July 1987

News

U.S. Fears Overblown, Japan Says
U.S. Fears Overblown, Japan Says
TOKYO—American fears that Japan is coordinating a national effort to achieve world supremacy in high-temperature superconductivity R&D are exaggerated, say Japanese scientists and officials, who point out that the government lacks the money and clout to orchestrate such a campaign. "Too many people in the U.S. are overestimating our abilities," said Masatoshi Urashima, director for development of advanced industries in the Agency for. Indus trial Science and Technology under MITI (the Min
New U.S. Amnesty Law Trips Foreign Students
New U.S. Amnesty Law Trips Foreign Students
BOSTON—Thousands of scientists and engineers who have been in the United States illegally over the past decade after arriving as students may not be able to gain amnesty under an interpretation of the new immigration law by Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials. The law, which promised amnesty to foreigners living illegally in this country since before 1982, is being applied "very liberally" to those who entered the country illegally—primarily undocumented workers fr
Shroud Splits Scientists
Shroud Splits Scientists
SANTA FE, N.M.—No project in modern times has brought science and religion into closer contact than efforts to assess the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. And the debate about the role of scientists in the project has been every bit as heated as the religious discussions. At the center of the controversy is a group of scientists that make up the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP). Formed here in 1976, the 30 or so volunteers rely on private donations to conduct their work. Robe
Panel Chosen to Judge SSC Bids
Panel Chosen to Judge SSC Bids
WASHINGTON—The National Academy of Sciences has assembled its blue-ribbon panel to assess proposals for the Superconducting Supercollider. And participants promise that the group will take a balanced—if not completely disinterested—look at the suitability of what are expected to be dozens of proposals to land the multibillion dollar construction and research project. "Short of getting Martians, there was no way to avoid bringing in people who might be affected by the ultimate
LaRouche Crackdown Shuts Two Magazines
LaRouche Crackdown Shuts Two Magazines
WASHINGTON—Scientists, science organizations and industry groups are investigating charges the federal government is improperly sup pressing publication of two fusion energy magazines tied to presidential candidate and conspiracy theorist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. On April 21 federal marshals seized the Washington, D.C., area offices and froze the bank accounts of Fusion magazine and The International Journal of Fusion E ergy, both published by the Fusion Energy Foundation, a LaRouche affili
Key Technical Fields Listed
Key Technical Fields Listed
WASHINGTON—The future of America's economy depends in large measure on the ability of industry to exploit new and emerging technologies, according to a new Commerce Department study. The report, prepared by experts from the National Bureau of Standards and other Commerce agencies, identifies seven major groups of emerging technologies that they believe will result in new products or processes in the next century. These include advanced materials, electronics, automation, biotechnology, co
Taking a Measure of MacArthur Prize
Taking a Measure of MacArthur Prize
WASHINGTON—When Robert Coleman took the phone call, the University of California at Berkeley mathematician thought the official-sounding voice was a sales man. When he heard the words "MacArthur Foundation," he expected to be asked for a donation. But when program director Kenneth Hope told Coleman that he was one of 32 new MacArthur fellows and that he would receive $215,000 over the next five years, the message finally got through. By at least one measure, how ever, the 32-year-old Cole
Panel Refines NSF Centers
Panel Refines NSF Centers
WASHINGTON—NSF's proposed science and technology centers should not be required to obtain industry support nor to encompass more than one discipline, according to a new report by the National Academy of Sciences. Funding should be ended after nine years, the report suggested, and the pro gram should not be supported at the expense of grants to individual investigators if NSF's budget fails to grow as quickly as the administration has proposed. The 11-member panel, chaired by chemist Richa
More AIDS Funds Asked
More AIDS Funds Asked
WASHINGTON-The question this summer for AIDS researchers is not whether, but by how much, the federal budget will be increased for work on the disease. President Reagan recently boosted his budget request to $523 million, up from the $413 million originally sought in fiscal 1988 for Public Health Service efforts to fight the disease. The additional money would increase funding for research on the causes of the disease to $266 million, and provide $257 million for the development of treatments an
Biotech Safety Issue Downplayed
Biotech Safety Issue Downplayed
AMSTERDAM—In a session specifically devoted to safety, participants at the 4th European Congress of Biotechnology held here last month expressed virtually no concern about potential dangers during large-scale production of microbes containing recombinant DNA or following the release of such organisms into the environment. Kees Winkler from the University of Utrecht, in views that were not challenged, argued that because such bacteria—like those in the natural world—would have
Report Critical of CERN Fails to Identify Savings
Report Critical of CERN Fails to Identify Savings
LONDON—An international review of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva has dealt a double blow to the laboratory's administration. Severely critical of CERN's management, accounting and personnel policies, it nevertheless has not identified cash savings that would persuade Britain to remain a member of Europe's premier high-energy physics center. The review panel, set up at Britain's instigation, presented its interim findings to CERN's council in early June. It
A Search for the Write Stuff
A Search for the Write Stuff
Peter Ward, a marine biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, is fascinated by the chambered nautilus, the lone survivor of an entire subclass of molluscs that emerged some 500 million years ago. In the course of thinking about how to open this world to the public—whom he calls "the real supporters of science"—Ward received a flyer describing a new publishing venture by the New York Academy of Sciences. The result is In Search of Nautilus, one of the first in a series d
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MADRID—Spanish officials have begun work on a first-ever National Plan for Scientific Research and Development that is meant to rationalize and invigorate the country's entire research program. Cell biologist Emiio Mufioz has been chosen to lead the effort, which stems from a law passed last year to promote and coordinate the country's R&D efforts. But Mufioz, who has overseen science policy for the Socialist government since it came to power in 1982, faces major obstacles to his goal of
Head of Laser Firm Picked for Energy Research Job
Head of Laser Firm Picked for Energy Research Job
LWERMORE, CALIF.—The Reagan administration once again has reached into industry to fill a key science policy position with the nomination of Robert 0. Hunter Jr. to head the Energy Department's Office of Energy Research. President Reagan announced June 23 that he will nominate Hunter for the position, which oversees $2 billion worth of energy research programs. The Senate, which must confirm the appointment, will set a date for hearings once the nomination is officially submitted. Hunter
Polish Scientists Dealing with Decline
Polish Scientists Dealing with Decline
Poland, where Nicholas Copernicus was born in 1473, was one of the "people's democracies" singled out for particular praise in J.D. Bernal's Science in History, published in 1954. Having visited the country many times during the postwar years, Bernal wrote of the "new burst of activity in the scientific field" that ho had witnessed. "The physics laboratories of Warsaw University, for instance, are better equipped than any in Britain, and only yield place to those in the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R"
Tracking Research in the Fast Lane
Tracking Research in the Fast Lane
WASHINGTON—Whether the topic is AIDS or supernovas or high-temperature superconductivity, the blistering pace of discovery is prompting researchers in hot fields to flock to special meetings, spend hours on the phone, scan computer data bases and swap reams of journal article preprints in an effort to keep up and to record their own contributions. As scientists in those fields become increasingly dependent on such methods, however, some are concerned that the resultant short cuts have lowe

Commentary

The Image of Scientists Matters
The Image of Scientists Matters
In the past few years I have perceived an increased anti-science sentiment especially in the press—in the United States and other nations. Despite a spectacular history of medical miracles, labor-saving devices and new knowledge being delivered up by scientists and engineers, both the public and the press nowadays seem as likely to fear scientific contributions as to welcome them. Certainly the development and use of the atomic bomb and the incidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl hav

Letter

What Do Viruses Do?
What Do Viruses Do?
In his interesting essay "What Viruses Might Do for a Living", Lewis Thomas suggests that viruses may have speeded up the evolutionary processes by helping organisms exchange genetic information.' Related ideas have also been discussed by Benveniste and" Thdaro and much earlier by Ravin, who in his discussion of "heritable infections," called attention to certain similarities between viruses and genes. I would like to speculate on a slightly different version of this idea. The function of' the
Survival of the Fittedest
Survival of the Fittedest
An unacceptable level of teleology crept into Lewis Thomas' article on viruses (The Scientist, April 6, 1987, p. 13). They do not have functions, they just have properties. The small and simpler viruses are just chemical structures, perpetuated because they delude pre-existing synthetic mechanisms into copying them. They can do that effectively only if they survive in the hostile environment of a host cell. It is hostile more because of scavenging enzymes than because of directed host activities
APA's Guidelines For Animal Experimentation Defended
APA's Guidelines For Animal Experimentation Defended
I was surprised at Donald J. Barnes' lack of information regarding the American Psychological Association's efforts to ensure the humane and responsible use of laboratory animals ("The Humane Community Does Do the Funding"). APA's enforceable code of ethical principles demands that APA members adhere to extensive guidelines for ethical conduct in the care and use of animals. These guidelines detail APA policies concerning the acquisition and care of animals and recommend standards for specific
The Foreign Science Student in Japan
The Foreign Science Student in Japan
Witnessing Japan in its transition to inter nationalization is interesting. That includes reading about people like Takashi Mukaibo who are doing that (The Scientist, May 4, 1987, p. 14). While apparently there are a lot of efforts in spreading internationalization with a religious fervor in Japan, it is still not uncommon to see a foreigner being watched like an alien from another planet. Japan has just discovered how to use brain power from developing countries and as a result enrollment of f

Opinion

Lessons From the Michelson-Morley Experiment
Lessons From the Michelson-Morley Experiment
This year marks the centenary of one of the most important scientific experiments ever performed It was in Cleveland, Ohio in 1887 that Albert A. Michelson and Edward W Morley undertook a measurement that was a milestone in man's effort to understand the way in which light travels through space. Physicists regard this work as a crucial step in our journey toward an understanding of the very nature of space and time itself Had the results of this measurement been different, Einstein's theory of
Creation Science Law Endorses Religion
Creation Science Law Endorses Religion
Editor's note: On June 19, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that states may not require public schools to teach "creation science" if they teach evolution. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution requires the separation of church and state, wrote Justice William J. Brennan Jr. for the majority, and the Louisiana state law in question "violates the Establishment Clause … because it seeks to employ the symbolic and financial support of government to achieve a religious
The Arrogance of 'Pop Science'
The Arrogance of 'Pop Science'
Now that Time Inc. has sold Discover, its prize-winning popular science magazine, no major magazine or commercial television show started during the popular science "boom" of the last decade has succeeded. What happened? And, more important to science professionals, what's going to happen? The Rise and Fall Between 1977 and 1986 nearly 20 new magazines, 17 new television shows, and more than 60 newspaper sections devoted to popular science appeared. Several of these new ventures breached the wal
Public, Industry Agree on Biotech
Public, Industry Agree on Biotech
The most important message for biotechnology in the new Office of Technology Assessment's study of public perceptions of the biotechnology industry is that knowledge dispels concern. Based on a nationwide probability sampling conducted last fall by Lou Harris & Associates, the study finds that nearly half of American adults describe themselves as very interested, concerned and/or knowledgeable about science and technology. It also reveals that fully 80 per cent of the American public expects tha
APS Report Has Numerous Errors
APS Report Has Numerous Errors
A distinguished roster of American scientists contributed to [the American Physical Society report on directed-energy weapons]. The product of their endeavors was released to the public by the Council of the American Physical Society as an important contribution to the national debate over the best means of ensuring the survival of the American nation. In my view, however, this report is not worthy of serious consideration in that vital debate. This may seem an unduly severe indictment of a doc

Perspective

Hunt the Paradox and Fate May Smile
Hunt the Paradox and Fate May Smile
Pasteur's dictum "Chance favors the prepared mind" is in my experience a truism, but! would add that whether the mind is prepared may itself be a matter of chance. It certainly was in my case. I became a chemist because of a rather poor chemistry teacher at my secondary school. Later in life he became director of education for Lancashire and was knighted, which is perhaps only another illustration that an indifferent understanding of chemistry is not necessarily a bar to advancement in other fi

Technology

Some Tips On Effective Lecturing
Some Tips On Effective Lecturing
Like most scientists, I have had to strain to understand some speakers at conferences. When a speaker fails to hold me, my mind drifts to thoughts about how he should be speaking. Here are some of those thoughts—from a frustrated listener rather than a professor of rhetoric. Mobilizing Your Ideas Careful preparation is so obvious a necessity that it should not need mentioning, yet it does. Although spontaneous speech is less stilted than over-rehearsed speech, poor preparation may result

Books etc.

'Rabi' and Alvarez': Tedious, Vain Portraits
'Rabi' and Alvarez': Tedious, Vain Portraits
Rabi: Scientist and Citizen. John S. Ridgen. Basic Books, New York, 1987. 352 pp. $21.95. Alvarez: Adventures of a Physicist. Luis W. Alvarez. Basic Books, New York, 1987. 292 pp. $19.95. Tuesday is too nice a day to write reviews about scientific biographies if for no other reason than Tuesday follows Monday and Monday follows Sunday. Now on Sunday one takes a stroll through the grounds of the local conservatory, sits on a bench near the statue of Rimsky-Korsakov in Leningrad or outside the ch
Tracking Science in Antarctica
Tracking Science in Antarctica
Antarctic Science D.W.H. Walton, ed. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1987. 280 pp. $39.50. Antarctic Science is unique in that it is the first book that attempts to present a comprehensive history of scientific research on Antarctica. Five scientists from the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge—David Walton, Christopher Doake, John Dudeney, Inigo Iverson and Richard Laws—have combined their expertise in this coherent, well-balanced book. Its publication is timely as it chroni
Welch's Mark on Modern Medicine
Welch's Mark on Modern Medicine
William H. Welch and the Rise of Modern Medicine. Donald Fleming. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1987. 240 pp. $8.95 PB. This lively, brief biography of William Henry Welch also explores the transition of American medicine from craft-based skill to science-based profession. As a leading scientific "Influential," Welch was largely responsible for bringing Germany's laboratory ideal of "learning by doing" to the United States, introducing scientific methods to American medical sch
Videotapes Humanize the World of Chemistry
Videotapes Humanize the World of Chemistry
Eminent Chemists: Video programs featuring distinguished chemists discussing their achievements. The American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C. Personal encounters with some of the greatest contemporary American chemists are not everyday occurrences for today's students. This series of videotapes produced by the American Chemical Society, 'however, is designed to change that. For chemical educators who wish to open new dimensions to students, these tapes not only help combat the dehumanized vie
The Vast Visions of Edward Teller
The Vast Visions of Edward Teller
Better a Shield Than a Sword: Perspectives on Defense and Technology. Edward Teller. The Free Press, New York, 1987. 225 pp. $19.95. Edward Teller has written a remarkable book. But then that should not be surprising. He is a very remarkable man. Teller is one of the great scientists of our time and his scientific contributions as sure him a place in the history of physics. He is also a philosopher and a man who has had a decisive influence on the thinking of America's major political leaders si
Michelson-Morley: The Great Failure
Michelson-Morley: The Great Failure
On July 12, 1887 Albert A. Michelson and Edward W Morley made the final measurements in an experiment that inadvertently changed forever the way we view the workings of the universe. The pair hoped to prove the existence of the ether—the invisible fluid thought to permeate the universe and to serve as the medium through which light waves travel. Michelson modified the interfërometer—a device that splits a single beam of light into two and then recombines the two parts into one s
Forthcoming Books
Forthcoming Books
This list of forthcoming books has been complied from the latest Information available from publishers. Dates of publication, prices and numbers of pages are tentative, however, and are subject to change. Biological Science Amphibians and Reptiles of Texas: With Keys, Taxonomic Synopses, Bibliography, and Distribution Maps. James R. Dixon. Texas A&M University Press: August, 358 pp, $32.50. Lists the 204 species of amphibians and reptiles of Texas, including 156 distribution maps and a brief hi

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
Verbatim excerpts from the media on the conduct of science. The Mystique of Modern Science The popularization of science is commonplace. We expect radio and television, newspapers and films to present suitably digested accounts of scientific ideas and practices. Sometimes historical reconstruction is the preferred method, at others it is careful exposition, using models, analogies and visual aids. One result of this is that there exists a vocabulary and a set of images through which modem scienc

Happenings

Happenings
Happenings
R. Palmer Beasley, known for his work that linked the hepatitis B virus to liver cancer, has been appointed dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. Beasley is currently professor of medicine and head of the Division of Communicable Disease Epidemiology at the University of California at San Francisco. He is also director of the American University Medical Center in Taipei, Taiwan, a position he will continue to hold after his move to Houston. Mitchell Feigenbaum has

Profession

Consulting: Life Beyond the Lab
Consulting: Life Beyond the Lab
A couple of decades ago most chemists could be assured that if they did a good job in the research organization of a profitable company they could look forward to continued employment until nor mal retirement age. Nowadays that is no longer the case. In scores of situations in recent years—involving companies as diverse as du Pont, Stauffer and Gulf—large chunks of research laboratories, or even whole labs, have been wiped out, and experienced researchers have been terminated or forc