News

Physicists Fear Civil War
Physicists Fear Civil War
Particle physicists battle solid-state physicists over slice of a shrinking pie BALTIMORE--Inside the gleaming vaults of the Baltimore Convention Center last month, 1,900 researchers were giving 1,200 talks, seminars, and press conferences, all part of the usually festive spring meeting of the American Physical Society. But in the corridors, much of the talk was anything but festive. The APS is torn by a bitter internal squabble pitting the society’s largest constituency, 9,000 solid-s
Can Chemists Save The World From Chemists?
Can Chemists Save The World From Chemists?
The Race Is On To Replace Ozone-Eating CFCs. The Entrants: Corporate Giants And Upstart Startups Catalyzed by an international agreement to freeze, and eventually to reduce usage of damaging cholorflourocarbons (CFCs)—and by DuPont Co.’s recent decision to voluntarily comply with the guidelines-the once-cool CFC research arena has transformed into a very hot race. Scientist Michael Hayes, for example, works on the boundaries of matter, studying the reactions that occur between o
Quackbusters Inc.: Hot On The Heels Of Medical Hucksters
Quackbusters Inc.: Hot On The Heels Of Medical Hucksters
Pseudomedicine Is A Multibillion Dollar Business In The U.S. On weekends, medical researcher Waflace I. Sampson often leaves his suburban home and drives up the peninsula into San. Francisco. He sees himself as an investigator "his quarry, an epidemic that’s ravaging the City by the Bay." But it’s not the AIDS virus he’s after. Although a hematologist by training, Sampson is hunting tainted medicine, not tainted blood He’s a quackbuster. In recent months, Sampson un
The Thrills Of Science Under Startup Stress
The Thrills Of Science Under Startup Stress
Life In The Fast Lane At Nova Pharmaceuticals, And The Not-So-Sweet Smell Of Success To hear pharmacologist Bill Kinnier tell it, life at Nova Pharmaceutical Corp. has finally settled down. He’s back to being a full-time scientist He gets to go home at a normal hour. He even has a new secretary all to himself. The only problem is: Kinnier misses the old days. Take the summer of 1984. Nova, a hot pharmaceutical startup, had been born of a dream that renowned Johns Hopkins University neu
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
Forget pH meters. Forget electrolysis cells. The new exhibit sponsored by the American Chemical Society at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History is going to be state-of-the-art. Early ideas include: computer games inspired by the interactions of molecules, a working lab open to students, and hands-on experiments. (Real crowd-pleasers typically burn, explode or light up, according to R. Eric Leber, former staff director of public policy and communication atACS, who
Ruckus Over NSF Grant Reversal
Ruckus Over NSF Grant Reversal
It Pulled The Plug On Two Engineering Centers, Provoking Debate Over Its Program Goals The National Science Foundation’s announcement in 1985 that it hoped to set up a network of up to 25 university-based engineering research centers set off a frantic scramble to snare a center—and a roiling debate about the value of the idea. After all, Director Erich Bloch’s vision to spend a half-billion dollars over the next decade on projects intended to improve both U.S. industrial co
National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
Eager to encourage government-industry collaboration on the potential uses of high-temperature superconducting materials, the Reagan administration has rushed to announce an initiative that may be more snap than substance. The April 21 designation of Los Alamos, Argonne, and Oak Ridge national laboratories as superconductivity pilot centers went unaccompanied by additional funding or staff. Furthermore, acknowledged an Energy Department press spokesman, the department has no current plans to e
Government Briefs
Government Briefs
The rancor of the White House cost David T. Kingsbury, National Science Foundation assistant director for behavioral and biological sciences, a trip to Paris last month. It seems that officials of the Administrations’s Office of Science and Technology Policy are trying to punish him because of allegations that he advised a California biotechnology firm while a government official (see The Scientist, November 2, 1987, p. 3). So they forced Kingsbury’s superiors at NSF to withdraw hi
Proton Decay Experiment On The Brink Of Extinction
Proton Decay Experiment On The Brink Of Extinction
The Proton Refuses To Decay, But Physicists’Funds Are Fading Fast Two thousand feet under the shores of Lake Erie, in a six-story salt cavern, one of the most sophisticated light detectors ever constructed is waiting. Every second, several particles speed through the instrument’s enormous pool of water and collide with atoms in it, setting off flashes of light to be detected and recorded. But these events are merely physics’ flotsam and jetsam—things to be identified, c
University Briefs
University Briefs
Hewlett-Packard Co. founder David Packard has just given $2 billion to the trust he and his late wife established in 1964 and young researchers will be among the beneficiaries. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation plans to dole out 20 $500,000 awards this year and has already asked 50 top research universities to nominate two junior professors each. But only natural scientists and engineers need apply; research projects in medicine, space activity, and high-energy physics are ineligible. Th
U. K. Scientists Fear Government Will Muzzle Research Reports
U. K. Scientists Fear Government Will Muzzle Research Reports
New Rules Seen As Serious Threats To Academic Freedom LONDON--Gerald Draper is a worried man. Head of the Childhood Cancer Research Group at Oxford University, he often speaks at meetings of parents who live near nuclear installations, helping them understand why the risk of radiation-induced leukemia in their children is small. It is a daunting task, because the question of whether leukemia rates rise around nuclear power plants is one of the most contentious scientific issues in Britain.
Independent Lab Briefs
Independent Lab Briefs
If Georgia were a sovereign nation, it would rank sixth in the world in pulp and paper production. Now, fittingly, the state is also the future home of the Institute of Paper Chemistry, an independent research facility and graduate school currently located in Appleton, Wis. The institute has trained more than 25% of the engineers and scientists in the paper and pulp industry. And the move, scheduled to be completed in 1990 and backed by $15 million from the Georgia legislature, will permit Geo
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
Going it alone may seem appealing, but it isn't always possible. Take BioPolymers, a Farmington, Conn., start-up that employs 18 scientists. Its three founders, marine biologist J. Herbert Waite, microbiologist Christine V. Benedict, and businessman Thomas M. Benedict, had an idea that venture capitalists couldn’t resist: to synthesize the potent protein that mussels use to cling to rocks. The sticky substance, would be invaluable for medical applications such as eye surgery where suture
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
The Du Pont Co. may be its own best client for its own new venture: an innovative enterprise dedicated to cleaning contaminated groundwater and soil. Allies in the endeavor are two smaller companies: Biosystems, a Chester, Pa., firm specializing in groundwater clean-up and Dallas-based Halliburton Co., an engineering consulting firm to the petroleum industry. The three will operate jointly as DuPont Biosystems, employing microbiologists, chemists, environmental engineers, and geologists—
Why I Walked Away From Star Wars--And A Good Job
Why I Walked Away From Star Wars--And A Good Job
Opinion Why I Walked Away From Star Wars--And A Good Job AUTHOR: RICHARD RUQUIST Date: May 16, 1988 Years before the term Strategic Defense Initiative had been coined, no one was more enthusiastic about a defensive missile shield than Richard Ruquist. The questions seemed purely technical back then, and Ruquist was an engineering bloodhound on a hot trail. But after scores of analyses, the scientist concluded that it was a terrible mistake—that a defensive system in space would be vulne
Risky Science: Is Anybody Watching The Experimental AIDS Mouse?
Risky Science: Is Anybody Watching The Experimental AIDS Mouse?
When research is mobilized around combating a virulent infectious agent, risk-taking is inevitable. That has been true in the pursuit of a polio vaccine and a cure for smallpox, in the study of cancer-causing viruses, and most recently, in AIDS research. While the responsible course of action is to limit as much as possible the risks to investigators and laboratory technicians, those goals can only be accomplished within certain limits. Infectious organisms are opportunistic, always seeking n
A New Look...And A New Commitment
A New Look...And A New Commitment
This issue of The Scientist is clearly different from those of the past. The newspaper is growing, both expanding its range of features and sharpening its focus. The new look, new coverage, and new features are a direct response to your suggestions. From its inception, The Scientist has kept you informed about important developments on the science policy scene. A glance at this issue will show that we are continuing our commitment to bring you incisive and timely reporting on policy decisi
Roland Schmitt Talks Science
Roland Schmitt Talks Science
When Roland W. Schmitt retired from his job as a senior vice president of General Electric Co. and director of GE’S Research and Development Center on January 31, he had little time to spend in leisure activities. On March 1, the 64-year-old physicist became the 16th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY He takes over an academic institution that is unique in its links with industry RPI has centers dedicated to interactive computer graphics, manufacturing productivit
Killer Cells: An Offensive Defense
Killer Cells: An Offensive Defense
When scientists realized that the immune system could discriminate self from non-self, they began to study whether the body could recognize tumor cells as foreign and then eliminate them. An immune response against foreign antigens (for example, viruses or bacteria) typically requires immunization and also that the foreign antigen binds to the body's own major-histocompatibiity [MHC] antigens (for example, HLA or H-2). Using in vitro assays to measure the killing of tumor cells, researchers
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
The Scientist has asked a group of experts to periodically comment upon recent articles that they have found noteworthy. Their selections, to be presented here in every issue, are neither endorsements of content nor the result of systematic searching. Rather, they are personal choices of articles they believe the scientific community as a whole mayalso find interesting. Reprints of any articles cited here may be ordered through: The Genuine Article, 3501 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19104./
The Ecology of Computation
The Ecology of Computation
A new form of computation is emerging. Propelled by advances in software design and increasing connectivity, networks of enormous complexity known as distributed computational systems are spreading throughout offices and laboratories, across countries and continents. Unlike standalone computers, these growing networks seldom offer centralized scheduling and resource allocation. Instead, computational processes (the active execution of programs) migrate from workstations to printers, servers,
Rockefeller U. Scientists Write, And Others Cite
Rockefeller U. Scientists Write, And Others Cite
When it comes to peer recognition, papers published by Rockefeller University scientists get more than their share of attention. A lot more. In fact, the average journal article by a Rockefeller scientist was cited nearly three times more often than the average scientific paper tracked over a 12-year period (1973 to 1984) by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). Also cited far more than the average were papers published by faculty at Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, and the Univ
NIH Ousts Key Director
NIH Ousts Key Director
WASHINGTON--The National Institutes of Health has removed the head of the office that buys supplies and equipment for its intramural research program following a stinging government report that found widespread mismanagement of the federal fund being spent on supplies and equipment. A five-year battle between NIH and its parent, the Department of Health and Human Services, culminated last month in the replacement of Edwin ("Ted") Becker as director of NIH’s Office of Research Services
Best Bet: A Real-Time Display
Best Bet: A Real-Time Display
I’m convinced that real-time display is a must in data acquisition. I think I reached that conclusion one day after setting up an experiment during which I wired a dog to certain appropriate instruments and administered a drug to the animal. My data acquisition system allowed the data to go directly to the computer, although the screen display lagged considerably behind the sampling. Thus it was well into the process that I realized the data had stopped making sense, a wire had wiggled l
Are Your Grants Taking Control Of Your Life? Get Programmed
Are Your Grants Taking Control Of Your Life? Get Programmed
Scientists don’t spend years in graduate school to end up as accountants, but that’s sometimes how it seems. Writing proposals may consume more of. a researcher’s time than the research itself. And the paperwork only increases when the grant is awarded "salaries and fringe benefits have to be paid, capital expenses have to be encumbered, reports to the granting agency have to be made. If you’re sighing in agreement, take heart. At least three software packages now on
Solve A Big Riddle, Win A Big Prize
Solve A Big Riddle, Win A Big Prize
Back in 1985, chemist Peter Schultz drew considerable attention when, at the young age of 29 and after only two years on the job as assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, he was promoted to associate professor with tenure, one of the quickest such promotions in the institution’s history. Today, the young Schultz’s fast-rising career has soared once again. At the age of 31, he has been named this year’s winner of the National Science Foun

Letter

Letters
Letters
LETTERS Date: May 16, 1988 Double Ties That Bind We were most interested by the article, "Academic Couples Stymied By Attitudes in Workplace," (March 21, 1988) since it bears on a topic we are currently studying. Data on the incidence among women of what we call the "double tie," to a field, by professional degree and by marriage to a man in the same field, are scarce. Our 1985 survey of women physicists disclosed that, of 479 female physicists, 49% were the wives, ex-wives, or widows of physic

Research

On The Crest Of A Superconductivity Tsunami
On The Crest Of A Superconductivity Tsunami
Research On The Crest Of A Superconductivity Tsunami AUTHOR:DAVID PENDLEBURY Date: May 16, 1988 For a world awash in preprints, published papers, and press releases on superconductivity, we have IBM researchers J.G. Bednorz and KA. Miller to thank. Their 1986 article reporting superconductivity in a copper oxide compound at 35 K, opened the floodgates to several hundred superconductivity publications in the early months of 1987. The accompanying graph, based on data from the Institute for Scien

Hot Paper

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
HOT PAPERS Date: May 16, 1988 The articles listed below  - all less than a year old -  have received a substantially greater number of citations than those in the same subject area and of the same vintage. A citation-trackihg algorithm of the Institute for Scientific Information has identified these articles.  EW Anderson, G.Baskaran, Z. Zou, T. Hsu, "Resonating-valence-bond theory of phase transitions and superconductivity in La2CuO4-based compounds," Physical Review Letters,

Books etc.

In The Name Of Scientific Gain, We Whitewashed Nazi Scientists
In The Name Of Scientific Gain, We Whitewashed Nazi Scientists
THE PAPERCLIP CONSPIRACY: The Hunt for the Nazi Scientists Tom Bower Little, Brown Boston; 309 pages; $17.95 An air of secrecy and jealousy permeates the small room set aside for visiting researchers on the 13th floor of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. There, in the archive’s Modern Military Branch, with its newly declassified files, historians and journalists sit elbow to elbow, hunched over documents, rarely speaking to one another. Exposés are in the making. Som
A Scientific American Reflects On The Scientific Revolution
A Scientific American Reflects On The Scientific Revolution
FLANAGAN’S VERSION: A Spectator’s Guide to Science on the Eve of the 21st Century Dennis Flanagan Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1988; 230 pages; $18.95 For 40 years and more, Dennis Flanagan has been struggling to popularize the scientific revolution that we are in. Now that is a long time. It’s about enough time, for example, for a northeastern maple to mature, be cut down with an amateur’s handsaw, sawn into lengths, split, stacked, dried, laid in the fireplace, and

Technology

Collaborative Software Connects Incompatible Science Hackers
Collaborative Software Connects Incompatible Science Hackers
Professor X glares at his workstation computer screen in Michigan, abandons a struggling sentence, and begins to rough-sketch a diagram, shifting back and forth between text and graphics without leaving the system. As he sits back to consider his handiwork, the diagram’s axes flop, the labels change, and a new curve snakes up from the 0. These instantaneous changes come from Professor Y, who is refining the diagram on her own terminal, although she’s in her California of- fice and

New Products

Frustrations Of A Ceramicist
Frustrations Of A Ceramicist
While nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) equipment represents the biggest market for superconductivity technology, more than 60% of the current technology is applied there, the flurry of activity in the new high-temperature superconductors has not yet translated to state-of-the art changes in NMR. In fact, researchers face three major hurdles in the race to realize the potential of these promising ceramics. For most of the past 15 months, attention has centered on YBa2Cu3O7 usually referred
New Device Allows Speedier Sample Collection From Gels
New Device Allows Speedier Sample Collection From Gels
Removing nucleic acid and protein samples from electrophoresis gels can take five to 48 hours-when the process succeeds at all. Standard recovery methods often lose much of the sample, contaminate it, or recover a small, amount in a large volume of buffer. Now Sample Saver, a new product from Accurate Chemical & Scientific Corp., allows the user to leach out the sample in one to two hours. The apparatus is based on an electrode bath. Between the positive and negative electrodes is a rotating

Profession

60-Member Research Team Clicks, And A New Star Is Born
60-Member Research Team Clicks, And A New Star Is Born
"We are creating a miniature star for a billionth of a second," says Robert L. McCrory,director of the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics. "It’s not something an individual scientist can do." Indeed, at McCrory’s upstate New York lab, it took 60 scientists to mimic Mother Nature in a project capped last March with a feat in fusion that no other research team had ever done. McCrory and his crew of colleagues used lasers to heat and compress a capsule