August 1987

News

D
D
LONDON—Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher will take the lead in discussions of the country’s science and technology priorities as part of a shake-up in Britain’s approach to research. And one of the first items on her agenda is a request from scientists to create a network of interdisciplinary, university-based research centers. These are two of the features detailed in a series of documents released last month before the end of the British parliamentary session. On July 20
NSF to Grade Engineering Centers Soon
NSF to Grade Engineering Centers Soon
RENO, NEVADA—A comprehensive review this fall of the initial six engineering research centers funded by NSF will be the first decisive test of Director Erich Bloch’s efforts to bring about major improvements in U.S. engineering research and education. The ERC program has grown since 1985 to its current level of 13 centers and an annual budget of $30 million. The budget is expected to grow to $48 million next year and $65 million in fiscal 1989, and encompass as many as 25 centers
Human Genome Bill Sponsor Pulls Back, Shifts Tactics
Human Genome Bill Sponsor Pulls Back, Shifts Tactics
WASHINGTON—One of the most frequent complaints about Congress is how long it takes to get something done. Last month Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) found out that trying to move too fast may be an even bigger problem. On July 10 Domenici introduced a bill (S. 1480) to create a federal advisory board and governmentuniversity-industry consortium to map and sequence the human genome. The bill, which would have set up cooperative research efforts on semiconductors and superconducting materials
How to Study Arms Control
How to Study Arms Control
SAN FRANCISCO—Scientists have long been prominent in the debate on arms control and international security. Yet until recently, they had few mid-career opportunities to learn the technical and political issues that shape that debate. The 3-year-old science fellowship program at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control was created to meet that need. The program, which physicist/astronaut Sally K. Ride will join in October after she leaves NASA this
Happy 100th Birthday, NIH
Happy 100th Birthday, NIH
In 1887 the U.S. federal government established a little one-room laboratory on Staten Island, N.Y., and called it the Laboratory of Hygiene. Today, that lab is called the National Institutes of Health. All year long NIH has been bombarding the media with press releases on its centennial events, including a July 1 Capitol Hill “photo opportunity” with some of the nation’s 25,000 centenarians. But they’ve failed to mention many of the more interesting stories. For ex
Field Testing Dispute Spreads to Europe
Field Testing Dispute Spreads to Europe
PARIS—Europeans this summer have gained intimate experience in an exercise they had viewed in the past as a strictly American sport: genetic engineers versus ecologists. The contest arose after a spate of reports revealed that field tests of modified bacteria and plants were under way in France, West Germany, Belgium and Britain. Ecologists quickly denounced the “arrogance” of the European Economic Community, which financed some of the experiments. Of particular concern is
Nature Now Being Printed in Japan
Nature Now Being Printed in Japan
LONDON—In an effort to build circulation in the Pacific Rim, Nature last month started printing in Japan. The press run of 3,500 copies— l0 percent of the weekly journal’s total circulation—is expected to reduce costs and speed delivery for subscribers. “Our first objective is to get more readers in Japan,” said Nature editor John Maddox. “We hope that will lead to our attracting more Japanese scientists as contributors. “What we are really up
Basic Work To Get Boost In Canada
Basic Work To Get Boost In Canada
OTTAWA—The National Research Council of Canada, seeking ways to buffer government pressure to support more applied work, has taken several small steps to bolster basic research. Its latest effort is a $1 million fund from which to finance petitive grants for “curiosity-driven projects” in a variety .of disciplines. In a recent letter to NRC staff, President Larkin Kerwin noted that grants for basic research comprised only 15 percent of the council’s awards but that he
SSC Bidders Get More Time
SSC Bidders Get More Time
WASHINGTON—States competing for the Superconducting Supercollider have been given 30 more days to submit their proposals to the Department of Energy. The department’s original deadline of August 3 for proposals, announced last winter, produced howls of outrage from states that had waited to mount their campaigns until President Reagan threw his support behind the multibillion-dollar project. They complained they could never catch up to the handful of states that had already spent
Africans Form Science Union
Africans Form Science Union
BRAZZAVILLE, CONGO—The continent’s leading scientists and technology experts have agreed to form a Pan-African Union of Science and Technology to apply their knowledge to the enormous economic problems facing their developing countries. The decision was made at the end of an unprecedented week-long meeting here coordinated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The First Congress of African Scientists was funded in part by UNESCO, the United Nations Development Program and th
D Plan At Last
D Plan At Last
BRUSSELS—The European Economic Community’s R&D program of collaborative work on telecommunications and other advanced technologies is now poised to go ahead following a budgetary compromise between the British government and the rest of the EEC. Variously heralded in the British press as a retreat by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher or a vindication of her demands for restraint, a 5.2 billion ECU ($6 billion), the Framework program for the next five years has been set by the EC
Irish Depend on Framework Projects
Irish Depend on Framework Projects
DUBLIN—Approval of the EEC’s Framework program is important news for Irish scientists, whose country relies heavily on the joint projects to augment the low level of support from their own government. “Basically, it means that people like me are working here rather than abroad,” said Edel Stephens, technical manager for software development at a small firm doing EEC-backed work. With support at levels far below the rest of the EEC (Ireland spends 0.8 percent of its
Bills Seek to Strengthen U.S. Information Policy
Bills Seek to Strengthen U.S. Information Policy
WASHINGTON—The government’s management of scientific and technical information came under heavy fire last month at a congressional hearing. Witnesses charged that the Reagan administration has failed to develop a coherent national policy, and attacked its plans to broaden security restrictions on such information and sell off the National Technical Information Services (NTIS), the nation’s largest repository of technical material. The hearing before the Science, Research a
NSF Hiring Woes Disputed
NSF Hiring Woes Disputed
WASHINGTON—A government report has failed to substantiate claims by the National Science Foundation that it has a problem hiring and retaining top-level science administrators. But the report has been denounced as “irrelevant” by the congressional committee that requested the information. In a four-page fact sheet, the Government Accounting Office found that the attrition rate (retirements, resignations and layoffs) of senior executives at NSF during the past three years was
Joint AIDS Foundation Slow to Form
Joint AIDS Foundation Slow to Form
WASHINGTON—More than four months after researchers in the United States and France agreed to share credit for the discovery of the AIDS virus, the international foundation, they proposed to help fight the disease has yet to emerge from the necessary paperwork. The Department of Health and Human Services recently received the signatures of 15 scientists from HHS and the Pasteur Institute that are needed to set up the foundation, said Robert Charrow, HHS deputy general counsel. A request
U.K. Schools Plan Major Science Park
U.K. Schools Plan Major Science Park
BRISTOL—Three British universities have agreed to form a science research center, with an R&D staff of 150, that will be the centerpiece for the largest science park in the country. The 500-acre project at Emerson’s Green, Kingswood, will be linked closely to the nearby universities of Bristol and Bath and Bristol Polytechnic. The project, to be built at a cost of $375 million over 10 years, was initiated by the Emerson’s Green Development Company. “We will provide the
NAS Faults Peer Review At USDA
NAS Faults Peer Review At USDA
WASHINGTON—Scientists and staff at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) do not understand the proper role of peer review and do notagree on its purpose, its use and the effect it has on scientific research projects, a new National Academy of Sciences report has found. The ARS, the principal in-house research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, employs more than 8,500 scientists, engineers and technicians at 127 locations. It distributes its $500 million annual budget̵
Fast Censure for Glueck
Fast Censure for Glueck
WASHINGTON—The recent censure of Charles J. Glueck for misreporting his studies of children on low-cholesterol diets illustrates the biomedical community’s increasing concern about scientific misconduct, according to NIH Deputy Director William Raub. Glueck, who has received several NIH grants, was formally censured by the agency last month. It has recommended that Glueck be barred from receiving any federal funds for two years, and banned from serving on any government advisory g
Few Enlist in NATO Program Of Exchanges
Few Enlist in NATO Program Of Exchanges
ZURICH—The twin problems of transcending national boundaries and crossing over from academic to industrial labs appear to have doomed a NATO program meant to encourage international scientific exchanges. Begun in 1982, the $1 million program was designed to forge links between universities and industrial laboratories in different countries by using the same exchange mechanisms as those for basic science and inter-university cooperation. These include fellowships, collaborative research
Donald Kennedy On Fund Raising, Federal Aid and Scientific Fraud
Donald Kennedy On Fund Raising, Federal Aid and Scientific Fraud
Donald Kennedy’s career as biologist, educator and administrator reflects his belief that scientists and other academics should speak out on public policy issues and conskier devoting some time to public service. As a result, his views on science, education, federal regulation and related topics have received wide circulation, whether he was speaking as a White House consultant, U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner or in his current position as president of Stanford University.
The Dos and Don'ts of Fume Hood Safety
The Dos and Don'ts of Fume Hood Safety
Chances are excellent that if you ask laboratory workers to describe the ventilation system for their laboratories, they will not include themselves as part of the system. Yet they are as much a part of the successful operation of the system as the fume hood itself. All the engineering in the world is not going to do any good if the systems designed and installed are not properly used. Yet how many lab workers have ever received on-the-job training in the proper use of a fume hood and its ass
Dueling Selectively With Darwin
Dueling Selectively With Darwin
Turning points in my intellectual life have never been welcome; I always seem to resist them until forced to do otherwise. One such passage occurred some 10 years ago, as I was walking one spring morning in the Downs of southern England with the evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith and his biologist wife Sheila. John, remarking on our proximity to Charles Darwin’s home, chided me gently: “You really must think about natural selection, Stuart.” How his comment shocked me
Albert Einstein Looks for a Job
Albert Einstein Looks for a Job
You’ve promised yourself you’ll begin looking for a job just as soon as summer’s over. Fortify yourself with the tribulations of young Albert Einstein; things got so bad that his father even wrote on his behalf. It took Einstein almost two years to land his entry-level appointment at the Swiss Patent Office But the rest, of course, is history We hope you fare as well. From The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Vol. 1: The Early Years, 1879-1902 (Princeton University Press,

Commentary

How to Avoid Spreading Error Scientists Must Search for Corrections
How to Avoid Spreading Error Scientists Must Search for Corrections
In 1954 Conway Zirkie reviewed the fascinating history of the patterns and context of citations to the falsified scientiflc experiments published by Vien- nese zoologist Paul Kammerer. Using two types of salamanders and the male of the midwife toad, Kammerer claimed in the 1920s to have shown that acquired characteristics were inherited. But, as Zirkle recounts, “the acquired chareacters... turned out to be india ink.” (Science Vol. 120, 1954. p. 189). The truth about Kammerer

Letter

FEEDBACK
FEEDBACK
In his interview with THE SCIENTIST (June 1, 1987, p. 14), William R. Graham, the current White House science adviser, commenting on relations between the administration and the scientific community regarding SDI, said, “I think we need to have a more reasoned discourse on the subject and draw more on the industrial sector as well as the academic sector. I think that will help moderate some of the positions being taken, as we get more information injected into the process.” We woul

Opinion

Issues Clear in the U.K. Genentech Decisions
Issues Clear in the U.K. Genentech Decisions
Although the recent decision of the British High Court to revoke Genentech’s U.K. patent covering human tissue plasminogen activator is open to appeal, the legal issues have been clearly drawn in a lengthy judgment by Mr. Justice Whitford (THE SCIENTIST, July 27,1987, p. 4). The basic question is whether the first group to produce a particular known protein by genetic engineering methods is entitled to broad product protection that, in effect, covers all such ways of making the same pro
Let's Get Pluto Out of the Dog House
Let's Get Pluto Out of the Dog House
Poor Pluto. Poor misunderstood, maligned, underrated, way-out-there Pluto. Poor eccentric little rubber ball. Is it a planet? A comet? An asteroid? Fifty-seven years old and no one—not even its closest friends and admirers—knows if it’s a grown-up. The debate over Pluto’s status rages on, largely in the popular press. For example, within a 2-month period, The New York Times reported that Pluto is such a runt that it may be getting kicked out of the planetary litter (
H.R. 1905: Selling Bricks and Mortar to Congress
H.R. 1905: Selling Bricks and Mortar to Congress
CAN’T AFFORD IT The proper priorities for NSF remain people, equipment and facilities, in that order. Thus, any new program must be viewed in the context of all established programs and evaluated in competition with other high-priority activities. To do otherwise does not accept the reality of the overall budget situation, and at the risk of compromising the standards of excellence we have worked so hard to maintain. Thus, while we support much of the intent and spirit of H.R. 1905, we m

Books etc.

The Master Program of the Human Mind
The Master Program of the Human Mind
MENTAL PROCESSES Studies in Cognitive Science. H. Christopher Longuet-Higgins. The MIT Press in cooperation with The British Psychological Society, Cambridge, MA, 1987. 424 pp. $35. In the late 1960s, H. Christopher Longuet-Higgins said goodbye to theoretical chemistry and began his study of the- workings of the mind. Since then he has conducted innovative research at the University of Edinburgh and the Centre for Research in Perception and Cognition at Sussex. His work encompasses nearly e
Chernobyl Still in the Limelight, on Stage
Chernobyl Still in the Limelight, on Stage
SARCOPHAGUS Vladimir Gubaryev. Translated by Michael Glenny. On stage at The Pit in London April through June. At the Mermaid Theatre in London October through December. Available from Penguin Books, Middlesex, 1987. 81 pp. £3.50. A funny thing happened in the London theater this summer with the production of a Russian play called Sarcophagus at The Pit, an intimate little “off-Broadway" type playhouse in the city, far from the West End theaters. Sarcophagus, produced by the Royal
When the Scientific Community Turned Pro
When the Scientific Community Turned Pro
THE LAUNCHING OF MODERN AMERICAN SCIENCE 1846-1876. Robert V. Bruce. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1987. 446 pp. $30. In this long-awaited book, Robert Bruce discusses the major scientific events of mid-l9th century America, including Joseph Henry’s discovery of electromagnetic induction, the debate over Darwinism led by Ass Gray and Louis Agassiz, and J. Willard Gibbs’ development of statistical thermodynamics, among others. Like most who have written on the topic, Bruce focuses on
Taking Evolutionary Responsibility
Taking Evolutionary Responsibility
ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION Conserving the Diversity of Life. Woridwatch Paper 78. Edward C. Wolf. Woridwatch Institute, Washington. DC, 1987. 54 pp. $4. Considerable attention has been focused recently on the potential for degrading and destroying ecosystems (particularly tropical ecosystems) and the accompanying loss of species as a result of increased human activities. The controversy over the magnitude of projected species loss has caught the public’s attention. For those interested
Forthcoming Books
Forthcoming Books
BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE Modern Biotechnology S B Penrose. Blackwell Scientific: September, 200 pp, $24.95. Provides detailed information on recombinant DNA technology, industrial microbiology, monoclonal antibodies, and plant and animal cell culture; includes a discussion of the legal, social and ethical issues surrounding biotechnology. EARTH SCIENCE Deformation of Sediments and Sedimentary Rocks (No. 28). M.E. Jones and R.M.F. Preston, eds. Blackwell Scientific: September, 360 pp, $90. Reports

Happenings

Happenings
Happenings
Robert Hoffmann, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, has been named Assistant Secretary for Research, effective January 1, 1988. Prior to joining the Smithsonian staff, Hoffmann was Summerfield Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and curator of mammals at the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History. As assistant secretary, Hoffmann will serve as the principal adviser to the secretary and undersecretary on the Smit

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
Who’s the Boss? Conviction is growing throughout NASA and the aerospace industry that neither NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher nor Presidential Science Advisor William R. Graham, Jr., is providing leadership for strong civil space program action and support for aggressive new space goals. Many of the country’s most experienced space managers are threatening to quit, while others express open hostility and disappointment with the U.S. space program’s top management. The Wh

Profession

Sponsors With Arms Control Programs
Sponsors With Arms Control Programs
AAAS Fellowships: W. Thomas Wander, AAAS, 1333 H St., N.W., Washington, DC 20005. (202) 326-6496, Brookings Institution: Center for Public Policy Education. 177$ Massachusetts Ave., N.W.. Washington, DC 20036- (202) 797-6000. Columbia U.: W. Averell Harriman Institute for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union. 420 W. 118th St., 12th Floor, New York, NY 10027. (212) 280-4623. Harvard U.: Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government. 79 John F. Kennedy St., Ca
Science Shortages: Real or Not?
Science Shortages: Real or Not?
Shortages and surpluses in supply and demand for scientists and engineers seem to be recurrent. A January 17, 1953 headline in the New York Times read: “Lack of Scientists is Called Critical: 2nd Report of U.S. Foundation says Russia is Outdistancing Us in Engineering Graduates.” A Wall Street Journal article quoted in the Congressional Record (Vol. 110, February 27,. 1964) questioned whether there was really a shortage of scientists and engineers (S/E) that year. After Apollo's s