News

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BOSTON—A court settlement last month that requires an environmental assessment of the military's biological warfare program could bolster efforts to define the impact of other federally funded research programs. The Defense Department agreed to such an assessment February 12 to resolve a suit brought by the Foundation on Economic Trends, a public interest organization founded by Jeremy Rifkin. The suit, filed last fall in U.S. District Court, claimed that the Pentagon had violated the Nati
Many Questions, Few Answers On New NSF Science Centers
Many Questions, Few Answers On New NSF Science Centers
WASHINGTON—A National Science Foundation proposal to spend $50 million next year on up to 20 science and technology centers, touted by Director Erich Bloch as a partial solution to the country's economic problems, is actually an untested idea that has raised numerous questions among the scientific community. NSF is supporting three separate efforts, one in-house, to help it decide how to create, operate and evaluate such basic research facilities. Congress has already heard Xestimony from
U.S. to Test New Pay Plan For Scientists
U.S. to Test New Pay Plan For Scientists
GAITHERSBURG, MD—The government could attract and retain a greater share of top-quality scientists and engineers if it could offer them more competitive salaries, hire them more quickly, and award raises and promotions on individual performance. That belief, held by research administrators both inside and outside government, is the driving force behind a five-year experiment at the National Bureau of Standards. Responding to a successful demonstration project begun in 1980 at two Navy work
EC Science Budget Deadlocked
EC Science Budget Deadlocked
BRUSSELS—European research ministers are making a last-ditch effort to break a stalemate over the Community's five-year budget for research and development. Last month the ministers rejected a Belgian plan for a budget of $6.4 billion (5.8 billion ECU)151;a compromise between the $8.5 billion demanded by the European Commission and the $4.4 billion suggested by the three largest member states (Britain, France and West Germany). At stake is the future of the EEC's collaborative research pro
3 Scientists Share Japan Prize
3 Scientists Share Japan Prize
TOKYO—An American physicist and two agronomists, one American and one Indian, will receive the 1987 Japan Prize at ceremonies here April 14. Theodore Maiman, the father of laser technology, is being honored for his work in electro-optics. In the category of improvements of biological functions, the award is being shared by Henry Beachell and Gurdev Khush. Maiman will receive a cash award of $330,000; Beachell and Khush will share an equal amount. The Prize, established in 1985, is awarded
HHMI to Boost, Broaden Spending on Research
HHMI to Boost, Broaden Spending on Research
WASHINGTON—The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has promised to increase its spending by $500 million during the next decade as part of an agreement this month that ends its longstanding dispute with the Internal Revenue Service. Researchers, science students, and teachers at U.S. schools and universities may eventually be among the beneficiaries of the settlement, which requires HHMI to spend an additional $50 million a year above the $200 million it now devotes to medical research. The ag
Sweden Seeks Aid Abroad
Sweden Seeks Aid Abroad
STOCKHOLM—The two largest biotechnology companies in Sweden have set up foreign research centers to compensate for a shortage of trained scientists at home. Pharmacia is developing a center for genetic engineering research in La Jolla, Calif., while Astra has recently opened a research facility in Bangalore, India. Both centers will be staffed by local scientists. "We cannot find the right people here in Sweden," said Sune Rosell, head of research and development for Astra. The company pla
Student-Faculty Ties Examined
Student-Faculty Ties Examined
CHICAGO—Universities should regulate, and possibly even ban, some relationships between students and those faculty with financial ties to industry, says a Harvard physician who has studied ties between academia and industry. His 1985 survey of almost 700 grad students and postdocs in biotechnology-related fields found that a majority believe the benefits of increased financial support of students and faculty by industry outweigh the risks. A little more than one-third were getting such sup
Wall Street More Bullish On Biotechnology Firms
Wall Street More Bullish On Biotechnology Firms
WASHINGTON—Biotechnology stocks, whose prices rose an average of 60 percent last year, should continue to do well this year as the industry expands, analysts predict, although individual companies may continue to have problems. Linda I. Miller, vice president for biotechnology research at Paine Webber Inc. in New York, last month told a seminar at The Brookings Institution here that the biotechnology industry has seen its risk factors decline and opportunities increase following the "turmo
Minnesota Center Loses NSF Funds
Minnesota Center Loses NSF Funds
MINNEAPOLIS—Officials at the Minnesota Supercomputer Center are providing 334 scientists with free computer time until the end of the month while the state's congressional delegation wages an uphill battle to restore the center's recent loss of funding from the National Science Foundation. The free time on the center's Cray II and Cyber 205 supercomputers was made available after NSF gave center president John Sell two days' notice in mid-February that his facility would receive no more fu
NIH Reverses Cuts in Grants
NIH Reverses Cuts in Grants
WASHINGTON—The National Institutes of Health has halted further cuts in the size of new research grants, an action it took in response to a proposed cut in funding for this year, and begun to restore funds to grants that were reduced. On February 25 NIH reversed a decision, made January 21, that took between 4 and nearly 20 percent from each grant to make sure the agency did not run out of money before the end of the fiscal year September 30. The Reagan administration has proposed that $33
U.S., Europe Still Far Apart After Talks on Space Station
U.S., Europe Still Far Apart After Talks on Space Station
LONDON—The United States and its European partners remain far apart on how the planned space station should be managed after three days of talks late last month in Paris. "There was no evolution in the U.S. position," said Jean Arets, head of international programs for the 13-member European Space Agency. "It is difficult to know where we go from here." The original timetable for the manned station, which also involves Japan and Canada, called for all partners to agree by this summer on th
NASA Studies Impact of Mars Flight
NASA Studies Impact of Mars Flight
WASHINGTON—A former astronaut's plea that NASA make human exploration of Mars "a primary goal" of the nation's space program has raised concern that such a program would restrict other space science research. Michael Collins, chairman of the Council's Task Force on Space Program Goals, urged the NASA Advisory Council March 3 to undertake a multinational program of Mars exploration as a tonic for post-Challenger malaise. "We need to restore some health to the invalid," Collins said of the a
More Science for Girls Urged
More Science for Girls Urged
SYDNEY—The Education Department of New South Wales is exploring ways to encourage more girls to take up science and technology. The initiative by the state's Technology Strategy committee follows a widely publicized case in which a 15-year-old girl at Canterbury Girls' High School was not permitted to take courses in computer studies and graphics that were available to her twin brother at the nearby Boys' High School. Alleging sexual discrimination, the girl won her case before the state's
Dutch Shift Approach to Funding
Dutch Shift Approach to Funding
AMSTERDAM—The Dutch government is moving toward a system of funding large research institutions by supporting a limited number of broadly defined goals rather than by issuing grants to thousands of individual investigators. The change is expected to give the institutions greater independence to allocate funds and make the process more responsive both to the needs of the scientific community and to national priorities. The current system encourages conflict between scientists and government
Kingsbury on NSF, Biotech Regulation
Kingsbury on NSF, Biotech Regulation
David T Kingsbury, assistant director for biological, behavioral and social sciences at the National Science Foundation, has been described as the Reagan administration's point man on biotechnology. As chairman of the Biotechnology Science Coordinating Committee formed under the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Kingsbury was the principal architect of the Coordinated Framework for Biotechnology, which President Reagan signed last June. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1971, Kings
Exiles in Pursuit of Beauty
Exiles in Pursuit of Beauty
The uncle I knew best was a noted mathematician, who reached the top of the French academia when he was 38 and I was 13. His example showed that science was not fully recorded in dusty tomes but was a flourishing enterprise, and becoming myself a scientist was always a familiar option. This might have set me now on the usual pattern of fond reminiscences of teachers and postdoctorate mentors. But, in fact, I seem to have fled from teachers, mentors and existing disciplines. As a result, no one i

Commentary

Promoting Undergraduate Science
Promoting Undergraduate Science
One year ago the National Science Board, the policy-making arm of the National Science Foundation, issued its report on undergraduate education in science, mathematics and engineering in the United States. The study confirmed fears that the quality of instruction in these fields had eroded during the past decade. It described the situation as a "grave long-term threat to the nation's scientific and technical capacity, its industrial and economic competitiveness, and the strength of its national

Letter

Creationism is a Sound Science
Creationism is a Sound Science
I find the claims of both Gould and Ayala, that evolution is fact, outrageous (The Scientist, November 17, 1986, pp. 10-11). The very foundation of evolution, which assumes that order and complexity evolved from chaos, contravenes science. The second law of thermodynamics dictates that order spontaneously gives way to chaos as time proceeds. Consider the DNA molecule. Evolutionists postulate that the first nucleic acids formed in the primeval oceans, which were rich in organic compounds. The sta
Was That Really A Reasonable Proposal?
Was That Really A Reasonable Proposal?
Craig Svensson's view (The Scientist, January 26, p. 12) that one particular version of the sacred writings of one of the world's many religions is the sole arbiter of truth, and thus that the truth of any observation, logical deduction, or integrating hypothesis can be assessed only by comparison with those particular writings, must seem to most of us to be intellectually parochial. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Svensson is sincere in believing himself to be reasonable and open-minded when
Scientific Ideas Can Be Wrong
Scientific Ideas Can Be Wrong
Craig K. Svensson's "A Creationist Responds" (The Scientist, January 26, p. 12) asks a central question: "Who has the right to control which view my child is taught in a public school classroom?" He then answers his question from two viewpoints—parent and professor. Svensson's answer as a parent is clear. Parental religious beliefs should control exposure to ideas. Young people should never be exposed at public expense to ideas in conflict with those of their parents. He alleges constituti
What Creationists Really Seek
What Creationists Really Seek
Craig K. Svensson, in his article "A Creationist Responds" (The Scientist, January 26, p. 12) mocks his religion as surely as he conceals his objective. Creationists regularly do both. The creationists' nominal objection to the teaching of evolutionary biology is a red herring. What they really seek is the abolition of all education in natural science. They cannot settle for less, because information that impeaches biblical literalism is conspicuous in a score of disciplines, from physics and as
Let's Not Create A New Pseudoscience
Let's Not Create A New Pseudoscience
It is obvious from the four statements in the November 17 issue of The Scientist (pp. 11-12) that definitions for science and religion are critical for defusing the evolution/creation wars. As an evolutionist who is religious, I would like to evaluate the problem a little further. By definition, science limits itself to those phenomena that can be explained by the invariant laws of nature. Creation science is indeed an oxymoron because it brings unprovable assumptions as explanations into the pr
Creationists: Please Have More Faith
Creationists: Please Have More Faith
I'd like to respond to Craig K. Svensson's article "A Creationist Responds" (The Scientist, January 26, 1987, p. 12). First, speaking as a scientist, it seems to me that the science curriculum taught in the public schools should be determined primarily on the basis of the science that practicing scientists are doing. A look at the scientific literature shows that this means evolution, not creationism. It's not even that mainstream scientists are, as is often suggested, closed to alternative idea
Reasons for Optimism in the Search for E.T.
Reasons for Optimism in the Search for E.T.
I wish to thank Harlan J. Smith for his flattering review of my book The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (The Scientist, February 9, 1987, p. 21). He fears that I'm too optimistic we'll find signs of E.T. within the next decade or so, but there are many reasons for this. First, never before in history will the sky have been searched so thoroughly (for example, by Ohio State, the Harvard/Planetary Society, NASA and the Soviet SETI projects). Also, the Planetary Society is now discussing
My Daughter Beatrice
My Daughter Beatrice
I would like to comment on the review of my book, My Daughter Beatrice about my daughter Beatrice Tinsley (The Scientist, December 15, 1986, pp. 24-25). At the time of her death, I was overwhelmed to find how greatly my dear daughter was appreciated as a friend as well as a cosmologist by those brilliant people among whom she worked. As stated in my foreword, I had only a limited selection of readers in mind when I wrote the memoir, but I am very happy to think that someone as experienced as Vir
Keeping Track Of The Women In Science
Keeping Track Of The Women In Science
I appreciate Margaret Rossiter's comments about my book Women in Science: Antiquity Through the Nineteenth Century (The Scientist, February 9, 1987, p. 18). Rossiter recognized the difficulties involved in collecting scattered data and rendering it into a useful reference volume. She made a point that I think is important, that "once left out of a biographical dictionary, persons tend to be omitted from subsequent history and memory of their accomplishments essentially vanishes from sight and ho
Taking a New Look At Contraceptives
Taking a New Look At Contraceptives
The article by N.W. Pirie (The Scientist, January 26, 1987, p. 19) calls for a renewed search for novel methods of birth control. Pirie is right in highlighting this as a neglected area worth more attention than it currently receives. Spermicides are a logical choice to interrupt fertility, and the only major drawback of current products is a moderate failure rate. Pirie rightly points to the need to aggressively apply insights into sperm function to contraceptive development. As Pine suggests,

Opinion

Shall We Peddle Human Genes?
Shall We Peddle Human Genes?
Eager to press on with the megaproject to sequence the human genome, molecular biologists are figuring out ways to pay for it. Some of these schemes surely qualify as the most creative financing since Ollie North decided to underwrite Central American wars that U.S. citizens don't want to fight by soaking the Iranians for weapons U.S. citizens don't want to sell them. The Washington Post reports, tongue in cheek, that the scientists have rejected car washes and bake sales in favor of several oth
The SSC Crowns 50 Years of Advances
The SSC Crowns 50 Years of Advances
The Superconducting Supercollider, the $6 billion particle accelerator whose construction was just endorsed by the President, is inevitable. The only serious questions surrounding it for the past half dozen years have been when and where. Why inevitable? Because the SSC is the unarguable means of answering the most fundamental scientific questions we can formulate: How are the forces of nature related, and what does that tell us about the underlying structure and behavior of matter? Progress in
Keep Informed Judgment in Funding
Keep Informed Judgment in Funding
The most controversial subject in academic science policy recently is the dispute over the effects of the growing practice by which institutions seek and receive from Congress specially earmarked appropriations for research facilities. To a remarkable degree, decisions about who should be funded to do science have been made on an essentially nonpolitical basis, even though government has been the main patron. There has never been the slightest doubt that Congress has had the power and the right
What Entropy Is, and Is Not
What Entropy Is, and Is Not
To judge from the writings of C.R Snow, entropy and the second law of thermodynamics were once indelicate subjects. Now things have changed, and on the cocktail party circuit we hear of entropy in art, entropy in economics, entropy in urban decay, and other erudite-sounding applications. A most difficult concept in physics is being applied to confused areas in the social sciences, with the impression being conveyed that this increases our comprehension. I have before me a letter from Jeremy Rifk
Citation Inadequacy Via Databanks
Citation Inadequacy Via Databanks
Any research paper that contained a reference list consisting only of the titles of the journals consulted and not their years of publication, volume and page numbers, and the names of the authors would surely be rejected out of hand by editor and referees alike. Right? Not so. Increasing numbers of papers are being submitted with references in precisely this form, and they are being accepted without question. The authors of the papers, the editors of the journals and the referees all seem unawa

Books etc.

The Costs of Export Controls
The Costs of Export Controls
If there is a key word in the United States in the late 1980s, it is "competitiveness." It's a word that's used in many contexts to mean many things. In his new book The Technical Enterprise (Ballinger, 1986) Herbert Fusfeld discusses how social, economic and political pressures like the drive for competitiveness are at work in shaping the technical system today. In this adaptation from the book, he describes the practice of using export controls to keep technological advances from potential adv
Progress: Paradox for a Democracy
Progress: Paradox for a Democracy
The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays. Gerald Holton. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1986. 351 pp., $39.50 HB, $12.95 PB. Both scientific knowledge and the relations between science and society have undergone dramatic changes in the 20th century. Abstract theories like those of relativity and quantum mechanics have provided a basis for the relatively rapid development of powerful new technologies that affect the lives of all members of societ
New Forum for Technology Managers
New Forum for Technology Managers
International Journal of Technology Management. Volume 1, Nos. 1/2. Dr. M.A. Dorgham, editor in chief. Inderscience Enterprises Ltd., Geneva, 1986. Professional management is an important topic, and although experience is a key capability, the old practice of learning simply by doing has been obsolete for decades. The microeconomic models, case studies and psychological ideas have had adequate forums in management journals. But technology, partly because of its great range and complexity, has be
Einstein's Peculiar Kind of Realism
Einstein's Peculiar Kind of Realism
The Shaky Game: Einstein, Realism, and the Quantum Theory. Arthur Fine. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1986. 198 pp. $25. The Shaky Game gives an excellent, well-documented account of Einstein's concept of realism. The title comes from a statement made by Einstein. Referring to quantum theorists, he said, "Most of them simply do not see what a risky game they are playing with reality." According to Arthur Fine, the risky (or "shaky," as he calls it) game puts traditional physics in je
The Ripening Of Science In England
The Ripening Of Science In England
The Age of Science. David Knight. Basil Blackwell, New York, 1986. 240 pp. $24.95. This new book by David Knight, senior lecturer in history of science at the University of Durham, might plausibly be described as a popular survey of English science and its cultural role from 1789 to 1914. "Survey," however, scarcely does justice to Knight's program. Rather than scaling historical peaks for the perspectives they offer, Knight leads his reader on a brisk ramble through overgrown byways of Victoria
...And Grappling With Its Risks
...And Grappling With Its Risks
Averting Catastrophe: Strategies for Regulating Risky Technologies. Joseph G. Morone and Edward J. Woodhouse. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1986. 215 pp. $17.95 The year 1986, which began as we were still reeling from Bhopal, brought Chernobyl's reminder of the international potential of major technological accidents, Challenger's reminder of the fallibility of even the most sophisticated engineering management systems (and human hubris), Lake Nyos' reminder that nature itself is not
Living With Today's Technology...
Living With Today's Technology...
Tradeoffs: Imperatives of Choice in a High-Tech World. Edward Wenk Jr. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1986. 272 pp. $19.95. There are many aspects of the interactions between technical advances and society. The average consumer is aware of the products and services available today. Corporations include technical change in strategic business planning, or are forced to adopt new strategies to accommodate it. The conduct of research and development is affected by economic and politi

Technology

How to Review Science Books
How to Review Science Books
To be a scientist is, among other things, to be a reviewer, for without the review process science would have no greater claim to truth than any other way of knowing. While peer review does not ensure that science's grasp of reality will always be firm, it does at least serve as a sort of collective feedback mechanism, minimizing spasms of error or prejudice that can lead isolated researchers astray. Realizing this, most scientists accept the task of reviewing proposals and manuscripts for publi

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
Verbatim excerpts from the media on the conduct of science. Beware Mathematicians! …scientists should always oppose the appointment of pure mathematicians to head scientific committees and institutions. Sir John Kingman [the mathematician appointed to report to the U.K. government on the teaching of English] was formerly director of the SERC, and Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer is the present head of the University Grants Committee. Mathematicians tend instinctively to view research as being don

Happenings

Happenings
Happenings
Peter Day, director of the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge, U.K., has been named director of the new Center for Biomolecular Research in the Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at Rutgers University's Cook College. Day, a leading authority in agricultural biotechnology, will take on his new position this summer. The new $30 million center is expected to open later this year. Frederick P. Brooks Jr., professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina for the past 22 ye