December 1989

News

Industry-Supported Labs Battle To Gain Respect
Industry-Supported Labs Battle To Gain Respect
PALO ALTO, CALIF.—It wasn’t very good news for the public.., or for the electric power industry. Researchers had found that sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants could aggravate the condition of asthmatics. But the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), which financed the research, didn’t flinch. EPRI was created in 1972 to support research on subjects that are important to the electric utility industry. Its $379 million annual budget comes entirely from contribut
When Big Science Fails To Deliver, Researchers Invent New Strategies
When Big Science Fails To Deliver, Researchers Invent New Strategies
Harold Furth could see the hard times coming. Oil prices were dropping and, with them, the prospects for funding research into alternative energies such as fusion, his specialty. So, like others in his field during the early 1980s, the head of the Princeton Plasma Laboratory started promoting his program as good basic research, rather than as the pursuit of a working fusion reactor. Meanwhile, researchers in pursuit of a malaria vaccine had their own troubles. Serious scientific obstacles h
The 1991 Budget: More Promises, Less Money
The 1991 Budget: More Promises, Less Money
WASHINGTON—Although the 1991 budget that President Bush will present to Congress next month is expected to propose bigger budgets for many science research programs, the sobering truth is that there isn’t going to be enough money available to support the programs. The budget, still in preparation and scheduled to be delivered January 8 to Congress, is expected to contain major increases in a variety of scientific projects already under way. The figures could be as large as $400 m
Audubon Count Now Serves Science, Too
Audubon Count Now Serves Science, Too
Imagine a research team 42,000 members strong. Ranging in age from 9 to 90, they’re up before dawn in their quest to outdo one another in a daylong data collection binge. Then contemplate a database with more than a billion entries. It spans 90 years and includes more than a thousand species of birds sighted in the Western Hemisphere. That’s the Audubon Society Christmas, Bird Count, the world’s largest and oldest wildlife survey. A statistician’s nightmare? Possibl
NSF Stresses Publication Quality, Education With New Grant Format
NSF Stresses Publication Quality, Education With New Grant Format
WASHINGTON—The National Science Foundation has changed its format for proposals in a strong message to applicants about what their priorities should be. The new format reflects the nation’s increasing concern about the training of new scientists and information overload. On October 1, NSF began requiring that all proposals include a statement about a proposed project’s educational potential and a list of the young scientists being trained in the applicant’s laborato
Astronomers Scramble To Salvage Data From Hipparcos
Astronomers Scramble To Salvage Data From Hipparcos
CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—Four months after their $500 million satellite failed to settle into its target orbit, European space scientists are hoping to salvage as much as half of the data that they expected to receive from the Hipparcos mission. Their optimism is based on weeks of hard work modifying the hardware and software that control the astronomical observatory to mitigate the scientific impact of the satellite’s failure to reach its proper orbit. Ironically, the reduced flow of
Firm Recycles NSF-Sponsored Research Into New Plant
Firm Recycles NSF-Sponsored Research Into New Plant
Since 1972, the National Science Foundation’s Industry University Cooperative Research Center program has been uniting private firms and academic institutions in setting up university centers that aim to conduct industrially relevant research. While over the years new products occasionally have resulted from these collaborations, until six weeks ago no IUCRC had ever spun off an entirely new manufacturing facility. But on October 30, a Philadelphia-based firm opened a plastics-recycling
Nobelist Hoffmann To Host Chemistry Series For PBS
Nobelist Hoffmann To Host Chemistry Series For PBS
Although it’s certainly lively enough, it’s not “The Cosby Show.” And while it’s about science, it’s not as grandiose as “Cosmos,” the $30 million astronomy extravaganza hosted by Carl Sagan a few years ago. But for Nobel laureate Roald Hoffmann, “The World of Chemistry,” a 26-segment television series produced for the Public Broadcasting System, is a vehicle that’s sufficiently entertaining and stylish to convey his enthusia
Ex-EPA Official Heads New Institute On Health Risks
Ex-EPA Official Heads New Institute On Health Risks
PASADENA, CALIF.—An industry-funded research institute that pledges to be independent of the companies that are funding it is the latest player in the debate on, the environmental and public health risk of toxic chemicals. The Institute for Evaluating Health Risks (IEHR) says it is the nation’s first independent institute formed to specifically address environment-related health risks. It was put together by ethicist Charles Powers, a former philosophy professor at Yale Universi
Ex-Dentist Cited For Pain Research
Ex-Dentist Cited For Pain Research
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has presented its second annual Award for Distinguished Achievement in Pain Research to Ronald Dubner. Dubner, 55, is chief of the Neurobiology and Anesthesiology Branch of the National Institute, of Dental Research at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.. Dubner was the first to identify specific pain-sensing cells (nociceptors) and their connections to the central nervous system. Prior to his work, it had been believed that the nerves in the skin respond

Briefs

Government Briefs
Government Briefs
Faces In The Crowd November has been a busy time for personnel moves at important science policy positions in and around the government. They include: John Toll, a physicist and former chancellor of the University of Maryland, who was named president of the Universities Research Association Inc. URA, a consortium of 72 schools with strong programs in particle physics, operates the Superconducting Supercollider laboratory being built outside Dallas under contract with the Department of Energy
National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
Los Alamos Wins Laser War... An outbreak of pragmatism in the Defense Department’s “Star Wars” program has tipped the balance toward Los Alamos National Lab in its 10-year competition with Lawrence Livermoew National Labs to develop a ground-based free-electron laser. in October, the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization picked Los Alamos and its partner, Boeing Aerospace and Electronics, for the $500 million project. The decision will mean $75 million over the next five
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
Faster Sequencing Ahead A Foster Park, Calif., firm feels it could be holding the key to speedy completion of the human genome project. Applied Biosystems Inc. is developing a device called a sequencer front end that would take over much of the manually done chemical sequencing reactions that now limit the speed of automated sequencers. The publicly owned company, abiotech equipment maker that recorded $160 million in sales last year, is hoping the new device will be ready by the end of next y
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
IEEE Delegation In The Soviet Union Eight members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. returned home from their visit to the Soviet Union with basically what they were looking for—more insight into the Soviets’ research in optoelectronics. The IEEE delegation met with its engineering counterpart, the A.S. Popov Society, for the first time since 1984 (The Scientist, July 24, 1989, page 8), and toured Soviet industries, labs, and universities in Moscow and Le
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
Summer With The Navy Each summer, the U.S. Navy opens its doors to university scientists and engineers who want to work temporarily at 19 Navy research and development centers. The program, which is administered by the American Society for Engineering Education, offers three levels of appointments: summer faculty fellows, who must have two years’ teaching and research experience; senior fellows, who must have conducted research for five years and have significant publications; and distin

Opinion

Nobelist Roald Hoffmann: Chemist, Poet, Above All A Teacher
Nobelist Roald Hoffmann: Chemist, Poet, Above All A Teacher
[Editor’s note: Next spring, Cornell University professor Roald Hoffmann will be honored by his peers with the American Chemical Society’s Priestley Medal, the society’s highest award. For Hoffmann, 52, it won’t be his first trip to a dais. He is a Nobel laureate, having won the 1981 prize for chem- istry. And, as the recipient of both the A.C. Cope Award in Organic Chemistry and the ACS’s award for inor- ganic chemistry, he is the only person in the history of the

Commentary

Urgently Needed: New Methods Of Teaching Our Youngsters Science And Math
Urgently Needed: New Methods Of Teaching Our Youngsters Science And Math
There is increasing clamor for better education in mathematics and science---especially since the failure of innovations such as New Math and Discovery Learning—and it is not surprising that the slogan “back to basics” has appeal. Indeed, it would be desirable to have, everyone well-schooled in reading, writing, and basic arithmetic operations. But a return to the old methods will not achieve this. The Report on the Second International Mathematics Study of 1987 found R

Letter

NSF Funds
NSF Funds
The recent article “NSF Reinstitutes Training Grants To Spur Interdisciplinary Science” (The Scientist, Oct. 2, 1989, page 1) leads me to wonder if NSF has fully considered the availability of jobs and research funding for the trainees once they get their degrees. It appears that many of these students will be trained in fields in which research is done primarily at universities. To make adequate use of their training they will need startup funds and ongoing grant support in amount
Latin American Science
Latin American Science
The Oct. 30, 1989, issue of The Scientist contained a report in the University Briefs section [page 6] about the creation of a Western Hemisphere sister institute to the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. We at Fermilab have had a similar program of cooperation with developing nations of Latin America. However, we put major stress on experimental science and technology, with the thought that collaboration here would be more relevant to the needs of development. Our
COMPUTATIONAL SCIENCE
COMPUTATIONAL SCIENCE
COMPUTATIONAL SCIENCE BY BRUCE G. BUCHANAN Department of Computer Science University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa. " Diagnosis in medicine has been a testbed for developing ideas about troubleshooting in .engineering disciplines. A recently published paper addresses a fundamental problem of defining the variety of knowledge structures—including causal models—needed to support a broad spectrum of reasoning mechanisms used in diagnosis. A systematic method of defining concepts and l

Research

Limnology Papers Focus On Pollutant Levels In Fish And Fresh Water Systems
Limnology Papers Focus On Pollutant Levels In Fish And Fresh Water Systems
In the past few years, the problem of ocean pollution has captured the attention of the media and the public, especially in the wake of such disasters as the washing up of medical waste on the New Jersey shoreline in the summer months of 1988. The media and the public have yet to focus in the same way on the problem of pollution of inland freshwater, including lakes, ponds and streams. Scientists working in the field of limnology, however, have been quietly studying this issue for more than t
Plant and Animal Sciences
Plant and Animal Sciences
PLANT AND ANIMAL SCIENCES BY PETER D. MOORE Department of Biology King's College London, U.K. The cycads are an unusual group of gymnosperms in that they are pollinated by insects rather than by wind. In a study of the Mexican cycad, Zamia furfuracea, pollination was found to be dependent on a single insect species, the host-specific snout weevil, which completes its entire life cycle within the cones of this plant. Hatching, feeding, mating, and oviposition all take place within the male co
Chemistry
Chemistry
CHEMISTRY BY RON MAGOLDA Medical Products Department E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. Wilmington, Del. " Rather than using triple-helix formation and DNA-binding proteins, a new approach is discussed that can sequence specifically cleaved supercoiled double-stranded DNAs by a hybrid nuclease utilizing D-loop formation. This design technology should facilitate the manipulation and mapping of genetic DNA. D.R. Corey, D. Pei, P.G. Schulz, "Sequence-selective hydrolysis of duplex DNA by an oligonuc

New Products

Streak Makes Gain In Price Performance
Streak Makes Gain In Price Performance
Scientists who study the rapidly occurring optical phenomena associated with the photoluminescent analysis of semiconductor materials, as well as those who conduct energy relaxation and transfer studies and laser, optical fiber, or optical logic research, often need specialized detectors, known as streak cameras, to analyze their data successfully. Streak cameras focus incoming photons onto a photocathode, which converts them into a beam of photoelectrons proportionate to incoming intensity. A

Hot Paper

HOTPAPERS
HOTPAPERS
B. Vogelstein, E.R. Fearon, S.R. Hamilton, S.E. Kern, et al., “Genetic alterations during colorectal-tumor development,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 319,525-32, 1 September 1988. Bert Vogelstein (Molecular Genetics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, Baltimore): “It is widely believed that cancer is the result of a series of genetic alterations. This paper is important because it lends substantial support to this belief with regard to one of the most common hu

Profession

Science Societies: A Source Of Leads For The Job Hunter
Science Societies: A Source Of Leads For The Job Hunter
Membership in scientific societies can offer a lot—meetings, newsletters, dialogue with peers, and so forth—to working scientists firmly ensconced in their careers. But what about the nonworking scientists— those who are finishing graduate school and seeking employment— or discontented researchers in hot pursuit of a career change? For them as well, professional associations can be the source of significant assistance and support as they take on the odious task of job
Research Funding By Invitation Only: The Packard Foundation Fellowships
Research Funding By Invitation Only: The Packard Foundation Fellowships
Officials at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation are keenly aware that without strong university-based research—and without bright, university-educated scientists and engineers—companies like Hewlett-Packard Co., the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer giant; would not be where they are today; That was the idea behind the 25-year-old foundation’s launching last year of the University Research Fellowships program. The program supports young science and engineering faculty ju

Technology

New Vistas For Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
New Vistas For Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy now standard in chemistry laboratories, is also fast becoming part of the technologic repertoire of biochemists, geologists, materials scientists, and even food scientists and farmers. In the early years of this analytical tool, its applications were largely confined to the physical sciences. Now, however, several major advances have fine-tuned and, at the same time, expanded the capabilities of NMR, so that today the technology is proving valuable in a