Snapshot

Glued to Another Tube
Glued to Another Tube
 Click for larger version (45K) A past Snapshot showed that more than 80% of scientists regularly watch television. We surveyed 317 readers to find out what they turned on. Not surprisingly in these difficult times, more than 80% frequently watch news and news programs. A solid 68% click on science documentaries, followed by more escapist fare--movies and comedy programs. Our readers' favorite regularly watched program, and most preferred all-time show, is CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Frontlines

The Unstuff'd Brain
The Unstuff'd Brain
Frontlines | The Unstuff'd Brain Courtesy of Dana Press Macbeth: Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas'd ...? Doctor: Therein the patient must minister to himself. Macbeth: Throw physic to the dogs; I'll none of it. --Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V, Scene III Though William Shakespeare uses the word 'brain' 66 times in his plays, his works hardly read like a neurological review article. Yet, say neurologist Paul Matthews and linguist Jeffrey McQuain, his comprehension of how the brai
Smallpox Vaccination and (Unnecessary?) Caution
Smallpox Vaccination and (Unnecessary?) Caution
Frontlines | Smallpox Vaccination and (Unnecessary?) Caution Courtesy of CDC People with eczema and immunosuppressed patients need to forego voluntary smallpox vaccination to avoid adverse effects or even death. Now, another group joins them: those with heart trouble. Recently, three deaths occurred due to myocardial infarction shortly after vaccination, and adverse cardiac events have occurred in six civilians and 12 military personnel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Foundations

Barbara McClintock, On Her Own
Barbara McClintock, On Her Own
Foundations | Barbara McClintock, On Her Own  Click for larger version (49K) Geneticist Barbara McClintock, since her death in 1992, has become a feminist hero. She held steady in the male-dominated world of science, earning her first award in 1947 and culminating her career in 1982 with the Nobel Prize. Her observations and discoveries laid the groundwork for modern genetics research. Her theory that the genome constantly changes and regulates itself, derided in her time as being outl

First Person

Leland Hartwell
Leland Hartwell
First Person | Leland Hartwell Courtesy of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Leland Hartwell, a co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize, spent his football-playing, girl-chasing high school years in Los Angeles. His 1949 metallic green Mercury--he went to Mexico to buy its green and white upholstery--was the same type of car that James Dean drove in the movie Rebel Without a Cause. "The first time I saw American Graffiti," Hartwell recalls, "I was stunned, I couldn't get up. It was like

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
So They Say "If you think you've seen a biotech revolution, you ain't seen nothing yet," --Chief scientist James Murday, Office of Naval Research, when asked to compare the nanotech to the biotech revolution, at the National Nanotechnology Initiative Conference in Washington, DC "Now if we could just reduce the amount of ammonia in the feces, then our lab wouldn't smell so bad." --Veerle Fievez, Ghent University, Belgium, on her recent discovery that fish oil supplements reduce sheep m

Science Seen

Dracula's Pet Worm
Dracula's Pet Worm
Science Seen | Dracula's Pet Worm © COE UCSB  At first glance, it looks like a red-hot chili pepper, but in fact, it's a 10-inch bloodworm that normally lives in seabed sediment. Note the copper fangs that jut from its proboscis. Its discoverers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, say that its large copper content normally would be toxic to such an animal. However, this worm not only endures the copper, but it might also use it to activate its protein-based venom. It's

5-Prime

ICSU: International Council for Science
ICSU: International Council for Science
5-Prime | ICSU: International Council for Science What is it? Created in 1931 as the International Council of Scientific Unions (but recently rebranded as the International Council for Science), ICSU is a nongovernmental organization whose mission is to give scientists worldwide the opportunity to collaborate on projects and exchange information. ICSU has established several policy and advisory committees, including the International Biological Programme (1964-1974), which studied the biol

Editorial

So, You Think You're a Scientist?
So, You Think You're a Scientist?
The recent, vigorous debate occurring in our pages regarding whether it's necessary to accept the theory of evolution1,2 (also, see Letters) as a prerequisite to studying the sciences has set me thinking: What exactly is a scientist? Albert Einstein--who better to guide us--had some forthright views. In an address to the Società Italiana per il Progresso della Scienze on occasion of its 43rd meeting in Lucca, Italy, October 1950, he implied that science must be all-consuming: "... apa

Opinion

The Behaviorome Mental Map Project
The Behaviorome Mental Map Project
Anthony Canamucio One of the most interesting questions that confronts a thinking being is whether people can comprehend the ideas and thoughts of one another. I believe that we can, and I also believe that we have the means to embark upon a project that would culminate in the understanding of all human ideas. If we define an idea as the mental conceptualization of something, including physical objects, an action, or sensory experience, either now or in the future, then the number of objects

Letter

Smears and Swabs
Smears and Swabs
Smears and Swabs I read with interest the article "Quantitative Image Analysis Gives More Power to the Pathologist."1 However, I must draw your attention to an inaccuracy. In the first paragraph, "A woman visits her gynecologist for her annual Pap smear. The doctor takes a cervical swab." However, a swab is used to diagnose infection. A cervical smear is the means to gather cells required for cytological analysis. Amanda Watters Division of Cancer Sciences and Molecular Pathology Depart
Lipidomics
Lipidomics
Lipidomics I read your recent article on lipids in The Scientist1 with great interest. I am a physician who studied for many years with Emanuel Revici, MD, a Romanian physician-scientist who lived from 1896 to 1998, and devoted his life to the study of lipids and their role in physiology and cancer. He created many of his own medicines, based on lipids, and, among many other things, identified the conjugated trienic fatty acids as "pathological" fatty acids 30 years before Bengt Samuelsson
Who Gets Credit for EvoBank?
Who Gets Credit for EvoBank?
Who Gets Credit for EvoBank? We were pleased to read your article "Building an Evo-Bank"1 in the Feb. 24th issue. Since 1999, we have been proposing the opening of electronic archives for fossil and modern hominoids in professional journals, in scientific meetings, and by distributing E-data of hominid fossils.2 We called this idea a "Glasnost for paleoanthropology" because we thought not enough effort was being directed toward establishing cooperative networks in our field of science. Rea
Obligations of English Speakers
Obligations of English Speakers
Obligations of English Speakers It's not just foreign-born researchers whose lack of English proficiency hurts their careers.1 Many Americans have the same problem. Every year, I read grant applications from young (and sometimes rather senior) American scientists who MIGHT actually have good ideas. However, the syntax is so fractured, the flow of ideas so random, and the use of jargon and cliche so pervasive, that I am utterly stymied in my attempts to understand the science. When undergrad
No Shortage Here
No Shortage Here
No Shortage Here I particularly agree with Daniel S. Greenberg.1 I know he has been in journalism 40 years. It shows. He was particularly astute about the myth of science folks out there. There is a huge pool to draw from! There is also no shortage of eager beavers who are led to believe that if you have the intelligence, the fortitude, not to mention the sheer enjoyment of doing the science, that this is enough. People don't give scientists credit for being clever about the political are
Evolution Redux
Evolution Redux
Evolution Redux Regarding Barry Palevitz's opinion article1 about whether biology faculty should write letters of recommendation for students who deny evolution, I raise a voice of caution. Palevitz asks, "Do we as scientists and educators have a responsibility to society beyond transmitting facts and awarding grades?" The responsibility of scientists to society is primarily to be truthful, even about the uncertainty that may accompany their most precious conclusions. If scientists openl

Feature

The Power of Power Laws
The Power of Power Laws
Michael Trott, © Wolfram Research,Inc. The possibility of mathematical power laws governing the scaling of fundamental biological properties, such as metabolic rate, within a species group has been strongly suspected for almost a century. But since 1997, the laws have been confirmed by overwhelming experimental evidence and backed by convincing mathematical theory. Before, research biologists were puzzled by the fact that a wide range of ultimately related properties, such as aortal surf

Research Front Page

Bear Bones Research; Excremental Progress; If a Neuron Fires in the Woods...
Bear Bones Research; Excremental Progress; If a Neuron Fires in the Woods...
Bear Bones Research Courtesy of Nova Scientists interested in fending off bone degradation have looked to one of the animal kingdom's most naturally gifted bone preservationists: the black bear. Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University recently investigated the ability of Ursus americanus to maintain bone integrity despite extended activity-free hibernation (S.W. Donahue et al., "Serum markers of bone metabolism show bone loss in hibernating bears," Clin Orthop, 408:295-301, March 20

Research

Biologically Derived Hydrogen--Future Fuel?
Biologically Derived Hydrogen--Future Fuel?
Courtesy of Carla Santee  A NEW KIND OF BUBBLY: Suellen Van Ooteghem's bioreactor is producing a gas that is 80% hydrogen: "These results are unprecedented." A large glass bioreactor in the corner of Suellen Van Ooteghem's lab at the National Energy Technology Laboratory is filled with what appears to be murky champagne. The pale yellow solution even has tiny bubbles streaming to the top. The liquid is arguably as precious as any champagne, and the bubbles are even more valuable: They ar
Angiogenesis Research Moves Past Cancer
Angiogenesis Research Moves Past Cancer
Image: Courtesy of Michael Tolentino  Signs of Aging The fundus, opposite the pupil, is shown. This patient has wet, age-related macular degeneration, which occurs when new vessels form to improve the blood supply to oxygen-deprived retinal tissue. The new vessels are delicate and break easily, causing bleeding and damage to surrounding tissue. Blood and lipid in the macula are present. In the past few years, the media have written numerous, hopeful stories of how scientists are stifling
Researchers Reveal a New Twist in Torsion Dystonia
Researchers Reveal a New Twist in Torsion Dystonia
Courtesy of Guy Caldwell CLEARING THE DRAIN: (Left) The worm expresses polyglutamine GFP in both the presence and absence of torsin. (Right) A Caenorhabditis elegans torsin protein, TOR-2 (red), localizes to sites of polyglutamine green fluorescent protein (GFP) aggregation (green) in a worm cell. A movement disorder can start as a twinge. A child's leg turns in while walking. Writing becomes difficult, painful. For many, these types of diseases--broadly termed dystonias--progress no fur

Hot Paper

Discovering HIF Regulation
Discovering HIF Regulation
Discovering HIF Regulation
In the complicated, occasionally counter-intuitive world of signal transduction pathways, sometimes events turn out to be much simpler than first supposed.

Technology Front Page

Au Revoir, Ponceau S; Solving Proteins from Scratch; From the Office of Oligo Defense
Au Revoir, Ponceau S; Solving Proteins from Scratch; From the Office of Oligo Defense
GADGET WATCH | Au Revoir, Ponceau S Courtesy of Pierce Biotechnology Western blotting is a standard facet of gene expression analysis: Separate protein extracts electrophoretically, blot the proteins to a nitrocellulose or nylon membrane, and probe for the presence of a particular protein. Traditionally, verifying the efficiency of protein transfer to the membrane is accomplished by staining with Ponceau S or Coomassie® Blue. Ponceau is a relatively insensitive red dye (250 ng detection

Technology Profile

Metabolomics: Small-Molecule 'Omics
Metabolomics: Small-Molecule 'Omics
Courtesy of SRI International  METABOLITES GO 'OMIC': Metabolomics researchers seek to catalog and quantify the myriad small molecules found in biological fluids. Such molecules stem from biological pathways, whose complexity and interrelationships are neatly captured in this depiction of SRI International's BioCyc database. The dots represent individual metabolites and the lines represent enzymatic reactions that interconvert the metabolites. The circle surrounding the pathways depicts th
Quantitative PCR Update
Quantitative PCR Update
Courtesy of Applied Biosystems  THE TAQMAN PROCEDURE: Applied Biosystems' TaqMan procedure relies on the 5'-to-3' exonuclease activity of Taq polymerase. The TaqMan probe bears a fluoro-phore at the 5' end and a quencher on the 3' end, rendering the molecule non-fluorescent. During amplification, the probe binds to the template between the two PCR primers. When the polymerase encounters the probe, it starts chewing away at the end, releasing the fluorophore into solution, where it is free

Technology

Accelerated Protein Crystallization with FID
Accelerated Protein Crystallization with FID
Courtesy of Fluidigm Remember science class when you had to grow salt or sugar crystals? Remember how some people would end up with fabulous crystals, while others would end up with--well, not so fabulous crystals, all because the conditions in each glass of water were slightly different? Now imagine doing that with proteins. Of course, no one uses strings and a glass of supersaturated water, but the concept is basically the same. In protein crystallization, however, the solute is often expe
High-Res Benchtop ESI-TOF
High-Res Benchtop ESI-TOF
Courtesy of Bruker Daltonics The life science mass spectrometry industry has experienced a boom recently with a spate of new instruments and technological advances. Billerica, Mass.-based Bruker Daltonics continues this trend with the new microTOF™ electrospray ionization-time-of-flight (ESI-TOF) mass spectrometer, introduced at the 2003 PittCon conference in Orlando, Fla. The microTOF is a benchtop instrument that offers twice the resolution--10,000 FWHM (full width, half maximum) ver
Zyomyx Releases New Protein Array System
Zyomyx Releases New Protein Array System
Courtesy of Zyomyx Hayward, Calif.-based Zyomyx released its Protein Profiling Biochip System and a compatible array for human cytokines in February. Consisting of the Assay 1200™ automated workstation, the Scanner 100™ biochip reader, data analysis software, and validated biochips, the platform facilitates high-speed, parallel analyses of multiple proteins--an improvement over traditional techniques such as Western blotting. Nearly four years in the making, the company's first pr

Profession Front Page

Survive an Unreasonable Principal Investigator; Get a Gift for Getting Money; Commercial Cancer Collaborations
Survive an Unreasonable Principal Investigator; Get a Gift for Getting Money; Commercial Cancer Collaborations
TIP TROVE | Survive an Unreasonable Principal Investigator Courtesy of Robert Busch 1. Seek advice early and aggressively from friends, trusted faculty, and through counseling services. 2. Do not rely excessively on your institution to solve your problems, but do make use of its resources, such as a postdoctoral association. 3. Communicate with your PI directly in written form or by E-mail, to have a record of the matter in dispute. 4. Consider the consequences of "burning bridges," a

Profession

David Baltimore's Redeeming Presidency
David Baltimore's Redeeming Presidency
David Baltimore has faced down a congressional committee and parleyed with presidents and kings. 
Science in a Bigger Europe
Science in a Bigger Europe
 Click for larger version (58K) Scientists throughout Europe are busy clicking on a "Find a Partner" link. They are not seeking romance. A typical proposal: "Seeking partners to study the influence of genetic and environmental factors on human morphofunctional status." The partner search service on the European Union's Framework 6 Programme (FP6) Web site (www.cordis.lu/fp6) is linking scientists seeking the transnational partners required for their projects to be eligible for FP6 fundin
Datawars: Grid Computing Democratizes Proteomics
Datawars: Grid Computing Democratizes Proteomics
Erica P. Johnson The young field of proteomics has quickly risen to match physics and meteorology in its huge appetite for computational capacity. According to Sylvie Langevin, development group manager of Montreal-based proteomics firm Caprion Pharmaceuticals, the computer processing and data handling requirements of proteomics exceed those of genomics by a factor approaching one million. "In genomics we have files of several kilobytes in size, but in proteomics we're closer to 1 [gigabyte],"
Academics' Ties to Business Muddy Disclosure Decisions
Academics' Ties to Business Muddy Disclosure Decisions
Brian Behnke In Washington's biotech debates, Irving Weissman, a professor, entrepreneur, and political activist, is among the most influential, visible, and effective advocates for the science community. He's also forthright about any potential conflicts of interest that may arise as he lobbies against curbs on scientists' freedom to conduct human embryo-related research. "I always disclose. ... Everybody in this area should do that," he says. During his long career Weissman helped create Sy

How I Got This Job

Moving from Promise to Proficiency
Moving from Promise to Proficiency
Courtesy of Heather Cordell Early Indications: I'd always enjoyed mathematics and statistics at school and then at university. I was interested in applying statis-tical and mathematical methods to scientific and medical problems and got into the area of statistical genetics, basically because I came across an opening to do a DPhil (PhD) in that area. Having gotten into the field, I found genetics to be a source of very interesting statistical problems, as well as providing the opportunity to

Turning Points

Networking: As Easy as Making Friends
Networking: As Easy as Making Friends
File Photo It's not what you know, but who you know. When I jumped into freelance science writing full-time more than three years ago, it was who I knew--reporters and editors at The Scientist--that got me off the ground. Getting a job in scientific research, industry, or government is much the same--you will find out about positions through your personal network. Much has been written about networking, and it's a perennial topic at career development seminars, but one that bears revisiting,

Closing Bell

Don't Blame It on Sputnik
Don't Blame It on Sputnik
Since Sputnik, hardly a year goes by without the federal government, some nonprofit foundation, or a large corporation launching schemes to entice people into research careers. These initiatives, meant to improve the quality of our science and bring about technological, medical, and other advances, offer educational opportunities and financial incentives. Sensible as these programs often are, they do not consider some of the most important motives that draw people to science and the personal