News

Japanese Companies Are Gearing Up To Challenge U.S. Biotechnology Lead
Japanese Companies Are Gearing Up To Challenge U.S. Biotechnology Lead
WASHINGTON—A decade ago, the United States whetted the world’s appetite for biotechnology with a tempting platter of Western hors d’oeuvres including hybridoma technology, diagnostic tests, and a handful of new drugs. But aromas from biotech kitchens across the Pacific have some U.S. experts worned that the main course will be served with chopsticks, not forks. One telling sign of this is Rand SNell's business card. Apolitical scientist conducting a study for the U.S. Off
Universities Beg For Cash To Repair Crumbling Labs
Universities Beg For Cash To Repair Crumbling Labs
WASHINGTON—Everybody seems eager to see a federally sponsored academic research facilities program. But no one seems to know how to fund it. The lack of consensus on how the United States government would finance the rejuvenation of aging university laboratories has led to conflicting advice from traditional allies, mixed signals from the Bush administration, and a scatter-shot approach by Congress. As a result, the chances appear slim that any such program will get off the ground this
Recent Rash Of Misconduct Cases Puts Self-Monitoring Under Scrutiny
Recent Rash Of Misconduct Cases Puts Self-Monitoring Under Scrutiny
WASHINGTON—Last month, the Public Health Service issued regulations on how federal grantees should respond to allegations of scientific misconduct. The new rules, which take effect November 8, require universities and other institutions to certify that they will follow specific procedures and meet certain timetables in investigating and reporting allegations of misconduct involving their employees. By putting the burden on the institution, the government is abiding by the wishes of t
ACS Sets Full Agenda For Next Week's Meeting
ACS Sets Full Agenda For Next Week's Meeting
More than 8,000 chemists will gather in Miami Beach next week forthe 198th national meeting of the American Chemical Society. At the convention, researchers from around the world will present 3,500 technical papers and discuss issues faced both by the entire human race (environmental problems) and by ACS alone (membership problems). Twenty-nine technical divisions will sponsor sessions throughout the week. In addition to presentations of general papers, each division will feature special t
Congress Considers Pay Hike To Retain Top Biomedical Scientists In Government
Congress Considers Pay Hike To Retain Top Biomedical Scientists In Government
WASHINGTON—Pressure has been building in Congress to provide higher pay for federal biomedical researchers. But it’s unlikely that any of three bills currently under congressional scrutiny—one of them a well-publicized proposal from President Bush that applies to employees at all government agencies—will make it into law this year. The driving force behind all three of the plans is a desire on the part of federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health to
NIH Genome Database Breaks New Ground
NIH Genome Database Breaks New Ground
BETHESDA, MD.—Behind the scenes of the Human Genome Project—the 15-year, $3 billion effort to decipher our genetic makeup—researchers are working on a different sort of code. In a high-rise tower on the campus of the National Institutes of Health, a small group of programmers and molecular biologists are designing the computer framework for the genetic catalog of human-kind—an electronic database that will someday contain the information that biologically defines a hu
Scientific Publisher Sues Over Journal Pricing Study
Scientific Publisher Sues Over Journal Pricing Study
Charging “unfair comparative advertising,” the scientific publishing firm of Gordon & Breach is suing the American Institute of Physics over an article and a letter about the costs of - professional journals that were published in the organization’s monthly magazine, Physics Today. The case raises numerous questions—in part because the New York-based publishing firm has so far chosen to press the case not in the United States, where Physics Today is published, but
Ted Weiss Urges Science To Clean Up Its Act
Ted Weiss Urges Science To Clean Up Its Act
[Editor’s note: As chairman of the human resources subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations, Rep. Ted Weiss (D- N.Y) has devoted considerable attention to the issue of scientific misconduct. What follows is an edited transcript of an interview on the subject, conducted July 18, by senior editor Jeffrey Mervis.] Q You’ve held a series of hearings on issues that relate to public support of science. What are your principal concerns? A If I hadt o sum it up in one
Hughes Research Labs: Still Flying High After 30 Years
Hughes Research Labs: Still Flying High After 30 Years
MALIBU, CALIF—Almost, nothing is visible on the Pacific Ocean this warm, clear day. No boats, no suffers, no swimmers—only waves breaking on the beach. That’s no doubt just fine by Michael J. Little, because there’s enough going on already. In his office high above the Malibu surf, the physicist swivels in his chair and reaches into a drawer to extract what looks like a wooden box for chessmen. No knights and rooks come spilling out, however. Instead, Little careful
Chemist Gets Fired After Calling Breast Implant Unsafe
Chemist Gets Fired After Calling Breast Implant Unsafe
OTTAWA—Research chemist J.J.B. Pierre Blais joined the health protection branch of Canada’s Department of National Health and Welfare in 1976 in the midst of a productive career in the federal science bureaucracy. He had spent seven years at the National Research Council, and looked forward to many more satisfying years with his new agency. For a while it was just that. An expert in the biocompatibility of implant materials, Blais has worked on projects that have led to amendme

Briefs

Government Briefs
Government Briefs
The Best Defense Is A Strong Offense Allan Bromley, sworn in on August 4 as the president’s science adviser and the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, appears to differ from his predecessors on the relative importance of national security in strengthening the nation’s scientific base. While William Graham and George (“Jay” Keyworth, with similar backgrounds in black-box military research, stressed the importance of defense-related R&D, Bromley took
National Lab Briefs
National Lab Briefs
Argonne Reactor Program Turns To The East Faced with dwindling U.S. interest in nuclear power research, Argonne National Lab has turned to Japan to save its reactor research program. In July the lab reached an agreement with the Japanese electric industry that will see $20 million over five years poured into a lab program on “pyrometallurgical” fuel reprocessing. The technique separates radioactive elements from used fuel for recasting into new fuel, thereby allowing the reactor to
Private Institute Briefs
Private Institute Briefs
Federal Aid For The Mouse Mart? Jackson Lab in Bar Harbor, Maine, has cleared its first hurdle in getting federal funds to rebuild after its devastating May 10 fire (The Scientist, June 26, 1989, page 5). In late July the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee approved a bill that would authorize $25 million to construct a new facility for the production of inbred and mutant mice to be used in biological research. Although the legislation calls for competitive bidding, the presumed benefic
University Briefs
University Briefs
Betting On Biotech Some states use lotteries to finance vital needs that could not be met by their annual budgets. One state, for example, might earmark lottery profits for education, another for programs to aid its elderly. Legislators in Iowa, which is largely dependent on agricultural growth, took a look at the needs of their state—and decided that one pressing need was more biotech. Every year since 1986 the state lottery agency has turned over $4.25 million to Iowa Slate University&
Industry Briefs
Industry Briefs
Tables Turn For Xerox Spin-Off Although Envos Corp., an artificial intelligence spin-off of the Xerox Corp., folded back into Xerox last spring after nine months in operation, the parent company is “absolutely” committed to developing similar ventures in the future, according to Xerox spokesman Peter Hawes. “We have been trying to identify [Xerox] technologies,” says Hawes, “and choose which. ..might lend themselves to alternative exploitation.” Envos, which
Association Briefs
Association Briefs
Clinical Ecology: Irritant or Cure? An American College of Physicians committee seems to have had an allergic reaction to clinical ecology, a field of research based on the contention that certain people are sensitive to synthetic chemicals at very low doses. According to the committee, which published its review in the July 15 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, clinical ecology lacks “definition,” uses “procedures of no proven efficacy,” and conducts studies that ar
Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
Kresge Works To Rebuild Labs Seattle University will renovate its chemistry labs; the University of Notre Dame is fixing up its Center for Biotechnology and Pollution Control; and Clark University in Worcester, Mass., will get new equipment for its Consortium Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility. These schools are three of 15 institutions to receive Kresge Foundation Science Initiative Grants. The two-year program provided $5 million in 1989 and will provide $5 million in 1990 to nonprofit inst

Opinion

Biochemist Arthur Kornberg: A Lifelong Love Affair With Enzymes
Biochemist Arthur Kornberg: A Lifelong Love Affair With Enzymes
Kornberg looks back on some of his earliest and most important years as a scientist and his multiple roles of discoverer, teacher, author, and administrator.
The Chemistry Profession Must Act Now To Assume An Environmentally Sound Code Of Ethics
The Chemistry Profession Must Act Now To Assume An Environmentally Sound Code Of Ethics
In this issue’s page 1 story on next week’s national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), president-elect Paul G. Gassman points Out that chemistry’s public image is suffering. The general public is very sensitive to the environmental impact of chemicals, including air and water pollution, toxic waste generation, ozone depletion, global warming, and acid rain. And as public anxiety over the environment grows, public confidence in chemistry seems to shrink. As a

Letter

Scaw Defined
Scaw Defined
Scaw Defined Leland Clark’s letter (The Scientist, May 29, 1989, page 10) makes several unsupported and incorrect allegations about the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare (SCAW). SCAW is not an animal rights organization. SCAW is an independent, educational, nonprofit organization concerned with the care, handling, and use of animals. SCAW was founded 11 years ago to bring accepted standards and techniques of academic scholarship to bear on questions relating to the determination of an
Scientific Hype
Scientific Hype
Scientific Hype Regarding the article “Hyped Science: Researchers Are Hurting Their Own Cause” (The Scientist, May 15, 1989, page 11), the author [Dorothy Nelkin] has a legitimate complaint when she points out some cases where new discoveries have been abused by the media. But there is another side to the issue: If a scientist should make a new, legitimate discovery and follow the advice of the author, he or she will encounter many difficulties. The first presentation of finding
Animal Research
Animal Research
Animal Rights A particularly negative effect on the attitudes of younger people toward science and on other aspects of the decision to join the scientific enterprise may be arising as a resuIt of the efforts of the “animal rights” movement. While the philosophy of many in this movement is that animal research is immoral even if it saves human lives, their propaganda often attacks the scientific and medical value of research using animals, its relevance to human health problems, an

Research

Organometallics Tops List As Hottest Chemistry Field
Organometallics Tops List As Hottest Chemistry Field
At next week’s gathering of the American Chemical Society—running from Sept. 10 to 15 in Miami Beach, Fla., more than 8,000 chemists will cover chemistry topics ranging literally from A to Z. The meeting is to feature 524 technical sessions and some 3,500 papers, ranging from agrochemical regulation to zeolite synthesis. To coincide with this event, The Scientist asked the Philadelphia-based Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) to search its 1988 Research Front database to i
Chemistry
Chemistry
CHEMISTRY BY MARYE ANNE FOX Department of Chemistry University of Texas, Austin Austin, Tex. " Alkoxide ligands, acting as pi donors to stabilize early transition metals in high oxidation states, and carbonyls, acting as pi acceptors to stabilize late transition elements in low oxidation states, provide complementary ligand effects to inorganic clusters. A recent article summarizes the effect of such ligands in controlling substrate binding; electronic saturation, and stenc control in organo
Life Sciences
Life Sciences
LIFE SCIENCES BY SIMON SILVER Department of Microbiology & Immunology University of Illinois Chicago, Ill. " Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with a several million-fold increase in template DNA (in a few hours of temperature cycling with a thermo-stable DNA polymerase) has become a powerful tool for both basic and applied molecular biology. T.J. White, N. Arnheim, H.A. Erlich, “The polymerase chain reaction,” Trends in Genetics, 5, 185-9, June 1989. (Hoffmann-LaRoche, Emeryville,
Physics
Physics
PHYSICS BY FRANK A. WILCZEK School of Natural Sciences Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, NJ. " The latest Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for pioneering work in experimental investigation of neutrino properties. The fascinating story of how these elusive particles have evolved from theorists’ fancy into experimental reality, and indeed have become some of our best tools in exploring the fundamental physics of the microcosm, has been told in the acceptance speeches of the prize
Geosciences
Geosciences
GEOSCIENCES BY PETER J. SMITH Department of Earth Science Open University Milton Keynes, U.K. " New seismic data from Australia combined with earlier world data indicate that, depending on the precise assumptions made about the earth’s outer liquid core, the solid inner core has an ellipticity of 1.9 x 10^-3 to 5.6 x 10^-3 . This corresponds to a polar flattening of 1.6 to 5.0 km. A. Souriau, M. Souriau, “Ellipticity and density at the inner core boundary from subcritical PKiKP a

Profession

Making Marriage Work: A Challenge For Scientist Couples
Making Marriage Work: A Challenge For Scientist Couples
Geologists Priscilla and Edward Grew have been happily married for the past 14 years. Yet the success of their relationship can hardly be attributed to “togetherness.” Far from it. Priscilla, director of the Minnesota Geological Survey and a full professor of geology at the University of Minnesota, lives in Minneapolis. Edward, meanwhile, is a research associate professor at the University of Maine in Orono. And that’s where he lives—about 1,000 miles as the crow flies,
Mates Explain How They Find Time For Family Life
Mates Explain How They Find Time For Family Life
They wander along the shore in Hawaii. The surf breaks; the fragrance of plumeria fills the December air as husband and wife type furiously on their portable computers. That’s how physicist and physician Jerold Lowenstein and anthropologist Adrienne Zihlman spend their winter holiday. From their perspective, the opportunity to collaborate on popular articles about molecular evolution is an advantage of being married to a fellow scientist. By contrast, geologists Priscilla and Edward
NSF Geology Program To 'CAT-Scan' Earth
NSF Geology Program To 'CAT-Scan' Earth
The rapid growth of a five-year-old National Science Foundation geology program may soon mean that scientists can view the earth’s interior with the unprecedented three-dimensional clarity of medical imaging. The NSF effort, known as the Continental Lithosphere Program, is supporting the construction over several years of an ambitious $30 million international network of seismic measuring stations. The stations, when combined with mathematical algorithms borrowed from medicine’s
Theoretical Chemist Is First Woman To Head Penn State Department
Theoretical Chemist Is First Woman To Head Penn State Department
Barbara Garrison, 40, was recently named head of the department of chemistry at Penn State University, becoming the first woman ever to achieve that status at the school. Garrison, a theoretical chemist who has written more than 100 publications and has given nearly 100 invited talks, is widely known for her models of the interaction of energetic particles with solids and has worked extensively with supercomputers. Recently, her modeling methods have been successful in mimicking thin-film growt
Geologist Faces Suspension For Violating USGS Rules
Geologist Faces Suspension For Violating USGS Rules
At the same time a Canadian government chemist is appealing his dismissal over the nature of his criticism of a breast implant device (see story on page 7), a U.S. Geological Survey scientist in Menlo Park, Calif., who took a stand on a local environmental dispute faces a 28-day suspension. The geological survey says that geologist Howard Wilshire violated its guidelines by allowing an environmental activist to accompany him on a survey. The controversy began in February when Wilshire, a 30

New Products

Hard Disk Organizers Move Into The Second Generation
Hard Disk Organizers Move Into The Second Generation
Since the hard disk first became widely available, scientists have recognized it as a wonderful productivity tool. Its capacity is impressive indeed; an 80-megabyte hard disk is able to accommodate the equivalent of 80 bulky technical monographs (or 40,000 letters of recommendation). But along with this vast storage capability comes the potential for. trouble: Unless you make systematic attempts to organize your hard disk, you are inviting the kind of disaster that could result in an allday
New Heavy-Duty Electrodes Are Breakage-Resistant
New Heavy-Duty Electrodes Are Breakage-Resistant
Beckman Instruments Inc. now markets the new FUTURA(trademark) Plus combination electrodes, featuring a rugged bulb line, a quick temperature response STAR(TradeMark) series, a flat bulb electrode, and several permanently filled electrodes for special applications in electrochemistry. The rugged bulb, STAR, and flat bulb electrodes come with the new Beckman pHresh Performance Pac, which protects the pH sensing bulb from contamination with dried salts and ensures that the electrode is always r