News

Lawmakers Look to Scientists for Answers: Haze of Uncertainty Surrounds Gas Additive
Lawmakers Look to Scientists for Answers: Haze of Uncertainty Surrounds Gas Additive
At what price do we bring clean air to cities around the United States? To some government agencies and oil refiners, the answer is clear. At an average cost of 2-3 cents per gallon of gasoline, the oxygenate methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) can significantly reduce toxic automobile emissions and improve air quality in many smog-choked cities throughout the nation. To lawmakers, the answer has been less certain. MTBE has taken center stage in a political debate that has cast doubt on the safe
Viral vs. Nonviral in Gene Therapy: Which Vector Will Prevail?
Viral vs. Nonviral in Gene Therapy: Which Vector Will Prevail?
Pointing to a few empty chairs in a conference room, moderator David T. Curiel joked that a symposium on emerging nonviral vectors was a "failure" compared to other packed talks at the American Society of Gene Therapy's inaugural meeting last month. The director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's gene therapy program also noted that viral vectors have generated more research activity than nonviral vectors. However, nonviral backers think their delivery vehicles for therapeutic geneti
Flies Invade Human Genetics
Flies Invade Human Genetics
  DOUBLE WINGS: An ultrabithorax mutant fly has a total duplication of the body segment that carries wings. Recent issues of The American Journal of Human Genetics have featured a newcomer: Drosophila melanogaster. The fruit fly is a frequent star of a series of review articles called "Insights From Model Systems." The insect's appearance in a human genetics journal is a telling sign that this model among model organisms, long used to decipher the general principles of inheritance
Astrobiology Makes Debut Under NASA
Astrobiology Makes Debut Under NASA
With a flourish of the checkbook and a call for research proposals, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has summoned into prominence a virtually new discipline of science: astrobiology. When the principal investigators of the first 11 member organizations in NASA's Astrobiology Institute gathered on June 10-11 in Washington, D.C., no definition of astrobiology had been formally adopted and no director chosen. Many of the members had never met and knew little or nothing of each oth
FDA Approves First Phase III For HIV Vaccine
FDA Approves First Phase III For HIV Vaccine
The first large-scale clinical trial of any HIV vaccine got a green light this month from the Food and Drug Administration. And VaxGen Inc. of South San Francisco, Calif., announced that it would begin almost immediately Phase III clinical trials of its bivalent gp120 vaccine. The approval did not come without VaxGen fighting criticism and negative speculation ( M. E. Watanabe, The Scientist, 12[12]:1, June 8, 1998, and The Scientist, 11[22]:1, Nov. 10, 1997). This concern was conveyed in an a

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
"You mean this sewage has already been treated?"

Commentary

Science Education Lays Another Egg
Science Education Lays Another Egg
When the Third International Mathematics and Science Study found last winter that American 12th graders scored below the international average in physics and advanced math, there was a predictable outcry from politicians and pundits. But the finding came as little surprise to those who consistently track education in the United States. For years, blue-ribbon panels have been decrying the low quality of science education in primary and secondary schools and in colleges. Less well known--and pot

Letter

Design in Nature
Design in Nature
I can't wait to read these books on "design" (S. Bunk, The Scientist, 12[8]:4, April 13, 1998)--just as soon as I finish "The Bible Code." I'm sure an anthropologist and a philosopher can help correct the deficient, evolution-centric thinking of brainwashed biologists everywhere. I'd particularly like to know if the fire ant mounds in my backyard are the product of intelligent design. If I run Dr. (Jeremy) Narby's algorithm on these mounds, and it turns out they are intelligently designed, hoo
Gene Names
Gene Names
In your issue of March 30, 1998, Paul Smaglik writes of a Tower of Babel generated by multiple names assigned to the same protein or gene names (P. Smaglik, The Scientist, 12[7]:1, March 30, 1998). The situation for plant genes is both worse and better than indicated in the article. Molecular genetics of animal systems is focused on a few species, principally human, mouse, Drosophila, and the worm. The isolation of genes and proteins from plants, in contrast, is routinely reported from dozen

Opinion

Research Misconduct: Media Exaggerate Results of a Survey
Research Misconduct: Media Exaggerate Results of a Survey
Falsification or selection of research data is an old source of controversy in science. R.A. Millikan's famous "oil drop" experiment to determine the mass of the electron, published in 1913, may have involved some data selection, and the British statistician R.A. Fisher's analyses of Gregor Mendel's genetic ratios from the 1860s suggested that they may have been too good to be true. Contemporary public interest in research misconduct has been stimulated by a popular book by two New York Times e

Research

Investigators Pinpointing Fear's Activity in the Brain
Investigators Pinpointing Fear's Activity in the Brain
Organisms cannot live without fear. "Fearfulness is one of the most basic physiological and behavioral responses we have. It probably supersedes everything because of its survival value," says Ned Kalin, Hedberg professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is chair of the department of psychiatry and director of the university's HealthEmotions Research Institute. But fear gone awry can debilitate animals and humans. Excessive fear can lead to psychopat

Hot Paper

Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's Disease
M.X. Tang, D. Jacobs, Y. Stern, K. Marder, P. Schofield, B. Gurland, H. Andrews, R. Mayeux, "Effect of oestrogen during menopause on risk and age at onset of Alzheimer's disease," Lancet, 348:429-32, 1996. (Cited more than 127 times since publication) Comments by Ming-Xin Tang, professor of biostatistics, Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, Columbia University. Alzheimer's disease, which is characterized by the progressive loss of cognitive function, afflicts about 5 percent to 10 percent of the
Genetics
Genetics
CLEVER METHOD: Roger K. Wolff of Progenitor Inc. led a research team that used linkage disequilibrium mapping to locate the gene for hereditary hemochromatosis. J.N. Feder, A. Gnirke, W. Thomas, Z. Tsuchihashi, D.A. Ruddy, A. Basava, F. Dormishian, R. Domingo, M.C. Ellis, A. Fullan, L.M. Hinton, N.L. Jones, B.E. Kimmel, G.S. Kronmal, P. Lauer, V.K. Lee, D.B. Loeb, F.A. Mapa, E. McClelland, N.C. Meyer, G.A. Mintier, N. Moeller, T. Moore, E. Morikang, C.E. Prass, L. Quintana, S.M. Starnes, R.C.

Profession

Writing Book Chapters Broadens the Scientific Experience
Writing Book Chapters Broadens the Scientific Experience
MIXED REVIEW: David Gordon, a science writer and biologist, calls chapter writing "a wonderful and awful experience." Scientists are, by necessity, writers. Academic scientists write exams, grant applications, and research papers; their industrial counterparts compose company reports and patent applications. Chapter writing offers a breather from these higher-pressure literary demands, whether it is for a published version of a symposium talk, a chapter for a textbook, or an analysis of a spec

Technology

Every Photon is Sacred
Every Photon is Sacred
If you liked confocal microscopy, you're going to love multi-photon systems, now available from Bio-Rad Instruments. Taking the principle of confocal microscopy one giant step further, multi-photon microscopes use rapidly oscillating, low energy laser light to illuminate a small sample area--as small as 0.1 femtoliter. Working cooperatively, the energy from two (or three in some cases) photons can excite fluorochromes that ordinarily require high energy excitation. What does this get you? Deep
A New Way To Handle Your Liquids
A New Way To Handle Your Liquids
The Integrapette from I²S In the last year, LabConsumer has evaluated numerous micropipetters and repetitive pipetters (K. Miller, The Scientist , Nov. 10, 1997, page 16; K. Miller, The Scientist, April 27, 1998, p. 10). Accordingly, we were more than happy to test the new I-200 Integrapette from Integrated Instrument Services (I2S, Indianapolis). The Integrapette is a continuously adjustable digital pipette with a volume selection dial constructed with a self-locking "friction ring" to

Technology Profile

To Bead or Not To Bead: Applications of Magnetic Bead Technology
To Bead or Not To Bead: Applications of Magnetic Bead Technology
Date: June 22, 1998Table 1:Paramagnetic Particles, Table 2:Primary Antibodies Magnetic separations in biology and biotechnology have diversified in recent years, leading to a bewildering array of different particles, affinity mechanisms, and processes. Applications in the nucleic acid realm include products for total and poly(A)+ mRNA isolation from cells or previously purified total RNA preparations, solid-phase cDNA library construction, double-stranded and single-stranded DNA purification, s
Making Things Grow: Insect Cells, Stem Cells, and Primary Cell Lines All Pose Challenges for Cell Culturists
Making Things Grow: Insect Cells, Stem Cells, and Primary Cell Lines All Pose Challenges for Cell Culturists
Date: June 22, 1998 Insect Cell Culture Media, Suppliers of Primary Cell Culture Media Advantages for Protein Expression Studies Since the mid-1950s cultures of insects--cockroaches, fruit flies, and leafhoppers, to name a few--have been the object of quiet study by physiologists and cell biologists. But along came genetic engineering and suddenly insect cultures have been put in the spotlight since they provide advantages over both bacterial and mammalian systems for recombinant protein prod
Gather Ye Stem Cells Where Ye May
Gather Ye Stem Cells Where Ye May
Stem cells are increasingly finding uses in both basic and clinical research. While traditionally of interest to those studying the regulation of growth and differentiation, stem cells are now being used in some of the hottest areas of research--in the construction of transgenic animals and vehicles in gene therapy and transplantation studies. These applications all require the culturing of stem cells outside the animal for some period of time, a task that is particularly challenging. As is the

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
LAB-PROVEN: With this equipment, Manish M. Shah of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has demonstrated that enzymes in spinach can neutralize explosives. POPEYE WOULD BE PROUD Remember how Popeye turns into human dynamite whenever he eats spinach? Well, the new word is that enzymes in spinach may reduce dynamite to a harmless bunch of chemicals. Manish M. Shah, a research scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., is using nitr