The Scientist Staff | Sep 1, 2006 | 3 min read
A Nasty Mother The reverence for nature that Richard Gallagher1 and Lee Silver2 attribute to many scientists and nonscientists isn?t necessarily related to a view that mother nature is "benevolent," "kind," or "caring." An ecosystem can be both "in harmony" and still be deadly to individuals (even humans) and species. Many of us are very nervous about genetic engineering and other issues within bioethics because we humans just aren?t smart enough to take those functions away from
The Scientist Staff | Aug 1, 2006 | 5 min read
Restoring natural capital As scientists and practitioners committed to ecological restoration, we found the analogy you made in your April issue1 between restoring natural capital (RNC)2 and new forms of cancer treatment3 to be an extremely powerful one. To a certain degree, RNC and ecological restoration in general, are indeed related to ecosystem degradation in the way that tumor ecology-based treatments are related to traditional cancer therapies, e.g., combined
The Scientist Staff | Jul 1, 2006 | 3 min read
The future of scientific meetings One of the very wonderful meeting formats, not mentioned in your story on the future of scientific meetings,1 was that of Kroc conferences, sponsored by the Kroc Foundation. The meetings allowed only 24 participants and met in the Double Arches Ranch near Solvang, California. There was a free-flowing bar, and ideal arrangements for continuing discussion between participants. The overall director of the meetings was Bob Kroc, Ray's brother
The Scientist Staff | Jun 1, 2006 | 3 min read
A new type of cancer cell growthRe: cancer stem cells.1,2 Recently we have reported a novel type of cell division involved in the origin and growth of cancers.3,4 Termed neosis, this type of cell division occurs only in senescent polyploid giant cells and never in normal diploid cells. Up to 10% of tumor cells both in vitro and in vivo are polyploid, and so far there is no explanation of their role in cancer. These resemble senescent cells, which are thought to be part of the tumor
The Scientist Staff | May 1, 2006 | 3 min read
What went horribly wrong in a London clinical trial?The recent report by the MHRA on its investigation into the adverse effects in the TGN1412 trial1 concluded that an unpredicted biological action of the drug in humans is the most likely cause of the cytokine release syndrome seen in the trial participants.2 So do we have any idea on how could TGN1412 have induced a cytokine storm? TGN1412 is a monoclonal antibody that targets the CD28 co-signaling molecule that is present
The Scientist Staff | Apr 1, 2006 | 3 min read
More on peer reviewYour recent article on peer review1 omitted the fact that far too many journals do not report back to their reviewers. Only if a reviewer gets the decision letter plus the other reviews will he be able to learn and improve. Learning about the decision only when the paper makes it - or doesn't - to Medline is not sufficient.Manfred Gessler Theodor Boveri Institute for Life SciencesWuerzburg, Germanygessler@biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg.deYour
The Scientist Staff | Mar 1, 2006 | 5 min read
The trouble with peer reviewIn response to the challenge offered at the end of the article entitled, "Is Peer Review Broken?"1 I offer the following: Thirty years ago, I submitted a paper for publication that was rejected by one reviewer because the data contradicted other data. I was unaware of the other data and, in fact, that data had never been published. However, only one other person in the world could have produced such data. To overcome this impasse, a colleague su
Retraining in Moscow
Tobi Nagel | Jan 1, 2006 | 3 min read
The peace dividend pays off in the challenges of teaching English to former bioterrorism researchers
Synchronous oscillations
WR (Bill) Klemm( | Dec 4, 2005 | 1 min read
Re: Neural oscillations.1 Our work on synchronous oscillations involves analysis of ambiguous figures and the results indicating that multiple coherences were observed across a wide range of frequencies (not just gamma).2 This work raises the possibility that coherent oscillations are involved in memory retrieval (the realization of an alternative image in an ambiguous figure requires one to remember what the alternative image represents).
Bacteria and magnets
Ruth Rosin( | Dec 4, 2005 | 1 min read
Re: Helping bacteria use magnets.1 Magnetotactic bacteria do not navigate by using the earth's magnetic field. They only move – pushed by their magnetosoms from the inside – in the direction of the lines of that field. This is not navigation. To navigate means to be able to move in any desired direction in relation to the direction of the earth's magnetic field.
The autism gene problem
Thomas Caruso( | Dec 4, 2005 | 1 min read
I wonder why we are still asking questions like "How do you find genes for a disorder that eludes definition?"1 You even suggest the solution when you quote Steve Scherer saying that "while...neurolignin could be a candidate in some rare cases, other researchers have countered that the family where the gene was found may have mental retardation rather than autism." The answer is to look at candidate genes and find out what symptoms are phenotypically unique to people who have a particular varian
A Hirsch-type index for journals
Tibor Braun( | Nov 20, 2005 | 2 min read
Source: Web of Science, accessed September 16, 2005Re: the h index.1 We suggest that a h-type index – equal to h if you have published h papers, each of which has at least h citations – would be a useful supplement to journal impact factors. First, it is robust and therefore insensitive to an accidental excess of uncited papers and also to one or several outstandingly highly cited papers. Second, it combines the effect of "quantity" (number of publications) and "quality" (citation ra
Color-blind athletes
David Lee( | Nov 20, 2005 | 1 min read
Re: Red, fights and blue:1 So, in building the next national team, it sounds as though the thing to do is to field a team of color-blind athletes who are pumped full of testosterone and outfit them in pink uniforms (since pink is supposed to calm the opponents).
Open access business models
Sally Morris | Nov 6, 2005 | 2 min read
Re: "Will open access work?"1 It is quite untrue to suggest that our report is biased because its funders all have an interest in the existing subscription/license journal publishing model. We deliberately engaged an impartial consultancy to carry out the work in order that the study should be entirely objective – we are perfectly willing to make the anonymized data freely available for others to analyze. And all three organizations have a strong interest in the Open Access model. The Asso
Animal rights extremism revisited
Ray Greek( | Nov 6, 2005 | 1 min read
in the September 12, 2005 issue addressed the issue of animal rights terrorism.
On the corn next door
Alex Avery( | Oct 23, 2005 | 1 min read
stated that under USDA standards, "organic farmers should not lose their certification due to adventitious presence of GMOs, as long as they take 'reasonable steps' to prevent such commingling.
A live-animal BSE test?
Anita Allen( | Oct 23, 2005 | 1 min read
Why is The Scientist giving prominence to a live bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) test for which no data is available?1 The question is particularly important in view of the fact that the July issue of Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology carries published research of a live BSE test,2 which has already been patented along with a patent for the human equivalent of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Battling bad news
David Meeker( | Oct 23, 2005 | 1 min read
underlined the importance of organizations protecting the good names they have built over the years.
Scientists' salaries and academic prestige
Roberto Refinetti( | Oct 9, 2005 | 2 min read
Mean 9-month salaries of full professors as a function of the institution's academic reputation. Academic year 2004–05. The correlation coefficient for this sample of 14 universities is r = 0.96 (p < 0.001). Salary data from the AAUP's annual report.2 Reputation data from the U.S. News &World Report's college guide (peer assessment).3Adjusted 9-month salaries of full professors as a function of the institution's academic reputation. Academic year 2004–05. The correlation coeff
Dalai Drama
Easwara Subramanian | Oct 9, 2005 | 1 min read
There is clearly politics masked beneath science when it comes to the controversy over the Dalai Lama speaking at the Society for Neuroscience meeting.1 That many of the petition's organizers are of Chinese origin is a dead giveaway about the political motivations of the petitioners. We just "know the Buddhists more than Western people do," says Min Zhuo from University of Toronto, who helped draft the petition. Did he consult any neuroscientists of Indian origin? Surely the Indians also know th