September 1990

News

Entomologist's Bent For Bug Busting Develops Into Profitable Business
Entomologist's Bent For Bug Busting Develops Into Profitable Business
Gary Alpert strayed from his career track, but at Harvard he found he could still do good research as well as make good money BOSTON--When Gary Alpert arrived at Harvard 15 years ago as a graduate student, he was eager to pursue an academic career in insect behavior. Then the Pharaoh ant got in his way. Lots of them, actually. They were all over the place, running rampant through the biology labs and hallways and showing up in lunch bags and research preparations. Years earlier, the bugs had h
Investors Tighten Grip On Venture Capital
Investors Tighten Grip On Venture Capital
As sources of money dry up, potential backers demand that science startups have prototypes to show off, if not products ready to roll PALO ALTO, CALIF.--For much of the eighties, software engineer Eric Hannah rode the roller coaster of venture capital funding for new high-tech startups in northern California. But after one rocketing success and one crashing failure, he's promised himself never to risk another ride. In fact, one of the things he likes most about the Silicon Valley company he's
Congress Assails NIH Spending Practices; Report Presses For Reforms, Restraints
Congress Assails NIH Spending Practices; Report Presses For Reforms, Restraints
A House panel, demanding changes in the way grants are managed, accuses scientists of overstating the crisis in research funding WASHINGTON--In a report that has left National Institutes of Health officials "a little shell-shocked," a House committee has laid out an unprecedentedly specific set of spending guidelines in an effort to fix what it sees as a longstanding problem in the way NIH has handled its rapidly growing budget. In blunt language, the House report says its members are tired o
Does Scaling The Academic Ladder Always Mean Abandoning Research?
Does Scaling The Academic Ladder Always Mean Abandoning Research?
Some university scientists willingly forsake their lab investigations; others strive to maintain a balance between research and administration Geologist Franli H.T. Rhodes knew the time had come when he had no idea where the time had gone. Now president of Cornell University, Rhodes was vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan when he reluctantly decided to stop conducting laboratory research. Research isn't the only activity that academic scientists abandon when they
Ecology Society Reaches Rare Consensus On Research Agenda
Ecology Society Reaches Rare Consensus On Research Agenda
SNOWBIRD, UTAH--Time was when five ecologists couldn't sit in a room without arguing about what exactly their field was and where it was headed. Last month, however, about 2,000 of these scientists agreed on precisely those issues. The result is a document that commits ecologists to examine topics important to both science and society. Although the document summarizing that consensus has a long title, The Sustainable Biosphere Initiative: An Ecological Research Agenda for the Nineties, its mes

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
Bye-Bye, American Pi The Gift Of Life Wanted: Ideas For Advanced Technology Integrity In Research New On The Job Who Says Science Can't Be Fun? It was supposed to be a joke, but some scientists aren't laughing. On July 1, the New York Times published a letter from UC-Berkeley mathematics professor Paul Chernoff that called for his colleagues to ask the government for big bucks to keep the U.S. No. 1 in determining "the entire decimal expansion of pi." The letter was meant to spoof the current t

Opinion

The Animal Rights Movement Threatens To Make Scientists An Endangered Species
The Animal Rights Movement Threatens To Make Scientists An Endangered Species
The animal rights movement is devastating and destroying potentially life-saving basic research in physiology and biomedicine. It is also jeopardizing the future of science in the United States by propagandizing youngsters in elementary and high school and attacking teachers and students of science at the university level. It does so by harassing researchers and their families, picketing research institutions, and publicizing distorted information, even outright lies. Other tactics include brea
Animal Advocates Crusade For The Day When Animals Are Freed From Lab Cages
Animal Advocates Crusade For The Day When Animals Are Freed From Lab Cages
"I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men." This quote, attributed to engineer, artist, musician, and scientist Leonardo da Vinci, expresses perhaps the soul of animal rights philosophy, according to which killing animals for food, clothing, or experiments is equivalent to murdering humans for any purpose other than self-defense or mercy killing. The vision of animal
Of Mice And Mankind: Two Sides of The Animal Rights Debate
Of Mice And Mankind: Two Sides of The Animal Rights Debate
As recently as 10 years ago, few people had even heard the term "animal rights." Today, animal rights are the subject of lawsuits, and some animal rights activists are claiming responsibility for planting bombs and setting fire to scientific laboratories. In the first of the two essays that follow, Christine Jackson of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a Washington-based group at the forefront of the animal rights movement, explains the philosophy behind her organization.

Letter

Letter: Funding Shortfalls
Letter: Funding Shortfalls
After reading several articles in one recent issue regarding funding shortages, I am puzzled. In "U.S. Funding Shortfall Undermines Investment In Training Scientists" [The Scientist, June 25, 1990, page 1], it is written that junior faculty are being told by their universities that their teaching skills are not wanted and are a waste of time. Another page of the story headlined the drastic shortage foretold by the year 2000. Something doesn't add up. Exactly where is this shortage supposed to
Letter: Peer Review
Letter: Peer Review
In "Ruling Could Inhibit Peer Review Candor" [The Scientist, June 25, 1990, page 1], Julia King laments the recent Supreme Court ruling that letters by external reviewers are subject to the Freedom of Information Act. I applaud the Supreme Court for its decision. Secret letters written by unnamed people and the secret interpretations of those letters by administrators have no place in any tenure review process in the United States. That such letters would form the "backbone of all tenure review

Commentary

How Can We Have Science Literacy Without Literate Scientists?
How Can We Have Science Literacy Without Literate Scientists?
If we scientists have a God, he is Quantus, the champion of quantitative reasoning (who I imagine looks like Mercury, but with winged sneakers and a portable PC). Our numerical description of nature marks our intellectual style. But outside our temple, Quantus and his computer can't help much. In the wider world, as we teach, sell a research program, or explain medical risks to an anxious public, we must rely on the same insubstantial vehicles used by advertising copywriters and humanities prof

Research

Articles Alert
Articles Alert
The Scientist has asked a group of experts to comment periodically 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, the list represents personal choices of articles the columnists 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,
Twelve Prolific Physicists: Likely 1990 Nobel Contenders
Twelve Prolific Physicists: Likely 1990 Nobel Contenders
What will this year's winner of the Nobel Prize in physics be doing when the Swedish Academy of Sciences makes its decision in October? When the call comes from Stockholm (winners from the United States usually are notified in the early hours of the morning), will the laureate be sound asleep, dreaming about superstrings or superconductivity? Or will he or she be wide awake, pondering the next equation, the newest experiment? When Alfred Nobel wrote his will in November 1895, he established wh
Research: Synergy Spawns Success For Breast Cancer Research Team
Research: Synergy Spawns Success For Breast Cancer Research Team
When Dennis Slamon and Michael Press met on their first day of medical school at the University of Chicago in September 1970, they had no reason whatsoever to believe that their chance encounter would lead to a significant scientific advance. 

Hot Paper

Hot Papers
Hot Papers
The articles listed below, all less than two years old, have received a substantially greater number of citations than others of the same type and vintage, according to data from the Science Citation Index of the Institute for Scientific Information, Philadelphia. Why have these research reports become such standouts? A comment following each reference, supplied to The Scientist by one of the authors, attempts to provide an answer. L. Osborn, S. Kunkel, G.J. Nabel, "Tumor necrosis factor à

Profession

Scientific Consulting Offers Independence And Flexibility
Scientific Consulting Offers Independence And Flexibility
In 1976, biochemist Fred Rothstein, of Long Beach, Calif., decided that he had "too much of an entrepreneurial personality to deal with the structure of corporate or academic life." Rothstein, whose experience included 20 years teaching physiology at Tufts University Medical School and five years as an industrial scientist with Miles Laboratories and Abbott Laboratories, struck out on his own and became a consultant to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Since then, he says, he has earn
Sloan Foundation Presents Publishing Options To Scientists
Sloan Foundation Presents Publishing Options To Scientists
Back in the mid-1970s, it was infrequent that a book about science captured the collective imagination of a general readership, much less earned a slot on the best-seller list. There were plenty of textbooks around, some histories of science written primarily for an academic audience, and even an occasional scientific blockbuster like James Watson's The Double Helix (New York: Atheneum, 1968). But for the most part, there just weren't that many books aimed at lay readers, who, by reading about
Sloan Foundation Presents Publishing Options To Scientists
Sloan Foundation Presents Publishing Options To Scientists
Back in the mid-1970s, it was infrequent that a book about science captured the collective imagination of a general readership, much less earned a slot on the best-seller list. There were plenty of textbooks around, some histories of science written primarily for an academic audience, and even an occasional scientific blockbuster like James Watson's The Double Helix (New York: Atheneum, 1968). But for the most part, there just weren't that many books aimed at lay readers, who, by reading about
People: Four Are Recognized For Advances Made On Behalf Of Science, Women's Issues
People: Four Are Recognized For Advances Made On Behalf Of Science, Women's Issues
The metropolitan New York chapter of the Association for Women in Science has given four researchers the 1990 Outstanding Woman Scientist Award. In a June ceremony, the association honored physicist Gertrude Goldhaber, of Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, biochemist Birgit Satir, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y., chemist Jeannette Brown, of Merck and Co., Rahway, N.J., and Patricia Broderick, a professor of pharmacology at City University Medical School in
People: $50,000 Neuroscience Award Honors Researchers In Cell Communication
People: $50,000 Neuroscience Award Honors Researchers In Cell Communication
Three scientists who have done key research in cell communication are the winners of this year's Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience. At a recent luncheon at the Pierre Hotel in New York, Bertil Hille, Erwin Neher, and Jean-Pierre Changeux each received a share of the $50,000 prize. Each was also given a silver medallion. Neher is best known for his development, with Bert Sakmann, of the patch clamp, which makes it possible to measure the current passing th
People: New Executive Director At FASEB Seeks Societies' Consensus On Policy Issues
People: New Executive Director At FASEB Seeks Societies' Consensus On Policy Issues
The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, recently redefining its organizational goals, has a new executive director to guide the organization in achieving these objectives. Michael Jackson, a physiologist who was dean of research at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., takes the FASEB post this week. At a retreat in Williamsburg, Va., last year, representatives of the 31,000-member orgaanization decided that FASEB's seven constituent societies

Briefs

Funding Briefs
Funding Briefs
Funds for five first-time MERCK-AFCR Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships will be available July 1, 1991, for U.S. and Canadian M.D.-Ph.D. scientists. The program is jointly sponsored by the Rahway, N.J.-based Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories and the American Federation for Clinical Research Foundation (AFCR). Candidates for these new fellowships must have already been accepted by an appropriate institution for a postdoctoral training program. Fellowship funds are slated for research wo

Technology

Capillary Electrophoresis: Automating A Valuable Technique
Capillary Electrophoresis: Automating A Valuable Technique
Picture a silica tube no thicker than a human hair, and then picture a fluid sample in that tube--a sample so small that the tiniest drop of water seems like a flood in comparison to it. Now imagine zapping the tube with electricity, shining a little ultraviolet or visible light on the migrating particles in the sample, and you have the basics for capillary electrophoresis, an analytical technique that holds great promise for investigators in the life sciences. Robert Palmieri, principal resea