March 1992

News

Finding What Works: American Scientists Ponder Ways To Aid Ex-Soviet Colleagues
Finding What Works: American Scientists Ponder Ways To Aid Ex-Soviet Colleagues
In recent months, the problems that the former Soviet scientists are encountering in their newly divided homeland have been well-publicized: the scarcity of funding, the lack of scientific information, and the threat of total scientific isolation. Meanwhile, many U.S. scientists, eager to help, have run up against what they consider a frustratingly lethargic show of support by scientific colleagues and administrators. One of these U.S. researchers is Eugene Skolnikoff, a professor of politic
`21st-Century' Facility Is Bound For Seattle
`21st-Century' Facility Is Bound For Seattle
In an era marked by the growing interdisciplinary nature of science, this new program will call on specialists from disparate fields such as physics, computer science, chemical engineering, and applied mathematics to tackle current problems in molecular biology. Their goal, in Hood's words, will be no less than to "develop the tools that are going to push us into the 21st century." Funded by a $12 million gift from William Gates III, founder and chairman of the Microsoft Corp. of nearby Redm
Biotech Bottleneck: Can Support From Bush, FDA Speed Things Up?
Biotech Bottleneck: Can Support From Bush, FDA Speed Things Up?
In February, President Bush announced "major new ground rules" to streamline the regulation of the biotechnology industry. And on the same day, the president's Council on Competitiveness published--under the auspices of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)--a policy for all biotech-regulating agencies that set out a "risk-based, scientifically sound approach to the oversight of planned introductions of biotechnology products into the environment." OSTP's risk-based approach means
Low Pay And Occupational Hazards Trouble Some Industrial Chemists
Low Pay And Occupational Hazards Trouble Some Industrial Chemists
To chemists arriving in San Francisco for next week's American Chemical Society meeting, Arnold Thackray, director of Philadelphia's Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry, suggests something to keep in mind. If you check into a hotel room today, he says, and you're wearing a polyester suit, "odds are everything in the room is composed of chemically processed polymers except for your body--and we're on the verge of decoding [even] that." During a time of remarkable advances, one might
FASEB 1992 In Anaheim: Getting The Message Into Cells
FASEB 1992 In Anaheim: Getting The Message Into Cells
While hallway conversations may turn to federal biotech streamlining, this year's Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology meeting programs will be heavy on basic research, with the theme of "growth factors, receptors, and signal transduction." FASEB is expecting 13,000 researchers, students, and exhibitors to converge on Anaheim, Calif., from April 5 to April 9. More than 7,000 scientific reports will be delivered and companies will be displaying about 700 exhibits in the Anahe
The ACS Meeting: Stirring Things Up
The ACS Meeting: Stirring Things Up
The 12,000 or so attendees at the 203rd national American Chemical Society meeting, running April 5-10 in San Francisco, will spend a lot more time discussing purely chemical issues than safety or job concerns; most of the 656 technical meetings, the 6,200 paper presentations, and the 425 expo- sition booths highlight such topics as anticancer drug taxol, plastics recycling, and AIDS prevention. Still, many safety and career topics will be covered. The following are examples: * Aspects of chem
Suppliers Offering Solid-State, Tunable,Ultrafast Lasers
Suppliers Offering Solid-State, Tunable,Ultrafast Lasers
Coherent Inc. 3210 Porter Dr. Palo Alto, Calif. 94304 (415) 493-2111 Quantronix Corp. 49 Wireless Blvd. Smithtown, N.Y. 11788 (516) 273-6900 Schwartz Electro-Optics Inc. 45 Winthrop St. Concord, Mass. 01742 (508) 371-2299 Spectra Physics Lasers Inc. 1330 Terra Bella Mountain View, Calif. 94043 (415) 961-2550

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
From Limelight to Hotspot George, Eat Your Broccoli! These Jobs are the Pits No Loose Lips Here Merging Cultures Lifting Off Early Stanford University president Donald Kennedy, who last fall took a lot of heat from Congress for the school's management of indirect costs associated with federally sponsored research grants, is headed for the very venue from whence the heat arose. After stepping down as president this coming August, Kennedy--in January 1993--will become the first faculty

Opinion

U.S. Could Benefit Greatly From Aiding Ex-Soviet Scientists
U.S. Could Benefit Greatly From Aiding Ex-Soviet Scientists
These individuals, and others like them, worked on classified military research. None favors nuclear proliferation, but each has the potential to make substantive scientific and engineering contributions to weapons programs in what have come to be known as the "rogue nations" of the world--Iraq, for example. But they also have the potential to contribute to the United States gross national product. Fortunately, they are in the U.S. at the moment, seeking productive employment in the research

Letter

Embedded Theories
Embedded Theories
Before Greg Bogart (Letters, The Scientist, Nov. 25, 1991, page 14) decides that creation theories should be seriously considered in science, he should get answers to the following questions and compare them with answers to the questions applied to evolution. * What are the embedded and developing theories in creationism? (Embedded theories are fully developed, generally accepted theories.) * What are the basic premises--the postulates--of each theory? * What are some examples of lines of
Spending For Science
Spending For Science
I am puzzled at some of John Gibbons's remarks in the article about the Office of Technology Assessment (The Scientist, Jan. 20, 1992, page 11). He seems to think we have large deficits because of the tax cuts of the early 1980s. In fact, the annual federal budget has roughly doubled in the past decade, while inflation has been about 50 percent, and the average salary has increased by about 50 percent. In the last three years alone, the federal budget has increased from a trillion dollars or
A Question Of Interpretation
A Question Of Interpretation
The essay by Lawrence Cranberg on plagiarism in science in the Opinion section of The Scientist (Feb. 3, 1992, page 11) provides a splendid example of another problem that often arises in science ethics: How does one distinguish between willful misinterpretation of data to support a preconception and interpretations that are merely illogical? Cranberg refers to an American Association for the Advancement of Science survey that asked: "Should there be established procedures to deal with cases

Commentary

The Fitful Path Of Progress In Science: Set Back By Prematurity, Spurred By Creativity
The Fitful Path Of Progress In Science: Set Back By Prematurity, Spurred By Creativity
Most scientists--including me--hold to the idea that there is a "real world" out there and that experimental and observational science, objectively interpreted, is gradually unveiling a true picture of it. Impressed by the power of modern research tools and by superbly trained leaders of research, one is tempted to perceive the rapid advance of the natural sciences as smooth paths, ever more closely approximating a complete and correct understanding of the natural world. Fortunately, the actu

Research

Evolution: It's Not Just A Single Theory, It's A Lot Of Theories
Evolution: It's Not Just A Single Theory, It's A Lot Of Theories
The Darwinian would say, "Gene dissemination: Successful competition in the hunt allows the fox to survive and breed, maximizing its individual representation of genes in the population. That's how natural selection works." The ecological biologist would say, "Sure, but first and foremost, the fox is eating the quail to stay alive. It's a cross-species energy transaction between two individual members of a tightly integrated ecosystem. As a result, the fox survives and manages to pass genes o

Hot Paper

Molecular Biology
Molecular Biology
S.A. Rosenberg, P. Aebersold, K. Cornetta, A. Kasid, et al., "Gene transfer into humans--immunotherapy of patients with advanced melanoma, using tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes modified by retroviral gene transduction," New England Journal of Medicine, 323:570-78, 1990. Steven A. Rosenberg (National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.): "The practice of medicine in the future may well be transformed as we learn to treat disease not by surgery, radiation, or drugs, but rather by genetic alteration
Molecular Biology
Molecular Biology
C. Jonat, H.J. Rahmsdorf, K.-K. Park, A.C.B. Cato, S. Gebel, H. Ponta, P. Herrlich, "Antitumor promotion and antiinflammation: down-modulation of AP-1 (Fos/Jun) activity by glucocorticoid hormone," Cell, 62:1189-1204, 1990. Helmut Ponta (Kernforschungs-zentrum Karlsruhe, Germany): "Our paper was the first in a series that show that members of the steroid receptor family and the transcription factor AP-1 (Fos/Jun) mutually interfere with each other without change in DNA occupancy. Thus, bona fi
Theoretical Physics
Theoretical Physics
E. Witten, "On the structure of the topological phase of two-dimensional gravity," Nuclear Physics B, 340:281-332, 1990. Edward Witten (School of Natural Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.): "There was a long-standing mathematical problem of calculating intersection numbers of certain submanifolds of the moduli space of Riemann surfaces. As a result of my earlier work on Donaldson theory, I knew that such problems can be formulated in the language of quantum field theory.
Chemical Physics
Chemical Physics
F. Mohamadi, N.G.J. Richards, W.C. Guida, R. Liskamp, M. Lipton, C. Caufield, et al., "MacroModel--an integrated software system for modeling organic and bioorganic molecules using molecular mechanics," Journal of Computational Chemistry, 11:440-67, 1990. Clark Still (Department of Chemistry, Columbia University, New York): "Scientists who design and synthesize new molecules that are to have novel properties face a daunting problem: After synthesis, the real molecules often don't behave as the
Theoretical Physics
Theoretical Physics
R. Dijkgraaf, E. Witten, "Mean field theory, topological field theory, and multi-matrix models," Nuclear Physics B, 342:486-522, 1990. Robert Dijkgraaf (Joseph Henry Laboratories, Princeton University): "The correct quantum mechanical treatment of gravity is still one of the great enigmas in theoretical physics. It would constitute the unification of the two great principles of modern physics: general relativity and quantum mechanics. Recently, these problems have been solved in the `toy model

Profession

Textbook Adoption: How Do Professors Select The Right One?
Textbook Adoption: How Do Professors Select The Right One?
Next, the gimmicks are dismissed--contests offering prizes in the author's name, pledges to donate royalties to save whales or rain forests, vows to overcome science illiteracy, touring authors, and so forth. Remaining, finally, is a pile of books, most of them well-written and abundantly illustrated. How is a busy professor to choose? * The instructor of a 500-student nutrition class is offered $500 if she orders a particular book. The payment is for keeping a diary of student reactions to
FREEBIES AND OTHER INDUCEMENTS
FREEBIES AND OTHER INDUCEMENTS
FREEBIES AND OTHER INDUCEMENTS Author: RICKI LEWIS * The instructor of a 500-student nutrition class is offered $500 if she orders a particular book. The payment is for keeping a diary of student reactions to the text. * A biology department has whittled down its choice to three books. One publisher offers the department $1 for every book ordered, to be used for educational equipment. * The text selection committee of a university science department has made a decision, but c
Bioengineering Grad Students To Begin Receiving Whitaker Foundation Support
Bioengineering Grad Students To Begin Receiving Whitaker Foundation Support
The Whitaker Foundation currently is in the process of selecting as many as 30 students out of the 122 who applied for the $27,000 in stipends, plus education and travel expenses for use during graduate studies at institutions offering engineering degrees (preferably those with concentrations in biomedical engineering). The grantees will be an- nounced by March 31, and when the program is in full swing four years from now, a total of up to 150 students will hold grants. Peter Katona, the fou
People: Carnegie Mellon University's John Pople Is Winner Of 1992 Wolf Prize In Chemistry
People: Carnegie Mellon University's John Pople Is Winner Of 1992 Wolf Prize In Chemistry
Pople, 66, was recognized for his contributions to theoretical chemistry, particularly his development of widely used quantum-chemical methods. In the mid-1960s, he and colleagues published a series of papers on the approximate self-consistent molecular orbital theory, based on quantum mechanics, which is used to calculate charge distributions and electronic dipole moments in organic molecules (Journal of Chemical Physics, 43:S129, 1965; 43:S136, 1965; 44:3289, 1966; 47:2026, 1967; 49:4643, 19