ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

News

Few Applicants Appeal Denial Of Grants
Few Applicants Appeal Denial Of Grants
WASHINGTON—Last August the National Science Foundation awarded a $25 million, five-year grant to design earthquake-resistant buildings to a six-institution consortium led by the State University of New York at Buffalo. Five competing proposals lost, four quietly. But scientists in a consortium of universities in quake-prone California, led by UCBerkeley, grumbled in public. "In this case, peer review failed miserably," said Linda Royster, a spokeswoman for Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.), who
IEEE Struggles to Engineer a Consensus
IEEE Struggles to Engineer a Consensus
This is the second in a series of occasional articles on scientists' professional societies. The first, on the American Association for the Advancement of Science, appeared in the February 9 issue. NEW YORK—The planners of Session 17 had envisioned the usual dull lecture—dimmed lights, a slide projector, burnt coffee wafting from silver urns at the back of the room. What they got were undercover police in the audience, and lawyers arguing in court. The events surrounding Electro '87
Research Tier Plan Splits U.K. Scientists
Research Tier Plan Splits U.K. Scientists
LONDON—Nearly one-half of the United Kingdom's university earth scientists will become second-class citizens if a classification of their institutions proposed in a report to the country's University Grants Committee (UGC) is accepted. The report is widely seen as a blueprint for reorganizing research funding throughout the sciences. It calls for a three-tiered university system, with expensive research equipment concentrated in top-level universities and little or no opportunity for resea
NSF Queries Need for New Facilities
NSF Queries Need for New Facilities
WASHINGTON—In the midst of a growing chorus lamenting the physical condition of the nation's research facilities, the National Science Foundation has been singing a different—and somewhat dissonant—tune. The battle, not surprisingly, concerns money: in particular, whether the federal government should undertake a multibillion dollar program to upgrade laboratories in hundreds of colleges and universities. A host of educational organizations think it should, and are backing a bi
FDA Issues Final Rules On 'Fast Track' Drugs
FDA Issues Final Rules On 'Fast Track' Drugs
WASHINGTON—The Food and Drug Administration has given final approval to a set of regulations that will give some patients with immediate life-threatening diseases quicker access to experimental drugs. The rules have been revised in an attempt to allay scientists' fears that such a "fast track" would abandon traditional safety requirements and jeopardize clinical trials, and drug companies' concerns that it might prolong the process of gaining final approval. Yet the final rules may not hav
Seeking Truth in the Killing Fields
Seeking Truth in the Killing Fields
Forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow has spent his life surrounded by victims of violent death. A career with the Federal Aviation Administration taught him to extract causal messages hidden in the wreckage of a commercial airplane. That knowledge made the 59-year-old Oklahoman an obvious choice when the Argentine government in 1984 contacted the American Association for the Advancement of Science for help in preparing evidence that could bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of some o
School Ranking Inconclusive
School Ranking Inconclusive
WEST BERLIN—An attempt to compare the academic standings of West German universities has produced a confusing lack of correlation between five different quantitative indicators. Conducted by Ernst Giese from the University of Giessen and funded by the German Research Society (DFG), the survey has been published at a sensitive time for science policy in West Germany. Its results have been welcomed by the country's collective of university presidents, which does not wish science indicators t
Eureka Project Is Now Wooing Venture Capital
Eureka Project Is Now Wooing Venture Capital
Paris—The French-inspired Eureka program is hoping to forge links with the world of venture capital to finance a series of cooperative industrial research and development projects throughout Europe. The 2-year-old program features 108 projects involving industrial firms from at least two European countries. Member governments agree to help their own national companies, typically through subsidies, but do not provide direct financial aid. As a consequence, several small and medium-sized com
U.S. Told to Spend $500M On Agricultural Biotech
U.S. Told to Spend $500M On Agricultural Biotech
WASHINGTON—The federal government ought to be spending $500 million a year by 1990 on competitive grants for research in agricultural biotechnology, a National Research Council committee has told the Department of Agriculture. In a report issued late last month, the Committee on a National Strategy for Biotechnology in Agriculture urged a major restructuring of U.S. agricultural research. It argued that the country needs much more emphasis on basic research and improved techniques and appl
Neural Net Scientists Take Long View
Neural Net Scientists Take Long View
PASADENA, CALIF.—A new approach to pattern recognition and similarly difficult problems, called neural-net computing, is stirring increasing interest among computer scientists. Despite recent reports in the media, however, the approach is far from ready for large-scale applications. "There's a lot of hype in the field," declared Yaser AbuMostafa, a researcher at California Institute of Technology. "The problem is how to achieve generalizable learning, to extend a computer's experience to n
EEC to Encourage Flow of Technology
EEC to Encourage Flow of Technology
BRUSSELS—The Commission of the European Economic Community has taken steps to promote a more open flow of technology information between members. Peter Sutherland, EEC competition commissioner, has been charged with drafting regulations to exempt technical agreements from Article 85 of the Treaty of Rome. The article forbids companies from deciding to share markets or reach any agreements that could impair free trade. Although the commission in the past has cracked down on efforts to share
Budget Official Urges Cost-Sharing
Budget Official Urges Cost-Sharing
WASHINGTON—Cost-sharing arrangements and user fees may take on new prominence in the scientific community with the appointment of a federal official who has applied that approach successfully to federal water projects. Robert K. Dawson, named last month as associate director for natural resources, energy and science within the Office of Management and Budget, believes the private sector should share the cost of federal programs as one step in curbing the budget deficit. He has spent the pa
German Groups Fight IVF Bill
German Groups Fight IVF Bill
WEST BERLIN—Two scientific societies here have announced their opposition to proposed federal legislation that would contain criminal penalties for scientists engaged in most types of work involving in vitro fertilization. The German Research Society (DFG) and the Max Planck Society (MPG) have warned that "embryo experimentation in the Federal Republic would come to an end if the creation of embryos for research purposes is prohibited unconditionally." Tight constraints, the DFG said, woul
Scientists' Deaths Still a Puzzle
Scientists' Deaths Still a Puzzle
LONDON—The death of defense scientist David Sands in a car crash March 30 was neither a suicide nor a crime, the Basingstoke coroner has ruled. Sands, who worked for Easams, a company owned by Marconi, is one of at least four scientists working in the United Kingdom who have died in puzzling circumstances in the past several months. The ruling was the third time in nine months that local coroners have failed to decide the cause of death in cases involving scientists with military connectio
D in Europe
D in Europe
At one time the scene of most of the world's great scientific discoveries, Europe still has a formidable reputation in fields such as particle physics and molecular biology. Yet growing concern about a "technology gap" with the United States and Japan has provided one of the motives for the European Economic Community Framework Program of Research and Technological Development, whose budget for 1987-91 has been the subject of intense political debate in recent months. The United Kingdom, while e

Commentary

The Military Threat to R&D
The Military Threat to R&D
One needn't be opposed to defense spending to decry the disproportionate allocation of federal R&D funds that has gone to the military sector during the Reagan administration. The administration's budget request for fiscal year 1988 would bring to 72 percent the share of federal research dollars earmarked for defense-related programs. But a roughly three-fourths portion for military R&D is historically anomalous: from 1965 to 1980, the federal pie for R&D was divided about equally between defens

Letter

Letters
Letters
In her article "NIH Must Meet the Hughes Challenge" (THE SCIENTIST, April 6, 1987, p. 13), Sandra Panem noted the recent Internal Revenue Service ruling that will permit the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to extend funding to an increased number of scientists. Panem expressed fear that the cream of researchers might join Hughes, be tapped to advise Hughes grant-makers, and lose their loyalty to NIH, thus affecting adversely the quality of NIH pro-grams. The challenge to NIH, in her view,

Opinion

'A Profound Crisis of Purpose in Social Science'
'A Profound Crisis of Purpose in Social Science'
Among the many social scientists who entered the discipline in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it is easy to observe a fundamental disenchantment with the profession. For many of these people, the attraction of social science lay in its potential relevance to the process of social transformation, whether they conceived of it in terms of radical political change or individual self-realization or "liberation." They looked back upon the 1950s and 1960s, when social scientists were engaged in conduc
Sometimes the Public Is Right
Sometimes the Public Is Right
Scientists have no difficulty in accepting the proposition that they can be wrong. They work in an inherently uncertain enterprise, where mistakes are inevitable and where error ought to be no disgrace. On the other hand, many scientists are uneasy with what is often a closely linked proposition—that lobbyists and campaigners they perceive as being practitioners of "anti-science" can be right. Whether confronted with the supposed hazards of food irradiation or the supposed dietary benefit
For a World Science Association
For a World Science Association
Now is the time to establish an International Association for the Advancement of Science. Such a move would mark a major step toward regaining for science its international prestige, now so sadly deteriorated. It should be constituted from the national associations for the advancement of science existing today in the United States, Great Britain, West Germany, France, India, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. Floated in the March and June 1986 issues of Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, the
Physics Should Get Its Act Together
Physics Should Get Its Act Together
George Keyworth, the Washington businessman who once served as science adviser to the President, was fond of calling on the scientific community to "get its act together" and start setting priorities. The words have the sound of reason. Surely not all science is equally important and, if scientists don't set the priorities, someone else will. But, of course, as Keyworth must have realized, it's not that simple. It was, for example, possible for nuclear physicists to reach a consensus of sorts th
What Science Alone Can't Solve
What Science Alone Can't Solve
Few real-world problems can be solved by the application of a single discipline yet, for the most part, we in the developed countries continue to train people as specialists. Worse still, the educational systems of developing countries have been encouraged to follow the same pattern. Agricultural education is a case in point. Agriculture is the most important activity in developing countries, occupying the majority of the people—men, women and children. The need to improve agricultural pro
Developing Damage Control for Bad Data
Developing Damage Control for Bad Data
Hippocrates wrote "I look upon it as being a great part of the art to be able to judge properly of that which has been written." The aphorism is as true today as it was in his time. One major difference, of course, is scale; today's medical publishers turn out some 15 million pages a year. For a scientist or practitioner to "judge properly" of all that is written within a major discipline is clearly impossible. There are quality control checks, however. Colleagues, peer reviewers, editorial boar

Perspective

Rewriting the Book on Nucleic Acids
Rewriting the Book on Nucleic Acids
Every cultured person today has heard of DNA, RNA and protein synthesis. But nucleic acids were not so well-known in 1927, when Albert Dalcq asked me to study the localization of "thymonucleic acid" in ovarian eggs (ovocytes). Biochemistry textbooks merely said that there are two kinds of nucleic acids, "animal" and "vegetal." Thymonucleic acid, a typical animal nucleic acid, had a queer sugar residue, which makes it a DNA. Plant nucleic acids, like zymonucleic acid from yeast, contained a pento

Technology

Publishing Conference Papers
Publishing Conference Papers
Publishers and professional scientists enjoy a love-hate relationship over volumes of conference proceedings. Many researchers question whether science is well served by conference papers published as collections in journals or books. Reviewers frequently criticize proceedings books for their high prices and poor physical appearance, for a lack of rigorous editing, or for long publication delays. Some academic publishers must share this skepticism because they rarely produce books arising from m

Books etc.

Rubbia and His Team's Tricks of The Trade
Rubbia and His Team's Tricks of The Trade
Nobel Dreams. Gary Taubes. Random House, New York, 1986. 261 pp. $19.95. The days of the solitary scientist sounding out nature with homemade equipment are gone. This is nowhere more true than in particle physics, where the search for smaller and smaller units of matter has progressed from van Leeuwenhoek's microscope to Rutherford's alpha-particle beams to today's city-sized particle accelerators, each costing many hundreds of millions of dollars and gobbling up the resources and reputations of
Another Outlet for Ethicists
Another Outlet for Ethicists
Bioethics. Vol. 1, No. 1. Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, eds. Basil Blackwell, New York, 1987. Subscription: $80 (L40) for institutions; $37.50 (L19.50) for individuals. Medical ethics is a growth industry. What better evidence than the appearance of yet another journal devoted to it. In addition to such wholly, dedicated publications as the Hastings Center Report, the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy and the Journal of Medical Ethics, a number of prestigious general journals frequently addres
Handy Guidebook for Authors
Handy Guidebook for Authors
Chicago Guide To Preparing Electronic Manuscripts: For Authors and Publishers. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1987. 156 pp. $25 HB. $9.95 PB Any scientist who is writing a book should be aware of this nifty guide on how to format a manuscript using a word processor or computer. The conventional publishing process requires a typesetting house to re-key all of the manuscript. Clearly, if the author's keystrokes can be captured in some way, there should be savings of time and cost. In pract
Nurturing the Embryo Research Debate
Nurturing the Embryo Research Debate
Human Embryo Research—Yes or No? The CIBA Foundation.Published by Tavistock Publications in association with Methuen, New York, 1987. 232 pp. $39.95 HB. $14.95 PB. The sanctity of human life has been the intellectual province of philosophers and theologians since time immemorial. Rapid strides in medical technology have placed the medical scientists and the specialist physician at the center of controversy, as lawmakers and ethicists scramble to keep up with current events. July 1978 mark
In Pursuit of Life's Beginnings
In Pursuit of Life's Beginnings
Search fro the Universal Ancestors: The Origins of Life. H. Hartman, J.G. Lawless and R Momson, eds. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Boston, 1987. 142 pp. $14.95 PB. The purpose of this excellent book, originally prepared as a NASA report, is twofold. First, it is to summarize the major converging lines of experimental inquiry into the earliest phases of the evolution of life on Earth. Second, it is to look ahead, with recommendations for future research. With 27 contributors, including seve
The NRC Puts Safety Second
The NRC Puts Safety Second
The first anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April refocused world attention on the safety of nuclear power. The Union of Concerned Scientists recently released Safety Second (Indiana University Press, 1987), a critical study of the US. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's first decade. In this excerpt from the book, the union outlines its recommendations for improving the NRC so that safety comes first. The goal of Congress in establishing the Nuclear Regulatory Com
Forthcoming Books
Forthcoming Books
This list of forthcoming books has been compiled from the latest information available from publishers. Dates of publication, prices and numbers of pages are tentative, however, and are subject to change. Astronomy The Classification of Stars. Carlos Jaschek and Mercedes Jaschek. Cambridge University Press: July, 432 pp, $79.50. A comprehensive handbook on the tools and results of stellar taxonomy, describing modern methods of spectroscopic and photometric classification. The Cosmos from Space.

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
Verbatim excerpts from the media on the conduct of science. Political Power Play When professors play politics, the bitterness is often inversely proportional to the stakes. That was the case when some scientists recently denied Prof. Samuel Huntington of Harvard membership in the National Academy of Sciences. Actually, Huntington's vocation, properly pursued, makes him unsuited to the academy as it evidently wants to be understood. And his civic virtue would make him uncomfortable in the academ

Happenings

Happenings
Happenings
Don K. Gentry, associate dean of Purdue University's School of Technology and director of the Statewide Technology Program for Purdue since 1983, will take on a new post July 1 as dean of Purdue's School of Technology, the third largest school at the university. He succeeds George W. McNelly, who will return to teaching after 21 years as dean. S. Allen Heininger, vice president of resource planning at Monsanto Co. in St. Louis, has been elected to a one-year term as president of the Industrial
ADVERTISEMENT