News

Bloch Fleshes Out Long-term NSF Budget
Bloch Fleshes Out Long-term NSF Budget
WASHINGTON—Director Erich Bloch, under congressional prodding last month, predicted that the National Science Foundation will come to grips in the next five years with many of the major problems facing American science. Bloch used the annual round of hearings on NSF's request for funding to flesh out the administration's wish to double the agency's budget, to $3.2 billion, by 1992. That financial goal is part of an attempt by Bloch, a former IBM vice president, to graft a corporate approac
Scientists in Philippines Predict Gains
Scientists in Philippines Predict Gains
MANILA—A new national Constitution does more for the Philippines than endorse the political reforms of President Corazon Aquino. Scientists hope it will also stem the emigration of doctors and researchers, encourage research to improve the country's economy, and promote involvement in R&D by the private sector. More than 12,000 Filipino scientists and engineers emigrated between 1966 and 1978, according to Fernando Sanchez, past president of the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges.
NASA Chases New Supernova
NASA Chases New Supernova
WASHINGTON—In the scramble to point every available instrument at the recently discovered supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud, NASA plans a campaign of balloon flights, rocket launches and airborne observations to begin next month. The crash program, if approved by NASA Administrator James Fletcher, will cost $15 million. It will include 16 or 17 instrumented balloon flights extending through late next year, as well as sounding rocket flights and infrared observations using NASA's Kuip
Testing Firm's Warning About Ferries Unheeded
Testing Firm's Warning About Ferries Unheeded
LONDON—Last month's sinking of the English Channel ferry the Herald of Free Enterprise has focused attention on a group of scientists and engineers whose unique expertise has been neglected in the rash of recent privatizations in Britain. Companies operating similar "roll-on, roll-off" (or Ro-Ro) ferries have not responded to efforts by the managers of the now privately owned company British Maritime Technology (BMT) to point out the design weaknesses of such craft. One consequence is that
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OTTAWA—The Canadian government has promised to match contributions from industry in a new program to increase funding for research. But its procedures have led scientists and industry officials to doubt whether the program, which began April 1, will really stimulate industrial support for universities. The idea seemed simple enough last year when it was first announced: for every dollar provided for eligible university research by the private sector, the federal government would kick in an
Superconductivity Surge Mobilizes Lab Chiefs
Superconductivity Surge Mobilizes Lab Chiefs
NEW YORK—A surge of new research in superconductivity that began late last year is posing as much of a challenge to research managers and administrators as to solid-state physicists. Their problem: How best to allocate scarce people, funds and equipment to take advantage of the new fervor in this sector of science, in which the maximum temperature at which resistance-free transmission of electric current occurs has soared. Although physicists warn that several technical hurdles remain, com
Data Base Helps Ideas Find Home
Data Base Helps Ideas Find Home
LONDON—A novel international data base compiled on floppy disks may soon help American scientists disseminate their ideas for commercial applications of their work. This new venture in worldwide technology transfer is called Techstart International Inc. The New York company was founded by two entrepreneurs, Peter Ruof, formerly of the World Bank, and Paris del L'Etraz, a computer systems analyst with the Union Bank of Switzerland. The company plans to develop a network of national boards t
UN Opens Trieste Biotech Lab
UN Opens Trieste Biotech Lab
TRIESTE—This week Arturo Falaschi takes charge of 900 square meters of laboratory and office space in a newly completed facility just outside Trieste in northern Italy. He does so as director of the Italian portion of the new International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), set up by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to bring the benefits of recombinant DNA and associated technologies to Third World countries. The Trieste lab and its coun
Japanese Translation Gets Boost
Japanese Translation Gets Boost
WASHINGTON—Some members of Congress are urging the administration to do more to carry out a law passed last year to help U.S. researchers and industry stay abreast of Japanese competition. At a Senate subcommittee hearing last month, Commerce Department officials were asked about their progress in implementing the Japanese Technical Literature Act. The act calls for the government to monitor technical developments in Japan, consult with the private sector about its needs for such informati
Changes in Math May Lead To Improved Instruction
Changes in Math May Lead To Improved Instruction
WASHINGTON—The changing nature of the field of mathematics has spawned efforts to alter the way math is taught in elementary and secondary school classrooms. The National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, working with educators and policy-makers, have launched long-term projects to reform curricula, tests and textbooks. A key ingredient is expanded use of calculators and computers in the classroom. Last fall the National Science Foundation awa
Papal Ban Unlikely to Slow IVF Work
Papal Ban Unlikely to Slow IVF Work
LONDON—Researchers around the world foresee few practical repercussions from last month's Papal instruction that bans in vitro fertilization and other procreative procedures not involving sexual intercourse. An informal worldwide survey by The Scientist found some concern that politicians might seek to obey the Vatican's injunction to embody the new Catholic doctrine in civil law, but most political commentators consider this very unlikely. In Ireland, Tony Walsh, who runs the IVF and GIFT
National Science Week Is Up, Up and Away
National Science Week Is Up, Up and Away
WASHINGTON—At 1:30 p.m. today, around the corner from the White House, high school students plan to set loose one thousand balloons with self-addressed information cards. They will join 224,000 balloons launched simultaneously around the country by students from 600 schools, in one of the more visible displays of National Science and Technology Week '87. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and funded largely by corporate donors, Science Week is observing its third year. Its messag
Microbiologists Argue Threat to Future
Microbiologists Argue Threat to Future
ATLANTA—Are academic microbiology departments suffering from the increased attention being paid to molecular biology and related disciplines? Scientists at the recent annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology here could not agree if the issue was simply a semantic argument or a symptom of a genuine crisis. "A number of forces are converging to create a problem … and together they may deal us a blow that could be lethal" to the future of microbiology, suggested M. Michae
Two Biotech Stocks Plunge
Two Biotech Stocks Plunge
WASHINGTON—Resignations of top officials at two biotechnology companies and predictions of lackluster earnings sent their stock prices tumbling last month. Applied Biosystems Inc. announced that Sam Eletr, the company's founder and chairman, was stepping down for personal reasons. It also said it expected third-quarter earnings to decline because of product delays and weak orders from Europe. Following that news, its stock dropped from $41.40 to $30 a share. The Foster City, Calif., firm,
Undergrad Research Budget Up
Undergrad Research Budget Up
WASHINGTON—The National Science Foundation plans to increase the budget of a new research program for undergraduates after receiving an unexpectedly large number of applicants from universities and other research facilities around the country. Rushing to meet a March 1 deadline on less than three months' notice, researchers submitted proposals to hire groups of students to work at more than 600 sites as part of NSF's new Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Alan Leshner,
Sir John Kendrew on ICSU Activities and the Importance of Pure Science
Sir John Kendrew on ICSU Activities and the Importance of Pure Science
"Most fortunately, Kendrew made a favorable impression on Luria: like Kalckar, he was civilized and in addition supported the Labor Party." That is how James Watson introduces us to John Kendrew, toward the beginning of The Double Helix. Later in his highly individualistic memoir, Watson recounts how he accepted what looked like "an open invitation to tuberculosis" when he arrived in England in 1951. After having difficulty finding digs in Cambridge, he recalls how "John and Elizabeth Kendrew re

Commentary

Citation Data Is Subtle Stuff
Citation Data Is Subtle Stuff
When starting to compile citation data from the scientific literature over 25 years ago, I aimed to create a new tool for information retrieval—the Science Citation Index (SCI). Out of this came a useful by-product: a large and ever increasing database containing indicators of intellectual connections among scientists and their publications. The SCI attracted the attention of historians and sociologists of science and served as a catalyst to the field of scientometrics, which uses quantita

Letter

Sakharov and SDI
Sakharov and SDI
The comments in your January 26 issue by Medvedev and Ziman about the motives behind the release of Andrei Sakharoy are necessarily speculative, but not exhaustive. Let me add by way of an alternative speculation, based on the fact that Sakharov has expressed criticisms of the feasibility of the Strategic Defense Initiative, that his view on SDI may have contributed to the decision by Gorbachev to release Sakharov at this time. Gorbachev repeatedly has shown his eagerness to discourage our plans
What Natural Selection Doesn't Answer
What Natural Selection Doesn't Answer
Alexander Rosenberg, in reviewing Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker (The Scientist, January 12, 1987, pp. 23-24), says that "natural selection… and it alone, can explain the most puzzling facts … that the organization of living things reveals." I beg to disagree. First, no scientist should ever claim that any one theory must be right. But more important, if one looks closely into the idea behind natural selection, it is difficult to see what it does explain. It does not account f
Mary Treat Makes History
Mary Treat Makes History
I was interested to read the book review "More Than Just Marie Curie" by Margaret Rossiter (The Scientist, February 9, 1987, p. 18). It is really good news that Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie's biographical dictionary of women scientists is now available. Until quite recently only a single book (Mozan's Woman in Science) was available in English addressing the early history and biography of women in science, and that was originally published in 1913. Fortunately, in just the past few years we have seen
Lavoisier Died For Lucre
Lavoisier Died For Lucre
Anthony Michaelis' article "Our Unknown Martyrs" (The Scientist, February 9, 1987, p. 13) listed several famous scientists who "gave their lives" for science. I wish to point out that Lavoisier's demise was a consequence of his unpopular occupation as fermier general. He was one of many financiers who had purchased the right to collect taxes, most likely at a profit, and who were executed en masse by Ia Republique in 1794. —Willem H. Koppenol Dept. of Chemistry University of Maryland Balt
What Will Gene Sequencing Create?
What Will Gene Sequencing Create?
Human gene sequencing, the outcome of years of research in the field of molecular biology, has made possible the analysis, prevention and treatment of certain diseases and an understanding of the probable variation of the normal human genome. The urge to better human life has led to scientific advance to such an extent that it will soon be possible to create a human genetic map. But one must realize that a human being is a creation of a living being who has evolved through a billion years of adj

Opinion

The Moral Costs of IVF Research
The Moral Costs of IVF Research
The Vatican's March 10 condemnation of artificial methods of reproduction, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), is certain to be the cause of considerable controversy both within and without the scientific community, and among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The pronouncement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says that "uncontrollable application of such techniques could lead to unforeseeable and damaging consequences for civil society." In addition to outlawing artificial
A New Agency for Science Historians?
A New Agency for Science Historians?
In his piece on "Historians and Science Policy," J.L. Heilbron makes a timely point with his usual cogency and wit. The science of the twentieth century is distinctive in its scale, its specialization and its close coupling with economic and military concerns. An individual instrument such as the Superconducting Supercollider may cost billions of dollars. The payoffs on research in biotechnology can make or break long-established corporations. Plainly, the mechanisms by which science policy is a
Where Can Science and Policy Meet?
Where Can Science and Policy Meet?
Twenty years ago, the politicians began to realize that science policy was too important to be left to the scientists. Now, the scientists have learned that it is also too important to be left to the politicians. Both sides need to talk to each other, but they face each other across a gap of comprehension. As J.L. Heilbron pointed out recently (The Scientist, March 9, 1987, p. 11), there is a real job here for the historians of science. They have had to master the languages of both science and p
NIH Must Meet the Hughes Challenge
NIH Must Meet the Hughes Challenge
For the past 30 years the forefront of biomedical research has been synonymous with the efforts of the U.S. research community, shaped and financed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Now NIH's pre-eminence is at risk, challenged by the emergence of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) as a leader in the field. Since 1985, HHMI—with assets of $45.2 billion—has spent the better part of $485.4 million at 48 academic centers. Hughes researchers, many of them former stars o
What Viruses Might Do for a Living
What Viruses Might Do for a Living
Imagine, if you will, a committee of our brightest biochemists meeting in the late 1960s trying to make guesses about what might be happening next in the field of molecular biology. If they'd stayed up all night for weeks at a time, it is highly improbable that anyone could have guessed that recombinant DNA would happen next, or that this research technology would soon become the most important advance in biological science of the 20th century, much less that we would be purifying and scrutinizi
Gravitating Toward Wave Theory
Gravitating Toward Wave Theory
In October 1954 I arrived at King's College, London, as the new professor of applied mathematics. In a small department with a small research group, the choice of topic for myself and my closest colleagues was clearly crucial. I felt it had to be a subject not widely pursued at the time because we could not compete with the big battalions. Having already had some interest in the theory of gravitation and having at London C.W. Kilmister, with F.A.E. Pirani soon to follow me from Cambridge, the ch

Books etc.

How Democratic Is Science Policy?
How Democratic Is Science Policy?
Who governs science and technology in a democracy? Can democracy and the world of science even be reconciled? In Governing Science and Technology in a Democracy (University of Tennessee Press, 1986), Malcolm L. Goggin, a political scientist and editor of the volume, presents viewpoints of a dozen professionals in science, law, philosophy and political science. The book is a collection of papers from a two-day conference in Houston in 1985. In this excerpt from the book, Goggin discusses four imp
'What is Life?' Fiction, Not Science
'What is Life?' Fiction, Not Science
What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell. Erwin Schrödinger. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1967. 96 pp. (Originally published in 1944.) Schrödinger's book is written is an engaging, lively, almost poetic style ("The probable lifetime of a radioactive atom is less predictable than that of a healthy sparrow.") Up to 1948 it drew 65 reviews and it has probably by now sold about 100,000 copies. It has become a classic that has provided a nourishing habitat for historia
A Geologist Way Ahead of His Time
A Geologist Way Ahead of His Time
Alfred Wegener: The Father of Continental Drift. Martin Schwarzbach. Translated by Carla Love. Science Tech, Madison, WI, 1986. 241 pp. $35. German meteorologist Alfred Wegener, 1880-1930, was the most systematic and visible of the few early advocates of continental drift. Working in part with his father-in-law, renowned climatologist Wiadimir Koppen, Wegener recognized that various geologic and paleontologic features, including the distribution of indicators of paleoclimates, required very diff
A Fluffy Frolic With Jeremy Bernstein
A Fluffy Frolic With Jeremy Bernstein
The Life it Brings: One Physicist's Beginnings. Jeremy Bernstein. Ticknor & Fields, New York, 1987. 192 pp. $16.95. Most of us, of course, know Jeremy Bernstein through his extensive New Yorker essays on the world of physics, essays that have included fascinating profiles of such great physicists as Hans Bethe and I.I. Rabi. In The Life It Brings, also based on a recent New Yorker series, Bernstein takes up his pen in the cause of autobiography. He travels from his childhood in Rochester and fo
The Scoop on Science Journalism
The Scoop on Science Journalism
Selling Science: How the Press Covers Science and Technology. Dorothy Nelkin. W.H. Freeman, New York, 1987. 182 pp. $16.95. In Selling Science, Dorothy Nelkin—author of books on such topics as intellectual property and technological risk—tells the reader almost everything he or she might want to know about the complex relations between science and the media. On the premise that the public gets its images of and information about science from the press rather than from television, Ne
Britain's Research Circuit
Britain's Research Circuit
The Politics of British Science. Martin Ince. Wheatsheaf Books, Brighton, Sussex, 1986. 227 pp. £18.95 HB, £8.95 PB. The British government spends about 4.5 billion pounds (about $7 billion) a year on R&D. This is a little more than 2 percent of GNP—not much different in percentage terms than most other advanced industrial countries. The difference, as Martin Ince and others point out, is that more than half of the British expenditure goes to military research; only the United St

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
Something looks very wrong with the management of the President's Star Wars missile defense program. Instead of clear and steady progress toward establishing its technological feasibility, the program's managers seem to shift emphasis every few months from one vaunted breakthrough to another. Last year the free-electron laser was hot stuff; now attention veers to crash development of space-based rockets. The primary goal seems political: getting production lines running before President Reagan l

Happenings

Happenings
Happenings
Frank Press, noted geophysicist and former science adviser to President Carter, has been reelected to a second six-year term as president of the National Academy of Sciences. During his first term as president of the 15,000-member Academy, Press was credited with initiating several major science policy studies by the National Research Council and streamlining NRC's report-writing process. He has held faculty appointments at Columbia University, the California Institute ofTechnology and the Massa