WASHINGTON--The crowds were bigger than expected at last month's 157th national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. And while very little of the substance of this annual scientific smorgasbord made it into the national press, the association managed to bask in the reflected glory of having the president of the United States address its leaders on the biggest news story of the year, the war in the Persian Gulf.

Security concerns related to the war had little impact on attendance. But it did prevent several thousand elementary and secondary school students from participating in Public Science Day, as the two large school districts that border the nation's capital--in suburban Maryland and northern Virginia--complied with a wartime policy that bans field trips into the nation's capital.

The five-day meeting consisted of the usual mix of policy and hard sciences, along with several sessions devoted to the question...

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