteran of the National Institutes of Health, was named its deputy director. Raub received an A.B. from Wilkes College in 1961 and his Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1965. He directed the development of PROPHET—an integrated computer system for studying chemical/biological interrelationships. From 1983-1986, he headed the agency's extramural program, including all research

'Gell-Mann Opened My Eyes'

Author: JOHN POLKINGHORNE Date: December 15, 1986 I am a subscriber to the “great man” theory of the history of science—the view that it is the insights of the men of genius that actually propel the subject. No doubt there is also a role for those of us who belong to the army of honest toilers, providing the background of expectation and exploitation, but the big ideas come from the big men. The first big man of theoretical physics that I knew was Paul Dirac, whose intellec

Books etc.

The Rise of Theoretical Physics

INTELLECTUAL MASTERY OF NATURE Theoretical Physics from Ohm to Einstein Christa Junnickel and Russell McCommach. University of Chicago, 1986, Vol. 1 The torch of Mathematics, 1800-1870. 378 pp. Bibliography, Index. $55. Vol 2 The Now Mighty Theoretical Physics. 1870-1925. 455 pp. Plates, Bobliography, Index. $65. At center stage in the current theater of history of science is the interaction of science with the societies that support it. The most promising and popular locus for study of this int

Profile of Sewall Wright: More Than A Biography

SEWALL WRIGHT AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY William B. Provine. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1986. 561 pp., illus. $30. William Provine's important and excellent book is more than a biography of a towering figure in population genetics; it is an examination of the development of the neo-Darwinian synthesis that is the core of modern evolutionary theory. Every student of evolution will profit by reading the book. Wright, whose publications span the years 1912 to (most recently) 1984, made

...More Than an Evolutionary Theorist

SEWALL WRIGHT AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY William B. Provine. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1986. 561 pp., illus. $30. Sewall Wright has long despaired at being associated with an overly narrow view of the evolutionary process, one that attributes extreme importance to chance factors and neglects the role of natural se lection. His archrival, R.A. Fisher, contributed in no small way to this caricature. Even among those who get Wright's views on evolution straight there are those who minimi

A Personal Tribute To Tinsley

MY DAUGHTER BEATRICE A Personal Memoir of Dr. Beatrice Tinsley, Astronomer. Edward Hill. American Physical Society, New York, 1986. 138 pp., ilIus.$9.95. Beatrice Muriel Hill Tinsley was a wise, warm, and wonderful person. If you knew her in person or through her work, this book from the pen of her father will make you miss her all over again. If you never knew her, you will wish you had. In an astrophysics career that spanned less than 14 years, from her Ph.D. dissertation in 1967 to her dea

Royal Society's New Annual Journal

SCIENCE AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS Number 1, 1986. Sir Alec Merrison, ed. The Royal Society, London, 1986. With this new journal, the Royal Society is entering the lists of organizations determined to contribute to public understanding of science and of the consequences of science. The journal, to appear once a year, is intended to contribute to the Society's “responsibility . . . to scientists and the public . . . as expositor of the one to the other.” It has a practical objective as wel

Witch Hunting in the Universities

NO IVORY TOWER McCarthyism and the Universities. Ellen W. Schrecker. Oxford University Press, New York, 1986. 464 pp.$24.95. In 1948 a special committee of the Washington state legislature interrogated 11 University of Washington professors about their connections with the Communist Party. The University, feeling compelled to react to revelations made to the committee, conducted extensive hearings of its own into the activities of three of the 11 who refused to cooperate with the investigation

Forthcoming Books

This list of forthcoming books has been compiled from the latest information available from publishers. Dates of publications, prices and numbers of pages are tentative, however, and are subject to change.     ASTRONOMY 1987 Yearbook of Astronomy. Patrick Moore, ed. Norton: Jan 1987, $16.95. Summarizes the astronomical findings of 1986 and includes 1987 monthly star charts and a schedule for other events.     BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE Annual Review of Entomology (Volume 32). T

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