May 1989

News

Leakey To Ride Herd On Kenyan Wildlife
Leakey To Ride Herd On Kenyan Wildlife
In an effort to thwart bands of poachers who are decimating the population of wild animals in Kenya’s national parks, the African nation’s president has appointed famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey as Director of Wildlife Management and Conservation. The appointment represents a decisive victory for the 45-year-old scienlist, who for the past year had been involved in a bitter public dispute with some top Kenyan government officials over the poaching issue. Now, LeakeyR
NAS President Shifts Gears In Plea For More Funding
NAS President Shifts Gears In Plea For More Funding
WASHINGTON—What goes from zero to $10 billion in one year? National Academy of Sciences president Frank Press’s solution to the problems facing the scientific community. Last spring, Press delivered a stem talk to academy members about the need to set scientific priorities. The federal budget is a zero-sum game, he warned them, and the scientific community had better decide what’s most important before Congress acts for purely political reasons. That speech was widely a
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IBM and Du Pont; Eastman Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, and Upjohn: just a few of tile U.S. corporations famous for being on the cutting edge of scientific research. And although each of these companies has long operated across international boundaries, this research has traditionally been conducted within the U.S. Increasingly, however, that is changing. In the past five years, all of these industry leaders have opened research facilities in Europe or Japan— regarding a new era of truly mult
Setbacks In Soviet Space Program Worry U.S. Collaborators, NASA
Setbacks In Soviet Space Program Worry U.S. Collaborators, NASA
WASHINGTON—U.S. space scientists, frustrated by delays caused by the explosion of the shuttle Challenger, have increasingly pinned their hopes on joint experiments with a thriving Soviet space program. But serious technical problems in recent Soviet missions, combined with unprecedented domestic concern over the cost of the Soviet space program, now threaten to dim once-bright opportunities for scientific collaboration in many areas. Ironically, the recent Soviet setbacks also have s
New Science Adviser Sees Strong Ties To Bush, Public Support As Keys To Job
New Science Adviser Sees Strong Ties To Bush, Public Support As Keys To Job
WASHINGTON—The president’s new science adviser believes that the federal government doesn’t do an adequate job of dealing with the scientific and technical issues facing the country. The science adviser can play an important role in improving that situation, says Yale nuclear physicist Allan Bromley, if he is able to develop a close relationship with key figures in the Bush administration, oyersee a staff large enough to tackle those issues, and build public support for scie
How Not To Succeed Despite Trying Very Hard: One Department's Story
How Not To Succeed Despite Trying Very Hard: One Department's Story
BINGHAMTON, N.Y—A few years ago, the State University of New York at Binghamton wanted to put its biology department on the fast track for research. So it went out and hired John Baust, a 44-year-old cryobiologist from the University of Houston, to take it there. Baust arrived at the upstate New York school in January 1987 and quickly announced his goals: a doubling of the number of graduate students; a fourfold increase in outside funding, from less than $1 million to $4 million annu
The Tempest In A Test Tube: How Cold Fusion Fell From Grace
The Tempest In A Test Tube: How Cold Fusion Fell From Grace
BALTIMORE—It was quite a show while it lasted, they all agreed, but toward the end the magic had started to wear thin. “Cold fusion,” at least to many of the 1,400 scientists who streamed out of the American Physical Society’s May 1 marathon debunking session, ended as it had begun—in a theatrical performance before a packed house. The difference was that this time, organizers claimed, the smoke and mirrors behind Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann’s unpr
President Presents Mary Lasker With Congressional Gold Medal
President Presents Mary Lasker With Congressional Gold Medal
President George Bush recognized Mary Lasker as “a veritable beacon” of his proverbial thousand points of light on April 21, when he presented her with the Congressional Gold Medal for her contribu tions to medical research and public service. Lasker and her husband, the late Albert Lasker, owner of the renowned Lord and Thomas advertising agency, led the effort to increase funding for cancer research in the 1940s. They spearheaded a public-awareness campaign on behalf of the grou

Briefs

National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
Forty-five years ago Los Alamos was home to the Manhattan Project and its boy wonder scientists, a group whose average age was only 29. Since then the lab has aged and so have its scientists, lab officials complain. Director Sig Hecker noted recently in an in-house newsletter that the lab’s staff has reached an average age of 44, and as high as 46 in the applied divisions. The lab’s newest staff members aren’t much younger, Hecker remarked. The average new hire at Los Alamos i
Government Briefs
Government Briefs
‘When biologist David Baltimore testified earlier this month before a congressional panel that has spent two years investigating charges of impropriety in connection with his 1986 paper in Cell, he wasn’t alone. Sitting in. the audience and offering moral support to the director of MIT’s Whitehead Institute were some two dozen colleagues, many with scientific reputations to match the Nobel laureate’s. “David is very important to the scientific community,” say
University Briefs
University Briefs
Mt. Graham Takes First Steps Forward Despite protests in which two environmentalists chained themselves to a road grader last month, the construction of the largest telescope in the world is back on track (See The Scientist, November 28,1988, page 5). A management plan hammered out by the University of Arizona, the U.S. Forest Service and the Fish & Wildlife Service allows initial work on the Mt. Graham International Observatory in southeastern Arizona. The plan’s first order of business
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
Cambridge BioScience hopes to turn its first profit this year with a new kit to detect Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness that can lead to serious neurological ailmerrts. The firm, founded in 1981 by Harvard molecular biologist William Haseltine, has marketed several enzyme immunoassay tests, including two for the presence of the HIV-1 antibody. Its Human Lyme EIA kit detects the IgM and lgG antibodies that indicate the presence of Lyme disease. The firm Interpreting AIDS Research For Laypeopl
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
The U.S. Patent Office, Inc.? The latest scheme to speed patent processing would give the Patent and Trademark Office quasi-corporation status. The study, prepared by a panel from the National Academy of Public Administration at the behest of the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group Intellectual Property Owners, suggests that the office should become a semiautonomous unit within the Department of Commerce. The proposal, which has yet to be endorsed by the IPO, would give the new office the po
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
Ocean Institute: Marriage At Sea When the Exxon Valdez foundered in Pnnce William Sound in March, clean-up efforts were stymied by gaps in the current knowledge of marine engineering. The newly established Ocean Institute, based in Washington, D.C.. intends to close these gaps. Working on projects commissioned and funded by private industry, the government, and the Navy, the institute will evaluate what research in ocean engineering needs to be done. The institute’s workers will be dra
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
The Deafness Research Foundation has pared down the size of its 1990 grant application form to a sleek six pages in an attempt to stem the paper tide that was flooding its review board. “We were getting applications 40, 50 pages long,” says a staffer. “It was ridiculous.” Beginning with this year’s cycle (deadline: July 15), applications received on other forms will be rejected. The New York-based public charity, started 30 years ago by a grateful Collette Ramsey

Opinion

Leakey: The Trials Of Building Kenya's National Museums
Leakey: The Trials Of Building Kenya's National Museums
But Leakey’s tenure has not been without controversy. This past winter, amidst an uproar over public comments he made criticizing the African nation’s government for its lack of effectiveness in preventing elephant poaching, and a press campaign against Leakey personally,. Kenya’s vice president called for Leakey’s resignation. Now,just three months later, Leakey has been promoted to Director of Wildlife in Kenya (see story, page 1), formally responsible for handling th

Letter

Supercomputer Surge
Supercomputer Surge
Supercomputer Surge The age of supercomputers has arrived, but not with a small price tag. Single institutions can rarely afford to purchase and operate their own supercomputers. I was surprised that your article, “Supercomputers Snapped Up By State Campuses” (The Scientist, March 6, 1989), overlooked the efforts that Ohio has made in providing supercomputing to a vast number of universities and industries. In 1985, the need for high-end computing was plaguing researchers at Ohi
NSF's Short Circuit
NSF's Short Circuit
NSF’s Short Circuit I read with interest about NSF’s plan for electronic submission of grant proposals (“NSF Short-Circuits Electronic Submissions Project,” The Scientist, March 6, 1989). The NSF should know that commercial products now exist that could solve its problem. I worked on one such product at AT&T—a product offering interoperability and revisability between word processing systems on IBM PCs running DOS and UNIX systems, including workstations. Graphs
Animal Welfare
Animal Welfare
Animal Welfare In the April 17, 1989, edition of The Scientist ("Association Briefs,” page 8), the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare (SCAW) is described as “the only group devoted exclusively to the care and treatment of lab animals.” Far from the truth, SCAW and its medical counterpart— “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine”—are using scientists’ true concem for animals in research to dominate and even destroy biological research by

Commentary

DNA Fingerprinting: A Powerful Law-Enforcement Tool With Serious Social Implications
DNA Fingerprinting: A Powerful Law-Enforcement Tool With Serious Social Implications
DNA fingerprinting has been hailed by law-enforcement officials as the 20th century’s most important breakthrough in forensic science. They are eager to use the new technology to identify and prosecute violent criminals as well as to exonerate innocent persons who are suspects in criminal cases. Although DNA finger printing has not yet been adequately tested in the courts, the State Attorney General of California recently proposed creating a computerized data base of genetic information

Research

Plant and Animal Sciences
Plant and Animal Sciences
PLANT AND ANIMAL SCIENCES BY FRANCISCO J. AYALA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology University of California, Irvine Irvine, Calif. " Male threespine sticklebacks exhibit a red nuptial coloration on the throat that functions to attract females and intimidate rival males. The red nuptial trait does not occur in some populations, a phenomenon that has been attributed to selection by salmonid predators. However, there is no corre,lation between nuptial-color loss and presence or abse
Chemistry
Chemistry
CHEMISTRY BY MARYE ANNE FOX Department of Chemistry University of Texas, Austin Austin, Tex. " The assignment of the resonance Raman spectra in the fingerprint region for the initial picosecond interval of the bacteriorhodopsin photocycle establishes the primary event as involving a configurational change in the retinal chromophore. G.H. Atkinson, T.L. Brack, D. Blanchard, G. Rumbles, “Picosecond time-resolved resonance Raman spectroscopy of the initial trans to cis isomerization in th
Geosciences
Geosciences
GEOSCIENCE BY PETER J. SMITH Department of Earth Sciences Open University Milton Keynes, U.K. " Data from isotopes and incompatible elements show that the Kolar Schist Belt in southern India’s Dharwar Craton is a suture zone marking the accretion of distinct terrains during the Archean. Plate-tectonic processes were thus shaping the Earth’s crust as early as 2500 million years ago. EJ. Krogstad, S. Balakrishnan, D.K. Mukhopadhyay, V. Rajamani, G.N. Hanson, “Plate tectonics
Physics
Physics
PHYSICS BY FRANK A. WILCZEK School of Natural Sciences Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, NJ. " Although the standard model of particle physics largely crystallized in the mid-1970s and has been verified by numerous experiments, some of the conceptually clearest and most decisive experiments have been difficult to perform for various technical reasons. It is a pleasure to note that two such experiments have been done recently that mark milestones in our understanding of the microworld. O
'Quasicrystal' Investigation Is Mounting
'Quasicrystal' Investigation Is Mounting
During the last four years, a protracted debate has been evolving in an effort to explain the existence of solids with “forbidden symmetries.” The debate ensued following the 1984 discovery (D.Shechtmanetal., Physical Review Letters, 53, 195 1-3, 12 November 1984) of an aluminum-magnesium alloy whose atomic structure appears to have an icosahedral symmetry—a symmetry that is supposed to be impossible, according to a century-old dictum of solid-state physics. The icosahedron

Profession

The Trials And Tribulations Of Science Textbook Writing
The Trials And Tribulations Of Science Textbook Writing
They all told me not to do it. Don’t go to lunch or dinner with them, they said. Don’t accept their free books, pens, calendars, or slides. Don’t take or return their calls. Duck into the bathroom when you spy their suits coming down the hall. And never even consider committing that ulti mate act of masochism called textbook writing. Because next to a premed given a B+, the creature most to be avoided is the acquisition editor. So warned my colleagues at Miami University in 1
Caltech Chemists Measure The World In Femtoseconds
Caltech Chemists Measure The World In Femtoseconds
A handmade poster bearing a brief, " hastily scrawled message leans against a wall in Abmed Zewail’s office. Is a remider of the events that have charmed this chemist’s life for the last two and a half years. “Thank you, King Faisal Three Cheers for AZ.!!! The Femtosecond king,” it says. Signed by about a dozen of Zewail’s students at the California Institute of Technology, the poster celebrates Zewail’s selection in January as the 1989 recipient of Saudi

New Products

New Software Programs Can Manage A Scientist's Two Lives
New Software Programs Can Manage A Scientist's Two Lives
Over the years, microcomputers have proved to be a great help to scientists, who are, in a sense, in the information business, and need all the automated help they can get in managing their research data. But scientists often lead busy private lives as well, and therefore can benefit greatly from a system that supports the efficient management of personal as well as professional information. During the past year, the computer press has identified a class of IBM PC-family software intended for
Atomic-Emission Detection Makes Debut
Atomic-Emission Detection Makes Debut
Analytical chemists in a broad range of fields must routinely separate and analyze complex chemical mixtures into individual’ species, some of which are present in extremely low levels. As the demand for research and industrial analysis continues to increase, rapid and accurate qualitative and quantitative analysis of such mixtures is essential. A technique of choice in the analysis of volatile chemical species is gas chromatography (GC), which separates chemical species on the basis of