News

A Capitalist Seeks High-Tech Ideas
A Capitalist Seeks High-Tech Ideas
NEW YORK—Venture capitalist William J. Kane remembers “Flex Infusion Inc.” all too well. He spent nearly 40 hours investigating the nascent company’s product, people and plans—and then didn’t invest a dime. “We liked what we saw, got good feedback on the attractiveness of their technology and the potential of the applications,” said Kane, 31, a senior associate at Harvest Ventures Inc. here. "But we were still uncomfortable with the rate of gr
2 Germanys Reach Out In Sci-Tech
2 Germanys Reach Out In Sci-Tech
WEST BERLIN—East Berlin’s Humboldt University and West Berlin’s Technical University are less than three miles apart. But the Wall makes scientific communication almost impossible. What applies to the two Berlins is equally true for the two (Germanys. “Just inviting people to give a talk at a seminar simply did not work out,” said Dietrich Dörner a professor of psychology who studies machine intelligence. His attempt last summer to invite a colleague faile
House Science Panel Pledges Review of Research Priorities
House Science Panel Pledges Review of Research Priorities
WASHINGTON—Members of Congress debating funding for the Superconducting Supercollider have elicited a promise from the chairman of the House science committee for “a full review” of the cost of various large-scale science projects being contemplated by federal officials. Rep. Robert Roe (D-N.J.) made that pledge during debate last month on his bill to authorize $1.1 billion in the next three years for construction of the SSC. But anticipated across-the-board spending cuts
Crash, Budget Crunch Leave Science Anxious
Crash, Budget Crunch Leave Science Anxious
With bears loose on the world’s major stock markets, academic, corporate and government scientists who seek cover face a forest of question marks. On Wall Street, where tremors from the recent precipitous plunge in share prices still ripple through the world economy, analysts predict an end to the easy credit and abundant capital that fueled recent growth in some science-based U.S. industries. While not everyone is predicting a recession, the prevailing mood is one of extremecaution,
U.S. Groups Help Chileans Oust Rector
U.S. Groups Help Chileans Oust Rector
WASHINGTON—In what one observer called “its strongest international response in years,” the U.S. scientific community played a role in the ouster late last month of the unpopular government-appointed head of the University of Chile in Santiago. The National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Medicine and the American Association of University Professors sent letters to Chilean President Gen. Augusto Pino- chet and
Soviet Scientist Raps Secrecy
Soviet Scientist Raps Secrecy
LONDON—secrecy and the deliberate exclusion of information from the West are hadly damaging Soviet science, according to Academician Vitali Goldanski. In a strongly worded article in the general circulation monthly magazine Ogonyok (Little Flame), Goldanski recalled the harm caused by the misguided biological theories of Lysenko and drew attention to the problems faced by his colleagues in keeping abreast of outside developments. “In higher technical colleges everywhere,”
Science Nominees Wait For OK to Begin Work
Science Nominees Wait For OK to Begin Work
WASHINGTON—Almost five months after President Reagan announced the intention to nominate him, plasma physicist Robert Hunter waits in San Diego for word of his confirmation hearing to become director of the Office of Energy Research at the Department of Energy. The office, overseen since April by acting director James Decker after the departure of Alvin Trivelpiece, is the focal point for several of the hottest issues on the nation’s science agenda, including the Superconducting
W. Germany Seeks More For Science
W. Germany Seeks More For Science
WEST BERLIN—The chief funding agency for West German university scientists has proposed an ambitious expansion of its budget for the next three years. “The 1990s could become a time of blossoming for the German universities,” said Hubert Markl, president of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).” The DFG, the German counterpart to the US. National Science Foundation, administered a budget of $600 million last year. That figure represents about 5 percent of the mo
APA Woos Research Psychologists
APA Woos Research Psychologists
WASHINGTON—The American Psychological Association has beefed up its commitment to its scientific members as part of an internal realignment that intended to better serve the needs of an unusually diverse membership. A steady rise since the 1950s in the number of practitioners—those who provide health care directly to the public—has slowly tipped the balance against the academics and researchers who once dominated the 95-year-old association. As a result, that group has grown
Squibb to Fund Oxford Neuroscience
Squibb to Fund Oxford Neuroscience
LONDON—Squibb Corporation, the U.S. pharmaceutical company, plans to spend $32 million over the next seven years at Oxford University on basic neuroscience research. The agreement is one of the biggest between industry and academia since Hoechst announced its $50 million, 10-year investment in molecular biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1982. Squibb is the first company to respond with cash to a workshop, organized jointly by the university and Britain’s Medical R
Scientists Urged to Sign Ethics Oath
Scientists Urged to Sign Ethics Oath
LONDON—An unusual alliance of scientific luminaries and the radical British Society for Social Responsibility in Science is campaigning for the adoption of an Oath for Scientists. Modeled after medicine’s Hippocratic Oath, it is a revised version of an earlier statement that recognizes the social impact of scientific developments. The 19 initial signatories of the oath include three Nobel laureates—Sir John Kendrew, president of the International Council of Scientific Unions
Texas Prof Wins Math Shootout at Pecos
Texas Prof Wins Math Shootout at Pecos
AUSTIN, TEXAS—The Wild West has a new hero. Abraham Charnes, the founder of the Center of Cybernetic Studies at the University of Texas, has unhoistered mathematical equations to help Texas farmers win a long court battle over water rights from the Pecos River. The headwaters of the Pecos lie in central New Mexico. Flowing southward into West Texas to join the Rio Grande, the river runs through some of the most arid country in the United States. Texas and New Mexico have argued over
NIH May Lose Primary Care Research Aid
NIH May Lose Primary Care Research Aid
WASHINGTON—NIH may lose a program to train researchers in primary medical care because of congressional concern that the money is going to researchers in other fields. The General Accounting Office has concluded that all 16 of the National Research Service Awards that NIH earmarked for work in primary health care in 1986, totaling $2.1 million, are instead supporting “biomedical research on specific diseases and in specialty areas of medicine rather than primary care.” Awar
Freedom Leads to Fame For IBM's Lab in Zurich
Freedom Leads to Fame For IBM's Lab in Zurich
ZURICH—With two Nobel prizes in as many years, something good has to be going on at IBM’s research laboratory in Rüschlikon on the outskirts of this city. But apart from an environment that offers fine wines, Swiss cheeses and, on a clear day, a postcard view of the Alps, is there a lesson for other industrial research labs? The IBM lab’s achievements are by now familiar. Last year’s Nobel Prize in physics went to IBM researchers Gerd Binning and Heinrich Rohrer
Solitary Fusion Effort Too Costly, U.S. Told
Solitary Fusion Effort Too Costly, U.S. Told
WASHINGTON—The U.S. fusion program must accept “an unprecedented degree of collaboration” with Western Europe, Japan and the Soviet Union if it is to achieve its current goals, according to government officials and the authors of a new report to Congress. Going it alone is too expensive and, besides, the money isn’t available. That was the clear message from the Department of Energy and the congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) at a hearing last month b
U.K. Defense Jobs Unfilled
U.K. Defense Jobs Unfilled
LONDON—Higher salaries at private companies have left Britain’s Ministry of Defense with hundreds of vacancies in its $12 billion procurement office. Ten percent of the 9,200 specialist posts are now unfilled. The problem is particularly acute among electrical and electronics engineers who assess, order and monitor the performance of sophisticated weapons systems. “We face a diabolical situation in defense procurement,” said Jenny Thurston, assistant general secretar
International Team Plans Fusion Test
International Team Plans Fusion Test
LONDON—A team of 40 scientists from the United States, Western Europe, Japan and the Soviet Union plans to begin work next spring on a three-year, $180 million effort to design the next large thermonuclear fusion experiment. If the participants accept the design, construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) could begin as early as 1993. Meeting last month in Vienna, officials from each of the participants also agreed on a European site for the project. It
Swaminathan on Sowing Science
Swaminathan on Sowing Science
Agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathah, often called the architect of India’s green revolution, has helped to transform his native country from a net food importer to one that today exports and stores its surplus grain. In addition to shaping agricultural development in the Third World, Swaminathan has taken an active interest in rekited issues involving environmental conservation and women’s roles in effecting and adapting to technological change. After receiving his Ph.D. from
Reference Books: Essential--and Profitable
Reference Books: Essential--and Profitable
As a schoolboy in England in the 1950s and ‘60s, I was first introduced to reference publishing by Kaye and Loby’s Tables. Here you could find all the “right” answers to experimental demonstrations in physics and chemistry, such as the viscosity of various mineral oils and Young’s modulus for steel, which then seemed rather remote from everyday life. And we used four-figure logarithm tables all the time. What a gold mine they were for publishers: in public examin

Commentary

What Tonegawa' s Nobel Doesn't Mean
What Tonegawa' s Nobel Doesn't Mean
In the wake of the news that Susumu Tonegawa of MIT had been chosen as the 1987 Nobel laureate in medicine (See THE SCIENTIST, November 2, 1987, P. 4), an article by Stephen Kreider Yoder appeared in the Wall Street Journal (October 14, 1987, p. 30) under the headline “Native Son’s Nobel Award Is Japan’s Loss: Scientist’s Prize Points Up Research System’s Failings.” The writer asserted that Tonegawa’s prize is “as much an embarrassment as a victo

Letter

Letters
Letters
I read with great interest the review of my play "Sarcophagus" (August 10, p. 24). Twentieth-century science has every right to be proud of its achievements. Just have a look around and you will find a million proofs of this. However, we cannot ignore the other side of science because scientists have devised quite a number of advanced means of exterminating human beings and destroying the planet. Quite naturally, the average person poses a question: are the achievements of contemporary scienc

Opinion

Fusion Needs More Money or More Collaboration
Fusion Needs More Money or More Collaboration
Editor’s note: In late October the congressional Office of Technology Assessment issued a report, Starpower The U.S. and the International Quest for Fusion Energy (for a related story, seep. 8). The report, excerpted here, outlines four funding approaches for fusion research over the next few years. The Department of Energy (DOE) manages the U.S. fusion program, and its goal is to evaluate fusion’s technological feasibility— to determine whether or not a fusion reactor can be
The Case Against Gene Sequencing
The Case Against Gene Sequencing
T he debate over complete sequencing of the human genome continues at a fever pitch. Indeed, this sequencing has become the biologists’ cause celebre for the waning years of this decade. While many have spoken forcefully in favor of this sequencing, the voices of opposition, at least in public, have been more muted. Many think it foolhardy and retrogressive to argue against a project that promises to yield a mountain of new data. With the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Inst
The 1987 Nobels: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: A Very Silly Experiment Bears Fruit
The 1987 Nobels: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: A Very Silly Experiment Bears Fruit
A couple of years ago two eminent scientists performed an experiment. Nothing unusual in that, you might think. Think again; when did the eminent scientists of your acquaintance last perform an experiment personally? Come to that, when did you? These eccentrics proceeded in an odd way. They do not seem to have debated whether what they were proposing to do was respectable in Popperian terms, or only those of Feyerabend. No—they just did the experiment. They cannot have spent hours
The 1987 Nobels: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: All Washed up at 35? Nonsense!
The 1987 Nobels: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: All Washed up at 35? Nonsense!
Does a scientist reach a peak in productivity at age 35? My experience indicates that’s not true for chemists, and it probably isn’t true for other disciplines in science. I am 75 years old. I reached retirement age (66) in 1978. The university held a grand retirement party. Many of my former coworkers, both graduate students and postdocs, numbering about 300 at that time, came to the festivities. I might easily have retired to a life of comfort and vegetation. But my wife urged m
The APS Report: The Flaws Remain
The APS Report: The Flaws Remain
I would like to respond to the adverse comments made in these pages by Robert L. Park of the American Physical Society (APS) concerning my testimony before a committee of congressmen in May 1987 (September 7, 1987, P. 13). I believe the merits of the Strategic Defense Initiative program inevitably will emerge as its development proceeds—if it receives adequate funding as well as the technical and administrative support it deserves. The SDI organization (SDIO) does have a need, as do
Doing Research on People
Doing Research on People
Nowhere is the potential for conflicting obligations more worrisome than in situations where doctors simultaneously deliver medical care to patients and use them as research subjects. The idea of experimenting on patients conjures up two quite different pictures. The first depicts persons who are sick and suffering—perhaps even dying—being subjected to the manipulations of clinical investigators who use patients in their efforts to contribute to scientific knowledge, as well as

Research

Resuscitating Superstring Theory
Resuscitating Superstring Theory
The goal of elementary particle physics is to achieve a unified understanding of fundamental forces (gravitational, electromagnetic and nuclear) and elementary particlesin terms of concise and beautiful mathematical principles. This program was pioneered by Einstein, who lacked sufficient experimental information to achieve a unified field theory. Building on the lessons of the last 25 years we may now be on the verge of realizing Einstein’s dream. Curiously, superstring theory, the pri

Books etc.

Ideal Resource for Ready Use
Ideal Resource for Ready Use
HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS DESK REFERENCE N. Irving Sax and Richard J. Lewis Sr. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1987.1,096 pp. $69.95. Hazardous materials reference works generally fall into two categories—limited or intricately detailed, say the authors of the new Hazardous Chemicals Desk Reference. They claim to have alleviated the problem by producing a moderately sized resource that is ideal for ready use by those working with or evaluating the hazards of chemicals. After close ex
'Part of My Life Since Childhood'
'Part of My Life Since Childhood'
CRC HANDBOOK OF CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS 68th edition. Robert C. Weast, ed. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 1987. 2,464 pp. $69.95. (Price will increase to $74.95 in December.) The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics has been part of my life since childhood. My father’s copy was pressed into service for a junior high school crystal-growing project and I have been using it ever since. Calcium nitrate is still cubic, colorless and hygroscopic, in case you wondered. Over the years, the handboo
Invaluable Tool That's Fun to Use
Invaluable Tool That's Fun to Use
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL BOOKS AND SERIALS IN PRINT 1987. R.R. Bowker Co., New York, 1987. 3 vols., 4,203 pp. $159.94. I started this assignment with misgivings and uncertainty; how does one review an endless list of book titles? But I quickly became fascinated and couldn’t put the volumes down. I could hardly pick them up either they weigh in at some 5 pounds each. Books are listed by author, title and subject. The diversity is intriguing. The subject index goes from “Abacus&#
More Than Just a Top Textbook
More Than Just a Top Textbook
MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE GENE Fourth edition. Vol. 1. James D. Watson, Nancy H. Hopkins, Jeffrey W. Roberts, Joan A. Steitz and Alan M. Weiner. Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co., Menlo Park, CA, 1987. 816 pp. $39.95. Instructors of introductory courses in molecular biology probably will not find a better textbook than the fourth edition of Molecular Biology of the Gene. As a reference source, the book is a formidable accomplishment that presents the extraordinary achievements in molecular bio
One for the Library, One for the Lab
One for the Library, One for the Lab
INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY OF MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY Sidney Landau, ed. John Wiley .& Sons, New York, 1986. 3 vols., 3,200 pp. $395. SAUNDERS ENCYCLOPEDIA & DICTIONARY OF LABORATORY MEDICINE AND TECHNOLOGY James L Bennington, ed W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1984. 1,674 pp. $65. Quick access to a major medical dictionary is a must for biomedical scientists. Most of us have purchased at least-one in our careers. The two leading Amer ican unabridged medical dictionaries are Sted man’s a
Waste Not, Want Not: The Fate of a New Industry
Waste Not, Want Not: The Fate of a New Industry
TECHNOLOGY IN THE 1990s Utilization of Lignocellulistic Wastes. B.S. Hartley, P.M.A. Broda and R.J. Senior, eds. The Royal Society, London, 1987. 568 pp. £30. It’s rare, on the opening morning of a conference, to hear the chairman ruminating that the chosen subject is no longer strictly relevant, and indicating that we may as well repack our bags and go back home. But that is exactly what happened at the Royal Society’s meeting last year on the possibility of securing both e
A Master Naturalist's Manifesto
A Master Naturalist's Manifesto
EVOLUTION AND ESCALATION An Ecological History of Life. Geerat J. Vermeij. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1987. 504 pp. $47.50. In an era in which the basic assumptions of evolutionary theory are being re-examined, it is interesting to read an “unreconstructed” adaptationist selectionist manifesto. Geerat Vermeij, professor of zoology at the University of Maryland, is a master naturalist. In Evolution and Escalation he takes the ideas developed from studies on adaptio
Digging Deep for the Human Factor
Digging Deep for the Human Factor
BONES OF CONTENTION Controversies in the Search for Human Origins. Roger Lewin. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1987:348 pp. $19.95. Human beings can err. Not only can they err, they can be driven to error by their prejudices, their preconceptions, their personal rivalries, even their religious beliefs, all of whieh may color their assessmentof the data. That’s the theme of Bones of Contention, Roger Lewin’s look into the controversies that have bedeviled paleoanthropology through
The Chicken and the Egg, Revisited
The Chicken and the Egg, Revisited
French Biology in the Decades Before Darwin. Toby A. Appel. Oxford University Press, New York, 1987. 305 pp. $35. Did the egg determine the chicken or did the chicken determine the egg? In organisms, does form determine function or does function determine form? These two questions make equal sense or nonsense, but by centering her presentation on a particular debate regarding relationships between form and function, Toby Appel has illuminated brilliantly the French intellectual scene in the
Forthcoming Books
Forthcoming Books
ANTHROPOLOGY Culture and Human Nature: Theoretical Papers of Melford E. Spiro. Benjamin Kilborne, L.L. Langness, eds. University of Chicago Press: November, 344 pp $17.95 PB, $48 HB. A collection of Spiro’s major theoretical writings, focusing on his theories of culture and human nature, functional analysis and religion. BIOGRAPHY Memoir of the Life and Labours of the Late Charles Babbage, Esq. F.R.S. H.W. Buxton. M.I.T. Press: November, 425 pp, $50. Profile of Charles Babbage, the fou

So They Say

So They Say
So They Say
Reagan’s Non-Response to AIDS AIDS is the most serious threat to public health in decades. Historians will look back in astonishment at the Reagan Administration’s flaccid response during the first eight years of the epidemics has spread. They will ask how any President could fail to implement the most obvious public health measures, or tardily assign the making of national strategy to a quarreling commission with no recognizable expertise. They will wonder how his cabinet members

Happenings

Happenings
Happenings
PEOPLE Melvin N.A. Peterson, former director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s international deep sea drilling project at the University of California, San Diego, was nominated first chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Peterson will be one of NOAA’s chief policy advisers on environmental issues and will serve as its principal spokesman on science and technology. The International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry voted French inorgan

Profession

Education for Technological Competitiveness
Education for Technological Competitiveness
The need for achieving a more internationally responsive outlook must be understood and acted upon throughout the system for engineering education in the United States. Changes in attitude and approach will be required at all stages, including high school, college, graduate school and continuing education programs, to achieve a set of offerings and opportunities that will enable U.S. engineers to function competitively throughout their careers. Several programs already provide examples of succ