March 1987

News

UNESCO Race Still Wide Open
UNESCO Race Still Wide Open
LONDON—The contest to elect a new director-general of UNESCO is about to enter a period of international wheeling and dealing. The election could test the organization's ability to emerge from two years of disarray and indecision. No front-runner for the top post has appeared, although member states may nominate candidates through the end of this month. The 50-member Executive Board then must select a single candidate to propose to the General Conference in November. Director-General Amado
AMA Report Urges Boost In Research
AMA Report Urges Boost In Research
CHICAGO—A five-year study by the American Medical Association and 171 other public and private organizations to influence the future of health care policy in the United States has recommended a 10 percent annual increase in NIH funding, tax breaks for pharmaceutical and other companies that conduct biomedical research and increased cooperative ventures between universities and private industry. The report's findings were summarized here February 16 at the annual meeting of the American Ass
Six States Lead SSC Contest
Six States Lead SSC Contest
WASHINGTON—Several states began the race to acquire the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC) long before January 30, when the Reagan administration sounded the starting gun by announcing its support for the $4.4 billion project. That early jump may prove decisive. The August deadline for proposals gives an advantage to states that have spent plenty of money deciding where and how to build and operate the collider. Many of those decisions were made at least two years ago, and since then offi
Math Clinic Puts Theory to Practice
Math Clinic Puts Theory to Practice
CLAREMONT, CA.—Teledyne Microelectronics needed a better way to market its light-emitting diode panel displays for military and commercial aircraft and vehicles. So last year it asked a team of applied mathematics students from Harvey Mudd College to design and build the computer, drive, electronics and software for such a demonstrator. "We've very satisfied," explained Richard Davis, an engineer with the Torrance, Calif., company. "They did an excellent job." The demonstrator, which can b
Pentagon Revives Plans To Create SDI Institute
Pentagon Revives Plans To Create SDI Institute
WASHINGTON—The Reagan administration is seeking congressional sponsors for a bill that would revive plans to create a federally funded think tank to support research on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). A move by the Pentagon last year to establish the proposed SDI Institute was blocked on Capitol Hill after questions were raised about the need for the center, its staffing and independence. According to one Senate staff member who requested anonymity, "the SDI Institute is in better
Trivelpiece Takes Top AAAS Post
Trivelpiece Takes Top AAAS Post
CHICAGO—Alvin W. Trivelpiece will take office April 1 as executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the AAAS announced February 15 at its annual meeting here. He succeeds Wffliam D. Carey, who is retiring after 12 years at the head of the nation's oldest and largest genera! science membership organization. The appointment was reported first in the February 9 issue of THE SCIENTIST. Triveipiece, 56, a nuclear physicist with experience in industry, academia a
NAS Calls Science Main Task in Space
NAS Calls Science Main Task in Space
CHICAGO—A new National Academy of Sciences report will recommend that basic science become "the principal objective of the space program." Speaking here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Thomas M. Donahue outlined some of the major recommendations of the Academy's Space Science Board report, entitled "Major Directions for Space Science: 1995-2015." Donahue is an astrophysicist at the University of Michigan and chairman of the Space Science Bo
D Policy
D Policy
WELLINGTON, N.Z.—There are prospects for a major change in science and technology policy in New Zealand following the release of a comprehensive and plain-speaking report. The report, completed in December but just now being discussed, said the "key to prosperity" lies in moving the nation rapidly toward a Scandanavian-type economy based on science and technology, (e.g. small, high-value, high tech products in medicine, electronics and biotechnology). The report is named after Sir David Be
U.K. Budget Allocation Draws Fire
U.K. Budget Allocation Draws Fire
LONDON—British science policy advisers sent their government a message of gloom and dismay along with their recommendations for the country's 1987-88 science budget. And they were backed by opposition politicians in the House of Lords who said the country's industrial future was threatened by its weak support for research. The Advisory Board for the Research Councils (ABRC) decided to award 20 million of the 24 million pounds ($34 million) that were added to Britain's 300-million-pound aca
Berlin to Form Academy
Berlin to Form Academy
WEST BERLIN—A new Academy of Science to be created here has sharpened debate about the best way to improve the quality of research carried out in the city. On March 12 the city's parliament is expected to pass a bill introduced by the governing Christian Democrats to establish such an academy, the sixth in West Germany and the second in this divided city. (The academy in East Berlin is the legal successor of the Prussian Academy of Science, founded in 1700). There has been talk for many ye
NIH Funds Designer AIDS Drugs
NIH Funds Designer AIDS Drugs
WASHINGTON—When Donald Armstrong of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and his collaborators began to search for compounds that could kill the AIDS virus, they took an increasingly popular approach to the development of anti-viral drugs: they designed their own. Since October the National Institutes of Health have spent or set aside about $25 million for projects like Armstrong‘s that take a targeted approach to developing drugs against AIDS. Most extramural funding for the p
Slow Response to AIDS Report Disappoints Panel
Slow Response to AIDS Report Disappoints Panel
WASHINGTON—More than four months after the Institute of Medicine issued its well-publicized report on AIDS, the disease is still outpacing federal efforts to contain and understand it. "Since the report came out, a lot has happened as far as the epidemic spreading, but very little has been done to implement the strongly felt recommendations of the panel," said June Osborn, dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a member of the group that prepared the report. The nec
D
D
STOCKHOLM—The Swedish government hopes to increase its budget for research and development by $180 million over the next three years. The 3 percent increase will raise its R&D spending, already among the highest in the world at a rate of 2.7 percent of Gross National Product, to $5.7 billion. Nearly one-half of the new money will go into higher education, new research posts and professorships. The government will also push ahead with its controversial plan to compel commercial banks to con
Cape of Cetus Corp. on the NIH Budget and Competitiveness
Cape of Cetus Corp. on the NIH Budget and Competitiveness
While working in his family's pharmaceutical business in Montreal in the mid-1960s, Ronald E. Cape was among those who saw commercial possibilities in the unfolding mystery of DNA. Cape, who had a B.A. in chemistry from Princeton University and an M.B.A. from Harvard University, decided to study biochemistry. After receiving a Ph.D. from McGill University, he did postdoctoral work in genetics at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1971 he co-founded Cetus Corporation and became its chai

Commentary

Shame On You, Mrs.Thatcher
Shame On You, Mrs.Thatcher
The Conservative government of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher claims it provides "level funding" in its current support of scientific research. But, with sharply rising cost, level funding really amounts to underfunding, which can only hasten the decline of British science. Although that decline began at least a few years before Mrs. Thatcher assumed leadership in 1979, her government has done nothing of substance to reverse the trend. I say, shame on you, Mrs. Thatcher. Your budget po

Letter

Time, Space and St. Augustine
Time, Space and St. Augustine
May I, from the other end of the ecclesiastical spectrum, welcome the letter from Andrew Szebenyi, S.J. (The Scientist, January 12, 1987, p. 10). As he says, "God does not create in time, but is the creator of time." He will know, what some of your readers may not know and some creationists may have forgotten, that this is explicitly proclaimed in the New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2): "God … has spoken … by his Son by whom also he made the worlds" (Greek: Aiones, "indefinite time"). Wha
Establish a Trust Fund for Science Research
Establish a Trust Fund for Science Research
President Reagan has proposed doubling the National Science Foundation (NSF) basic research budget by 1992. Equally important, he states in his budget message: "The Nation's future position in global markets will depend upon: the allocation of national resources to the generation of new knowledge; and the effective and timely transfer of this new knowledge to specific applications." This noble statement could as easily have been made by countless senators or representatives. Despite these noble
If Only Biblical Literalists Really Were Literal
If Only Biblical Literalists Really Were Literal
Craig V. Svensson (The Scientist, January 26, 1987) claims to be a biblical literalist. Those of us who spend some of our spare time combating the obfuscations of creationism wish heartily that this claim were true, for the literal words of the Bible are much more compatible with Darwinism than is the pseudoscientific bilge of creationism. The fact is that fundamentalism cannot get by without hundreds of nonbiblical canons for which there is no authority but the word of scientifically illiterate
Understand the Difference Between Science, Religion
Understand the Difference Between Science, Religion
Craig K. Svensson completely misses the point concerning the teaching of creation science in the schools (The Scientist, January 26, 1987). I will defend the right of any individual to practice his own faith as long as such practice does not infringe upon or harm other members of society. Creation science is a religious belief and not a branch of scientific thought. Therefore, it is not appropriate to teach this subject in the context of science. I will not discuss the arguments concerning the l

Opinion

Scientists and Media Madness
Scientists and Media Madness
My first two scientific experiences of media madness occurred in the early 1960s when I was a real microbiologist. One day, the new local television station sent along a camera team to see what we were all up to. After a quick glance around the lab, the boss pointed at a fraction collector and asked me to switch it on. "It is on," I replied, explaining that the machine clicked around once very 15 minutes as each test tube collected liquid from the ion exchange column above. "OK, I understand," t
Science Policy Needs Historians
Science Policy Needs Historians
Last year, the National Academy of Sciences published an eight-volume report on the current state and future progress of physics in the United States. Even more wonderful than the achievements and prospects reported there, from the standpoint of the interested layman, is the number of apparently equally worthy projects and opportunities for the consumption of federal funds. The authors of Physics Through the 1990s do not order priorities. They endorse all the worthy proposals put forward by the
Scientific Truth and the Courts
Scientific Truth and the Courts
As a nonscientist, I am not qualified to question The New York Times' editorial conclusion that there is no association between spermicides and birth defects (The Scientist, January 26, 1987. P. 13). But I do question its conclusion that "both law and science seek after truth." Until all those involved in the resolution of problems such as in Wells v. Ortho recognize that law does not necessarily seek truth—except in some very long-range, societal sense not relevant to the short-term needs
Should Journals Pay Referees?
Should Journals Pay Referees?
Like most scientists, I have had a few bad experiences during the peer review of my manuscripts. My most painful experiences have been with the delays in publication brought on by apparent referee apathy to meeting the three- to four-week deadline of most journals. May I offer a suggestion for abolishing delays due to referee apathy? As others have suggested, paying referees may improve the quality of their reviews. However, I believe that payment should be restricted to those referees who provi
The 'Two Cultures' Have Endured
The 'Two Cultures' Have Endured
When I was 20 I had an English literature professor who insisted on the virtues of one's keeping a literary log—a chronicle of all the books read over the course of the year. All great men and women of letters did this, he said. In fact, it appeared that journal keeping was something of a prerequisite for being a man or woman of letters. With the enthusiasm and single-mindedness that often propel us (arid render us insufferable) when we're 20, I began such a project. At the end of two mont

Technology

How to Furnish a Lab
How to Furnish a Lab
This is the third and final article in this series on laboratory design. The first article was "How to Plan a Lab Building" (The Scientist, November 17, 1986, p. 15). The second was "The Cost of Lab Remodellng" (The Scientist,January 12, 1987). Having decided to build a new laboratory or remodel an existing one, you still must think about how to furnish your lab space. In a sense, the factors you must consider are similar to those in purchasing furniture for your home. You want furniture that i

Books etc.

How Scientists Control the News
How Scientists Control the News
"True descendants of Prometheus, science writers take the fire from the scientific Olympus, the laboratories and the universities, and bring it down to the people." That was how William Laurence, a science writer for The New York Times, described the work of science writers in the 1930s. Fifty years later, many scientists might be more likely to compare their opposite numbers in the media to the troublesome Pandora, whose impulsive opening of the box sent by Zeus unleashed a host of evils on hum
Decoding the Great Recombinant DNA Debate
Decoding the Great Recombinant DNA Debate
The Gene-Splicing Wars: Reflections on the Recombinant DNA Controversy. Raymond A. Zilinskas and Burke K. Zimmerman, eds. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1986. 288 pages. $24.95. Recombinant DNA became part of the vocabulary of scientists and the public in the 1970s. During that decade a fierce debate—not a war— on the biological hazards of rDNA research raged. Many of the scientists involved view it as one of the most anguished and bitter controversies in modern science. Th
The Second Green Revolution
The Second Green Revolution
Beyond the Green Revolution: New Approaches for Third World Agriculture. (Woridwatch Paper 73) Edward C. Wolf, Woridwatch Institute, Washington, DC, 1986. 46 pp. $4. Directed by Lester R. Brown, recent winner of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the Worldwatch Institute analyzes and focuses attention on global problems through a series of papers "written for a worldwide audience of decision makers, scholars, and the general public." This one, written by senior researcher 'Edward Wolf, a Willia
Sound Science for the Masses
Sound Science for the Masses
The Science Critic: A Critical Analysis of the Popular Presentation of Science. Maurice Goldsmith. Routledge & Kegan Paul, New York, 1987. 217 pp. $29.95. From time to time, experts concerned about the public's generally poor understanding of science propose to solve the problem by creating a new profession called science critic. By science critic these experts do not mean the consistently negative science gadflies like Jeremy Rifkin. Rather, they mean specially trained professionals, like art
Reflections of a Biologist
Reflections of a Biologist
Off-Beat Biologist: The Autobiography of Alan S. Parkes. Alan S. Parkes. The Galton Foundation, Cambridge, UK, 1985. 444 pp., illus. $30, £20. "Early in 1982, at the age of eighty-one, I set out in my usual spirit of 'have a go' to write a full-scale autobiography." An ebullient readiness to "have a go" at new challenges or opportunities, regardless of his formal or experiential qualifications for the task, typified Sir Alan Parkes' attitude in personal and professional life. This characte
Diesel: The Man and the Engine
Diesel: The Man and the Engine
Diesel: Technology and Society in Industrial Germany. Donald E. Thomas, Jr. The University of Alabama Press, University, 1987. 291 pp., illus. $26.95. The life of Rudolf Diesel invites attention. Here was a man with a brilliant achievement to his credit, a novel power plant with the potential for revolutionizing industry and transportation. The creation of the diesel engine called for both scientific insight and technical skill, and Diesel demonstrated convincingly that he possessed both. Yet,
Social Science Makes Its Case
Social Science Makes Its Case
The Nationalization of the Social Sciences. Samuel Z. Klausner and Victor M. Lidz, eds. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1986. 296 pp. $34.95. Skilled scholarly archaeologists from Philadelphia apparently took a field trip to the canyons of New York City and discovered an important document in the archives of the Social Science Research Council. The document is the heretofore unpublished "Social Science: A Basic National Resource," drafted in 1948 by the late Talcott Parsons to a

Perspective

A Geological Near-Miss
A Geological Near-Miss
The hypothesis that the present distribution of the continents is due to the breaking up and drifting apart of the fragments of a single continent was first put forward in 1912. However, largely because of the First World War and the extreme antipathy to German science and scientists that followed it, the hypothesis remained not only unaccepted but almost unknown for many years in the former allied countries such as Britain and America. I first heard of it in 1923 from an American physicist at O

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
Scientific speculation about the biological basis of human value judgments has not, as many scientists and philosophers now argue, eliminated the philosophical distinction between facts and values. Exploring the social and spiritual implications of their work, biologists have not acted in the disinterested fashion of scientists from another planet, as they so often claim. They have instead been powerfully motivated by an identifiable set of earthly philosophical commitments, social concerns, and

Happenings

Happenings
Happenings
Harlyn 0. Halvorson, professor of biology and director of the Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center at Brandeis University, has been elected president and director of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. In 1962 Halvorson taught the summer physiology course at MBL and served as an instructor there through 1967. Since that time he has been an MBL summer investigator. Halvorson has taught at several universities, including the University of Michigan Medical School, the