News

Special Report: Where Are Today's Black Scientists?
Special Report: Where Are Today's Black Scientists?
New Ph.D.'s are at a 10-year low as cultural and educational obstacles keep blacks from careers in science and engineering As ambitions go, Nola Campbell's do not seem grandiose. The senior at Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C., just wants to get a Ph.D. in chemistry and become a scientist. But the odds are against her, for one simple reason: Campbell is black. The statistics paint a bleak picture of her chances. In 1987 only 222 blacks received Ph.D.s in the sciences and engineering
Alan Huang Lights Up Bell's Computers
Alan Huang Lights Up Bell's Computers
Some call him a genius, others a charlatan; but even his critics agree that Huang's optical computers are unsurpassed HOLMDEL, N.J.--Absent was the cautious reserve usually adopted by scientists in formal presentations. In its place was Alan Huang's characteristic approach to the scientific briefing: machine-gun bursts of excited speech, highly animated hand gestures, all in support of the virtues of Huang's passion - optical computers, whose circuits run on light rather than electricity. Hu
Improving The Lot Of The Laboratory Animal
Improving The Lot Of The Laboratory Animal
Sidebar: What Can Scientists Do To make Animals 'Happier' Animal rights activists have had an impact, but the biggest changes are coming from scientists themselves Why should a physicist or a chemist care about the endless public debate over the use of research animals? Almost every scientist knows the creatures are crucial for progress in biology and medicine. And scientists are fed up with the clamor being raised by folks who seem to care less about the human animal than about the lab anima
The New Look Of Euroscience: Mapping Output And Impact
The New Look Of Euroscience: Mapping Output And Impact
U.K. produces more papers than any other European nation, but articles from Switzerland carry more clout For centuries, the nations of Europe have been competing fiercely with one another. They have fought long and bitter battles over mere slivers of land. They have clashed repeatedly in pursuit of new markets. Fortunately, outright warfare over land and markets is largely a thing of the past. But there is one realm in which the competition, although more civilized, is still hotly contested
What Can Scientists Do To make Animals 'Happier'
What Can Scientists Do To make Animals 'Happier'
The rhesus monkey ambles over to the side of its cage and reaches up to a blue metal box strapped to the bars. With a long finger it touches a metal bar protruding from the box. Five touches . . .10 . . .15 - and a small white pellet rolls out into a slot. The monkey fishes out the banana-flavored snack and pops it into its mouth. Then it presses a second metal bar and the voice of Willie Nelson fills the room: "Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys. . ." No, this scene at the Uni
What Can Scientists Do To Make Animals `Happier'?
What Can Scientists Do To Make Animals `Happier'?
The rhesus monkey ambles over to the side of its cage and reaches up to a blue metal box strapped to the bars. With a long finger it touches a metal bar protruding from the box. Five touches . . .10 . . .15 - and a small white pellet rolls out into a slot. The monkey fishes out the banana-flavored snack and pops it into its mouth. Then it presses a second metal bar and the voice of Willie Nelson fills the room: "Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys. . ." No, this scene at the Uni
Tales Of Four Blacks In Science
Tales Of Four Blacks In Science
Editor's note: The Scientist talked at length with four black scientists and aspiring researchers about the problems they have faced living in a culture that offers them little or no encouragement to become professional scientists. The individuals stand at vastly different stages of their careers and pursue different fields, and their experiences vary dramatically. But their stories illuminate the problems facing black scientists in the United States, and hint at possible solutions. SHIRLEY JA
Articles - Geosciences
Articles - Geosciences
Peter J. Smith Department of Earth Sciences Open University Milton Keynes, U.K. " A search in Zimbabwe has revealed detrital zircon grains up to 3,800 million years old. Although older than any dated Zimbabwean rocks, they are, disappointingly, much younger than the precrustal zircons of Western Australia (4,200 million years old). M.H. Dodson, W. Compston, I.S. Williams, J.F. Wilson, "A search for ancient detrital zircons in Zimbabwean sediments," Journal of the Geological Society, 145 (6),
Articles - Physics
Articles - Physics
Frank A. Wilczek School of Natural Sciences Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, N.J. " Some of the most subtle and surprising manifestations of quantum mechanics involve the appearance of phase factors as particles wind around another. The prototype of this is the Aharonov-Bohm effect, whereby charged particles are deflected as they orbit around a solenoid, even though there is no force acting. Similar ideas appear in the theory of quark confinement and in the theory of fractional statist
Articles - Life Sciences
Articles - Life Sciences
Bernard Dixon European Editorial Office The Scientist Uxbridge, U.K. " One source of unease about the deliberate release of genetically engineered microbes for agricultural and other applications is the inadequacy of present techniques for monitoring the movement of certain types of organism. The answer: gene probes, which also provide new information about the relations between different groups of bacteria. T.C. Hazen, L. Jimenez, "Enumeration and identification of bacteria from environment
Articles - Plant and Animal Sciences
Articles - Plant and Animal Sciences
Francisco J. Ayala Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology University of California, Irvine Irvine, Calif. " The pelvis of Lucy, a three-million-year-old hominid, reveals that she was already quite adept at walking upright. Bipedality evolved very early in human evolution because it enabled males to nurture a family: It freed their hands to carry food. C.O. Lovejoy, "Evolution of human walking," Scientific American, 259 (5), 118-25, November 1988. " The oldest fossil record of terres
Low-Cost Speedup Boards Geared To Perk Up Sluggish PCs
Low-Cost Speedup Boards Geared To Perk Up Sluggish PCs
Are you thinking of buying a new computer because your IBM PC or compatible is too slow - and are you also finding it difficult to justify a $3,000 expense just for an increase in processing speed? For those scientists looking for extra speed, but not ready to invest in a new machine, a very practical alternative exists: Add-on cards are available that will speed up any IBM PC or compatible so that it runs even faster than an IBM AT. Commonly called "accelerator cards" or "speedup boards," th

Briefs

Government Briefs
Government Briefs
Ever wonder what happens to those bright-eyed science and engineering undergraduates who come to Washington each summer as interns to learn how policy is really made? Well, for at least one recent intern, a summer in Washington led to a high-profile job with the Bush transition team. Bradley Mitchell, 26, who was sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1984, has become the presidential transition team officer to NSF, NASA, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. His job a
University Briefs
University Briefs
Volume 3, #1The Scientist January 9, 1989 UNIVERSITY BRIEFS Astronomer Pins Hopes On His Star Appeal Exhausted by the hunt for research funds? Disgusted with departmental politics? Take heart, there may be an alternative. Witness the tale of Canadian astronomer Bruce Campbell. For four years, Campbell toiled at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, British Columbia. But chronic underfunding made it impossible for the observatory to offer him a permanent positio
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
What if you know that patenting your discovery can increase its value but you are puzzled by the patent process? You might want to attend the annual conference for Inventors and Entrepreneurs, cosponsored by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and Intellectual Property Owners Inc., scheduled for February 10 in Arlington, Va. Topics to be covered in the one-day event include: dealing with the PTO, exploiting venture capital, working with large companies, and understanding the international t
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
Speeding The Use Of Supercomputers Supercomputers are fast, powerful - and worthless if only a chosen few are able to envision what the new machines can do. This is the message of Clifford R. Perry, Kodak's director of information and computing technologies, who told the National Academies of Science and Engineering recently: "Our number one priority, in my view, is to create better ways of communicating not only how we use supercomputers, but how we assimilate their use." He added that the cu
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
The National Institute of Mental Health, expanding its study of several new AIDS-related issues, has budgeted a total of $34.4 million for five programs in 1989, plus $2.1 million for training programs. The expanded research initiatives are: behavior change and prevention strategies to reduce transmission of HIV; the risk of HIV infections in severely mentally ill persons; measurement of and clinical treatment for HIV-related mental disorders; central nervous system effects of HIV (neurobiolo

Opinion

Warning: Scientists Are Becoming Too Much Like Chefs
Warning: Scientists Are Becoming Too Much Like Chefs
If you have worked or lived in Boston, you know that when you ride the subway to the airport, the final destination of the train you take is Wonderland. It always makes me smile to think that when I go from the airport to one of the great centers of modern science in the world, my train is moving away from Wonderland. Is this just a coincidence of names or is it a prophecy for what is now happening to science? Are we moving from a wonderland where science is fun, a thirst for knowledge and new
Scientists Should Be Interested in Cooking
Scientists Should Be Interested in Cooking
A year or two ago, the most famous science graduate of our age - Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - appeared on British television, explaining some of the chemistry behind everyday cooking. Most established scientists reacted adversely, claiming that the Iron Lady was just trying to curry political favor with ignorant housewives. Not so long after Thatcher's exercise in culinary science, the professor of one of the largest, oldest, and most prestigious chemistry schools in Britain also appear

Letter

Letters
Letters
The utilization of technology and science by Nazi Germany brought home the truth of the maxim that "knowledge without conscience brings ruin to the soil." The "opinion" by Alan C. Nixon reminds us that this lesson has yet to sink in. The question is raised concerning a recent EPA decision to exclude data on the toxicity of phosgene which was obtained from records of Nazi experiments performed on French "prisoners." Nixon points out that such data might save lives, and asks rhetorically, "are we
Letters
Letters
Alan Nixon's essay struck in me a sympathetic chord. The issue with which he dealt, the propriety of using data obtained by the Nazis under inhuman conditions, is certainly a provocative one which invites the weighing of moral issues (whether we condone the mode of experimentation) vs. scientific and more important human welfare considerations. I share with Nixon the belief that we cannot undo these dreadful acts of carnage but that we can make amends for them by deriving information of use in
Letters
Letters
In the last several years there has been an increasing chorus of voices trying to convince us that there was some good after all in the work of the Nazi scientists who participated in the concentration camp medical experiments. This new breed of apologist claims to have exhumed from among the bones, so to speak, of the holocaust victims some gems of scientific research which will benefit mankind. Alan Nixon's recent essay (The Scientist, November 14, page 9) is the latest contribution in that

Commentary

Commentary
Commentary
Citing Nazi `Research':How To Do It, If You Must Elie Wiesel, the concentration camp survivor and 1986 Nobel laureate, has often spoken and written about the difficulty of translating the events of the Holocaust into words. To do so, he has explained, begins to limit and make objective what can neither be, nor should be, easily defined and comfortably separated from our daily lives as just another grim episode in history that happened long ago and here. The Holocaust was qualitatively differen

Hot Paper

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
A.D. Frankel, D.S. Bredt, C.O. Pabo, "Tat protein from human immunodeficiency virus forms a metal-linked dimer," Science, 240 (4848), 70-3, 1 April 1988. T. Kishimoto, T. Hirano, "Molecular regulation of B lymphocyte response," Annual Review of Immunology, 6 485-512, 1988. J. Wikstrand, I. Warnold, G. Olsson, J. Tuomilehto, D. Elmfeldt, G. Berglund, "Primary prevention with metoprolol in patients with hypertension," Journal of the American Medical Association, 259 (13), 1976-82, 1 April 1988
Hot Papers
Hot Papers
A. Aharony, R.J. Birgeneau, A. Coniglio, M.A. Kastner, H.E. Stanley, "Magnetic phase diagram and magnetic pairing in doped La2CuO4," Physical Review Letters, 60 (13), 1330-3, 28 March 1988. R.M. Hazen, L.W. Finger, R.J. Angel, C.T. Prewitt, N.L. Ross, C.G. Hadidiacos, et al "100-K superconducting phases in the Tl-Ca-Ba-Cu-O system," Physical Review Letters, 60 (16), 1657-60, 18 April 1988 M.A. Subramanian, J.C. Calabrese, C.C. Torardi, J. Gopalakrishnan, T.R. Askew, R.B. Flippen, K.J. Morris

Profession

Critics Rip Agriculture Department's Funding Methods
Critics Rip Agriculture Department's Funding Methods
The United States Department of Agriculture, which ranks sixth among government agencies in science funding, is giving out a respectable amount of research money - $900 million - this year. Less respectable, however, is the way the department will go about doling out the bulk of that money, at least according to two major policy studies by agriculture experts. Among the chief complaints: That the USDA does not use competitive peer reviewed proposals as a basis for the distribution of most of
D
D
"There's a perception that what Japan does is import all its technology and turn around and export the products," says Maria Papadakis of the National Science Foundation's International Studies Group. But a recent NSF report on R&D funding that Papadakis authored supports her opinion to the contrary, namely that, in Japan, "there's a lot more innovation than the country is given credit for." The NSF report focuses on how and where Japan spends its R&D dollars, what funding goes to its own scie

New Products

New Products
New Products
Where lab space is at a premium, scientists in environmental analysis, biology, and superconductivity research may want to consider replacing their huge bell-jar vacuum deposition systems with a new desktop model. Balzers' new MED 010 vacuum deposition system is said to provide fast, accurate rotary shadowing of specimens with carbon, a process that gives a better three-dimensional view of a sample for transmission electron microscopy (TEM). According to Brett Rock, product specialist for Huds