News

A Psychiatrist Crusades To Bring Risk Taking To Canadian Science
A Psychiatrist Crusades To Bring Risk Taking To Canadian Science
The ex-chairman of the nation’s Science Council forms a startup to spark government scientists OTTAWA—Stuart L Smith was fed up with his government’s inability to help Canadian scientists turn their knowledge into commercial products. So he formed his own company to do something about it. A psychiatrist turned liberal politician, Smith served from 1982 to 1987 as chairman of the Science Council of Canada. The council, Canada’s equivalent to the National Academy of S
Renowned Bioengineer Picked To Head Lawrence Berkeley Human Genome Center
Renowned Bioengineer Picked To Head Lawrence Berkeley Human Genome Center
The Department of Energy’s recruit is said to signal ambitious plans in gene sequencing research WASHINGTON—When the Department of Energy announced last month that Charles Cantor would direct its new center for the study of the human genome at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory it was making clear its intention to remain a major player in that field of study, despite NIH’s primary role. Cantor is a world-renowned bioengineer who has done pioneering work on techniques to separat
'Designer Genes' Perk Up British Biotechnology
'Designer Genes' Perk Up British Biotechnology
A veterinary pathologist’s odyssey out of academia to become CEO of one of Europe’s hottest startups On the wall of Keith McCullagh’s office hangs a framed picture showing one of his company’s advertisements. “British biotechnology has come a long way since 1953,” says the legend above a picture of Francis Crick and James Watson, the discoverers of the double helix structure of DNA. For McCullagh, the snappy slogan has a double meaning. As it happens, Br
Astronomers Expect The Unexpected At First U.S. Conclave In 27 Years
Astronomers Expect The Unexpected At First U.S. Conclave In 27 Years
Astronomers are used to surprises, so they ought to be more than comfortable at the 20th General As- sembly of the International Astronomical Union in Baltimore next month: First, there is no pre-published program listing titles of talks to be given. Second, the main topic of conversation won’t be what anyone expected when the conference was planned. The intent had been to analyze —and celebrate—the latest findings from the Hubble Space Telescope. By midsummer 1988, the Hubb
The Peer-Review System: Pique. and Critique
The Peer-Review System: Pique. and Critique
In 1978, physicist Richard A. Muller of Berkeley was awarded two distinguished prizes—the Waterman Award and the Texas Instruments Foundation Founders’ Prize—for his research on cosmic rays and adaptive optics. The event was particularly notable because Muller had been refused support for this work after peer review by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Defense. Many innovative
Trials And tribulations Of Being Director Of The NIH
Trials And tribulations Of Being Director Of The NIH
The past few months have been difficult ones for the National Institutes of Health and its director, James B. Wyngaarden. A series of public controversies has rocked the institution, tarnishing what many regard as the crown jewel of the federal scientific establishment. The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees NIH, removed Edwin Becker as head of NIH’S Office of Research Services for “inefficiency and mismanagement,” despite strong opposition from Wyngaard
s Common Wisdom
s Common Wisdom
The history of science is replete with successes achieved through repudiation of the common wisdom. In the following, I offer some unconventional and speculative challenges to how we think about some large problems in contemporary biology. Most are not new thoughts, but to my knowledge they have not been refuted. I know they are mostly wrong; but I am not sure all are. They will surely be addressed, and most solved, during the next century. If I could foretell exactly how, I would be wasting
PNAS, Too
PNAS, Too
Which multidisciplinary journal of science has the greatest impact in terms of citations? It’s Nature by a nose. From 1979 to 1987, Nature nearly tripled its impact, a measure of quality and utility calculated annually by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). Science also dramatically improved its impact rating over the period, while Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) remained mostly unchanged. To determine a journal’s impact, ISI coun
Research On Tumor Necrosis Factor Growing Explosively
Research On Tumor Necrosis Factor Growing Explosively
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) has been over the past few years one of the more actively investigated proteins among those involved in inflammation, immunity, and the growth and inhibition of cells. TNF is destructive to cancer— hence, its name. Loyd J. Old and colleagues at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York discovered TNF some 15 years ago. But it was only in 1984 that research into TNF really began to take off. “The decade-long effort to purify tumor necrosis
New International Science Center: A Tale of Two Cities
New International Science Center: A Tale of Two Cities
At a groundbreaking celebration last fall in Kyoto, Japan, officials of the Kyoto Research Park Corp. and Philadelphia’s University City Science Center (UCSC) watched as a Shinto priest blessed the construction site. Several months later, in March of this year, the Japanese officials visited Philadelphia and planted a symbolic cherry tree on the Science Center’s grounds. Both ceremonies were held in honor of an unprecedented agreement, formally announced at the Philadelphia tree-p
Science Grants
Science Grants
BIOLOGY: Stable isotope research lab. $350,000 over three years from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Marine Biological Laboratory Ecosystem Center, J. Hobbie BIOMEDICINE: The Lalor Foundation made the following research grants: Inhibition and reinitiation of spermatogenesis in rats: development of a male contraceptive. $20,000 to Johns Hopkins University; B. Zirkin In vivo analysis of oviducal and uterine muscle during early pregnancy and its modification by drugs. $20,000 to University of Que
Scientific Word Processor Integrates Tricky Symbols
Scientific Word Processor Integrates Tricky Symbols
Organic chemists and biochemists are likely to find ChemText, a scientific word processor from Molecular Design Ltd.; a powerful tool for smoothly integrating graphics and text in scientific documents. This versatile software package is equally suitable for both academic and industrial scientists. My experience with ChemText Version 1.1 stems from teaching a traditional two-semester organic chemistry course. However, I recently received the new Version 1.2 and have fiddled with it enough to
IBM's New PC Line: What's In It For Scientists?
IBM's New PC Line: What's In It For Scientists?
IBM PS/2 HANDBOOK Richard Dalton with Scott Mueller Que Corp.; Carmel md., 359 pages, $19.95 Like it or not, the PS/2 will be the standard personal computer of the future. Why? Because IBM says so. That’s the underlying premise of the IBM PS/2 Handbook, and since it’s my best guess too, that explains some of my enthusiasm for the book. And what are the implications of the new machine’s inevitable ubiquity as far as scientists are concerned? Well, although the PS/2 will be
A Nobelist Ponders Change In The Role Of Physics
A Nobelist Ponders Change In The Role Of Physics
IDEALS AND REALITIES: Selected Essays of Abdus Salam Abdus Salam; C.H. Lai, editor World Scientific, Singapore; 379 pages; $44 (hardback), $28 (paperback) In this wide-ranging and delightful collection of essays, Nobel laureate Abdus Salam reflects on three of his major preoccupations: the Third World, Islam, and physics. Salam draws on his own experiences to present the plight of scientists in developing countries “When I returned to Pakistan in 1951 after working at Cambridge. and
Geology Team Enlists Industry's Help In Pursuing Earth-Shaking Research
Geology Team Enlists Industry's Help In Pursuing Earth-Shaking Research
Jack E. Oliver took two major risks 17 years ago when he moved from Columbia University to Cornell University to rebuild the geology program. First he proposed a research project that relied on an untested scientific technique. Then he proposed an unusual strategy for carrying out the fieldwork. In his quest to probe the 25-mile-thick slab of rock that makes up the earth’s crust, Oliver wanted to use sound waves to describe subterranean structures. But he didn’t buy the fleet of

Briefs

National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
Before engaging in joint research projects with foreign companies, directors of national labs must find out if the companies have barred U.S. scientists from their facilities. The problem with that bit of congressional xenophobia, buried within the 1986 Technology Transfer Act that encourages commercial spinoffs from federal labs, is that no one has yet discovered any such shut-outs. In an effort to uncover culprits, the executive branch has told the Commerce Department to collect case histor
Private Institute Briefs
Private Institute Briefs
Mononucleosis, the “kissing disease,” has brought the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation and Johnson & Johnson closer together. Last month, the FDA approved a six-minute mononucleosis test, named Monoalert, that is the first product to reach the market as a result of a 1983 agreement between the research institute and the company. Scientists at Scripps originally identified the amino acid sequence in the virus that causes mono, and constructed a synthetic peptide that detects a
University Briefs
University Briefs
Driven by a vision that reaches across time, distance, and space, the International Space University opened its doors last month, welcoming an elite group of students and faculty from around the world. For nine weeks at MIT, 105 graduate-level students from 20 countries will study such topics as space policy and law, space architecture, and satellite applications with experts from academia, industry, and government. The unique program—founded by two graduate students—will occur n
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
Is a genetically engineered tomato still a tomato? Biotech firms and major food companies are addressing questions such as this through the newly formed International Food Biotechnology Council. The Washington-based group has been charged with drawing up guidelines to evaluate the acceptability of food, food ingredients, and food processes arising from biotechnology. Co-organized by the International Life Sciences Institute and the Industrial Biotechnology Association, the council has 30 membe

Letter

Letters
Letters
I read with interest the article on recent U.S. and Chinese policies and their possible impact on Nobel-quality research (The Scientist, May 30,1988, page 1). Mr. Reed presented an insightful look at Chinese scientists in U.S. universities. The facts surrounding the breakthrough in superconductivity last year have been confused by the media, however, and I am writing to clarify the history of the event. It is all the more interesting in the context of Mr. Reed’s article in that my cla

Profession

Job Opportunities On Rise For Geology Instructors
Job Opportunities On Rise For Geology Instructors
Job openings in college and university geology departments may increase in the next decade, suggest data from the American Geological Institute. An AGI survey of the ages of geologists shows that schools have few young faculty members but a bulge of older ones moving toward retirement, a good set-up for a hiring boom. In the total population of geologists, about 29% are 34 or under, says Nicholas Claudy from AGI. But inacademia, only 17% are that young. The upper end of the age scale is sk

Technology

Potential
Potential
Employed in fields ranging from forensics to astrophysics to industrial chemistry, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) systems vary considerably in price, performance, and flexibility. Before investing in one of these instruments, scientists should define how they plan to use the technology and which materials they will examine with the equipment. Manufacturers say that basic infrared spectroscopy technology has neared maturity; as a result, most standard units produced by differ
Scientists Take On 'Year Of The Glove'
Scientists Take On 'Year Of The Glove'
For scientists and health care professionals working with blood and tissue products, 1988 may well go down in history as the “Year of the Glove,” as the demand for rubber gloves soars. “We’ve seen a doubling of demand since the last quarter of 1987,” says Les Jacobson, of Baxter International Inc., a large medical glove manufacturer based in Chicago, Ill. “Glove manufacturers are switching their product mix— robbing Peter to pay Paul—to ease th