News

War and Peace of Viruses Deliberated at Nobel Conference
War and Peace of Viruses Deliberated at Nobel Conference
Photo: Steve Waldhauser SCIENCE IN PUBLIC: Almost 6,000 people attended the Nobel Conference, showing a high degree of public interest in science. When a group of leading virus researchers and scholars presented their reports on "Virus: The Human Connection" at the annual Nobel Conference in St. Peter, Minn., last month, the story that emerged was one of war and peace. The primary themes emanating from these talks--which were open to the public--outlined a heavy viral volume of battles won and
Sex Differences Used to Study Disease
Sex Differences Used to Study Disease
Compared to men, women are two to three times more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, 20 to 70 percent more likely to develop lung cancer from smoking, 10 times more likely to contract HIV during unprotected sex with an infected partner, and twice as likely to die within the first year after a heart attack. Women and men are different--and these differences may lead the way to a better understanding of health and disease in both men and women, says Phyllis Greenberger, exec
Nobel Honors Pioneers of NO
Nobel Honors Pioneers of NO
Scientific insight sometimes comes from the unanticipated convergence of ideas and findings. This is certainly the case for nitric oxide (NO), a molecule whose simplicity belies its profound impact on organisms as diverse as humans and Arabidopsis. On December 10, the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine will be awarded to three men who, working independently, characterized NO's effect on the cardiovascular system¬ Robert Furchgott, distinguished professor of pharmacology at the State U
Stem Cell Scientists Caution: Clinical Applications Remain Years Away
Stem Cell Scientists Caution: Clinical Applications Remain Years Away
Photo: © Science VARIOUS STAGES: Human embryonic stem cell colonies, shown here in different states of development, sometimes include a core of undifferentiated cells surrounded by a margin of differentiated cells, such as the small colony at right in figure B. Gene therapy researchers call them the "ultimate target." Tissue transplant specialists refer to them as the "Holy Grail." Stem cells, perhaps because they play such a fundamental role in the developmental chain, tend to draw hyper
Quantum Achievements Win Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Quantum Achievements Win Nobel Prize in Chemistry
John A. Pople Sharing the 1998 Nobel Prize in chemistry are a physicist and a developer of computational codes that made the physicist's concepts more easily applicable to the study of large molecular systems. Walter Kohn, 75, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, and John A. Pople, 72, of Northwestern University, have made pioneering contributions in developing quantum chemistry methods that can be used for theoretical studies of the properties of molecules and the chemical proces
Small Particles, Big Role in Nobel Prize for Physics
Small Particles, Big Role in Nobel Prize for Physics
This year's winners of the Nobel Prize for physics collectively discovered and described a phenomenon that appears to defy common sense. Fewer notions could be so intuitively valid as the following: smaller things are generated by breaking bigger things apart. The world of physics usually bears this out: An atom, for example, divides into electrons, protons, and neutrons; a proton splits into quarks. But in 1982, Daniel Tsui, a professor of physics at Princeton University, and Horst Stormer, a
Ig Nobel Awards, 1998: Paper Airplanes, Duct Tape, and General Happiness
Ig Nobel Awards, 1998: Paper Airplanes, Duct Tape, and General Happiness
Stockholm may be the home of the genuine Nobel Prizes, but Cambridge, Mass., has its own answer to the creme de la creme of the scientific world. Every fall since 1991, the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony has blown a figurative raspberry at those members of the profession who take themselves too seriously. Produced by Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), a publication occasionally described as the MAD magazine of science, the event marks achievements that, in the words of Marc Abrahams --editor of AIR

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
"When I went from grad student to postdoc, I got a 20 percent increase--from 80 hours a week to 96."

Letter

Cancer Risks
Cancer Risks
Fred Singer's Commentary ("Cancer Risk Analysis: Major Policy Changes on the Way?" 12[21]:8, Oct. 26, 1998) makes a good point. National and international policies with respect to low-level radiation and chemical exposure, premised on the idea that a single gamma ray or chemical molecule can result in a fatal cancer, are in need of basic change. They conflict with both science and common sense. But using ultrasensitive means to detect DNA damage is the wrong approach. This is like trying to pro
More on the NRC Report
More on the NRC Report
After reading the article by Paul Smaglik and Eugene Russo on the National Research Council's Commission on Life Sciences (The Scientist, 12[19]:6, Sept. 28, 1998), I was left with mixed emotions. On one hand, it was satisfying to see that the perception of a tight job market for Ph.D.-level scientists is being addressed seriously on a national level. I wrote about this problem over three years ago in The Scientist (9[11]:11, May 29, 1995), so naturally I believe that it would clearly be a good

Commentary

Private Funders Have a Role In the Training of Life Scientists
Private Funders Have a Role In the Training of Life Scientists
The authors of the recent National Research Council (NRC) report Trends in the Early Careers of Life Scientists deserve kudos for their honest, unsentimental view of life science graduate student and postdoctoral experiences. What is unfortunate is that it took so long for the truth to win out. The report contained recommendations to freeze graduate school enrollment to prevent a flood of researcher applicants on a tightening job market (P. Smaglik, E. Russo, The Scientist, 12[19]:6, Sept. 28,

Opinion

Glut of Ph.D.'s? Consider Pharmaceutical Sciences
Glut of Ph.D.'s? Consider Pharmaceutical Sciences
The Commission of Life Sciences of the National Research Council (NRC) issued a report (September 1998), Trends in the Early Careers of Life Scientists, stating that the university system is producing a surplus of Ph.D.s. (P. Smaglik, E. Russo, The Scientist, 12[19]:6, Sept. 28, 1998). Since there are not enough permanent positions for the new Ph.D.s, they are relegated to take one postdoctoral position after another, ending up being frustrated and earning a less-than- satisfactory salary for

Research

Researchers To Examine Effects of MMT: Manganese: Essential Element, Yet Harmful in Gasoline?
Researchers To Examine Effects of MMT: Manganese: Essential Element, Yet Harmful in Gasoline?
The potential health effects of manganese particles released into ambient air from vehicles burning gasoline with the controversial octane-boosting additive MMT (manganese methylcyclopentadienyl) will be examined by a series of experiments to be conducted at the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology (CIIT) in Research Triangle Park, N.C. The testing is slated to begin next year and to run for at least four years. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co. WEAR AND TEAR: The two spark plugs show co

Hot Paper

Immunology
Immunology
K.C. Garcia, M. Degano, R.L. Stanfield, A. Brunmark, M.R. Jackson, P.A. Peterson, L. Teyton, I.A. Wilson, "An alpha-ß T cell receptor structure at 2.5Å and its orientation in the TCR-MHC complex," Science, 274:209-19, 1996. (Cited in more than 240 papers since publication) Comments by Ian A. Wilson, professor of molecular biology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. D.N. Garboczi, P. Ghosh, U. Utz, Q.R. Fan, W.E. Biddison, D.C. Wiley, "Structure of the complex bet

Profession

Launching an IPO Involves Timing, Strategy
Launching an IPO Involves Timing, Strategy
Even if you don't work for a company that is about to launch an initial public offering, the stock market can still be alluring as a personal investment opportunity. You know the science, so you should be able to pick the stocks, right? Not so fast, say the experts. No matter how good the science looks, market forces and poor management can drive a promising company--and its stock price--into the ground. Good management can make an average technology profitable, and poor management can make e

Technology

Stovall Washes Whiter (And Quicker)
Stovall Washes Whiter (And Quicker)
Stovall Life Sciences Inc. makes the fully automated Washing Machine™ for the repetitive tasks of processing blots, and staining and destaining gels. The Washing Machine from Stovall Life Sciences, Inc. When is a 30-minute job not a 30-minute job? When it includes intervals that are just too long to sit and do nothing and just too short to accomplish other tasks. The intervals get longer and longer, and, the 30-minute job ends up taking three times as long. Such is the case of processi
See How They Run
See How They Run
Date: November 23, 1998Tools Breeders of transgenic mice assist researchers by isolating genotypes of significant interest and maintaining a ready supply of laboratory animals. Mountains will go into labour, and a silly little mouse will be born. -Horace, Roman poet Rodents have been the bane of human civilization from its inception. From the infestations of the great Roman granaries at Alexandria to the Mongol trading routes that brought the Himalayan brown rat and its constant companion

Technology Profile

Laid Out Flat: Mini Horizontal Electrophoresis Devices
Laid Out Flat: Mini Horizontal Electrophoresis Devices
Date: November 23, 1998Horizontal Gel Apparatus One needs only a glimpse of the total number of horizontal submarine electrophoresis devices currently on the market to understand the importance of electrophoresis to the life scientist. This importance has spawned a vast market with many players striving diligently to find niches as successful manufacturers and suppliers. The resulting competition has produced a bevy of electrophoretic systems and devices, some with a few clever and unique chara
Taking The Measure Of The Message
Taking The Measure Of The Message
Date: November 23, 1998Product Comparison Getting a measure of even a single RNA species has never been easy. Every few years, a new technique comes along--Northerns, ribonuclease protection assays, RT-PCR--that makes the task only incrementally easier. But a quantum leap in technology took place just a few years ago with the introduction of cDNA arrays, and suddenly not just one but hundreds to thousands of target nucleic acids can be analyzed simultaneously and precisely. Since then, array te

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
Contents Human cells grow in rat brains Tumor-busting bugs Mice carrying elephants? Transgenic Arabidopsis In utero gene therapy advances John Critser HUMAN CELLS GROW IN RAT BRAINS A new in vivo model promises to shed light on how neural precursor cells migrate and take up residence in certain brain areas, with a little help from rats (O. Brustle et al., Nature Biotechnology, 16:1040-4, November 1998). Ronald McKay's group at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and