July 1989

News

Plague Of Mismanagement Infects Federal Agency's Malaria Project
Plague Of Mismanagement Infects Federal Agency's Malaria Project
WASHINGTON—Malaria, a wily scourge that kills from one to three million human beings each year, now finds itself associated with a victim of another sort: a 15-year-old, $100 million federally funded program to develop a vaccine against this ancient threat. Wracked by internal bickering, distracted by lawsuits and investigations, and stymied by a lack of progress, the Agency for International Development’s (AID) malaria project has fallen years behind in its’ search for an e
U.S. China Research Gets Caught In Cross Fire Of Student Uprising
U.S. China Research Gets Caught In Cross Fire Of Student Uprising
As the echoes of the tanks on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square begin to fade, scientists from the United. States whose research requires access to Chinese sites--and their Chinese counterparts working or studying in the U.S.—are wondering whether they should permanently write off their projects as casualties of the violence. Universities, private companies, national agencies, and individual scientists have spent years overcoming xenophobia, language barriers, and other obstacles to ]
Lunar Scientists Evaluate Apollo 11's Contributions
Lunar Scientists Evaluate Apollo 11's Contributions
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldin stepped onto the fine, loose soil of the lunar surface 20 years ago next week, science had a number of questions to ask of the moon. Was it geologically hot, or was it cold? What was its origin? Were there any protobiological substances on its surface? What geologic differentiation had occurred in its formation? How did it differ from the earth? What were the mascons, those mysterious subsurface objects, that perturbed the orbits of lunar satellites? Now, as
Superconductivity Consortia Proliferate Despite Scientific, Economic Questions
Superconductivity Consortia Proliferate Despite Scientific, Economic Questions
WASHINGTON—Six months after a White House panel concluded that United States competitiveness in high-temperature superconductivity hinged on the successful creation of a half-dozen industrial consortia dedicated to superconductivity research, nearly twice that many either exist or are now proposed. But while organizers tout the vast potential of superconducting electronics and stress the need to beat the Japanese in this field, troubling scientific and economic issues still cloud the pr
Congressional Muscle Crushed Work On Earth's Crust
Congressional Muscle Crushed Work On Earth's Crust
WASHINGTON—The Department of Energy pulled the plug on millions of dollars of geologic research last year after members of Congress from New England became afraid that such work might lead to a nuclear waste repository in their region, a recently released government report has revealed. The congressional action came in the form of amendments passed late in 1987 to a bill that sets United States policy on the disposal of highlevel nuclear wastes. Investigators from the congressional Gen

Briefs

National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
Politicians Rally To Save SERI Can Colorado’s congressional delegation rescue the Solar Energy Research Institute? The Golden, Colo. based lab, whose Department of Energy funding has been sliced nearly in half over the last eight years,’ is facing an additional 32% cut for fiscal 1990, which begins in October. Although Congress has traditionally boosted low presidential requests for solar research, members of the state delegation fear that the federal deficit will make such a rescu
Government Briefs
Government Briefs
NIH To Tap Alumni To Lobby Money, not memories, is the idea behind an effort by NIH officials to build a national alumni association. “Our primary goal is to promote the best interests of the NIH as the leading biomedical research institute in the world” through a grass-roots lobbying effort aimed at state and national legislators, says Abner Notkins, director of the intramural research program at the National Institute of Dental Research. Since last year, at the end of the NIH c
University Briefs
University Briefs
California Schools Pair Up With Business The State of California has embarked on a matching funds program meant to take technology from the state’s universities and national laboratories and apply it in the marketplace. In May, the state’s Competitive Technology Program awarded $6.6 million in grants, matched by $6.8 million In industry funding. Among the big winners were a superconductivity consortium, made up by the University of California, Los Angeles ran four venture capital f
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
Looking At Academic Entrepreneurs What best encourages entrepreneurship in an academic environment? According to a recently published paper, life scientists at major research universities are more likely to enter the marketplace when their colleagues have done so. In crediting this entrepreneurial climate within individual schools and departments, the study, reported in Administrative Science Quarterly (34:110-31, March 1989), concludes “that institutions cannot easily engineer entrepren
Private Institute Briefs
Private Institute Briefs
Navy Scuttles U.S.-Soviet Alvin Dive The little scientific submersible Alvin marked its 25th anniversary of deep-sea exploration last month, but even as oceanographers staged a gala party on the Woods Hole, Mass., waterfront, the Alvin was becoming the center of an international brouhaha over technology transfer. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which operates the Navy-owned sub for the scientific community, had hoped to stage joint dives off Bermuda later this summer with the Soviet
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
Following Through For Children The Thrasher Research Fund of Salt Lake City, Utah, is preparing to launch a program to strengthen its ongoing interest in research on childhood diseases. This fail the fund will begin a program to encourage organizations to implement discoveries made in the laboratory. The fund hopes to devote about 25% of its more than $1 million annual expenditures to this effort. The fund, which was launched by California inventor E.W. Thrasher, is affiliated with the Mormon

Opinion

The Pressure To Publish Promotes Disreputable Science
The Pressure To Publish Promotes Disreputable Science
The pressure on university scientists to publish research papers in great quantity is relentless; and themotive behind it is clear. More papers mean more prestige for a researcher’s department—and the prestige will translate, department heads hope, into more financial support from the university. Unfortunately, this pressure is likely to prompt disreputable, unethical, and even fraudulent publication practices. At the very least, the pressure encourages scientists to adjust their p
Scientists: Do You Really Want Your Papers Published?
Scientists: Do You Really Want Your Papers Published?
Have you had any papers rejected by reputable journals recently? Or even by the less reputable journals you were forced to send the paper to when its revolutionary importance was not appreciated by earlier reviewers? If so, consider this: Perhaps—even given the enormous effort that went into submitting the grant application, preparing the protocol, and writing the paper (and even conducting the research itself)— you never really wanted the paper published in the first place. At
The Journal Glut: Scientific Publications Out of Control
The Journal Glut: Scientific Publications Out of Control
The proliferation of scholarly journals in the perilous “publish or perish” academic climate of the last 20 years has produced considerable concern recently, particularly among college and university librarians, who must figure out what to do with them. For example, on an average day the medical school library to which I have access receives 50 new journal issues, taking up a total of 2 ft. of shelf space. The main campus library subscribes to about twice as many journals, and a

Letter

Letters
Letters
We read with great interest Simon Mitton’s article “We Are Publishing Too Many Conference Proceedings” (The Scientist, Feb. 20, 1989, page 9). The author has to be congratulated on his analysis of the situation. No doubt., those in the publication business would agree that proceedings of conferences of marginal interest with numerous uninvited, often unrelated, and frequently unreviewed papers have. spoiled the name “Proceedings,” giving it the connotation of a sec

Commentary

Man-Made and Natural Carcinogens: Putting The Risks In Perspective
Man-Made and Natural Carcinogens: Putting The Risks In Perspective
Environmental groups have waged an aggressive campaign to ban Alar, the controversial chemical used on apples to pro- mote uniform ripening and prolong shelf life. They want it banned because a breakdown product of Alar, UDMH, has been shown to cause liver tumors in mice and may pose a cancer risk to humans, especially children. The Alar controversy has heightened people’s awareness—and anxiety—about cancer risks of. man-made chemicals in our environment. But little publicit

Research

Articles Alert
Articles Alert
PHYSICS >BY FRANK A. WILCZEK School of Natural Sciences Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, NJ. " A special issue of Progress of Theoretical Physics is devoted to a broad consideration of a classic and still fascinating problem. Research Institute for Fundamental Physics and The Physical Society of Japan, “Origin of the solar system,” Progress of Theoretical Physics (Supplement), 96, 1-3 19, 1988. (Kyoto University, Japan) " This year’s Henry Norris Russell Lecture rev
PCR Expands, Creates Revolution
PCR Expands, Creates Revolution
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a relatively new laboratory technique that produces large amounts of specific DNA sequences in vitro, using only a small sample of genetic material. Researchers are using PCR to diagnose genetic disorders and to detect pathogens from viruses associated with AIDS, adult T-cell leukemia, and cervical cancer, as well as many other infectious diseases. The impact of PCR has, in fact, been so great that this field was identified as the second hottest area in all o
Politics Dominate AIDS Conference in Montreal
Politics Dominate AIDS Conference in Montreal
MONTREAL—A major AIDS conference held here last month left top scientists complaining that the sheer number of attendees, along with the noise they generated, prevented the scientists from exchanging ideas. Scientists present at the vast gathering—11,638 registrants from 87 countries, buzzed by 1,320 media people from 47 countries—say they were overwhelmed by the army of social workers and public health officials on the scene. Corridor talk of macrophages and CD-4 receptors

Profession

Keck Transcends Its Past, Emerges As Major Funding Source
Keck Transcends Its Past, Emerges As Major Funding Source
There are several foundations that arelarger, and most have less controversial pasts. Nonetheless, the W.M. Keck Foundation is gradually gaining respect as an ardent supporter of basic scientific research, especially in the areas of imaging, photonics, and earth and space sciences. Despite its growth in science funding, however, Keck is not an extravagant taker of risks. Only those investigators who have already gained the staunch financial backing of their own research organizations should
NSF Gears Up For 'Micro-Machinery'
NSF Gears Up For 'Micro-Machinery'
Recent discoveries of manufacturing processes that can create microscopic machinery—motors, sensors, and even tweezers no larger than the thickness of a human hair—have led to the rapid growth of a new National Science Foundation program in micro-mechanical research. Thanks largely to spin-off technology from the microscopically detailed etching of integrated circuits, breakthroughs in fabricating micron-sized machines have inspired a $7 million, multiyear National Science Foundat

New Products

Harvester Eliminates Multiple Pipetting
Harvester Eliminates Multiple Pipetting
Biochemists, pharmacologists, and cell biologists frequently need to perform assays requiring the detection and quantitation of radioisotopes during such procedures as receptor binding assays, antigen detecting, metabolic/enzymatic as- says, and protein or antibody labeling. These assays invariably demand the analysis of a large number of samples, necessitating multiple pipetting. Consequently, such assays are prone to pipetting errors. Cambridge Technology Inc., based in Watertown, Mass., now