November 1990

News

Blacks Assail NIH's `Plantation' Mentality
Blacks Assail NIH's `Plantation' Mentality
Minority scientists say that the agency must do more to hire, promote, and reward them in the lab and in administrative jobs BETHESDA, Md. -- The voices of black scientists at the National Institutes of Health are filled with pride, anger, and frustration. Pride in working hard at jobs that they love. Anger that there are so many obstacles in their path and so few people willing to help them. And frustration that the situation has changed little over the past 30 years and isn't likely to get b
Government To Industry: Join War On Drugs
Government To Industry: Join War On Drugs
NIDA offers financial and regulatory incentives, but reluctant pharmaceutical companies are worried about the legal risks WASHINGTON--The federal government wants to persuade the pharmaceutical industry to join its war on illegal drugs. At a two-day conference here this week the two sides will discuss financial and regulatory inducements to drug companies that create medications to fight mental illness to join the battle. Agencies within the Public Health Service are hoping that pharmaceutica
Two Generations Of NAS Couples Reflect Changing Role Of Women
Two Generations Of NAS Couples Reflect Changing Role Of Women
When scientists are wed to their labs as well as to each other, they can encounter extraordinary personal and professional challenges In 1939, on the eve of war in Europe, Gertrude Scharff felt that marriage to a fellow scientist working in the United States offered her the best chance to survive as a physicist. Her husband, she hoped, represented her ticket to greater opportunities to carry out research. Forty years later, the tables were turned for neurobiologist Patricia Goldman. Goldman w
High-Technology Advances Spur Progress In Study Of Human Brain
High-Technology Advances Spur Progress In Study Of Human Brain
Augmenting old devices and procedures with the latest computer-based techniques yields new opportunities for today's neuroscientist ST. LOUIS--In 1984, five fighter pilots spent three days hooked up to one of the world's most sophisticated machines for probing the brain's electrical impulses. But it was only last month that San Francisco neuroscientist Alan Gevins presented his results from that experiment. The project, hailed by colleagues as a synthesis of various research techniques, was a
Livermore's Purchase Of Japanese Supercomputer Is Blocked
Livermore's Purchase Of Japanese Supercomputer Is Blocked
Congress fears that the deal with the weapons lab would have allowed NEC Corp. to acquire U.S. software expertise A move by the U.S. Senate to give scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory the chance to buy and test a new Japanese supercomputer has been derailed by political fears that such purchases would hurt home-grown companies and contribute to the erosion of the nation's competitive edge. Language that would have given Livermore explicit permission to purchase a supercompute
Yale Neurobiologists Find That Life Revolves Around Their Profession
Yale Neurobiologists Find That Life Revolves Around Their Profession
NEW HAVEN, Conn.--Patricia Goldman-Rakic, sitting in her office at Yale University, is talking to a visitor about the problems and pleasures of being married to another scientist when her department chairman knocks on her door and enters. He explains that he's normally more polite but that, since she is his wife, he takes certain liberties. They smile, then he gets down to the business at hand--copy for an advertisement for a new journal, Cerebral Cortex, of which they are coeditors. She skims
Distinguished Physicists Manifest Lifelong Commitment To Succeed
Distinguished Physicists Manifest Lifelong Commitment To Succeed
UPTON, N.Y.--Gertrude Scharff-Goldhaber has pulled out a few faded, blue three-ring binders, several books, and other reprints. It's a two-foot pile of paper that provides tangible evidence of her half-century of work as a physicist. The documentation is unnecessary. The fact that she belongs to the National Academy of Sciences seems proof enough that her work is important. But Scharff-Goldhaber persists. As one-half of a marriage that began during an era when women scientists were consistentl
List Of National Academy Of Sciences Married Couples
List Of National Academy Of Sciences Married Couples
Following is a list of all eleven married couples who are members of the National Academy of Sciences. It includes the year of their election to NAS as well as their discipline and affiliation: Maurice Goldhaber (1958) and Gertrude Scharff-Goldhaber (1972), Physics, Brookhaven National Laboratory Leo M. Hurvich (1975) and Dorothea Jameson (1975), Psychology, University of Pennsylvania John W. Kappler (1989) and Philippa Marrack (1989), Microbiology and Immunology, Howard Hughes Medical Inst
Stress Management Tips
Stress Management Tips
David Munz, a stress researcher at St. Louis University who leads a program in stress management at Monsanto Co., recommends the following methods for coping with job pressures: Exercise regularly. Even a 10-minute bout of brisk walking will improve your frame of mind. Use positive, not negative, language to refer to your projects. After a while, the positive attitude will begin to be second nature. Take frequent mental breaks or, to use a psychological term, hypnogogic naps. Close your eyes

Opinion

Discouraging Hypotheses Slows Progress
Discouraging Hypotheses Slows Progress
If Einstein had been a biomedical scientist in the last part of the 20th century, he probably would have died without publishing anything and without making any contribution to science. Einstein was an entirely theoretical scientist: He never did an experiment and showed no interest in conducting experiments personally. The journal referees would have said that he had no experience in the field and that his ideas were mere speculations. Could biomedical science be losing Einsteins and near-Eins
Where To Draw The Line Between Scientific Fact And Theory
Where To Draw The Line Between Scientific Fact And Theory
Sidebar: Just Printing Results Doesn't Validate Them Sidebar: Discouraging Hypotheses Slows Progress What is a scientific fact? How are such facts established? Who are the judges, the referees, the peers who do the reviewing? Can scientific publishers be trusted to disseminate articles containing nothing but verified facts? And is it good for science that journals take pride in publishing nothing but facts? In one of the following essays, Washington University physicist Michael Friedlander u
Just Printing Results Doesn't Validate Them
Just Printing Results Doesn't Validate Them
"Give me the facts, ma'am, just the facts." This sounds like a simple instruction, but just what are the facts? Last year chemists at the University of Utah claimed to have discovered a way to achieve nuclear fusion under ordinary laboratory conditions. But what were the facts of their experiments? It might seem easy to establish new scientific facts, but as the confusion that continues to surround the fusion claims shows, things are not always quite so simple. It is easier to describe what sci

Commentary

How Can We Do A Better Job Of Tapping The Scientific Talent Of American Women?
How Can We Do A Better Job Of Tapping The Scientific Talent Of American Women?
The Scientist's recent coverage of women's role in science (Oct. 15, 1990) is certainly timely. While demographic studies of employment needs in the United States indicate an increasing demand for scientists and engineers, the actual supply of Americans into the pipeline has declined to nearly half of what it was 10 years ago. And while this drop largely is due to a decrease in American white male entrants, the number of women in science--while doubling during this period--remains small and now

Letter

NSF Magnet Lab
NSF Magnet Lab
In Jeffrey Mervis's story "Huge NSF Magnet Grant Will Test FSU's Mettle" [The Scientist, Oct. 1, 1990, page 3], little or no coverage is given to the majority views of the three committees of users and related scientists whose decisions went against the Florida State University grant and in favor of the original site. In particular, the story is almost devoid of comment on what should have been the primary consideration, which is: Which proposal will be best for science and technology in the Un
High School Science
High School Science
My son has done well in college--better by far than his father--and has a range of professional options open to him, including becoming a scientist or becoming a music teacher. He has decided against science as a career; he wants to be a high school music teacher. Why? "Because," he told me, "I like the lifestyle. Mrs. Smith [a music instructor he knows] enjoys teaching high school, and she also plays in the symphony." Mrs. Smith's lifestyle is attractive indeed: She teaches a subject she lov
Animal Rights Issues
Animal Rights Issues
I would like to respond to "Animal Advocates Crusade For The Day When Animals Are Freed From Lab Cages," by Christine Jackson, and "The Animal Rights Move- ment Threatens To Make Scientists An Endangered Species," by Leland C. Clark, Jr. [The Scientist, Sept. 3, 1990, page 11]. Although PETA's insistence upon vegetarianism and abolition of animal research is extremely annoying, the group's underlying moral philosophy is far more disturbing. As is implied by the infamous phrase, "a rat is a pig

Research

Citation Histories Attest To 1990 Nobelists' Wide Influence
Citation Histories Attest To 1990 Nobelists' Wide Influence
What does it take to win a Nobel Prize in science? An in-depth look at the citation records of this year's Nobel winners affirms that it takes more than good science. Not only must a laureate's work cross the frontiers of research--it must also be disseminated throughout the international scientific community. The citation records of the six North Americans who clinched the 1990 awards in medicine, chemistry, and physics (The Scientist, Nov. 12, 1990, page 8) indicate the broad and decisive im
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
SIMON SILVER Department of Microbiology & Immunology University of Illinois Chicago How proteins "thread" back and forth across membranes is a key question in understanding structure and, therefore, function. When a single positively charged amino acid in the sequence is removed or added, the two ends of leader-peptidase switch from the outside surface of the cell membrane to the inside surface, thus flipping the protein entirely. Fusing alkaline phosphatase into short hydrophilic regions o
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
PETER D. MOORE Department of Biology King's College London, U.K. Of what possible value to a plant is a variegated leaf? Such leaves seem to be particularly frequent in sun-dappled understorey plants in partially shaded woodlands. A possible explanation for their occurrence is that they are well camouflaged against grazing mammals. The advantages gained by escaping the attention of grazers must be sufficiently great to warrant the loss of part of the leaf's productive potential in the constru
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
Dennis P. Curran Department of Chemistry University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa. Intercalation is one of the most important ways by which small molecules can interact with DNA. This timely analysis addresses a very important question: In the absence of a crystal structure, what constitutes strong experimental evidence for intercalative interactions? E.C. Long, J.K. Barton, "On demonstrating DNA intercalation," Accounts of Chemical Research, 23, 171-3, September 1990. (California Institute of
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
BRUCE G. BUCHANAN Department of Computer Science University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa. As an expert system's knowledge base grows, it becomes more and more difficult to ensure its correctness and acceptability. A four-part model of validation based on experience building diagnostic expert systems is presented here. R. Enand, G.S. Kahn, R.A. Mills, "A methodology for validating large knowledge bases," International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 33, 361-71, October 1990. (Carnegie Group, P
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
THEODORE DAVIDSON Institute of Materials Science University of Connecticut Storrs STM (scanning tunneling microscopy) made it possible to image atom arrangements on conductive materials; now, AFM (atomic force microscopy) extends nanoscale imaging to nonconductors. The physical principles and some intriguing examples are given in a timely review. D. Rugar, P. Hansma, "Atomic force microscopy," Physics Today, 43, 23-30, October 1990. (IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, Calif.; University

Hot Paper

Medicine
Medicine
F.C. Bryce, J.K. Clayton, R.J. Rand, I. Beck, et al., "General practitioner obstetrics in Bradford," British Medical Journal, 300, 725-7, 17 March 1990. F.C. Bryce (St. James's University Hospital, The University of Leeds, U.K.): "This paper audits the outcome for patients booked under the care of their general practitioner for their antenatal and intrapartum care. It was initiated because of a steadily rising perinatal mortality rate in Bradford, in spite of a fall in the rest of England and
Molecular Biology
Molecular Biology
T. Furuichi, S. Yoshikawa, A. Miyawaki, K. Wada, N. Maeda, K. Mikoshiba, "Primary structure and functional expression of the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate-binding protein P400," Nature, 342, 32-8, 2 November 1989. Katsuhiko Mikoshiba (Institute for Protein Research, Osaka University, Japan): "Inositol trisphosphate (InsP3) is considered to be a second messenger for the release of calcium. We determined the structure of the InsP3 receptor by cDNA cloning. We also showed that the InsP3 receptor
Biochemistry
Biochemistry
R.G. Knowles, M. Palacios, R.M.J. Palmer, S. Moncada, "Formation of nitric oxide from L-arginine in the central nervous system: a transduction mechanism for stimulation of the soluble guanylate cyclase," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 86, 5159-62, July 1989. Richard Knowles (Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham, Kent, U.K.): "We started our studies looking for the arginine:nitric oxide (NO) pathway in the brain because of the discovery that vascular endothelial cells syn
Superconductivity
Superconductivity
P.C. Hammel, M. Takigawa, R.H. Heffner, Z. Fisk, K.C. Ott, "Spin dynamics at oxygen sites in YBa2Cu3O7," Physical Review Letters, 63, 1992-5, 30 October 1989. P. Chris Hammel (Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.Mex.): "This letter describes the results of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments in the high-temperature superconductor YBa2Cu3O7. Magnetic resonance is unique in its ability to microscopically probe magnetic behavior at different crystallographic sites in this complex crystal.

Profession

The Awesome Stress Of Science And How To Relieve It
The Awesome Stress Of Science And How To Relieve It
Now Gasser, who joined UC-Davis' biochemistry and biophysics department in 1989 after a five-year stint at St. Louis-based Monsanto Co., faces the unenviable prospect of repeating the application process. In addition, he is struggling to settle into the still-unfamiliar role of teacher at Davis and, simultaneously, trying to jumpstart his research program and rev it into full gear. Marshaling the time and energy to manage all three demands--teaching, doing research, and applying for grants--is
Famous Researchers' Ultimate Stress: When Doing Science Leads To Suicide
Famous Researchers' Ultimate Stress: When Doing Science Leads To Suicide
[Editor's note: Earlier this year, California researchers Molly Gleiser and Richard H. Seiden concluded an investigation of the precipitating factors in the suicides of 37 famous male scientists from eight European countries, the U.S., and the Soviet Union. Their findings are summarized below.] For some scientists at the pinnacle of their careers, learning to manage stress can have life-saving consequences. In our recent study of suicide among famous scientists, we found stress--both the job-
Mellon Foundation's Program Triples M.D.-Ph.D. Students' Options
Mellon Foundation's Program Triples M.D.-Ph.D. Students' Options
While an undergraduate at Princeton University, Darren Orbach found himself faced with a dilemma. He had always envisioned being a physician, yet at Princeton he had also become fascinated by theories about the mind, which led him to an interest in investigating the workings of the brain's visual cortex. But how was he to pursue a career in basic research and be a physician, too? Like many aspiring researchers who feel a pull in the clinical direction, Orbach chose to enter a joint M.D.-Ph.D. p
Minerva's 1990 Golden Brain Awarded To Caltech Pioneer In Vision Research
Minerva's 1990 Golden Brain Awarded To Caltech Pioneer In Vision Research
Minerva's 1990 Golden Brain Awarded To Caltech Pioneer In Vision Research Author: Rebecca Andrews (The Scientist, Vol:4, #23, pg. 22-23, November 26, 1990) (Copyright, The Scientist, Inc.) -------- The Minerva Foundation of Berkeley, Calif., presented its 1990 Golden Brain Award on October 18 to John Allman, Hixon Professor of Psychobiology at the California Institute of Technology, in recognition of his pioneering research on how the brain processes visual information. The priv
Scripps Geophysicist Wins Balzan Prize; Honored For Contributions to Seismology
Scripps Geophysicist Wins Balzan Prize; Honored For Contributions to Seismology
J. Freeman Gilbert, professor of geophysics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, has been awarded a 1990 Balzan Prize in honor of his contributions to solid earth geophysics. The award, which includes a cash prize of approximately $230,000, was presented to Gilbert earlier this month in a ceremony at Rome's Academia Lincei, the world's oldest scientific society. The Balzan Prizes, three of which were awarded this year, are presented annually by the Intern

Briefs

Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
Ford Foundation Supports Postdocs Each year the Ford Foundation supports 25 young minority Ph.D. scholars as part of its Postdoctoral Fellowships for Minorities program. Minority investigators who have received their doctorates in the past seven years and who show great promise as academics can apply for nine- or 12-month fellowships. Scientists, mathematicians, engineers, social scientists, and humanists are eligible. Applicants must belong to one of the following ethnic groups: Native Americ

Technology

Microscale: A Wee Revolution In College Chemistry Labs
Microscale: A Wee Revolution In College Chemistry Labs
Microscale chemistry, which began a decade ago as an effort to save money on a major lab renovation at a small New England college, today has revolutionized undergraduate chemistry. This system, which uses techniques and equipment that allow students to work economically and safely with relatively minute amounts of chemicals, is now implemented in colleges throughout the United States and is the subject of several textbooks and lab manuals. It all began in 1980, when renovation of the antiqua

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
LIGO Director Takes The Cosmic View Have A Heart, Johns Hopkins Data Confounded By Changing Cages Another Quantum Leap Forward See Rifkin Run NSF's big- gest new construction project--the proposed Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory--has fallen victim to Congress' 1991 budget axe. The observatory is meant to detect elusive gravity waves from the far reaches of space, and LIGO's director, Caltech physicist Rochus Vogt, says that he understands that sometimes, especially w