Frontlines

It's True: Scientists Are Smart
It's True: Scientists Are Smart
A rowdy crowd of white-coated scientists, many recruited from the ranks of readers of The Scientist, upheld the community's braniac reputation by coming out on top in a televised national IQ test. "Test the Nation," a Fox television special, aired on June 9 in the United States. The show pitted scientists against groups of teachers, celebrities, students, hard-hatted construction workers, muscle-shirt-wearing body builders, and blonde women. The scientist group scored highest with an average
Golden Oldies-Piscine Style
Golden Oldies-Piscine Style
Frontlines | Golden Oldies-Piscine Style Erica P. Johnson It's not Mozart or Elvis that does so, but a cacophony of noises, resembling those that emanate from a reef, that makes the embryo of a clown fish heart's throb for a home. After birth, the ant-sized juveniles swim away, but eventually they return to a reef to live. In trying to determine how these flashy reef fish do so, marine biologist Stephen Simpson, University of York, investigated sound as a possible cue. He and colleague Ho

Snapshot

We Can't Go on Meeting Like This
We Can't Go on Meeting Like This
Click for larger version (14K) We surveyed our readers to find out if they attend scientific meetings and why they do. Of the 282 who responded, 81% travel to one or more scientific meetings every year. An inveterate 13% go to more than three meetings per year. Readers ranked the importance of various reasons for attending conferences on a 1-to-5 scale, with 5 considered very important. Three motivations stand out: Attending formal lectures and sessions (4.4), meeting informally with collea

Foundations

Evil Science
Evil Science
Foundations | Evil Science Click for larger version (39K) Few events signify science gone awry more than the Tuskegee experiments. Started in 1932 to study the effects of untreated syphilis in 399 black men, the scientific rationale for the work became inconsequential by the late 1930s, when it was proven that the symptoms could be treated with heavy-metal therapy. Yet bureaucratic inertia compelled its continuation. In 1943, the morally questionable descended to the intentionally harmful

First Person

Lynn Margulis
Lynn Margulis
First Person | Lynn Margulis Courtesy of Lynn Margulis Despite being eligible for Social Security, geneticist and symbiogenesis proponent Lynn Margulis prefers doing what 10-year-old boys like to do: hiking, camping, exploring the wilds, reading. "I can't think of any greater punishment than a smoky bar," she says. "I've worked every Saturday night of my life." This National Medal of Science winner does not sit still. An avid swimmer, she eschews television, because the "discrepancy betwe

Off The Cuff

What Will Your Epitaph Say?
What Will Your Epitaph Say?
Off the Cuff | What Will Your Epitaph Say? ATG-August 4, 1965, TGA-February 2, 2050 Peter Eipers, Birmingham, Ala. He'll have to do this experiment all over again Luis da Cruz, Toronto, Canada His negative data never shattered his positive spirit Ilia Davydov, Gaithersburg, Md. Scientists never die, they just reach equilibrium Maria Anna Delgado, Milwaukee, Wis. I'd rather be in the laboratory Andrew Yen, Ithaca, NY function sendData() { document.frm.pathName.value = location

5-Prime

Protein Phosphorylation
Protein Phosphorylation
5-Prime | Protein Phosphorylation Cascades of signals are transduced when, for example, a hormone meets its receptor, when one cell touches another, or when a lymphocyte contacts its cognate antigen. Many steps in these pathways involve protein phosphorylation. (See related story, Monitoring Protein Phosphorylation) What are kinases and phosphatases? Kinases are enzymes that catalyze the addition of phosphate groups. Most large cellular molecules, including proteins, carbohydrates, and lip

Science Seen

People Palette
People Palette
Science Seen | People Palette Courtesy: Jennifer Steinkamp, University of California, Los Angeles  The theme of this artwork by UCLA art professor Jennifer Steinkamp, titled Einstein's Dilemma, is the disruption caused by science to the status quo. The piece hangs over the entrance to the California Institute of Technology's Aetheneum building; sensors in the lobby pick up a person's presence and electrostatically reconstruct the colors in the panel.   function sendData() { do

Calendar

July Calendar
July Calendar
July Calendar Click for larger version (228K) function sendData() { document.frm.pathName.value = location.pathname; result = false if (document.frm.score[0].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[1].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[2].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[3].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[4].checked) result = true; if (!result) alert("Please select") return result; } .myradio{background-color : #9

Editorial

Not ""Mere Technicians""
Not ""Mere Technicians""
Scientists are in general a fair, even high-minded bunch, but if one thing brings them down, it is their superior attitude toward a particular group of coworkers, namely technicians and lab assistants. Towards technicians, scientists can often be condescending, even belittling. Let me illustrate with two examples, which would have appeared in the pages of The Scientist but for editorial intervention. The first comes from discussions on the status of postdocs. The character in question was quo

Opinion

Back in the Fold with UNESCO
Back in the Fold with UNESCO
Ned Shaw The Bush Administration's decision to rejoin the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) offers the US science and engineering community a chance to expand its opportunities for international cooperation and technical assistance, which would support peace, world dialogue, and progress towards sustainable development. The president's decision, supported by the secretary of state, is very welcome indeed, and Congress should be encouraged to provide the

Letter

Conversational Communications
Conversational Communications
Conversational Communications Most scientists would agree that a high standard of written English is vital for scientific communication. However, we have an increasing responsibility to report findings to a wider audience. Indeed, many funding bodies seem to rank activities for the "public understanding of science" as highly as traditional scientific reporting. With this in mind, scientists should strive to improve their skills of communication not only with the scientific community but als
Model History
Model History
Model History Congratulations on the excellent supplement of June 2 on model organisms.1 The section on Caenorhabditis elegans brought back memories for a 78-year-old experimental biologist. While celebrating the appropriate Nobel recognition of Sydney Brenner, Robert Horvitz, and John Sulston for their outstanding contributions to science using C. elegans as a model organism, I am sure that they would want to acknowledge the role of Berkeley biologist Ellsworth C. Dougherty. In the late
Let the Tub Drain
Let the Tub Drain
Let the Tub Drain The article by Silvia Sanides1 is an excellent piece, reporting on the important issue of "gray brain drain" from Europe, due to mandatory retirement. There is, however, an important caveat missing, which is that the system actually serves a crucial purpose of renewal. Although there are obvious exceptions to the rule (and those justifiably make the headlines), forced retirement contributes mightily towards removing otherwise unmovable tenured professors, whose contributio
Real-World Stem Cells
Real-World Stem Cells
Real-World Stem Cells I am currently an undergraduate at the University of Florida, and when I read Joseph Perpich's article about the Human Cell Project,1 I almost couldn't believe it. His comments with respect to expression studies of stem cells under different conditions were a near-perfect reflection of studies I aspire to perform while attending graduate school at University of Wisconsin-Madison starting in the fall. I have come to adopt the belief that if stem cells are to truly fulf
The Bats and the Bees
The Bats and the Bees
The Bats and the Bees The wording of your article1 was sufficiently imprecise to provoke a brain gag on my part. Bat and bird wings are homologous!? No! Analogous, I say. They do NOT use the same bones, etc. Skin vs. feathers, etc. One can make bat wings homologous to insect wings by the article's usage simply by increasing the ancestor group size. Doug Miller University of California, San Francisco dmiller@rorl.ucsf.edu 1. L. Pray, "Phylogenetics: Even the terminology evolves," The Sci

Feature

The Neurobiology of Rehabilitation
The Neurobiology of Rehabilitation
Courtesy of Eric D. Laywell SPHERES OF PROMISE These neurospheres, clusters of cells in culture derived from the CNS of mice, are stained with antibodies against a neuronal protein (red), and a astrocyte protein (green). They have a nuclear counterstain (blue). The brain and spinal cord were once considered mitotic dead ends, a division of neurons dwindling with toddlerhood, with memory and learning the consequence of synaptic plasticity, not new neurons. But the discovery of neural stem

Research

The Rising 'Tides
The Rising 'Tides
The Rising 'Tides The human genome sequence may be finished, but major centers continue to pump out those A's, T's, G's, and C's. | Click for larger version (55K) function sendData() { document.frm.pathName.value = location.pathname; result = false if (document.frm.score[0].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[1].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[2].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[3].checked) result = true; if (document.frm.score[4].checked) r
The 0.1% Portrait of Human History
The 0.1% Portrait of Human History
Stored in the human genome, perhaps, is the record of human evolution and existence on this planet. Many say, however, that this history and the benefits it may unfold for human health cannot be found in the single, essentially complete human sequence--99.9% similar to any other human sequence. It's the 0.1% difference that should tell the tale--not only of migration, war, technological achievement, and conquest--but also of the differences that confer susceptibility to complex, multigenic dis
Adam: A 21st-Century Murder Mystery
Adam: A 21st-Century Murder Mystery
Courtesy of New Scotland Yard Press Bureau  MOUNTING EVIDENCE: Candles (top) found in the Thames River shortly after 'Adam's' body was discovered lend credence to the theory that the boy's death was part of a ritual killing. The candles were wrapped in a sheet (middle). A graphic depiction of the boy's torso, (bottom) along with a pair of shorts found with the body, demonstrates where he was dismembered. In a remarkable show of scientific sleuthing, London detectives combined mitochondri
Outsmarting Influenza's Rapid Evolution
Outsmarting Influenza's Rapid Evolution
Twice yearly, World Health Organization health officials meet to strategize against influenza, a malady that kills at least 250,000 people each year. In a chess match of sorts, they work to predict their opponent's next move, in this case by modifying vaccines to compensate for changes in the critical viral antigen hemagglutinin, which triggers the host's long-term immune memory. It takes several months to manufacture and distribute flu vaccines in sufficient quantities to inoculate vulnerabl

Hot Paper

Dead Genes Puzzling
Dead Genes Puzzling
Reprinted with permission from Nature LEPROSY REDUCED: Circular genome map showing the position and orientation of known genes, pseudogenes and repetitive sequences. The scale in Mb is indicated by the numbers on the outside ring. Leprosy remains an epidemiological mystery, even 130 years after the leprosy bacillus was discovered.1 Despite the many helpful antibiotics now available to treat this mutilating disease, leprosy's transmission and mechanism of cell and tissue destruction remain
Transmembrane Potential
Transmembrane Potential
Courtesy of Anders Krogh  The Transmembrane Hidden Markov Model prediction of the topology of one photosynthetic reaction center chain. The five red bars are the predicted membrane helices and the histogram below represents the certainty with which they can be predicted. Membrane proteins do not reveal their structures easily. Because they are particularly hard to crystallize, such proteins make X-ray crystallography expensive and time-consuming. So, many investigators turn to theoretica

Technology Front Page

Sequencing on Compact Disc?; Microgenomics of Breast Cancer; Better Binding Site Prediction
Sequencing on Compact Disc?; Microgenomics of Breast Cancer; Better Binding Site Prediction
PATENT WATCH | Sequencing on Compact Disc? Burstein Technologies of Irvine, Calif., has entered the alternative sequencing strategy arena (see related article, Beyond Sanger: Toward the $1,000 Genome), winning patent protection for its hybridization-based sequencing approach, which employs the company's BioCompact Disc (BCDT) technology. (US patent 6,566,069, issued May 30, 2003) "Oligonucleotide arrays hold great promise in gene sequencing," inventor Jorma Virtanen writes in the applicati

Technology Profile

Beyond Sanger: Toward the $1,000 Genome
Beyond Sanger: Toward the $1,000 Genome
Courtesy of Solexa Total Genotyping Without a doubt, the quarter-century-old Sanger sequencing method performed like a champ during the Human Genome Project. But with the capacity to read only a few hundred bases per reaction, it is far too slow and expensive for routine use in clinical settings. Reaping the rewards of the genomics era will clearly require faster and cheaper alternatives. Some companies estimate that within the next five years, technical advances could drop the cost of seque
Monitoring Protein Phosphorylation
Monitoring Protein Phosphorylation
Four Common Methods of Detecting Protein PhosphorylationClick for larger version (44K) Signal transduction pathways comprise the cell's communications system; they transmit cues--from hormones, growth factors, or cytokines, for instance--that tell the cell to proliferate, differentiate, activate (or deactivate) a gene, or even die. As with any critical communications network, problems can arise when the lines go down or the signals get crossed, and studies have linked perturbations in signal

Technology

A ""Hot Topic"" in Drug Discovery
A ""Hot Topic"" in Drug Discovery
Courtesy of Thermogenic Imaging  FEEL THE HEAT? Infrared TSA images capture the thermogenic response of the brain and IBAT to oral glucose and insulin in diabetic and non-diabetic BB-rats. Cellular thermogenesis, or heat production, reflects an amalgamation of physiological functions, including metabolic activities and blood flow. Telltale differences in thermogenic patterns can result when an organism's physiological status changes for any of a variety of reasons, including disease prog
Real-Time PCR Gets Personal
Real-Time PCR Gets Personal
Courtesy of Stratagene Until now, the high cost of quantitative PCR (QPCR) instruments has limited access to the technology mostly to core facilities and industrial settings. Individual labs wanting to purchase such instruments often had to pool money with three or four other investigators. But with the release of the smaller, cheaper, and lighter Mx3000P real-time PCR system, Stratagene hopes to change all that. At $24,995 (US), the Mx3000P is the least expensive of its kind. "This equates
A Holistic Solution to Clinical Proteomics
A Holistic Solution to Clinical Proteomics
Courtesy of Bruker Daltonics Bruker Daltonics of Billerica, Mass., has developed a new mass spectrometry system that the company describes as a "holistic solution" for clinical proteomics and biomarker discovery. The ClinProt™ system, encompassing automated sample preparation, high-performance matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) analysis, and back-end bioinformatics, is the brainchild of Bruker CEO Frank Laukien, who wanted to target the biomarker disc

Profession Front Page

Finding the Ethical Biotech; It's All in the Technique; Flags of Many Colors
Finding the Ethical Biotech; It's All in the Technique; Flags of Many Colors
TIP TROVE | Finding the Ethical Biotech Courtesy of Chris MacDonald Ethics should guide the pharmaceutical industry, but it's not always easy to determine a company's ethical track record prior to signing on. It's a good idea to talk to people in the industry, as insiders tend to know the reputations of companies. We shouldn't pretend that a pharmaceutical company's values exist only for the public good. Still, employees can promote high ethical standards by openly talking about how the co

Profession

The Sykes' Solutions
The Sykes' Solutions
Richard Sykes by Bob Dob Illustrations Richard Sykes, rector (CEO) of Imperial College London, the number one university for international class research in the United Kingdom, is making a habit of remolding great institutions. He almost single-handedly created the world's second largest pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) through merger and acquisition during the 1990s before returning to his academic roots with Imperial College in 2001. This was the second time in eight years that
Collaborators Against Cancer
Collaborators Against Cancer
Courtesy of Getty Images Among the most fiercely competitive corporations in the business world, pharmaceutical companies jealously guard their secret research and profitable patents. Yet an industry group is now promoting a plan to break down the walls dividing the world's major drug makers for an all-out effort against cancer. The CEO Roundtable on Cancer, which met earlier this month, is considering a proposal to create a research collaboration similar to one established by the US semicond
Negotiate Your Next Move
Negotiate Your Next Move
D.F. Dowd After landing a great new job offer, it's only natural to want to stop and savor the moment. Do yourself a favor and stifle that urge. You still have plenty of work to do before sipping that first cup of coffee in the office and signing up for the 401K plan. Getting an offer in today's sluggish economy is a pretty impressive feat. But it's just a part of the employment equation. Now you have to bear down and negotiate a package that reflects your experience, talent, and worth. It can

Postdoc Talk

Science's Alien Workforce
Science's Alien Workforce
Courtesy of Alex Wilson I am an alien, a resident alien postdoctoral research associate. I didn't seek out the fate of an alien postdoc; it came to me as a gift from the man I fell in love with. Being an alien is fundamentally about not belonging. Not belonging is difficult. It is challenging and, we are told, ultimately rewarding. This is true, but it is not always easy to see the rewards when, on a daily basis you are faced with challenges that, while frequently small, can appear very large.

Turning Points

'I've Got to Get Out of the Lab'
'I've Got to Get Out of the Lab'
File Photo Welcome to my new-and-improved careers column; it is now interactive. When you send your questions via the E-mail address below, I will seek answers for you. Anita Koltay, who read my networking column, wrote recently with questions about career switching. She's a postdoctoral fellow at The Burnham Institute in San Diego and would like to get a job outside the lab. Past jobs required her to write technical reports; she also authors short stories and poetry. With the aptitude for a

How I Got This Job

Assert Yourself, Appreciate your Colleagues
Assert Yourself, Appreciate your Colleagues
Courtesy of Peg Skorpinski Early indications: Except for a brief flirtation with writing at one point, I always wanted to be a scientist. Since I was young, I've loved biology and computers, and it's continued ever since. How did I get here? I consider myself lucky being able to come to Berkeley after my postdocs, both because of the work I was doing and the coincidental increase of attention to my field. Pivotal paper: I think the paper that caused the most discussion was my lambda phage p

Closing Bell

Adolf Hitler: My Parts Per Million in his Downfall
Adolf Hitler: My Parts Per Million in his Downfall
In his novel, Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, Spike Milligan describes waiting for the train to take him to his first military posting during WWII. His commanding officer hands him a picture of Hitler labeled: This is your enemy. "I searched every compartment," writes Milligan, "but he wasn't on the train." In a way, we are still searching for the Führer. Hitler is the archetypal enemy, whose badness virtually all can agree on, which is why his name often crops up in discussions