This is the second in a series of occasional articles on scientists' professional societies. The first, on the American Association for the Advancement of Science, appeared in the February 9 issue.

NEW YORK—The planners of Session 17 had envisioned the usual dull lecture—dimmed lights, a slide projector, burnt coffee wafting from silver urns at the back of the room. What they got were undercover police in the audience, and lawyers arguing in court.

The events surrounding Electro '87, the annual conference and trade show sponsored here in April by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, demonstrate how contentious life can be at the world's largest technical society. Although the attempt to stop a symposium on "Offshore Opportunities to Expand Markets" stemmed from a long-running and bitter controversy between the institute and one of its members, its occurrence signals the strong feelings such issues can evoke. And the results...

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