February 1989

News

Images Worth Thousands Of Bits Of Data
Images Worth Thousands Of Bits Of Data
Computer artists transform equations into dramatic simulations at the Ilinois Supercomputer Center. On a hot day in Illinois, a storm is brewing. Above cornfields and a dusty road, a cloud dramatically billows and grows. To the experienced eye of veteran meteorologist Robert Wilhelmson, the gathering tempest looks like a potential tornado. But don't run for the storm cellar. The cloud is only 12 inches high and the sky is just the deep blue background of a computer screen. The whole scene e
NIH Cuts Back On New And Competitive Grants
NIH Cuts Back On New And Competitive Grants
Competition for research funds will heat up, but most scientists sat that NIH is making the right decision. WASHINGTON, D.C.--The National Institutes of Health have long struggled with a painful dilemma. Given finite dollars, how can a funding agency manage to reward proven investigators while still nurturing fresh talent? In recent years, NIH's answer has been to trim existing grants in order to fund more new scientists. But in a recent major change in policy, NIH has decided to sharply redu
In West Germany, Biotechnology Faces Its Day Of Reckoning
In West Germany, Biotechnology Faces Its Day Of Reckoning
The Bundestag is about to hand down a decision whether biotech work can continue FRANKFURT--It's not often that a country grapples publicly with its future in a key area of science and technology. But that's what is happening now in West Germany. Later this month, a plenary session of the Bundestag (the nation's parliament) will begin debating the report of a parliamentary commission, entitled Prospects and Risks of Genetic Engineering, which recommends a total ban on the release of genetical
Waging War On The Animal Rights Lobby
Waging War On The Animal Rights Lobby
Tired of being the defenseless targets of animal rights protestors, scientists are fighting back-and winning. SAN DIEGO--In a laboratory at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif., Michael J. Campbell conducts experiments on mice in an attempt to develop a vaccine for deadly B-cell lymphoma. But the 28-year-old biologist is also fighting what he regards as another deadly affliction, this one a threat to science itself. Two years ago, Stanford proposed building a new facility
NIH Cuts Number But Boosts Size of Competing Grants
NIH Cuts Number But Boosts Size of Competing Grants
TI: 1990 FEDERAL SCIENCE BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS DT: February 6, 1989 PG: 3 TY: NEWS (The Scientist, Vol:3, #3, pg. 3, February 6, 1989) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ---------- (in millions of dollars) AGENCY 1989 1990 % Funded Requested Change NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH Major Organizations: NCI 1,571 1,646 +5 (Cancer) NHLBI 1,045 1,082 +2 (Heart,Lung,Blood) NIDR 130 136 +4 (Dental) NIDDK 559 582 +4 (Diabetes, Digestive, Kidney Diseases) NINDS 480 502 +4 (Neurological Disease) NIAID 743 8
FY 1990: Big Bucks For Big Science
FY 1990: Big Bucks For Big Science
The budget pledges more money for science, but whether this will translate into support for individual scientists remains. WASHINGTON, D.C.--For scientists who depend on funds from NSF and NIH, one important implication of President Reagan's final budget is a new emphasis on raising the size of individual grants. But it's not all good news: The budget, barring radical surgery by Congress, may fund fewer new grants than might be expected. And Reagan's desire to spend more on interdisciplinary c
The Problems Of Physician-Scientists
The Problems Of Physician-Scientists
Are the difficulties of doing both clinical and basic research hampering the progress of medical science? Sir David Weatherall is a worried man. When the Muffield professor of Medicine at Oxford University gazes out at the unsolved problems of medical science, he sees deadly diseases like cancer and circulatory problems still killing people by the millions around the world. And he fears that the diseases may remain scourges because of a failing of the scientific community. "The reason that we
Articles - Plant and Animal Sciences
Articles - Plant and Animal Sciences
Francisco J. Ayala Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology University of California Irvine, Calif. Latimeria chalumnae was discovered 50 years ago, one of a group of fishes (coelacanths) thought to have died out 80 million years ago. Latimeria raised hopes of gathering direct information on the transition from fish to amphibians, because coelacanths were thought to be ancestral to the tetrapods. Studies of Latimeria anatomy and physiology have shown that it is not the missing link betw
Articles - Life Sciences
Articles - Life Sciences
Bernard Dixon European Editorial Offices The Scientist Uxbridge, U.K. A genetically engineered retrovirus has been insterted into yolk sac and other cells and exploited as a marker with which to identify their progeny over time. This ingenious technique is already contributing to the solution of the central problem of embryology - the means by which cells differentiate in response to the program carried in a primordial cell's DNA. J.R. Sanes, "Analysing cell lineage with a recombinant retrov
Articles - Physics
Articles - Physics
Sokartes T. Pantelides IBM Research Division Thomas J. Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, N.Y. A recent paper gives an interesting view, strictly experimental, on the possibility of an electromagnetic "fifth " force, in complete analogy with the highly controversial gravitational fifth force. D.F. Bartlett, S. L"gl, "Limits on an electromagnetic fifth force," Physical Review Letters, 61 (20), 2285, 14 November 1988. The dispersion front of a tracer fluid flowing in a porous medium has
Articles - Geosciences
Articles - Geosciences
Peter J. Smith Department of Earth Sciences Open University Milton Keynes, U.K. An analysis of trace elements in three Chinese Permian-Triassic (P-Tr) boundary sections reveals no enhancement of iridium, thus offering no support for the idea that the P-Tr mass extinctions were due to bolide impact. On the contrary, other trace element concentrations indicate intense volcanism at that time. L. Zhou, F.T. Kyte, "The Permian-Triassic boundary event: A geochemical study of three Chinese sections
Articles - Chemistry
Articles - Chemistry
Mary Anne Fox Department of Earth Sciences University of Texas, Austin Austin, Tex. The Seventh International Conference on Organic Synthesis (July 1988) provided an excellent overview of rapidly developing methodology in the field. The lead-off lecture, published as a journal article, highlights synthetic applications of stereospecific radical reactions, the role of organic tellurides as accumulators and exchangers of carbon radicals, and the palladium-mediated conversion of organotellurides
New Products
New Products
The development of composite materials has advanced tremendously since the days when artisans hand-forged high- and low-carbon irons or steels to make a lighter, tougher samurai sword. Today's advanced composites are manufactured in a variety of ways to produce stronger, lighter-weight, and more heat-resistant substances than the metals they replace. Composed of thread-like fibers of graphite, boron, or aramid embedded in a matrix of resin, metal, or other material, advanced composites have hu

Briefs

National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
Volume: 3, #3The Scientist February 6, 1989 NATIONAL LAB BRIEFS Plasma Lab Chilled By DOE If the last three months are any indication, it's going to be a tough year for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. In November Robert Hunter, director of DOE's Office of Energy Research, dropped a bombshell by withdrawing $12.5 million of the $20 million that the lab had already committed to remodeling the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor to make possible higher energies. Hunter is said
Government Briefs
Government Briefs
A feud is brewing between the two health agencies that should be collaborating on the federal effort to combat cancer and AIDS. On one side are gung-ho researchers at the National Cancer Institute who want to test novel therapies as quickly as possible; on the other are the go-slow regulators at the Food and Drug Administration who insist on safety. FDA's detailed regulations governing clinical trials are so frustrating to researchers, grumbles Bruce Chabner, head of NCI's division of cancer t
University Briefs
University Briefs
University departments of chemistry and physics are suffering because of declining numbers of students. So what should they do to attract more bright young minds? One answer, says Alan McClelland, NSF deputy director of the science and engineering education division, is emphasizing the potential financial payoffs of a degree in chemistry or physics. At the Council of Scientific Society Presidents' recent annual meeting, McClelland argued that the fields of biology and computer science have con
Private Institute Briefs
Private Institute Briefs
For the past two years, intrepid astronomer Arthur Vaughn has been trying to save the Mount Wilson Observatory and its 100-inch Hooker telescope (The Scientist, June 27, 1988, page 5). The Carnegie Institute had planned to close the historic facility in 1985, when its interest shifted to a new observatory in Las Campanas, Chile. And federal money to keep the observatory open wasn't available in a time of declining budgets for astronomy. So Vaughn, who believes that the 85-year-old facility sti
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
The EPA has incurred the wrath of the biotechnology industry with its draft of new biotech regulations. Both the Industrial Biotechnology Association (IBA) and the Association of Biotechnology Companies (ABC) took a gander at the draft regulations at an EPA Biotechnology Science Advisory Committee meeting December 21 and promptly fired off press releases expressing their ire. The draft regulations - which were to be formally proposed at the end of January - represent a step backward for the EP
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
Physicist George Pratt's invention has found its niche, but it didn't happen easily. Pratt, a professor in MIT's department of electrical engineering and computer science, had devised an ultrasound method that could be used to test bone strength. The patented technology was initially licensed to Equine Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology Inc. (Unionville, Pa.) for use in the examination of horses' legs. When that idea fizzled, EQB licensed the technology to businessman Thomas Sherwin, preside
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
Appointment of a new executive director is expected to be announced early this year by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation of New York, and one of the programs the new director will review and probably tinker with is the grant program in chemistry for liberal arts colleges. This program provides $45,000 for each of 10 schools to pair a recent Ph.D. in chemistry as a teaching fellow with an established chemistry professor as mentor. The foundation staff is considering proposing some improv

Opinion

A Dangerous Form of Eugenics Is Creeping Back Into Science
A Dangerous Form of Eugenics Is Creeping Back Into Science
Most people think we have come a long way from the sordid days of blatant eugenics, when everything from thalassophilia (love of the sea, or nomadism) to prostitution, rebelliousness, criminality, mental illness, and personality traits were thought to be inherited. That was all supposed to have ended when the Nazis revealed the true nightmare of eugenic ideas with their "final solution." But like the endless number of movie sequels that have overrun our theaters, eugenics is back with a new cas
The Surprising Nature of Scientific Genius
The Surprising Nature of Scientific Genius
We now live in an age of "big science." Large laboratories supported by generous grants churn out hundreds of technical articles. The author list on a paper's title page can easily consume a dozen lines, and so many scientists may contribute to a given discovery that the Nobel Prize committee can find it impossible to determine which three names shall be cast in gold. Contemporary science has become so big, indeed, that it can strain the sizable resources of a big economy, a fact epitomized by

Letter

Letter - No Need For Religion
Letter - No Need For Religion
Judging from the opinions recently expressed in these pages on religion vs. science, religious scientists seem to fall into two categories. Some feel that religion and science are such different dimensions of the same thing that they can coexist without conflict. Others see them as coincident perspectives, and therefore mutually interdependent. Either way, these people are persuaded that science and religion are compatible. I suppose it would be nice if, as a scientist, I could have the comfo
Letters
Letters
I am surprised that The Scientist should see fit to publish notone, but two such pieces of shoddy reasoning as the articles by Norbert Muller and James Magner (December 26, 1988, page 9). Neither article performs what it sets out to do (that is, prove the existence of God); both articles present arguments that actually lead to the opposite conclusion. Muller correctly argues the necessity of some assumptions resting more or less on "faith." He provides no reason whatever for choosing a religio
Letters
Letters
I'd like to weigh in with some observations concerning the compatibility between religion and science discussed in recent editorials. Scientists who believe in a volitional God aren't going against any scientific evidence. Indeed, it's hard to imagine what could constitute scientific proof that God doesn't exist. Phrasing this another way, the existence of God is not a fully testable proposition. If the question of the existence of God is viewed from a scientific perspective, this untestabil
Letters
Letters
Excessive citation of a scientific article may not be a commendation, but rather a condemnation. An example is to be found in your "Hot Papers" section of the December 12, 1988, issue of The Scientist (page 13). The article by Guo, Langlois, and Goddard has been roundly criticized. Perhaps this accounts for the extensive citation. This phenomenon should be a well-recognized limitation of citation indexes. JAMES P. COLLMAN Professor of Chemistry Stanford University Stanford, Calif. 94305
Letters
Letters
Sen. Proxmire gave more than "Golden Fleece Awards" (The Scientist, December 12, 1988, page 17), he also gave Americans a "Golden Fleece Law." In 1976, Proxmire's vitamin bill greatly restricting FDA's regulation of the safety and effectiveness of nutritional supplements slipped through Congress despite opposition from public health and consumer groups. The bill was backed primarily by manufacturers of these dubious products and by the health foods industry. To my knowledge, this was the only b
Letters
Letters
I have hesitated to get involved in the debate on science and religion. If there is any subject that cannot be debated rationally and productively it is religion. But Dr. N. Muller's assertion that religious faith and a belief in God are prerequisites for doing "fruitful" science (The Scientist, December 26, 1988, page 9) contains so many outrageous statements that I am drawn into the fray. First, let us deal with his statement: "It is no accident that the culture in which modern science deve

Commentary

Journal Editors Owe Readers Timely Action On Retractions
Journal Editors Owe Readers Timely Action On Retractions
It is a truism that we live in a litigious age. More than ever before, it seems, neighbor is inclined to sue neighbor - and at the drop of a hat. As I know all too well, proprietors and managers in business spend inordinate time with lawyers. Frequently, business people must appear in court to deal with what can only be described as nuisance suits. Physicians, too, have been forced into a defensive posture. Many are ordering more diagnostic tests than their patients really need to avoid malpra

Research

Why Cancer Researchers Are Tackling Twists In DNA
Why Cancer Researchers Are Tackling Twists In DNA
In the preface to The Double Helix, James Watson wrote of his intuition that DNA's structure would be "simple as well as pretty." While the double-helical molecule turned out to be elegant indeed, its structure poses complex problems. For example, how does DNA undergo replication - which involves unraveling and supercoiling - without tying itself into a mass of knots and tangles? The solution to DNA's topological problems comes in the form of enzymes called topoisomerases that serve as "swivel

Hot Paper

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
The articles listed below - all less than a year old - have received a sub- stantially greater number of citations than others of the same type and vintage. A citation-tracking algorithm of the Institute for Scientific Information has identified these articles. A. Juris, V. Balzani, F. Barigelletti, S. Campagna, P. B, A. von Zelewsky, "Ru(II) polypyridine complexes: Photophysics, photochemistry, electrochemistry, and chemiluminescence," Coordination Chemistry Reviews, 84, 85-277, March 1988.
Hot Papers
Hot Papers
L. A. Chodosh, A.S. Baldwin, R.W. Carthew, P.A. Sharp, "Human CCAAT-binding proteins have heterologous subunits," Cell, 53 (1), 11-24, 8 April 1988. L.A. Chodosh, J. Olesen, S. Hahn, A.S. Baldwin, L. Guarente, P.A. Sharp, "A yeast and a human CCAAT-binding protein have heterologous subunits that are functionally interchangeable," Cell, 53 (1), 25-35, 8 April 1988. M.A.J. Ferguson, "Cell-surface anchoring of proteins via glycosyl- phos- phatidylinositol structures," Annual Review of Biochemis
Hot Papers
Hot Papers
J.H. Kang, R.T. Kampwirth, K.E. Gray, S. Marsh, E.A. Huff, "Superconductivity in thin films of the Bi-Ca-Sr-Cu-O system," Physics Letters A, 128 (1,2), 102-4, 21 March 1988. Z.Z. Sheng, A.M. Hermann, "Superconductivity in the rare-earth-free Tl-Ba-Cu-O system," Nature, 332 (6159), 55-8, 3 March 1988. Z.Z. Sheng, A.M. Hermann, A. El Ali, C. Almasan, J. Estrada, T. Datta, R.J. Matson, "Superconductivity at 90 K in the Tl-Ba-Cu-O system," Physical Review Letters, 60 (10), 937-40, 7 March 1988.

Profession

MacArthur Foundation: An End to `Genius Awards' in Science?
MacArthur Foundation: An End to `Genius Awards' in Science?
Scientists fantasizing about a phone call out of the blue saying that the MacArthur Foundation wants to give them several hundred thousand dollars they haven't even asked for may have to start reworking their daydreams. For when John Corbally retires as president of the $2.5 billion John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in May after 10 years on the job, there may well be some changes in the foundation's science funding. Corbally says that the Chicago-based foundation's so-called "geniu
MACARTHUR'S 1988 SCIENCE ""GENIUSES""
MACARTHUR'S 1988 SCIENCE ""GENIUSES""
-------------------------------------------------- TI: MACARTHUR'S 1988 SCIENCE "GENIUSES" DT: February 6, 1989 PG: 14 TY: PROFESSION (The Scientist, Vol:3, #3, pg. 14, February 6, 1989) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) ---------- Charles Archambeau, a theoretical geophysicist at the University of Colorado whose work on seismic source theory has had implications for nuclear weapons testing and testing detection. Philip DeVries, a lepidopterist whose work in Costa Rica has been critical for tr
AIRI'S TOP 10 NIH GRANT AWARDEES: 1987
AIRI'S TOP 10 NIH GRANT AWARDEES: 1987
INSTITUTE FUNDING AIRI'S TOP 10 NIH GRANT AWARDEES: 1987($ millions) Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation 23.6 Salk Institute for Biological Studies 9.1 Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology 7.4 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 7.4 Jackson Laboratory 6.8 Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology 6.6 Eye Research Institute of Retina Foundation 5.2 La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation 4.3 Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation 4.0 Public Health Research Institute of the City of New Yor
NIH Funding: Independent Labs Have Best Success Rate
NIH Funding: Independent Labs Have Best Success Rate
Compared to university- and hospital-affiliated labs, independent research labs apply for few NIH grants. And the research money they eventually receive amounts to less than 10% of what NIH gives out. However, if you were to look at their success rate in getting grants, the independents outdo their counterparts at universities and hospitals. That conclusion can be drawn from a comparison NIH recently made of various classes of applicants' success rates (the percentage of research applications
Desktop Visualization: A New Reality
Desktop Visualization: A New Reality
Every day, researchers at the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputer Applications remind themselves of one all-important rule: be famous, not popular. They simply can't collaborate with every researcher who wants to turn data into stunning images. So to keep the nation's scientists from descending on the midwestern computer wonderland, several NCSA projects are trying to take the supercomputer mountain to Mohammed. They aim to someday put the power of "visualization" on the d
Hirohito: The Late Japanese Emperor Was A Dedicated Marine Biologist
Hirohito: The Late Japanese Emperor Was A Dedicated Marine Biologist
The Late Japanese Emperor Was A Dedicated Marine Biologist Neil W. Isaacs R.D. Haun, Jr. Benoit Mandelbrot and Karl Knop Edgar S. Woolard, Jr. Japan's Emperor Hirohito, who died in Tokyo early last month at the age of 87, was a dedicated scientist who devoted much of his life to the study and support of marine biology. According to a 1987 interview with Grand Chamberlain Yoshihiro Tokugawa, who served the emperor for 50 years at the Imperial Palace, Hirohito's affinity for the bio