News

Known For Its Good Chemistry, Du Pont Goes Multidisciplinary
Known For Its Good Chemistry, Du Pont Goes Multidisciplinary
WILMINGTON, DEL.—When Du Pont executives first tried to recruit Mark Pearson back in 1982, he didn't take them seriously. After all, he reasoned, with no corporate history of ground-breaking work in molecular biology, what would the company do with a director of one of the National Cancer Institute's molecular biology laboratories? "Besides," he adds, "they were a chemical company." Not any longer. Within the past five years Du Pont has embarked upon new ventures in electronics, imaging, a
Going After Gravity: How A High-Risk Project Got Funded
Going After Gravity: How A High-Risk Project Got Funded
CAMBRIDGE, MASS.—If Rainer Weiss doesn't reach his goal of staring God in the eye—or at least gazing back to the first moment of creation—it won't be for lack of trying. Over the past 16 years, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist has appeared before a host of committees, flitted between coasts on red-eye flights to meet with collaborators, and even endured what some call a scientific version of a shotgun wedding with rival physicists at Caltech. For the pipe-smo
Science Goes To The Seoul Olympics
Science Goes To The Seoul Olympics
When Richard McKinney draws his bow and takes aim during the Seoul Olympics next week, he will have an unusual ally-science—in his quest for the gold. Even though he won a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics and is a favorite to grab another medal in Seoul, the United States archer has, for four years, been tested. Measured, observed, and advised by two researchers at Arizona State University. "I think their work has helped me tremendously," McKinney says. "It's one reason I have stayed on t
Congress Probes Drug Abuse At Weapons Labs
Congress Probes Drug Abuse At Weapons Labs
LIVERMORE, CALIF—Officials at the nation's three top-secret nuclear weapons laboratories know that drug use among employees poses an extremely serious security risk. But they don't appear to be doing enough about it. That's the verdict of some members of Congress, who cite a series of seemingly erratic measures the labs have been taking to combat the problem. "If you have someone who's dependent on drugs," says Clifford Traisman, an aide to a House oversight subcommittee that is looking in
Candidate Dukakis Now Favors The Space Station
Candidate Dukakis Now Favors The Space Station
WASHINGTON—Presidential candidates are often criticized for being vague. But Michael Dukakis has learned the hard way that it also doesn't pay to be specific. He's had to change his stand on the space station. Constantly pressed to cite areas where the Democratic standard bearer would trim the federal deficit, the Dukakis campaign used to mention the $30 billion space station as one potential target-this despite the fact that the candidate endorsed the concept of a space station. In the pa
Tired Of Fighting For Resources? Set Up Your Own Foundation
Tired Of Fighting For Resources? Set Up Your Own Foundation
Six years ago, neurologist J. William Langston stumbled onto an exciting discovery, a contaminated synthetic heroin that seemed to trigger symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Almost overnight, Langston was thrust into the limelight. Reporters flocked to his office. Foundations invited him to apply for grants. His lab began reporting steady progress in the long struggle toward a cure for Parkinson's, a degenerative disease that affects half a million people in the United States. But success brought
Look Out Bell Labs! Here Comes NEC
Look Out Bell Labs! Here Comes NEC
In the last decade, the Japanese have succeeded in convincing their competitors in the world market that the old saw—that the Japanese can imitate, not innovate—no longer cuts the mustard. But it would appear that they have yet to convince themselves. For while any expert in global economics would say that the Japanese are capable of doing a lot more than simply knocking off United States inventions and turning those knockoffs into irresistibly cheap and sought-after exports, the Jap

Briefs

National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
After years of battling their local nuclear power plant—and winning—Long Island environmental activists have turned on Brookhaven National Lab. The accusation? Its chemical and radiation releases are a threat to residents. The battle came to a head last month in Suffolk Life, a half-million circulation weekly that has run several articles in the past few years about local environmental investigations of the lab. In an August 3 editorial, the paper traced a string of environmental cal
Government Briefs
Government Briefs
The Carnegie Corp. is pulling out all the stops for its planned 1991 report on the application of science and technology to government for the benefit of society. Earlier this year, the philanthropic organization formed a commission to prepare the sweeping report, loading it with such luminaries as Joshua Lederberg, Jerome Weisner, Bobby lnman, John Brademas, Donald Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter. But even that star-studded cast apparently wasn't luminous enough. Now, the new commission has taken the
University Briefs
University Briefs
In their campaign against the use of animals in research, animal rights activists have been trying to gain access to universities' animal care and use committees. The activists, whose methods range from direct pressure to lawsuits, have been successful in a number of states, including Washington and Florida. But on August 18, animal rightists suffered defeat when a lawsuit against the University of California system was dismissed. An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled that the 10 animal c
Private Institute Briefs
Private Institute Briefs
The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is searching for a director to launch a Department of Conservation/Research that will coordinate the institute's investigations into the reproduction, behavior, and nutrition of captive animals and endangered species. "We want someone to come in and look at what we've been doing and lay out a master plan," says biologist Dennis Meritt, assistant director of the zoo. The new director will be able to decide the size and scope of the new department, but must continue
Entrepreneur Briefs
Entrepreneur Briefs
This computer dating service doesn't care about the color of your eyes, your favorite opera, or your search for a meaningful relationship. Money is its prime concern. Since 1984, not-for-profit Venture Capital Network has maintained a database that matches entrepreneurs seeking cash with investors hunting opportunity. For $100, entrepreneurs can include their business profiles in the VCN database for six months. Although the service can't guarantee an introduction to an investor, "almost everybo
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
Paul Chu's superconductor research at the University of Houston will act as a "multiplier" to Du Pont's own efforts, senior vice president Al MacLachlan said after Du Pont announced a multimillion dollar deal with Houston on August 23. Under the agreement, which took a year to negotiate, Du Pont made an initial payment of $1.5 million to the university and will fork over an additional $1.5 million upon issuance of a patent to Chu covering the class of 1-2-3 superconducting compounds (YBa2Cu3O7).
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
After seven years of acting as a center for researchers from other institutions, the Neurosciences Institute will add in-house research to its current programs. An independent organization located on the campus of Rockefeller University in New York, the institute works to encourage interdisciplinary exchange of information in neuroscience. Under director Gerald M. Edelman, the institute hosts small conferences and workshops, which do not follow the usual paper-and-slides format but which encoura
Tools Briefs
Tools Briefs
New electrically powered microscopic motors, no larger than the width of a human hair, have potential applications in the next few years in both medical and microsurgical equipment and scientific instruments. Bell Labs and the University of California, Berkeley, reported on the new process at the same time, but Berkeley holds a patent on the process, which uses the techniques and materials of semiconductor manufacturing. The rotor in the motor is about two-thousandths of an inch in diameter. Its
Computer Product Briefs
Computer Product Briefs
Until recently, computer incompatibility and expense have hampered U.S. astronomers from easily accessing a valuable, extensively stocked French database called SIMBAD. But NASA and NSF have teamed up to pay for a permanent network hookup, circuit costs, and charges for scientists' use of the database itself. SIMBAD (Set of Identifications, Measurements, and Bibliography for Astronomical Data), maintained in Strasbourg, France, makes it possible for an astronomer to look up an astronomical objec

Opinion

What Went Wrong; What To Do About It
What Went Wrong; What To Do About It
The overall record of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration during the nearly 30 years of its existence has been a brilliantly successful one, in many different ways. NASA has provided the scientific and technical foundations for a wide array of direct human services, most notably in worldwide communications, in improved understanding of the physical and chemical conditions for all forms of life on Earth, and in the global survey of natural resources. It has sponsored a golden age of
The Shuttle Has Hurt Space Science
The Shuttle Has Hurt Space Science
The upcoming flight of the space shuttle Discovery brings a glimmer of light in the dark tunnel of space science in the United States. For the first time in over two years, there is hope that some of the experiments and space probes gathering dust in laboratories will finally get off the ground. But any rejoicing will probably be muted. The fact is that the shuttle has hurt the space science program. It contributed very little while it was flying, and the Challenger accident disrupted the space
NASA's Fisk Vows To Lift Space Science Out Of Its Doldrums
NASA's Fisk Vows To Lift Space Science Out Of Its Doldrums
Sometime in the next few weeks, the space shuttle Discovery should lift off into orbit. The mission will end a long and agonizing drought for the United States space program, and no group will be more eagerly watching than the nation's space scientists. For on Discovery's rocket plumes will be riding the hopes for launching such key science payloads as the Hubble space telescope, the Galileo planetary probe, and the Gamma Ray Observatory. But ending what many have called a "crisis" in space scie
When The Space Shuttle Flies Again, Let's Use It Better
When The Space Shuttle Flies Again, Let's Use It Better
[Editor's note: If all had gone according to plan, the space shuttle Discovery would have already blasted into orbit to usher in a new, if more modest, era of manned space flight in the United States. It didn't happen; delays have pushed the expected launch date back to at least next month. To some space scientists, like James Van Allen (see below), Discovery's plight is just another sorry reminder of NASA's wrongheaded policies. By relying almost exclusively on the shuttle to launch payloads, V

Commentary

Physicist Mixes Science And Politics In Bid For Senate
Physicist Mixes Science And Politics In Bid For Senate
Among the myriad political races in the United States this election season, one in particular has captured my interest. It is not the presidential contest between Vice President Bush and Governor Dukakis, nor is it any widely publicized, high-profile battle for governor or senator in a major state—contests that might be expected to receive the attention of the national media. Rather, it is a primary race for the U.S. Senate, as yet unnoticed by the national press, in the nation's smallest

Letter

Their Own Fault
Their Own Fault
If astronomers are furious at federal funding failures (The Scientist, August 8, page 1), they have only themselves to blame. It is the funding of such "major" facilities as the Very Large Array radiotelescope and the Hubble space telescope that have left little funding for everything else. Astronomers, like everyone else, will have to learn that you.can't have your cake and eat it too. Meanwhile particle physicists are actively lobbying for the superconducting supercollider. Undoubtedly, they t
Edit Pique
Edit Pique
I read with interest your articles on peer review, especially "Pique and Critique" (The Scientist, July 11, 1988). Of course there are problems with anonymity in the peer-review system; authors are few who have not at some time in their careers felt real or perceived offense from a negative review. In the mathematical sciences, which I know the best, this is a recurring problem. Various measures have been proposed from time to time. Some years ago, for instance, one journal experimented by delet
Peer-Review ""Failures""
Peer-Review ""Failures""
I applaud NIH's examination of the peer review process (The Scientist, August 8, page 1) and the agency's attempt at procedural reforms aimed at funding the best possible science. At bottom, much of the concern with the peer-review system at NIH, as with professional journals, lies in the inescapable fact that the same small pool of experts serves as both reviewer and reviewee for an extended time in many domains, facilitating two inappropriate practices—backslapping and backbiting. The sm
Hillman Vindicated?
Hillman Vindicated?
The Scientist is enjoyable reading not only because of the range of stories you cover, but mainly because you are willing to address controversial subjects. I was especially interested in the July 25 article about Professor Hillman and his concern over images generated by electron microscopy. While Dr. Hillman may have alienated himself from some of the scientific community, I feel he has valid concerns over the creation of artifacts in conventional electron microscopy. Of note here is the work
Hillman's Response
Hillman's Response
I should like to comment briefly on Richard Stevenson's article on my "heresies" (The Scientist, July 25, 1988, page 5). Firstly, on January 1, 1978 in the columns of one of the best known British newspapers, I invited the senior officers of the Royal Microscopial Society, or anyone who agreed with their "orthodox" views on cell structure, to a public debate anywhere in the world at any mutually convenient time. I have repeated this invitation in several publications and at many lectures. Only o

Research

Seven Chemistry Journals Carrying Lots Of Clout
Seven Chemistry Journals Carrying Lots Of Clout
Calculating the influence and prestige of a given journal in chemistry (or any other field) isn't easy. Different chemists will give different opinions, depending upon their personal perspective and experience. But analyzing the collective judgment of the chemistry community, as reflected in the journals its members most frequently cite, allows for approximations of influence. Merely tabulating total citations, however, won't do. That would give undue advantage to fat journals, which have greate
An Issue Of Growing Import: How Insects Find Food
An Issue Of Growing Import: How Insects Find Food
Living plants and animals produce volatile chemicals as a consequence of their normal metabolic activities. In addition, many plants produce odors as interspecific signals and animals often communicate intraspecifically by odors (pheromones). Decomposition results in the production of odors from dead organic materials. These different odors are used by many insects to locate their food and by others to find oviposition sites where the larvae will subsequently feed. Consequently, the range of ins
Articles Alert
Articles Alert
The Scientist has asked a group of experts to periodically comment upon recent articles that they have found noteworthy. Their selections, presented here in every issue, are neither endorsements of content nor the result of systematic searching. Rather, they are personal choices of articles they believe the scientific community as a whole may also find interesting. Reprints of any articles cited here may be ordered through The Genuine Article, 3501 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19104, or by tele
Down On The Bayou: Louisiana's Science Citations Slump
Down On The Bayou: Louisiana's Science Citations Slump
For scientists, publishing in great quantity can be a sign of productivity or of striving to please the "paper counters" who sometimes serve on grant and promotion committees. Mere output, for individuals, is not always the mark of achievement—and the same goes for states. The Scientist recently surveyed the scientific output of America's 50 states and the District of Columbia and found Illinois, Maryland, and Louisiana the big winners for the period 1979-1987. These three boosted their sh

Hot Paper

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
A.G. Daigleish, B.J. Thomsc T.C. Chanh, M. Malkovsky, R.C. Kennedy, "Neutralisati of HIV isolates by antiidiotypic antibodies which mimic the T4 (CD4) epitope: a potential AIDS vaccine," The Lancet, 11(8567), 1047-50, 7 November 1987. M. Kozak, "An analysis of 5 noncoding sequences from 699 vertebrate messenger RNAs," Nucleic Acids Research, 15 (20), 8125-48, 26 October 1987. M. Petkovich, N.J. Brand, A. Krust, P. Chambon, "A human retinoic acid receptor which belongs to the family of nuclear re

Profession

Changes At Pew Charitable Trusts: Good News For Scientists?
Changes At Pew Charitable Trusts: Good News For Scientists?
Scientists have taken over at the Pew Charitable Trusts. A year and a half ago, Thomas Langfltt, a former University of Pennsylvania neurosurgeon assumed the presidency, replacing Robert I. Smith, whose background was in accounting. Now, Rebecca Rimel, a former nurse and medical school faculty member, has been promoted to the post of executive director. She succeeds Fred Billups, a former oil company executive who had filled Pew's second highest post for 12 years. Is this good news for scientist
Chemistry Profs' Salaries: Not As Low As They Seem
Chemistry Profs' Salaries: Not As Low As They Seem
These days, young chemistry faculty members might be excused for being a bit envious of colleagues in engineering and business. A salary gap big enough to buy a lifetime subscription to Current Contents has opened between the two groups, the result of bidding wars between academia and industry that have driven up starting salaries for engineering and business Ph.Ds. But all is not bleak for chemists; salaries for assistant professors hired in 1987 suggest that a similar rivalry has just begun to
How To Talk Turkey With The Chairman
How To Talk Turkey With The Chairman
Let's say you're a new Ph.D. and you've got your heart set on becoming an assistant professor in a university science department. And let's say you've survived the selection procedure by the search committee at the school you wish to join. As one of, say, the top three candidates for an assistant professorship, you'll soon have to have a negotiating session with the chairman—who by this time either wants you, needs you, or is unable to live without you. As a department chairman, I've had m
Science Grants
Science Grants
Below is a list of notable grants recently awarded in the sciences—large federal grants as well as awards of all sizes from private foundations. The individuals cited with each entry are the project's principal investigators. ASTRONOMY Optical interferometry project. $230,000 from WM. Keck Foundation, Los Angeles, to California Institute of Technology; A.C.S. Readhead BIOTECHNOLOGY Training program for research in molecular biology and biotechnology. $188,900 from University of California
Nursing Body Ranks First In NIH Proposal Success Rate
Nursing Body Ranks First In NIH Proposal Success Rate
A research proposal's chances of being funded by the National Institutes of Health vary noticeably, for better or worse, depending on which specific one of the agency's 13 institutes it is assigned to. For example, according to NIH figures released this summer, the National Center for Nursing Research (NCNR) in 1987 funded the highest percentage of proposals that had been approved by its peer reviewers, 61.5%. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease fu
Getting Science Papers Published: Where It's Easy, Where It's Not
Getting Science Papers Published: Where It's Easy, Where It's Not
Chemists, astronomers, or physicists looking to publish in one of their discipline's scholarly journals stand a far better chance of having their submissions accepted first time around than do anthropologists, psychologists, or sociologists. This conclusion combs from independently undertaken studies reported on earlier this year, which found that, in general, journals dedicated to physical sciences have markedly lower rejection rates than do publications geared toward the social sciences. One o
People
People
After spending the past two years as deputy assistant secretary-general for scientific and environmental affairs at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels, Marcel Bardon is back at the National Science Foundation. Reassuming his post as director of the NSF's physics division, effective Sept. 1, Bardon replaces acting physics director Gerard M. Crawley, a rotating program manager who will return to teaching and research at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab at Michigan State U
Psychiatrist Feifel Cited For Seminal Work On Death, Dying
Psychiatrist Feifel Cited For Seminal Work On Death, Dying
Cited as "the pioneering figure and founder of modem death psychology," Herman Feifel has won the American Psychological Association's 1988 award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Knowledge for his lifetime achievements in psychology. The 73-year-old Feifel, chief of the psychology service at the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Los Angeles, and emeritus clinical professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the University of Southern California School of Medic
Sheep Farm Serves As Lab For Molecular Biology Team
Sheep Farm Serves As Lab For Molecular Biology Team
As much at home in a barn as behind a laboratory bench, a team of 30 young researchers in Scotland is remaking the image of the modern agricultural scientist as they go about their ground-breaking work in molecular biology. While some of their experimentation takes place in the heart of the city—at the 400-year-old University of Edinburgh's modern science complex—some of it is also happening in a far more rural setting. Situated in the foothills of the Scottish Pentlands, five miles

Books etc.

Coaxing Scientists To Write Best-Sellers
Coaxing Scientists To Write Best-Sellers
"Many French intellectuals have the narcissistic tendency to expound theories without reference to reality, to fancy the well-said over the well-thought. Scientists have substance, but many don't want to write for the public. Vulgarisation [as the French call popular science writing] is seen as gross." So says Odile Jacob, a young woman who has coaxed scientists into writing best-sellers and launched an instant-success publishing company, Editions Odile Jacob. Yes, the name does ring a bell. Odi

Technology

Robots Emerge As Trusty Workhorses In Many Science Labs
Robots Emerge As Trusty Workhorses In Many Science Labs
When they first appeared six years ago, they were looked on as something of a novelty. Many people dismissed them, saying, "they're fascinating, but they'll never take over." Today of course they are here en masse, with a tight grip on many scientists' working lives. No, we're not talking about extraterrestrial invaders, but rather mere laboratory robots—although no mechanical device with the elegant sophistication of these modem-day tools could ever be aptly described as "mere" anything.
Subroutines Help Software Programmers Avoid Having To 'Reinvent The Wheel'
Subroutines Help Software Programmers Avoid Having To 'Reinvent The Wheel'
When writing computer programs in any language, scientists must solve problems that probably have been faced already by many other programmers. It is silly to "reinvent the wheel," as the saying goes, when a variety of routines (subprograms that scientists can plug into programs they're writing) are already available for the most popular computer languages. I spend most of my time programming in Turbo Pascal 4.0 (produced by Borland International), so I am most familiar with the three classes of

New Products

ACS Product Expo To Reflect Growing Role Of Computers
ACS Product Expo To Reflect Growing Role Of Computers
Tire-kicking chemists and serious buyers as well will find themselves amidst a swarm of new technologles, products, and services at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Los Angeles. Products on display at the ACS's national exposition—which will be open during the first four days (September 25 to 28) of the six-day meeting—will represent about 250 companies and organizations, and will range in complexity from books and catalogs, to filters and grinding mills, to software
New Products
New Products
The "Library of Physical Chemistry Software," consisting of 26 interactive programs and documentation, can be used to support and supplement a physical chemistry curriculum. Available this month for the first time and priced at $450, Freeman and Company touts this software package as "useful for in-class demonstrations as a problems-oriented primer for beginners and as a refresher program for researchers." The six-diskette set addresses properties of gases, thermochemical calculations, phase dia