News

In Appeal To The West, Vietnam Seeks U.S. Support In Science
In Appeal To The West, Vietnam Seeks U.S. Support In Science
WASHINGTON—”Vietnamese science,” says physicist Nguyen Van Hieu, “is only a little boy. We hope that the United States can help us to become strong and healthy.” Fourteen years after the end of a bitter war, Vietnam is trying to enlist U.S. scientists in an ambitious campaign to rebuild its impoverished country. The job won’t be easy: The U.S. has a ban on all trade with Vietnam, the two governments have no diplomatic relations, and there is no tradition
Panama Lab Overcomes Political Turmoil
Panama Lab Overcomes Political Turmoil
A year ago, Ira Rubinoff was considering a gala celebration, with lots of media and top brass, to dedicate the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s new $8 million laboratory in Panama City. Not any more. When the Earl S. Tupper Research and Conference Center finally opens its doors this winter, months behind schedule, the event will be decidely low-key. Given the increasingly tense political situation between the United States and Panama, Rubinoff isn’t eager to draw atten
DNA Forensic Testing Industry Faces Challenge To Credibility
DNA Forensic Testing Industry Faces Challenge To Credibility
On Feb. 5, 1987, Vilma Ponce and her infant daughter were stabbed to death in their Bronx, N.Y., apartment. Police arrested a suspect, Joseph Castro, on whose wristwat they found a small bloodstain. The police took the evidence to Lifecodes Corp. in Valhalla, N.Y., where lab analysis convinced the company’s scientists that DNA retrieved from the blood on the watchface matched that of the dead woman. If true, this would have put Castro at the scene of the crime. Chances of the match bei
Clandestine NSF Panel Warms To Cold Fusion
Clandestine NSF Panel Warms To Cold Fusion
WASHINGTON—Four months after one federal agency killed the prospect of government support of cold fusion, a second agency has brought it back to life. The strange phenomenon of low-temperature nuclear fusion, announced at the University of Utah with great fanfare March 23 by two chemists, took another bizarre turn last month when a self-described “upbeat, enthusiastic” panel of experts assembled by the National Sci ence Foundation’s engineering division concluded tha
Antarctic Treaty Talks Break Down As Scientists Debate Impact Of Mining
Antarctic Treaty Talks Break Down As Scientists Debate Impact Of Mining
Six months ago the Antarctic Minerals Convention seemed assured of passage. The treaty, eight years in the making, proposed strict—and some say neatly impossible—environmental standards for oil and mineral prospecting in the Antarctic. But today many observers believe the measure is as good as dead. Australia, France, and several other countries have withdrawn their support of the pact under pressure from environmentalists, who fear that if a mechanism—no matter how rigorou
NSF's Budget Falls Short Of Requested Hike
NSF's Budget Falls Short Of Requested Hike
WASHINGTON—Although House and Senate conferees compromised on the higher of two numbers in all parts of the National Science Foundation’s 1990 budget, scientists will still be getting less than President Bush requested for the foundation last February. And the repeated promise of a doubling of the NSF budget within five years is likely once again to ring hollow in their ears. The October 17 agreement, which must he approved separately by each house and by the president, gives NS
Wolfram, Digital Sign Deal To Sell Mathematica
Wolfram, Digital Sign Deal To Sell Mathematica
Wolfram Research Inc. has taken a major step to broaden distribution of its Mathematica software system. signing an agreement with Digital Equipment Corp. to share marketing rights to the program. Under the licensing agreement, whose terms remain confidential, both Wolfram and Digital will be able to sell the software for use on Digital VAX and RISC computer systems. Mathematica, which Wolfram Research Inc. introduced in June 1988 for personal computers, is a software package that can per
New NSF Program Supports Exploratory Research
New NSF Program Supports Exploratory Research
WASHINGTON—When forest biologist Richard Condit of Princeton University applied for a grant to study how trees in tropical forests are related, the National Science Foundation told him that he had a great idea. But they rejected his application because he couldn’t prove that his approach would work. Condit is trying again, but NSF has decided to give scientists like him a chance to prove their theories without wasting a lot of federal money on experiments that don't work. The ne
Federal Paperwork Law Poses Obstacle To Valid Research
Federal Paperwork Law Poses Obstacle To Valid Research
WASHINGTON—In 1985 the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health decided to find out if computer monitors cause miscarriages. So it did what any good research body would do: It drew up a questionnaire to ask women about their medical history, work and home life, and fertility. But because NIOSH is a federal agency, the survey first had to pass muster at the Office of Management and Budget (0MB). 0MB rejected it, carrying out its authority under a 1980 law, meant to reduce
Fogarty Aims To Broaden International Fellowship Program
Fogarty Aims To Broaden International Fellowship Program
Officials of the Fogarty International Center, a National Institutes of Health unit that has brought 2,700 foreign postdoctoral researchers to the United States since 1958, are considering steps to involve more scientists from Third World nations. A study of the center’s International Research Fellowship (IRF) program, commissioned by NIH and conducted by an independent firm earlier this year, generally praised the program, which was established to promote cooperation in biomedical re
DNAX Immunologists Work To Balance Industry, Academia
DNAX Immunologists Work To Balance Industry, Academia
The fence between industry and academia seems like a precarious place to sit. But a team of California scientists makes the balancing act look easy. Their perch on that fence has been the perfect place for cranking out highly cited research, including four “Hot Papers” identified by The Scientist in the past year (May I, 1989, page 12). The laboratories of immunologists Robert Coffman and Tim Mosmann are side by side on the secondfloor of DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto. Se
Cytogeneticist Receives V.D. Mattia Award for Biochemical Research
Cytogeneticist Receives V.D. Mattia Award for Biochemical Research
Joseph Gall, whose investigations have focused on the structure and function of chromosomes, has received the 1989 V.D. Mattia Award from Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. for his contributions to biomedical research. Gall, 61, was presented with the award on September 28 at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology; the Nutley, N.J.-based company’s basic research center. A native of Washington, D.C., Gall received his B.S. (1949) and his Ph.D. (1952) in zoology from Yale University. From 1952 to 1

Briefs

Government Briefs
Government Briefs
Don’t Touch That Money! The embattled U.S. Agency for International Development malaria vaccine research project (The Scientist, July 10, 1989, page 1; Oct. 16, 1989, page 12) received another blow last month with the release of a government report that condemns the manner in which AID has managed the $100 million effort. The problems are so extensive, says the General Accounting Office, that AID officials should postpone any plans to build a $15 million field testing station in the Sout
Private Institute Briefs
Private Institute Briefs
First Publication For Seattle Theorist A 72-year-old retired aerospace engineer with a new theory of life will finally get a hearing in a peer-reviewed journal. Dwight H. Bulkley, director of the Seattle Institute for the Life Sciences, is publishing his paper, “Electromagnetic Theory of Life,” in next month’s issue of Medical-Hypotheses. Bulkley, who describes the Seattle Institute as a “think-tank” of about two dozen people who meet at their homes for informal d
National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
Light Source Fortunes Brighten After five years of rejection, Argonne National Lab has finally garnered congressional approval to begin construction of its $456 million Advanced Photon Source. Wasting not a moment, the lab broke ground just days after receiving $40 million for construction in the 1990 DOE budget, which took effect October 1. The APS, which will be the nation’s second-largest basic science project (after the Superconducting Supercollider) when it is completed in 1995, is
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
From Orphan To Startup After being bought and sold and then finally told that he just wasn’t wanted anymore, computer scientist David Jenkins is now calling the shots for his own computer hardware company, Visionary Systems Inc. of New Haven, Conn. It all began in 1986 when Jenkins was working on microchips for array processing boards as part of ITT’s Advanced Technology Center in Shelton, Conn. In December of that year, ITT sold Jenkins’ Cellular Array Processor project, alo
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
The Merger That Didn’t Happen After months of discussions, plans for a merger of the nation’s two largest biotechnology associations have fallen through. The Industrial Biotechnology Association had proposed joining forces with the Association of Biotechnology Companies in July. In discussions that went on through the summer, the two Washington-based organizations couldn’t resolve questions about equal representation of their members, according to the ABC’s new executiv
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
For Big Instruments, Call Energy December 1 is the deadline for applications to the Department of Energy’s Research Instrumentation Program, which buys equipment costing more than $100,000 for universities that have received at least $150,000 in DOE support over a two-year period. The $5-million-a-year program was started in 1984, along with other instrumentation support programs at the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. DOE bankrolls larger instruments than the o

Opinion

Scientists Must Take A Case-By-Case Approach To Fetal Tissue Research
Scientists Must Take A Case-By-Case Approach To Fetal Tissue Research
Should fetal tissue be employed in scientific research? This question has moral, political, religious, and emotional nuances. When considered literally, however, we may be sure that fetal tissue will be used, since history shows that scientists will do what they think necessary to further their science. Indeed, the history of science is rejected with acts that were considered immoral and/or illegal for the times. One need only consider the fact that some physicians were performing abortions
Researchers' Societal Responsibilities: An NAS Primer
Researchers' Societal Responsibilities: An NAS Primer
Editor’s Note: In an effort to provide tomorrow’s scientists with guidance about the responsible conduct of science, the governing council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has prepared a 22-page booklet entitled On Being A Scientist. Scheduled for distribution to some 120,000 graduate students around the country, the new publication discusses a wide range of practical and ethical issues in science, from the allocation of credit and responsibility in collaborative research t

Letter

Peer Review
Peer Review
Rustum Roy in his Commentary (“ ‘Soft Cheating’ Is More Harmful To Science Than Cases Of Outright Fraud,” The Scientist, Sept. 18, 1989, page 14) is confused in his allegation that the “funding process [of peer review] Is... tainted by a built-in conflict of interest.” Though it is true that the scientists most likely to review a proposal are the very ones whose pool of available money will be depleted if they give a proposal a top grade, this fact nearly en
Science Illiteracy
Science Illiteracy
I am dismayed by the article on science illiteracy by Key Dismukes and John Jonides (“Project 2061: A Place To Start Educating The Public,” The Scientist, Aug. 7, 1989, page 11). Their argument is remarkably similar to that set forth by their social science counterparts in thelate 1960s. We still recall the onslaught of psychologists, sociologists, and educationists who clucked interminably over the problems in mass science education, and then, with straight faces, solemnly arrived a
Nobel 'Nominees'
Nobel 'Nominees'
Give us a break will you? Many of us could draw up a list with 20 names on it (“The 1989 Nobel. Prize In Medicine: 20 Who Deserve It,” The Scientist, Oct. 2, 1989, page 14), none of whom were mentioned on yours and most of whom have made major and consistent contributions for years. That kind of article, no matter what kind of “data” it is based on, does no one any good—neither the people on your list, nor the ones who are not. JOEL L. ROSENBAUM Department of Biolo
Anything But 'Stodgy'?
Anything But 'Stodgy'?
In his article “How Not To Succeed Despite Trying Very Hard: One Department’s Story” (The Scientist, May 29, 1989, page 4), writer Eric Anderson brought attention to the disturbances within [the Department of Biological Sciences, State University of New York, Binghamton], eventually leading to the resignation of its chairman. The article stressed the dissatisfactions that had developed in the department during the brief regime of its new chairman. The impression a reader ca

Commentary

The Time Has Come For The United States To Get Back Into UNESCO
The Time Has Come For The United States To Get Back Into UNESCO
Since October 17, when UNESCO opened a six-week general conference in Paris, 158 member nations have been debating the United Nations organization’s strategic plan for 1990-95. The member nations should weigh their decisions carefully, for UNESCO’s future hangs in the balance. What is at stake is whether UNESCO can recover the vitality and leadership it lost in 1984, when the United States withdrew from it, and 1985, when the United Kingdom followed suit. Since then the organiza

Research

The New Nobelists: A Look At Their Citation Histories
The New Nobelists: A Look At Their Citation Histories
When Stockholm speaks—as it does each October—scientists worldwide turn an ear to the news broadcasters. The names of this year’s Nobelists were easily recognized by their peers in the scientific community, since their work has had such a significant impact. The following, while briefly reviewing the nature of the landmark research singled out by the Nobel Assembly, emphasizes the citation impact of each author’s work, as reflected in the Institute for Scientific Infor
Chemistry
Chemistry
CHEMISTRY BY RON MAGOLDA Medical Products Department E.I. DuPont de Nemnours & Co. Wilmington, Del. " Ortho lithiation is a major tool inorganic synthesis A recent report extends this powerful technology to include magnesium counter ions, which offer several advantages. R.E. Eaton, C.-H. Lee, Y. Xiong, “Magnesium amide bases and amido-grignards. 1. Ortho magnesiation,” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 111, 80 16-18, 27 September 1989. (University of Chicago, Ill.) " A ne
Plant and Animal Sciences
Plant and Animal Sciences
PLANT AND ANIMAL SCIENCES BY PETER D. MOORE Department of Biology King’s College London, U.K. " A single, invasive plant species can change the structure and composition of an entire ecosystem, as is the case in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where the introduced tree Myrica faya is assuming dominance on the fresh volcanic soils.It grows faster than native trees, produces a seed rain of up to 60 seeds per square meter per year, and fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere at a rate 100 tim
Physics
Physics
PHYSICS BY SOKRATES T. PANTELIDES IBM Research Division Thomas J. Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, N.Y. " “Cold fusion” made a big splash a few months ago (mostly in the popular press) and proved quickly to be merely wishful thinking. Now a serious, well-documented report in Physical Review Letters suggests new path to fusion: bombardment of deuterium-containing solid targets with ion clusters. R.J. Beuhler, G. Friedlander, L. Friedman, “Cluster-impact fusion,”
Computational Science
Computational Science
COMPUTATIONAL SCIENCE BY BRUCE G. BUCHANAN Department of Computer Science University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa. " To segment image data means to separate important parts of the image from the background. Fingerprints are often low-contrast, smudged, and noisy images, and thus offer a good test of segmentation algorithms. A composite of two methods is proposed that gives better performance than either alone. B.M. Mehtre, B. Chatterjee, “Segmentation of fingerprint images—a compo

Profession

Courses Teach Scientists To Sell Their Ideas, Manage Others
Courses Teach Scientists To Sell Their Ideas, Manage Others
A consumer-products company had the formula for hairstyling mousse in its files nearly two years before the product was introduced on the market by a competitor. When the company finally brought out its own mousse, a year after the competitor’s product debuted, it was able to garner only about 15% of the market share. Industrial psychologist Bernard Rosenbaum remembers being told by the head of research and development that the firm’s failure to be the first on the market “w
Research Fund Is Caught In AZT Debate
Research Fund Is Caught In AZT Debate
Amid controversy surrounding its sole supporter and namesake, pharmaceutical supplier Burroughs Wellcome Co., the Burroughs Wellcome Fund strives to fulfill the policy set by its founders 34 years ago. Under a logo depicting the watchful eye of Horus, the Egyptian god of medicine, the fund supports research and educational efforts in medical science. In its first fiscal year, 1955-56, the fund gave out $5,800. Since then, the grant amounts approved each year have grown significantly. In the

New Products

New Laser Polarimetric Technique Has Broad Applications
New Laser Polarimetric Technique Has Broad Applications
A new polarimetric technique that uses a narrow, collimated beam of laser light to differentiate between mirror image forms of asymmetric molecules has improved the sensitivity of classic devices and has ex- panded applications to solve a wide variety of problems in areas ranging from clinical medicine and pharmaceutical testing to research and development connected with commercial products. Polarimetric analysis is based on the principle that asymmetric molecules are optically active—
Beckman Ultracentrifuges Are Air-Cooled, Use No Chlorofluorocarbons
Beckman Ultracentrifuges Are Air-Cooled, Use No Chlorofluorocarbons
A variety of scientists and technicians in a number of disciplines (in- cluding chemistry, biology, biomedicine, and molecular genetics) use centrifuges in their laboratories to separate substances of different densities, to remove moisture, and to simulate the effects of gravity. Beckman Instruments Inc., of Fullerton, Calif., has introduced two new series of ultracentrifuges the L and XL Optima series. Both series feature an advanced, 10-year warranted drive that is stress and imbalance-res