News

Has Neuroscience Society Growth Been Too Fast For Its Own Good?
Has Neuroscience Society Growth Been Too Fast For Its Own Good?
Forty-five years ago David Hubel thought he would become a physicist. That is, until he went to his first international scientific meeting. “I was scared off by the number of people,” recalls Hubel so he switched to a science still in its infancy and far more intimate—a science called neurophysiology, The move proved to be very useful for science—in 1981 Hubel received the Nobel Prize in medicine for his contributions to understanding the organization and functioning of
Bromley Tells Congress Science Must Bolster U.S. Leadership
Bromley Tells Congress Science Must Bolster U.S. Leadership
WASHINGTON—Members of Congress have rolled out the welcome mat for Allan Bromley the president’s new science adviser and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. But their enthusiastic greeting also has focused attention on the many difficult science-based problems facing the country. The issues aren’t new; among others, they include setting priorities for science, improving science education in elementary and secondary schools, replacing aging university equ
Performance Biomechanics: Music To Scientists' Ears
Performance Biomechanics: Music To Scientists' Ears
Neurologist Frank Wilson’s first foray into music came at the age of 12, when he struggled through six months of the universal childhood ritual known as piano lessons. It wasn’t until many years later, however, while listening to his daughter rehearse for a piano recital around the time of her own 12th birthday, that his interests in music and the medical sciences converged. As she played Chopin’s “Fantasy Impromptu,” Wilson found himself for the first time rea
EC Looks To Shut Out U.S. Science
EC Looks To Shut Out U.S. Science
WASHINGTON—On the second Wednesday of each month, a dozen diplomatic science advisers gather behind closed doors at the French embassy here and talk about the future. The diplomats represent the 12 nations of the European Community (EC), and the focus of their discussion is 1992, the year targeted for the establishment of a unified European economy. Although the EC now controls only a small share of the funds that Europe spends on science, that share is expected to grow considerably in th
UCS Marks 20 Years As Advocate For The Wise Use Of Technology
UCS Marks 20 Years As Advocate For The Wise Use Of Technology
CAMBRIDGE, MASS.—In 1969, the Union of Concerned Scientists was formed to combat the perceived threat of the United States military’s spread onto campuses, throughout southeast Asia, and into space. Next week, the organization will again rally faculty and students against a potential threat to their well-being. But this time the danger—the possibility of global warming and its impact on the environment—affects the entire planet. Officials of the Cambridge, Mass.-based
Genome Database Booms As Journals Take The Hard Line
Genome Database Booms As Journals Take The Hard Line
For researchers in such fast-growing fields as gene sequencing and crystallography, the end of traditional scientific publications may be in sight. Quietly, over the last year, a trial program in the electronic submission of data has laid the foundations for a revolution that may someday replace the research journal as the vehicle for scientific communication. In an agreement With GenBank, the main U.S. gene sequence database, nearly a dozen journals are refusing to accept papers with sequ
Two Foundations Collaborate On Cognitive Neuroscience
Two Foundations Collaborate On Cognitive Neuroscience
WASHINGTON—Two major foundations have put up $12 million to get a new discipline off the ground. They’ve drafted neurobiologists and cognitive scientists as pilot and copilot in the hope that, once airborne, cognitive neuroscience will improve our understanding of the biological basis of complete behavior. In December, the McDonnell-Pew Program in Cognitive Neuroscience will award $1.2 million grants to six institutions to help crystallize efforts in this hybrid approach to master
Glasnost Gives U.S. Teens Peek At Science Journal, Kvant
Glasnost Gives U.S. Teens Peek At Science Journal, Kvant
WASHINGTON—United States scientists are putting the final touches on the first issue of an English-language version of a Soviet magazine for gifted high school science and math students. A striking example of glasnost, the publishing venture is all the more remarkable because of the scientist who first proposed the idea of a joint arrangement between the two countries. The magazine will be called Quantum, a translation of its namesake, Kvant. It will debut in late November under the aus
Autopsy's Fall Imperils Research
Autopsy's Fall Imperils Research
When pathologists talk about a lack of bodies, they don’t always mean staff. They’re referring to, and lamenting, the declining autopsy rate. If you died in 1950—during the golden age of autopsy—the chances were 50-50 that your body would be opened to determine the cause of death. The rate dropped to 41% in 1964, 35% in 1972, and 22% in 1975. Today, it is closer toone in 10 and still falling. Researchers are now voicing alarm about the implications this decline poses for
'Hopfield Net' Developer Snares Wright Prize For 1989
'Hopfield Net' Developer Snares Wright Prize For 1989
John J. Hopfield—neuroscientist, chemist, physicist, and computer scientist—has been selected as the winner of the 1989 Wright Prize for interdisciplinary study in science and engineering from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. Hopfield, 56, known for his research on neural networks, received $20,000 and a bronze sculpture from the college on October 12. Hopfield currently holds a joint appointment in the departments of chemistry and biology at the California Institute of Te

Briefs

Government Briefs
Government Briefs
Did Someone Say Profit? The debate over potential conflicts of interest in science may be a hot topic among life scientists (The Scientist, Oct. 16, 1989, page 1). But judging from the comments of two Washington policymakers, the debate hasn’t filtered down to all segments of the scientific community. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) recently gave a speech marking a new report from the National Academy of Sciences on opportunities in materials science that emphasizes how industry, academia, a
National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
To say that Robert Hunter has made enemies in his first year as director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Research is an understatement. In fact, the real question may be just how many friends he still has left. Earlier this month, Congress held a rare three-day hearing on the troubled magnetic fusion program largely to build a case against Hunter and his plans to deemphasize tokamak fusion in favor of more work on a laser-based method known as inertial confinement fusion. A
University Briefs
University Briefs
A few years ago, physicist Abdus Salam, Nobel laureate and founder of the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, suggested that a sister institute to ICTP be founded in the Western Hemisphere. Leave it to physicists frorr Texas to lasso the idea and rope it in. “Other places a couple of years back expressed some interest,” explains David Ernst, a physicist at Texas A&M. “We took the idea and tried to do something.” In September, Ernst and his col
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
Stockholders in Transgenic Sciences Inc. are hoping that scientists studying mice will view the firm’s first product as a boon. The Worcester, Mass., company says its offering, Cryozyte, will enable researchers to preserve mouse embryos on-site, thus eliminating the need for the bulky and expensive equipment traditionally used for cryopreservation. Before Cryozyte, says James Sherblom, chief executive officer of the two-year-old biotech firm, labs without the cryopreservation apparatus ha
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
NIH has calculated award rates for its individual research (ROl), career development (RCDA), academic research enhancement (AREA), and Small Business Innovation Research Phase 1 and 2 awards for fiscal year 1988. For the ROl program, the typical grant to an individual investigator, the National Eye Institute had the highest award rate among the 13 institutes, at 46%. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases had the lowest award rate, at 27%. The overall NIH rate

Opinion

Elephants Self-Taught: A Researcher's 21 Years In Africa
Elephants Self-Taught: A Researcher's 21 Years In Africa
Moss never did return to school to earn a science degree. Instead, she has devoted the past 21 years to a course of self-designed study. Today, her long-term observations of African elephants have been hailed as a landmark by ethologists world-wide. Also to her credit are two highly-acclaimed popular wildlife books, "Portraits in the Wild" (University of Chicago Press, 1982) and "Elephant Memories" (William Morrow &Co., lnc., 1988). Although Moss has turned over the daily monitoring of the e
Tale Of Science Rivalry Marks Chemist's Debut As Novelist
Tale Of Science Rivalry Marks Chemist's Debut As Novelist
This is not science fiction, but “science in fiction,” says Carl Djerassi, the celebrated Stanford chemist whose first novel, Cantor’s Dilemma, is being published this month by Doubleday. The novel portrays what Djerassi calls “the soul and baggage of contemporary science,” including its brutal competition, baroque professional etiquette, and complicated relations between professors and their students. Nearly all its science is real; also, real-life scientists and

Commentary

The 1989 Lasker Award Affirms The Value Of Contraceptive Research
The 1989 Lasker Award Affirms The Value Of Contraceptive Research
The Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Awards are certainly prestigious; indeed, they are widely regarded as comparable to the Nobel Prize. Since the Lasker awards were established in 1946, 48 winners have later been awarded Nobels, including J. Michael Bishop and Harold E. Varmus, University of California, San Francisco, who share this year’s prize in medicine for their breakthrough research on oncogenes. I take pride, incidentally, in our forecast of their recognition in the Octobe

Letter

Killer Bees
Killer Bees
The article describing the impending invasion of Africanized bees (The Scientist, March 20, 1989, page 14) suggested that the level of funding of research in this area was inappropriately low, considering the clear threat to animal (including human) life and agriculture. However, do we need a huge budget so that we can decipher the genomes of the variants of Apis mellifera? I propose that the problem is simply to eliminate Africanized bees, not to “understand” them. With this much
NSF Peer Review
NSF Peer Review
In his response to the petition we recently submitted requesting reforms in the National Science Foundation’s peer review process (“NSF Official Scoffs At Allegations, Asking: ‘What Secret Filing System?’ The Scientist, Sept. 18, 1989, page 13), Jim McCullough [director of NSF’s program evaluation staff] accuses us of various distortions and errors. However, he does not rebut any of the basic arguments we made, nor even the most fundamental point of our petition&#

Research

Chemistry
Chemistry
CHEMISTRY BY MARYE ANNE FOXBR> Department of Chemistry University of Texas, Austin Austin, Texas " Sequence-specific binding of pyrimidine oligonucleotides can block recognition of double helical DNA, and analogous binding of other oligonucleotides may make possible sequencespecific protein binding. L.J. Maher III, B. Wold, P.B. Dervan, “Inhibition of DNA binding proteins by oligonucleotide directed triple helix formation,” Science, 245,725-30, 18 August 1989. (California Instit
Geosciences
Geosciences
GEOSCIENCES BY PETER J. SMITH Department of Earth Sciences Open University Milton Keynes, U.K. " On 1 August 1986, a seismic disturbance occurred near the Novaya Zemlya, USSR, nuclear test sites at a time when the Soviet Union claimed to be observing a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. This caused some concern, because the area is relatively aseismic. Regional seismic data failed to answer the obvious question, but teleseismic data now show that the disturbance was indeed an earthquak
Physics
Physics
PHYSICS BY FRANK A. WILCZEK School of Natural Science Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, NJ. " The scanning tunneling microscope is proving to be a remarkably useful and flexible tool for probing the structure of matter at atomic scales. Work using it appears regularly in “Articles Alert” columns. For the uninitiated, a recent article will be a good introduction. H.K. Wickramasinghe, “Scanned-probe microscopes,” Scientific American, 261,98-105, October 1989. (IB
New Techniques Spur Brain Investigation
New Techniques Spur Brain Investigation
At the 19th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, under way this week in Phoenix (see story on page 1), more than 150 papers will be presented on the subject of growth cones, including such aspects as process outgrowth and guid- ance mechanisms in neuronal differentiation, morphogenesis, and development. This represents a more than three-fold increase over the number of papers on this topic delivered just five years ago (see accompanying chart). By comparison, the total number of.
Life Sciences
Life Sciences
LIFE SCIENCES BY SIMON SILVER Department of Microbiology & Immunology University of Illinois Chicago, III. The cover and three articles in Science announce the identification of “the cystic fibrosis gene,” the gene in which the primary defect occurs to produce this devastating hereditary disease. The first paper reports locating the gene in a 250-kilobase region on chromosome 7; the second paper reports the 6.1 kilobase sequence of the gene and its presumedly membrane ATPase ami

Profession

Using New Science Resources: A Key To Staying Competitive
Using New Science Resources: A Key To Staying Competitive
With today’s pressure on researchers to publish papers frequently, the more time they can free up for pursuing their investigations, the better their chances of success. It takes time to accumulate good, reliable data to analyze the data astutely; and to write up the research accurately and clearly, either for publication or for inclusion in a grant proposal. Fortunately, just as modern science has created the means to gather better data faster, the science community also has bred a hos
Bristol-Myers' Unrestricted Grants Fund Neuroscientists' 'Wildest Ideas'
Bristol-Myers' Unrestricted Grants Fund Neuroscientists' 'Wildest Ideas'
Why would a major pharmaceutical company like Bristol-Myers give half a million dollars to a neuroscientist without requiring him to submit a grant application? And why would the grant be unrestricted, with no spending guidelines? Why wouldn’t the principal investigator be required to offer the company first right of refusal to any patent resulting from the research—or even to write up periodic reports? “It’s seed money for good science,” says Davis L. Temple, Jr

New Products

Science Software For The Macintosh: A Sudden Abundance Of Riches
Science Software For The Macintosh: A Sudden Abundance Of Riches
Although the manufacturers of the Apple Macintosh contend that the Mac was never intended to be a toy, it has been little more than an entertaining desktop accessory for many scientists since it introduction in 1984. But Apple Computer Inc., realizing that the number of scientific and technical computer users is on the rise, set out a few years ago to develop software for the Mac that would be beneficial to this market. And it looks as though the company is succeeding. in Apple’s now-
Fluorescence Photometer Measures Low Light Levels
Fluorescence Photometer Measures Low Light Levels
During the past several years, advances in light microscopy coupled with advances in fluorescence analog chemistry have permitted the analysis of a variety of processes in living cells. Numerous cellular compartments, including mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, nuclei, and cytoskeleton, can now be fluorescently labeled and monitored in living cells. In addition, other fluorescent probes are allowing researchers to study local changes in divalent cation concentrati