News

Surveys Fail To Achieve Consensus On Global Technology Leadership
Surveys Fail To Achieve Consensus On Global Technology Leadership
Last fall Congress gave Leo Young a tall order. In four months, Young—a staff specialist at the Department of Defense—was to pick 20 or so technologies deemed crucial for future national security and assess where the United States ranked, compared with other nations, in developing those technologies. The congressional request re flects the recent national preoccupation with icoking over its shoulder to see which countries are challenging its technological superiority. Ever since P
NSF Considers Slashing Academic Salary Support
NSF Considers Slashing Academic Salary Support
WASHINGTON—The National Science Foundation is considering a major policy change that would limit its payment of salaries to university researchers. The controversial idea, still under discussion, would bar the 20,000 senior investigators the foundation supports each year from receiving any more than summer salaries in their grants. NSF now spends $200 million annually, roughly 12% of its total research budget, on salaries to senior scientists. More than half of that amount gces to provid
Scientists Balk At Soaring Journal Prices
Scientists Balk At Soaring Journal Prices
In 1984 an annual subscription to Leukemia Research cost a library $160. It’s now $540. In 1985 a year’s worth of Gene was $627.40. This year it’s $1,870. Computers and Structures was $425 in 1983. Today’s rate:, $1,425. Brain Research, a weekly, is now priced at $5,080 per year. “Price gouging,” says Duane Webster, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). “Devastating,” says Michael Keller, an associate librarian at the
Cross-Cultural Synergy Produces Good Science At Synchrotron Labs
Cross-Cultural Synergy Produces Good Science At Synchrotron Labs
UPTON, N.Y.—In the middle of Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, Long Island, is a building whose gleaming white curves, bay windows, and identifying sign on the front lawn cause it to stand out from the barracks architecture prevailing at the rest of the site. The building is the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), and the composition of the scientists who work in its intenor is as unusual as the exterior. Scientists from AT&T Bell Laboratories examining the surface structure
DOE's Neglected Environmental Parks Reawaken With An Expanded Role
DOE's Neglected Environmental Parks Reawaken With An Expanded Role
The dedication last month of Fermi National Laboratory as a National Environmental Research Park may mark the resurgence of an obscure, 20-year-old Department of Energy program to study the environment. In the past three months the program has gained, along with Fermilab’s unique prairie acreage, a catchy new name—ParkNet—and a mandate to use DOE computer networks to expand collaborative research on the environment. DOE officials say that the new name and the emphasis on comp
Proposed USDA Regulations Feed Dispute Over Care Of Primates In The Laboratory
Proposed USDA Regulations Feed Dispute Over Care Of Primates In The Laboratory
Forced by court action brought by animal rights activists, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials have had to rush into print a draft of new regulations for improving the lot of apes and monkeys living in the nation’s research facilities. Now they are bracing under a deluge of complaints from primate researchers. As called for by 1985 amendments to the Animal Welfare Act, the regulations compel researchers to provide “a physical environment adequate to promote the psychological w
U.S. Space Startup Flies High--In Both English And Russian
U.S. Space Startup Flies High--In Both English And Russian
When the space shuttle Columbia touched down in late 1983, payload specialist Byron K. Lichtenberg emerged from the Spacelab-1 mission both triumphant and troubled. The experiments—on everything from astronomy to protein crystal growth studies—had gone exceedingly well, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration wanted him to fly again. There was, however, a slight problem: Lichtenberg, a biomedical engineer, was about to become unemployed. For the five years leading u
Federal Agencies Rank Priorities For Global Climate
Federal Agencies Rank Priorities For Global Climate
WASHINGTON—Government scientists, in an unusual display of consensus, have spelled out research priorities for the burgeoning field of global climate change. Their plan, contained in a report that was scheduled for official release this month, is the most comprehensive description of how the federal government hopes to increase its understanding of environmental changes throughout the world. “We tried to examine what we need to know about the earth system and what is most problema
Caltech Physical Chemist Wins Welch Award
Caltech Physical Chemist Wins Welch Award
In announcing the award, the foundation noted Davidson’s record of drawing on his interdisciplinary talents when addressing scientific questions, exemplified by his application of physical and chemical principles in his investigation of the molecular biology of nucleic acids. In the 1960s, he and a team of colleagues invented heteroduplex analysis, a method for observing gene sites on DNA and RNA molecules through the electron microscope. Also of significance are his kinetic and mechanis

Briefs

National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
In the face of a threatened lawsuit from environmentalists, the Department of Energy has backed down from its plan to spend $75 million this year as the first step in building a plutonium refinery at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. The decision, which was made shortly before a House Armed Services subcommittee voted to strip the funds from the department’s 1990 budget request, also affects the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, which is designing the device. The cut eliminates al
Government Briefs
Government Briefs
David Korn, dean of Stanford University’s medical school, has spent a good deal of time thinking about the long-term impact on the research community of its growing links to industry. But Kom, who spoke at last month’s NIH-sponsored forum on conflict of interest, says that he has learned from those who organize such conferences that, When they ask you to talk about principles, they really want to know about money.” In fact, Korn received the loudest applause at the two-day con
University Briefs
University Briefs
Cambridge researchers say they aren’t worried about last month’s City Council ordinance, which regulates the treatment of vertebrates used in laboratory experiments. According to Dick Taylor, professor of biology and chairman of the Animal Care Committee at Harvard University, the newlaw won’t affect the way research is conducted. The research laboratories in Cambridge already have very high standards, and, he says, “we’re very proud of how we care for the animals.
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
Small wonder that Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., a 1-year-old company headquartered in Tarrytown, N.Y., is already battling with giants like SmithKline, Genentech, and Biogen in the race to market CD4, a drug that could potentially inhibit the infection of human cells by the AIDS virus. Precociousness is the corporate culture at this startup, whose three founders were all under 30 when they raised their first $1 million to set up operations in April 1988. Terry Burnham, one of the founders,
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
A group from The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. will visit Moscow in September to discuss optoelectronic devices such as fiber optics and lasers with the A.S. Povov Society, a Soviet radio and electronics organization. Eight members from the New York-based IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization, will meet with a delegation from its Soviet counterpart for the first time since 1984 in a series of workshops, tours, and discussions as part of a
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
A survey of the 100 biggest corporate spenders in research and development in the U.S. shows that they spent 10.7% more on R&D in 1988 than they did the year before. Inside R&D, a newsletter published in Englewood, N.J., by Technical Insights Inc., says that the biggest increase in spending was by Sun Microsystems Inc., which more than doubled its R&D effort, followed by Genentech Inc.’s 65.1% boost. The most massive R&D was led by General Motors which last year spent nearly $4.8 billion
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
The Alfred P.: Sloan Foundation in New York City may place even more emphasis on science and technology once its new president has settled into his job. Last month Ralph E. Gomory, a mathematician and former senior vice president for science and technology at IBM, took charge of the 55-year-old organization. Although neither Gomory nor the foundation will let on what new emphases might be in the works until he has been there a few more months, Gomory has made known his keen interest in problems

Research

Physics
Physics
PHYSICS BY SOKRATES T. PANTELIDES IBM Research Division Thomas J. Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, N.Y. " Reports of cold fusion stirred a great deal of activity. Little has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, however. A report of comprehensive studies with electrolytic cells that produced no fusion has appeared in Physical Review Letters. J.F. Ziegler, T.H. Zabel, J.J. Cuomo, V.A. Brusic, et al., “Electrochemical experiments in cold nuclear fusion,” Physical Review Letter
Cell Tops In Impact, High In Immediacy
Cell Tops In Impact, High In Immediacy
“If you were stranded on a desert island,” as the proverbial question goes, “which 10 books would you want to have with you?” The Scientist recently asked itself this question, but with a twist: “Which 10 journals publishing orig nal research reports would a cast-away life scientist wish to have regularly air-dropped to his or her island?” Certainly, the answer depends on the individual scientist, but one method of pursuing a general answer might be to ide
Geosciences
Geosciences
GEOSCIENCES BY PETER J. SMITH Department of Earth Sciences Open University Milton Keynes, U.K. " A new earthquake magnitude scale (Mm) based on the spectral amplitude of very-long-period Rayleigh waves can be determined from a single station and with no knowledge of focal mechanism or depth. Unlike classical magnitude scales, it bears a clear relationship to seismic movement—Mg—and is immune to interference saturation. EA. Okal, J. Talandier, “Mm: A variable-period mantle m
Computational Science
Computational Science
COMPUTATIONAL SCIENCE BY BRUCE G. BUCHANAN Department of Computer Science University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa. " The Charlotte distributed operating system is a test bed for the development of techniques for exploiting large-grain parallelism. It runs on a collection of 20 VAX-I 11750 computers. A recent paper gives conclusions drawn from several years’ experience with the system. R.A. Finkel, M.L. Scott, Y. Artsy, H.-Y Chang, “Experience with Charlotte: Simplicity and functi
Chemistry
Chemistry
CHEMISTRY BY MARYE ANNE FOX Department of Chemistry University of Texas, Austin Austin, Tex. " Acyl transfer, hydrolysis, carbon-carbon and amide bond formation, and redox reactions can be catalyzed by antibodies (abzymes). A recently published article demonstrates that specific hydrolysis of unactivated esters by bound antibodies can occur with rate accelerations of 10^3 to 10^5 above background. K.D. Janda, S.J. Benkovic, R.A. Lerner, “Catalytic antibodies with lipase activity and R

Profession

Hughes Medical Institute Spreads Its Riches Far And Wide
Hughes Medical Institute Spreads Its Riches Far And Wide
“I didn’t need to think about the offer very long,” Tjian says with a laugh, recalling his initial shock. HHMI was offering to bankroll Tjian’s research on DNA transcription for a minimum of seven years, and possibly for the rest of his career. And he wasn’t the only one. As the nation’s largest private sponsor of biomedical research, the institute spent about $200 million last year supporting senior investigators like Tjian. After becoming a Hughes Instit
Fund Aims To Close Science's Gender Gap
Fund Aims To Close Science's Gender Gap
Although a gender imbalance in the physical sciences has been evident for years, few private foundations have allocated significant sums to encourage the participation of women in hard science disciplines. But the Henry Luce Foundation’s newly established Clare Boothe Luce Fund has taken the initiative in attempting to rectify the problem by setting aside a $70 million endowment specifically to provide professorships, fellowships, and scholarships for women scientists in higher education.

New Products

Mercury Method Eliminates Radiation Hazards
Mercury Method Eliminates Radiation Hazards
Applications are growing rapidly in basic research and clinical investigation for the detection with labeled DNA probes of specific DNA Sequences present in cells via in situ hybridization. Currently, it is necessary to radiolabel the DNA probe prior to hybridization, and then perform autoradiography on the specimen that has been probed. Radiolabeling (via such techniques as P32 nick-translation) is costly, time-consuming, and potentially hazardous. In addition, autoradiography often requires lo