August 1989

News

Supercomputer Installations Gearing Up For Next Decade
Supercomputer Installations Gearing Up For Next Decade
WASHINGTON-In the beginning there was an idea. And the idea was good: The National Science Foundation would bring high-performance computing to the scientific masses through a national network of supercomputing centers. Although some feared the network would cater to the computational elite, the five centers created in 1985 have now emerged at the crest of an extraordinary electronic revolution that promises to open wide the doors of numerical simulation to scientists in nearly every discipline.
Research On Global Climate Heats Up
Research On Global Climate Heats Up
Until six months ago or so, ecologist H. Ronald Pulliam never bothered with fax machines. Now his work depends on them. Every day he and 20 colleagues use the machines to iron out the details of a multimillion-dollar, multidisciplinary, multi-university proposal to study how plants interact with the atmosphere. But fax machines aren't the only things that have changed the way Pulliam, director of the Institute on Ecology at the University of Georgia, carries out his work on global change. Indeed
New Director Shifts Balance Of Power At Livermore Lab
New Director Shifts Balance Of Power At Livermore Lab
LIVERMORE, CALIF.-Last summer Edward Teller, founder of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, took his protégé, Livermore theoretical physicist Lowell Wood, to the White House. There they met with President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush to discuss Wood's latest idea for a weapon to defend the country against incoming Soviet missiles. Joining them was John Nuckolls, a nuclear physicist who a few months earlier had become the director of Livermore, the Department of
DOE Decision On Health Records Draws Challenges From Skeptics
DOE Decision On Health Records Draws Challenges From Skeptics
The U.S. Department of Energy may well have expected applause when it announced in June that it would allow independent researchers to analyze the health records of workers at the nation's nuclear reactors and weapons facilities. After all, the decision was meant to address the public's growing concern about the environmental impact of the nation's 45-year experience with nuclear materials. At the same time, the decision would reverse a long-time DOE policy of restricting access to its employees
House Vote On SSC Construction Funds Seen As Major Step For Texas Project
House Vote On SSC Construction Funds Seen As Major Step For Texas Project
WASHINGTON-A recent decision by the U.S. House of Representatives to spend $110 million to begin construction of the superconducting supercollider is expected to break a political and financial logjam that has stymied advocates of the 53-mile-long laboratory. The lopsided House vote on June 28 (see page 11 for excerpts of that debate) has been greeted by SSC backers as the first tangible commitment by Congress to build the $6 billion accelerator. Although the mammoth project must now clear a sim
Patient Services Vie For Bigger Share Of AIDS Funds
Patient Services Vie For Bigger Share Of AIDS Funds
WASHINGTON-In the early 1980s, the lonely voices seeking funds for AIDS research were barely audible amid the din from the biomedical community as a whole. Over the past eight years, however, with the public also demanding that science step up its battle against the devastating-disease, the United States government has poured $5.5 billion into the AIDS epidemic, including $2.1 billion in the current year ending September 30. So far, about 40% of that total, nearly $2.2 billion, has been spent on
USDA Proposes Ambitious New Plant Genome Initiative
USDA Proposes Ambitious New Plant Genome Initiative
WASHINGTON-In an ambitious answer to the National Institutes of Health's Human Genome Project, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has sprouted plans for a parallel project to map the genetic structure of key food plants. The proposal, presented by USDA program manager Jerome Miksche at a meeting of the NIH genome project's advisory committee in June, would identify genetic traits that can increase yield and disease resistance. The price tag is estimated to be $500 million over 10 years. In recen
New Astronomical Society Proposed; Will Be First To Span European Borders
New Astronomical Society Proposed; Will Be First To Span European Borders
TENERIFE, SPAIN—Europe's astronomical community, meeting in the Canary Islands last month for its annual convention, has taken steps to establish the first Pan-European astronomical society. In addition to increasing the astronomical community's power by speaking with one coherent voice, one of the major goals of the new European Astronomical Society will be to enable closer collaboration between astronomers in the East and West portions of the continent, and to increase support of the Eas

Briefs

Government Briefs
Government Briefs
Allan Brornley finally got his chance July 21 to appear before the Senate as part of his nomination as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and presidential science adviser. And it seems as though the Yale physicist will be in great demand once he steps into his new job. (The Senate was expected to vote last week to confirm him.) Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.), calling himself "a complete ignoramus on science," invited him to a series of informal breakfast meetings to brief Commer
National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
Three years after the Department of Energy mothballed the $246 million Lawrence Livermore lab Mirror Fusion Test Facility in favor of more promising tokamak designs, lab scientists are scavenging choice parts of the huge machine for a new international fusion project. MFTF magnets worth $11 million will soon form the core of a new facility that will test and certify superconducting material for the proposed four-nation International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, still in the planning stage
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
A team of geneticists working at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a technology that could speed the mapping of the human genome and boost the fortunes of Cytogen Corp., a Princeton, N.J., pharmaceutical firm that suffered record losses last year. Cecilia W. Lo and Jean Richa, two Penn molecular biologists, announced in the July 14 issue of Science that they had successfully transplanted human chromosome fragments into fertilized mouse embryos. Lo says her work, which was funded in pa
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
The advent of neural networks promised the computing world a machine that could actually think for itself-learn as people do, by extrapolating general rules from a set of examples, rather than being bound step-by-step by a program. From the start, however, computer scientists recognized a major problem: explaining how neural networks reached their conclusions. Now the Hecht-Nielsen Neurocomputer Co. has announced that it's developed software to open up and shed light on the "black box" that is t
University Briefs
University Briefs
Ninety-nine percent of all gifts to Cornell University for research and education are restricted grants designated for specific purposes. But between 15% and 20% of these awards do not contribute to the university's general expenses, such as maintenance and utilities. In response to this inequity, Cornell University Provost Robert Barker has introduced a policy requiring that a certain percentage of all gifts must go to pay indirect costs, regardless of the donor's specifications. In some cases
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
As part of a new campaign to increase its visibility and impact, the 103-year-old honorary society Sigma Xi is heading south. The 110,000-member organization, with some 500 chapters and clubs around the country, has decided to sell its headquarters building in New Haven, Conn., and move to Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. "It's one of the most dynamic research milieus in the country," says society president Thomas Malone, "and it's got a can-do spirit that coincides with
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
So what's really new this year from the federal government's treasure chest? A workshop in the nation's capital, slated for Oct. 3 and 4, will discuss 1990 funding priorities in research, development, education, and technical assistance for colleges and universities, medical schools, and private laboratories. Representatives from NSF; NIH; EPA; NOAA; the departments of Defense, Energy, Agriculture, Interior, Education, and Transportation; and the Office of Naval Research will discuss funding out

Opinion

Project 2061: A Place To Start Educating The Public
Project 2061: A Place To Start Educating The Public
Handwringing over "scientific illiteracy" in the United States is at an all-time high. Recent studies of science achievement place U.S. students below students in most other industrial countries, and surveys of U.S. adults reveal that few seem to understand even the most common scientific terms and concepts. Pundits forecast dire consequences of this illiteracy for our nation, ranging from declining economic competitiveness to weakening democratic institutions: Industrialists struggle
SSC Debate: Backers See Spin-Offs, Foes Cite Priorities
SSC Debate: Backers See Spin-Offs, Foes Cite Priorities
[Editor's note: The recent vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on whether to spend $110 million to start building the superconducting supercollider turned out to be a breeze for proponents of the Texas project (see story on page 2). But even with the outcome of the House vote known, the debate offers a fascinating look at the arguments both sides are expected to use throughout the coming decade as Congress wrestles with funding for the $6 billion accelerator. Supporters, in an effort to bl

Commentary

Citation Indexes Can Help Halt The Spread Of Fraudulent Research
Citation Indexes Can Help Halt The Spread Of Fraudulent Research
Last May at the American Medical Association's International Congress on Peer Review in Biomedical Publication, I presented a report on the impact of fraud on scientific literature. Much of the current debate on this issue has focused on the small, but growing, number of papers reporting falsified research that escape the traditional quality control filter of peer review. But little attention has been paid to the question of whether and how these papers impact on research. This question is relev

Letter

Setting A Trend
Setting A Trend
The recent decision of Richard Greenberg to devote a major share of his intellectual effort to teaching (The Scientist, June 12, 1989, page 15) was encouraging for those of us interested in science education. I applaud Greenberg's commitment to foster the education of high school science teachers. High-quality science education at the pre-college level is essential to increase general science literacy in our nation, as well as to increase the number of professional scientists essential for our c
Defending Scripps
Defending Scripps
As I see it, there is one major problem with Harmon Craig's views on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) and my stewardship of it (The Scientist, April 17, 1989, page 1). They, are based on almost total lack of knowledge of and participation in the major programs of the institution. A typical example is sea-floor spreading and continental drift. This is one of the great scientific revelations of our century. Even before I arrived on the scene at Scripps, very important contributions we
Peer Review Policy
Peer Review Policy
In his article entitled "U.S. Research Environment Lures Canadian Scientists..." (The Scientist, May 1, 1989, page 9), Louis Siminovitch laments that persons "with less than the best qualifications" are appointed to peer review committees because of the policy of inclusion of persons from different Canadian geographical areas. According to Siminovitch, "inevitably, this means that the best scientists get shortchanged in their research funds." His prescriptions for reform include having only the

Research

Articles Alert
Articles Alert
The Scientist has asked a group of experts to comment periodically upon recent articles that they have found noteworthy. Their selections, presented here in every issue, are neither endorsements of content nor the result of systematic searching. Rather, the list represents personal choices of articles the columnists believe the scientific community as a whole may also find interesting. Reprints of any articles cited here may be ordered through The Genuine Article, 3501 Market St., Philadelphia,
Science's Go-Go Growth: Has It Started To Slow?
Science's Go-Go Growth: Has It Started To Slow?
The size of science as measured by the number of journals being published "tends to double within a period of 10 to 15 years," Derek J. de Solla Price observed in his 1963 classic book Little Science, Big Science (New York: Columbia University Press). Price found that this "fundamental law," as he called it, held true not only for the period between the end of World War II and the early 1960s, but also consistently since the early 18th century. However, while Price's data sup

Hot Paper

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
W.W. Lamph, P. Wamsley, P. Sassone-Corsi, I.M. Verma, "Induction of proto-oncogene JUN/AP-1 by serum and TPA," Nature, 334 (6183), 629-31, 18 August 1988. William W. Lamph (Molecular Biology and Virology Laboratory, Salk Institute, La Jolla, Calif.): "This paper demonstrates that routine proto-oncogene jun is inducible in NIH 3T3 cells with serum or TPA and, hence, like proto-oncogene fos, belongs to the immediate early family of genes. The coordinate expression of these genes, fos and jun, is
Hot Papers
Hot Papers
T.T.M. Palstra, B. Batlogg, L.F. Schneemeyer, J.V. Waszczak, "Thermally activated dissipation in Bi2.2Sr2Ca0.8Cu208+ð," Physical Review Letters, 61 (14), 1662-5, 3 October 1988. PL. Gammel, L.F. Schneemeyer, J.V. Waszczak, D.J. Bishop, "Evidence from mechanical measurements for flux-lattice melting in single-crystal YBa2Cu3O7 and Bi2.2Sr2Ca0.8Cu2O8," Physical Review Letters, 61 (14), 1666-9, 3 October 1988. Bertram Batlogg (AT&T Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, N.J.): "Both of these papers

Profession

How To Prevent Pitfalls When Pursuing Patent Protection
How To Prevent Pitfalls When Pursuing Patent Protection
When B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann announced that they had achieved cold fusion last March, the scientific community understandably clamored for details. But information was not forthcoming, at least in part because patents were rapidly being filed on the work. Even though scientific secrecy can be maddening in cases such as this, patents are very much a part of science. In today's environment, when even organisms and equations are being patented, filing a patent application can be comp
Billionaire Bren Funds UC-Irvine Program
Billionaire Bren Funds UC-Irvine Program
The University of California, Irvine, has set its sights on an ambitious goal: to become one of the most distinguished research and teaching universities in the United States. Last month, thanks to the generosity of Orange County real estate developer Donald Leroy Bren, UCI took a giant step toward meeting that goal. At a July 18 news conference, the school announced a $1 million contribution from Bren, which, together with his gift of $1.5 million last August, will serve as the founding capital
People: Septuagenarian Scientists To Receive 1989 Kyoto Prizes
People: Septuagenarian Scientists To Receive 1989 Kyoto Prizes
Japan's Inamori Foundation has named its Kyoto Prize laureates for 1989. Since 1985, the foundation has awarded prizes to individuals or groups making significant contributions to advanced technology, basic sciences, and the humanities. Amos Edward Joel Jr., a retired executive consultant at AT&T Bell Laboratories, will receive the Kyoto Prize for his contributions in advanced technology. Joel, 71, developed the electronic switching system, the key to the United States' public communications net

New Products

New Spectrophotometers Prevent Optical Inaccuracies
New Spectrophotometers Prevent Optical Inaccuracies
The spectrophotometer is one of the most frequently used instruments for the identification of unknown chemical compounds, determination of enzymatic activity, analysis of chromatographic separations, and study of polymerization reactions. The sensitivity and performance of a given instrument depend on the quality and design of both the optical and the electronic components. In addition, today's sophisticated spectrophotometers are computer-controlled and thereby facilitate such studies as enzym
New Products
New Products
United Biomedical Inc., based in Lake Success, N.Y., recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market a new type of AIDS antibody screening and diagnostic test. The UBI-Olympus HIV-1 enzyme immunoassay (EIA) was jointly developed by United Biomedical Inc. and Olympus Inc. The UBI-Olympus test will be manufactured by UBI and marketed worldwide by Olympus Optical Co. Ltd. The new AIDS antibody test is based on I highly specific and conserved small peptide segments of