April 1987

Volume 1 Issue 11

The Scientist April 1987 Cover



Wall Street Is Bullish on the Right Ph.Ds

As science spawns a growing number of technically sophisticated industrial and consumer goods, some financial houses have been hiring scientists to help analyze the products and their markets. "Our approach is simple," said William Welty, managing director of research for Hambrecht & Quist, based in San Francisco. "We look for Ph.D.s to analyze those industries where rapid scientific advances will make a major difference to the success or failure of its companies. A classic case right now is bio

A Year Later, Chernobyl Research Still Under a Cloud

Igor Suskov is a cytogeneticist who wants to learn a new technique to analyze the extent of mutation in human cells resulting from radiation. But the Soviet scientist may never get the chance, because the people who have developed the assay are at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the site of classified research on U.S. nuclear weapons. Suskov's request is caught in the political and scientific fallout that continues one year after the accident inside reactor unit #4 at the Chernobyl nucle

Institute Calls Canadians Back Home

OTTAWA—In 1985 J. Richard Bond, then associate professor of physics at Stanford University, returned to his alma mater, the University of Toronto, to spend a year at its Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. Last June, despite the attractive climate and an offer of tenure from Stanford, the 36-year-old Canadian decided to stay in Toronto. The choice is unusual for citizens of a country that has traditionally lost its best scientists to its southern neighbor. The deciding factor

Europeans Focus on Environment

LONDON—One of the starkest contrasts between the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl is in the type of scientific research that each has stimulated. After Three Mile Island, reactor operators and regulators throughout the West reassessed the technology and the policies behind nuclear safety. Research in the wake of Chernobyl has focused instead on the environmental effect of the radionuclides released from the reactor. Within a day after news of the accident, for example, the chai

Critics Question Need For AIDS Foundation

WASHINGTON—Resolution of the dispute between American and French researchers over credit for discovery of the AIDS virus and the development of blood tests for the antibody has delighted the science community. But the related decision to create an international AIDS research foundation is being viewed with skepticism by many experts in the field. Under the agreement, announced March 31 by President Ronald Reagan and French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, the U.S. Department of Health and Hu

Probe Sought In Deaths of 4 Scientists

LONDON—The deaths of four scientists involved in defense research, and the mysterious disappearance of a fifth, are causing considerable speculation here. Although the police initially treated the incidents as unrelated, opposition politicians have highlighted what could be a significant common factor—the men all were involved with advanced signal processing and software. Last August Vimal Dajibhal, 24, a computer programmer with Marconi Underwater Systems, was found underneath a bri

Stable Funds Fuel Smithsonian's Risky Research

WASHINGTON—David Challinor smiles as he explains how Smithsonian Institution scientists benefit from about a dozen National Science Foundation grants even though Congress has prohibited the organization from asking NSF for money. "It just takes some imagination. One way is to join a consortium. Another is to approach the NSF with a project it wants done. As any Washington bureaucrat knows, there's more than one way to skin a cat." In fact, the 66-year-old Challinor knows more than most bur

'84 Law Angers Defense Contractors

WASHINGTON—A 1984 law to encourage competition among defense contractors has forced federal agencies to become aware of the importance of evaluating all possible bidders for contracts, but also has slowed the procurement process and angered many industry officials. The Competition in Contracting Act was an attempt by Congress to end "sweetheart" deals between the Pentagon and individual defense contractors. Its requirement that agencies seek bids from a range of contractors has led some ag

Energy Labs Offer Slots For Students

WASHINGTON—The Department of Energy will boost the undergraduate training of scientists and engineers with a program offering students and faculty a semester of hands-on research at one of five national laboratories. Up to 300 juniors and seniors, each receiving travel, housing and weekly stipends, will participate in energy-related investigations during the next academic year at Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Oak Ridge National L

X-ray Crystallographers Wooed by Drug Firms

CHICAGO—Pharmaceutical firms are raiding universities to recruit X-ray crystallographers with expertise in biological molecules at a rate that threatens to undercut academic research in the field. "This trend may weaken the university training of molecular biologists, and impair the development of protein engineering, which might remain limited to those projects targeted by industry," contended Daniel J. Goldstein of the University of Buenos Aires at the annual meeting of the American Asso

Agencies Balk at Report on Diversity

WASHINGTON—Federal research administrators have reacted coolly to suggestions from the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment that their agencies become more active in support of programs to preserve biological diversity. In a lengthy report released in late March, OTA pressed Congress to increase funding to existing programs that foster or protect biological diversity, such as the Endangered Species Program and the National Plant Germplasm System. In addition, OTA proposed a specif

Congress May Study Cell Line Ownership

WASHINGTON—Congress may take up legislation to govern ownership of human tissue and cell lines. The issue of who owns a cell line—the human source of the original tissues and cells or the scientists who derived the cell line from them—has caught the fancy of two influential legislators. Sen. Albert Gore (D-Tenn.), vice chairman of the Congressional Biomedical Ethics Board, said that present confusion over the issue "could impede important research." He thinks legislation may be



SYDNEY—A high-level advisory panel has recommended that Australia reorganize and spend more on its system of public funding for university-level research. The government has not yet responded to the report, which is shaping up as a test of the political influence of the nation's university and research communities. The Australian Science and Technology Council (ASTEC), which reports to Prime Minister Bob Hawke, said in its report that research at Australian universities is hampered by limi

NASA Seeks Small, Quick Experiments

WASHINGTON—In an attempt to revive a disheartened space science community, NASA has teamed up with other federal research agencies to design a series of small, inexpensive experiments to be carried by the space shuttle during construction of the proposed space station in the first half of the next decade. The program is expected to run on a timetable more in harmony with the academic career of a typical graduate student than the extended period needed to launch a major scientific experimen

D Funding

LONDON—Government spending on research is becoming a major issue in Britain's upcoming elections, with the major parties staking out their positions. Campaigning is not officially underway, but the election is expected to take place by early autumn. There is a growing split between the Conservative administration of Margaret Thatcher, which argues that state expenditure on research is about right, and opponents who believe more cash is needed to strengthen basic research and stem the trans


Let's Stand Up for Global Science

It is too early to calculate the full cost of these cuts in scientific knowledge, limits on access to research areas around the world, and U.S. leadership in global science activities. Nevertheless, it has plainly been substantial.


Let's Sharpen Up Occam's Razor

In the otherwise interesting dialogue between Stephen Hawking and Renée Weber in "God as the Edge of the Universe" (The Scientist, February 23, 1987, p. 15), it is unfortunate that as good a scientist as Hawking should "invoke God" to fill the gaps in our cosmological knowledge. I thought Occam's razor had trimmed off such nonsense long ago. If Hawking feels that religious interpretations are really irrelevant, as he implies later in the interview, why did he feel compelled to muddy the wat

Diesel's Social Ideas

I would like to comment on John B. Rae's review of my book Diesel: Technology and Society in Industrial Germany (The Scientist, March 9, 1987, p. 23). While the growth of industrial society in the 19th century certainly produced many social problems, "the social question" (die soziale Frage) was a concept well recognized by numerous commentators both in Germany and elsewhere. They defined it as the social evils (poor working conditions, urban slums, etc.) produced by the Industrial Revolution an

The Humane Community Does Do the Funding

As a scientist and an ex-psychologist, I am continually intrigued with the lengths to which psychologists will go to justify their shoddy little experiments at the expense of other animals, human and nonhuman alike. Susan Suarez certainly has my vote for "Rationalizer of the Year" with her letter "Humane Society Should Stop Criticizing, Start Funding," commenting on a letter by Lockwood and Stephens (The Scientist, December 15, 1986, p. 10 and February 9, 1987, p. 10). The humane community is, i

A Revised Science Trust Fund

The National Coalition for Science and Technology (NCST) has been advocating the establishment of a Science Trust Fund. In its current version, the Fund is expected to provide approximately $1 billion a year for civilian—sector technology. The Fund has evolved from the version outlined earlier (The Scientist, March 9, 1987, p. 10), and it will continue to evolve. As our chairman, Don Stein, has said, "Science legislation, like science, develops through the free and open discussion of ideas


Make Science Really International

Internationalize science? Isn't it a!lready international? Not at all. Countries representing only one-quarter of the world's population produce 95 percent of the new science, while the remaining three-quarters contribute only 5 percent. We are, in effect, leaving three-quarters of human brain power unused. Science would progress much faster were this not so. Given the intimate connecbetween science, technology, production and standard of living, a universalization of science would also alleviat

Radiation Biology Needs Physicians

The world faces a growing deficiency in the number of medical scientists who are well informed about the delayed effects of ionizing radiation. This deficiency is growing because the physicians who entered the field in the early 1950s are now reaching retirement age. No one is following them because career opportunities in human radiation biology have become less appealing than those in other fields. The excitement about research in radiation biology has diminished over the years since the dropp

Fonts of Inspiration: From Spider-Man ...

Every scientist or technical innovator has had an illustrious predecessor who has paved the way and provided inspiration for some stroke of brilliance. Paul Dirac had Niels Bohr, Pasteur had Lavoisier, Sol Snyder had Steve Brodie. And David Hunter has Spider-Man. Actually, David Hunter has Jack Love, a circuit court judge in Albuquerque, N.M., who saw a Spider-Man cartoon on television in 1983 that helped paved the way for another technical advance: electronically monitored home incarceration. I

To Archimedes' Bathtub

Not only has the replacement of the bath by the shower aided in the spread of Legionnaire's disease, it may well lead to a decline in inventiveness. The earliest account of scientific discovery that has come down to us is the story of Archimedes, who solved a problem in applied science (a non-destructive assay of a gold crown) while in his bath. Whether or not the legend is true, bathers will know that the solitude and relaxation of lying in a hot bath—or a cold one during a sticky Sicilia


AAAS's Trivelpiece on Science Support

Nuclear physicist Alvin W Trivelpiece, the new executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, brings to the post experience in academia, industry and government. He received his master's degree and doctorate at the California Institute of Technology, then went on to teach at the University of California at Berkeley (1959-66) and the University of Maryland (1966-76). In 1973-75, on leave from his faculty post, Trivelpiece was assistant director for research in the d


'Like Joining a Select Club'

John Keats has vividly described his excitement on seeing for the first time Chapman's translation of Homer. I had a somewhat similar experience in 1942. During my early surgical training in Australia, the only grafts I learned about, apart from blood transfusion, were autografts of skin, bone and fascia, and allografts (called homografts in those days) of cornea. I was iguorant of the numerous attempts by surgeons to use allografts of skin, and of the long controversy about whether these did or

Books etc.

A Soul-Searching Scientist at 35

Like lawyers, doctors and other professionals, scientists spend long years educating and preparing themselves for their careers. But unlike other professionals, scientists seem to do their best work early in life, leaving their later years for administration, consultation and other tasks not necessarily connected to their primary task of solving nature's puzzles. In this excerpt from his new collection of essays, A Modern Day Yankee in a Connecticut Court (Viking Penguin, 1986), Alan Lightman, a


How to Write a Good Science Text

Most established scientists based in universities have probably been approached by book publishers. Acquisitions editors are always searching for essential monographs, timely conference proceedings and outstanding textbooks. The quest for good authors is highly competitive. Most publishers now use subject specialists who are able to use their own judgment when they come across an interesting proposal. These editors visit campuses and attend conventions in order to drum up business. How should th

Books etc.

Science, Technology and Superpowers

Cooperation in Science and Technology: An Evaluation of the U.S.-Soviet Agreement. Catherine P. AiIes and Arthur E. Pardee Jr. Westview Press, Boulder, CO, 1986. 368 pp. $28.50. After-the-fact appraisal of the 1972-82 intergovernmental agreement on scientific and technical exchanges between the superpowers turns out to present the old question of whether the glass was half full or half empty relative to what was hoped for. SRI International analyst Catherine Ailes and consultant Arthur Pardee Jr

Bland Blueprint for Biotech

Industrial Biotechnology in Europe: Issues for Public Policy. Duncan Davies, ed. Frances Pinter, London, 1986. 156 PP. £22.50. Distributed in North America by Longwood Publishing Group, Dover, NH. $30 HB, $14.50 PB. In 1967 Jean-Jacques Servan Schreiber published the instant best seller The American Challenge, which argued that Europe's weakness in high-technology industries could lead to economic stagnation and loss of political self-determination. Since this call for action, it has become

Adolph Hitler's Biological Soldiers

The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. Robert Jay Lifton. Basic Books, New York, 1986. 576 pp. $19.95. The extermination of six million European Jews during World War II was the greatest organized genocide ever perpetrated. The people who committed this crime against humanity included members of the German medical profession. The Nazi Doctors, the long-awaited book by Robert Lifton, a distinguished professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, i

The Wellcome Trust at Fifty

Physic and Philanthropy: A History of the Weilcome Trust 1936-1986. A. Rupert Hall and B.A. Bembridge. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1986. 479 pp. $39.50. The Wellcome Trust has evolved into one of the great foundations of the world. Founded 50 years ago by Sir Henry Wellcome, the American-born sole owner of the Burroughs-Wellcome drug empire, the Trust has had a strong impact on medical research throughout the years. Its "prime object" is "the endowment of medical science," with special

Early Conceptions of Human Origins

Theories of Human Evolution: A Century of Debate, 1844-1944. Peter J. Bowler. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1986. 318 pp. $32.50. Peter Bowler, a historian of science specializing in evolution, has approached the complex arena of human evolution from a fresh perspective. He has intertwined the themes of orthogenesis, Lamarckian use-inheritance, evolutionary convergence, vitalism and natural selection into a thoroughly engrossing view of ideas on human evolution prior to the modern s

17th Century Fusion of Physics and Theology

Theology and the Scientific Imagination: From the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century. Amos Funkenstein. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1986. 421 pp. $47.50. In the grand old tradition of Arthur Lovejoy's The Great Chain of Being—only rarely practiced today— Amos Funkenstein has given us a taste of what we've been missing. By tracing the intellectual vicissitudes of a set of theological/philosophical ideas from the 12th to the 18th centuries, he is able to make importa

So They Say

So They Say

Verbatim excerpts from the media on the conduct of science. The Middle Ground in Animal Rights Through developing principles governing specific aspects of research, professional and regulatory groups are now formulating standards and procedures to ensure that laboratory animals are treated humanely. The overall aim is not to halt all animal research but rather to refine experiments to minimize animal pain, suffering, and distress; to reduce the number of animals used; and to replace animals with



Robert L. White, William E. Ayer Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University took office this month as director of San Francisco's Exploratorium, a science, perception and art center with more than 600 hands-on exhibits. White succeeds founder Frank Oppenheimer, who directed the center from 1969 until his death in February 1985. Donald J. Osterbrock has been elected to succeed Bernard Burke as president of the American Astronomical Society. Osterbrock, professor of astronomy arid

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