February 1992

News

Rockefeller University Regaining Balance Under Its New President
Rockefeller University Regaining Balance Under Its New President
As the eminent institution moves to recover from the David Baltimore scandal, some scientists continue in assessing its impact A business-as-usual mood prevails these days at New York City's Rockefeller University. The prestigious research institution is moving to regain its balance following the dizzying chain of events leading to the December resignation of scandal-hounded scientist David Baltimore from its presidency. Meanwhile, university scientists and administrators around the United St
Democratic Presidential Contenders Have Little To Say On The Subject Of Research
Democratic Presidential Contenders Have Little To Say On The Subject Of Research
While the five hopefuls have opinions on such matters as education and science funding, their views lack depth WASHINGTON--The five major Democratic contenders for president of the United States generally agree that the country needs to strengthen its technology base, that spending on civilian research should be increased, and that universities remain the key to the nation's scientific preeminence. At the same time, they differ over whether it makes sense to build the superconducting supercol
Survey: Schools Discourage Women Scientists
Survey: Schools Discourage Women Scientists
The fiercely competitive atmosphere in introductory courses is said to cause more females than males to drop out of science WASHINGTON--College professors are too eager to weed out students enrolled in introductory science classes, say two sociologists from the University of Colorado, Boulder. And women, disproportionately more than men, appear to fall victim to the rigid practice. Thus, the sociologists say, many women are abandoning their interest in pursuing careers in science not because t
New IoM President Worries About Biomedicine's Image
New IoM President Worries About Biomedicine's Image
WASHINGTON--Biomedical researchers need to win over the public to survive attacks on their integrity and answer questions about the value of their work to society, says cardiologist Kenneth Shine, the new president of the Institute of Medicine (IoM). "We have to work harder to bolster confidence in universities and in research," says Shine, named last month to a five-year term as president of the 470-member institute that is closely affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences. "People hav
At Michigan: The Search May Also Be The Answer
At Michigan: The Search May Also Be The Answer
A new chemistry course at the University of Michigan is part of a new wave of undergraduate science courses intended to appeal to a broader mix of students. It emphasizes the active search for solutions instead of asking students to demonstrate a perfunctory knowledge of the "right" answer. The Michigan instructors, Seyhan Ege and Brian Coppola, teach an introductory organic chemistry course called "Structure and Reactivity." They do not grade on a curve, and they do not threaten students with

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
Holiday Memories of Shakhashiri Global Warming Generates A Heat At Los Alamos Going The Extra Mile For Science Who Needs Supercomputers, Anyway? It's been more than a year since University of Wisconsin chemist Bassam Shakhashiri was removed as head of the National Science Foundation's science education directorate, but the memory of his five-year campaign for a $600 million budget for the program--as well as his clashes with former NSF director Erich Bloch--have lingered on, even at Yul

Opinion

Misconduct In Research: An Ethical Problem For All
Misconduct In Research: An Ethical Problem For All
Scientific misconduct, to most scientists, is an ethical issue in academic life. It is rapidly becoming a legal issue as well, which was underscored by the convening of a recent conference on the issue. The conference, entitled "Misconduct in Science--Recurring Issues, Fresh Perspectives," was held in Cambridge, Mass., on Nov. 15 and 16, 1991. The average scientist now has cause to worry. At the conference, Jules Hallum, director of the National Institutes of Health's Office of Scientific Inte
The Plague Of Plagiarism Persists In Modern Science
The Plague Of Plagiarism Persists In Modern Science
Keen insight into the problem of plagiarism in modern science can be gained from a late-1960s report by Anatol Rapoport, a mathematical biologist. Rapoport, then on the faculty of the University of Michigan, chaired the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Study Committee on Ethics and Responsibilities of Scientists. Under Rapoport's supervision, the committee had conducted a landmark questionnaire study relating to science ethics. The questionnaire was sent to 5,000 AAAS memb

Letter

The Seeds Of Confusion?
The Seeds Of Confusion?
When names have become long-established through extensive usage, prudence indeed will dictate caution in avoiding their use, even if by doing so one can avoid giving offense. Clarity in scientific papers is hard enough to come by. Only confusion can reign if writers are to be enjoined from referring by name to the subjects of their work. Yet such prohibitions are precisely what Melvin Hunter proposes in his Opinion piece entitled "Racist Relics: An Ugly Blight On Our Botanical Nomenclature" in
Defining A Theory
Defining A Theory
I found the recent letter to the editor by Greg Bogart (The Scientist, Nov. 25, 1991, page 14), regarding acceptance of the theories of evolution and creationism, to be unacceptable itself. He argues that evolution and creationism are both theories and that, even though we may agree with one but not the other, both theories deserve consideration. As a scientist, I find such an argument untenable. In order for a proposition to be considered a theory, it must be supported by a substantial body
Scientists As Advocates
Scientists As Advocates
Elie A. Shneour identifies the urgent need for scientists to become advocates in his commentary entitled "United States Science Under Siege" (The Scientist, Nov. 11, 1991, page 14). I agree, and further suggest that the science community adopt new standards for public responsibility based on the reality that the continued flow of public funds depends upon the flow of value back to the public. I propose that members of the science community dedicate one hour a week to communicating to the publi

Commentary

Awards And Recognition In Science: A Distortion Of Reality
Awards And Recognition In Science: A Distortion Of Reality
From childhood, I harbored the ambition of becoming a physician and research scientist. I also harbored some misconceptions about my chosen career: One was that recognition comes to scientists without much effort on their part--after all, the news media frequently conveyed the notion that winners of prestigious prizes are surprised by the news of their award. Another was that prize-winning scientists are brighter and more creative than other scientists. I have long since shed these misconcepti

Research

Carbohydrate Research Offers Sugar-Coated Opportunities
Carbohydrate Research Offers Sugar-Coated Opportunities
Long the poor cousins of proteins--and now the darlings of the biotechnology industry--carbohydrates are coming into their own as objects of research. Among the four basic biochemicals of life (along with fats, proteins, and nucleic acids), they are the focal point of a hot new area of inquiry, dubbed "glycobiology" by some of its proponents. And the number of startups capitalizing on new discoveries about carbohydrates by designing novel drugs is growing. "I think the biotechnology of complex

Hot Paper

Chemistry
Chemistry
R.D. Johnson, G. Meijer, D.S. Bethune, "C60 has icosahedral symmetry," Journal of the American Chemical Society, 112:8983- 84, 1990. Robert D. Johnson (IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, Calif.): "C60, `buckminsterfullerene,' has 60 carbon atoms, and the proposed molecular structure of a truncated icosahedron means that all 60 carbons must be chemically equivalent. The 13C NMR spectrum of such a molecule would be a single line. Unaware of the breakthrough made by Kreschmer and Huffman that
Molecular Biology
Molecular Biology
T. Hard, E. Kellenbach, R. Boelens, B.A. Maler, et al., "Solution structure of the glucocorticoid receptor DNA-binding domain," Science, 249:157-60, 1990. Robert Kaptein (University of Utrecht, The Netherlands): "There has been enormous interest in the molecular mechanism of hormone response in recent years. Molecular biologists had found out that the receptors for steroid hormones form a family of proteins that activate the transcription of certain genes in a hormone-dependent fashion. These
Molecular Biology
Molecular Biology
M. Ptashne, A.A.F. Gann, "Activators and targets," Nature, 346:329-31, 1990. Alexander Gann (Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.): "Over the last few years a picture has emerged to explain how eukaryotic transcriptional activators regulate gene expression. According to this picture, an activator binds to DNA close to a gene, interacts with some component of the transcription machinery--bringing it to the DNA and/or changing its conformation on the DNA--and thereby increases the efficiency of t
Chemistry
Chemistry
D.S. Bethune, G. Meijer, W.C. Tang, H.J. Rosen, "The vibrational Raman spectra of purified solid films of C60 and C70," Chemical Physics Letters, 174:219-22, 1991. Donald S. Bethune (IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, Calif.): "This paper reports the first vibrational Raman data for C60 and C70, obtained with minuscule samples of these molecules sublimed directly from soot produced by heating graphite in helium (following W. Kratschmer et al., Chemical Physics Letters, 170:167-70, 1990 [Ho

Profession

Why Do Societies Take The Trouble To Give Science Prizes?
Why Do Societies Take The Trouble To Give Science Prizes?
Doing good science may be its own reward, but every year another scientific society or institution endeavors to honor successful researchers more tangibly by establishing a new scientific prize. This has created an accumulation of awards so vast that it's almost impossible to get a full picture of the laurels being distributed. In his office at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute, Larry Tise looks ruefully around him at the piles of books and papers dealing with scientific awards: pamphlets, rin
National Study Finds Researchers Are Highly Respected By The Public
National Study Finds Researchers Are Highly Respected By The Public
Eavesdrop on a few conversations taking place between sessions at a scientific meeting and you're likely to hear researchers complaining that among the general public, scientists get no respect. Often cited as evidence are the media's portrayal of scientists as "nerds," deficiencies in science literacy among laypeople, and the inadequacy of government funds allocated for science. But in actuality, the public does not view scientists as occupational Rodney Dangerfields, according to the latest
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a four-decade veteran of the United States Navy and a mathematician who made pioneering contributions to computer programming, died New Year's Day at her home in Arlington, Va. She was 85 years old. At the time of her death, Hopper was employed as a senior consultant at Digital Equipment Corp. of Maynard, Mass.; until the spring of 1990, she was actively representing the company at industry forums. Last September, Hopper was awarded the National Medal of Techno
People: Carnegie Mellon Names Department Head As Dean Of Its Mellon College Of Science
People: Carnegie Mellon Names Department Head As Dean Of Its Mellon College Of Science
Susan A. Henry, head of Carnegie Mellon University's department of biological sciences and a professor in the department, has been named dean of the university's Mellon College of Science. Henry, 45, has headed the biological sciences department since 1987. As department head, she has obtained grants totaling more than $1.5 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Science Foundation, and the National Intitutes of Health for special educational projects focusing on strength
People: Retired Science Editor Abelson Awarded Academy's 1992 Public Welfare Medal
People: Retired Science Editor Abelson Awarded Academy's 1992 Public Welfare Medal
Philip H. Abelson, former editor of Science magazine, has been selected to receive the National Academy of Sciences' 1992 Public Welfare Medal. The academy's highest honor, awarded annually to recognize extraordinary use of science for the public good, will be presented to Abelson at a ceremony in April. Abelson, who held the top editorial post at Science for 23 years, is currently the magazine's deputy editor for engineering and applied sciences. When he assumed its helm in 1962, Science had a

Briefs

Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
The U.S. Army Research Office (ARO) is looking for proposals in the mathematical, physical, biological, and earth sciences, as well as engineering. Areas of special interest include biodegradation, sensory factors in performance enhancement, biological systems as conceptual models for materials development, theoretical chemistry, and artificial intelligence. Educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and private companies may submit proposals. Each proposal should cover a three-year per
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
Eli Lilly & Co. provides travel funds for undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral women chemists to present their research at meetings. Available to United States citizens or permanent residents, the grants cover registration fees, accommodations, and travel within the continental U.S. Applicants who have not made a previous presentation at a major meeting will receive preference. There is a limit of one application per research group. To be eligible, an applicant must submit a rsum and an ab
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
The International Union of Physiological Sciences offers fellowship support to physiology faculty at medical schools in developing nations. Funds will support one scientist for one year of advanced work in physiology at a well-established university, or two scientists for six months of study each. The fellowship will provide tuition support and a stipend of $25,000 per year, prorated for periods shorter than 12 months. Eligible applicants must plan to return to their faculty positions for at le

Technology

Metal Atom Vapor Chemistry: A Field Awaits Its Breakthrough
Metal Atom Vapor Chemistry: A Field Awaits Its Breakthrough
A chemical technique that generated tremendous excitement in the mid-1980s--though the hoopla has since faded somewhat in the United States--may be undergoing a renaissance in the international arena. The technique, metal atom vapor chemistry, generates single atoms of metal, which behave quite differently from their more familiar bulk metal forms--and reacting these metal atoms may someday generate valuable new materials. Before that can happen, however, problems in adapting the process to a