Volume 398 Issue 6722, 4 March 1999

Opinions

  • Opinion |

    The European Commission has clarified aspects of its next Framework programme of research. An insistence on quick delivery of socio-economic benefits threatens the programme's success.

  • Opinion |

    Tackling scientific fraud has generated its own problems, while others remain unaddressed.

News

  • News |

    london Britain's science minister has launched a project that aims to see the same proportion of women in academic appointments as those recruited as undergraduates.

    • Natasha Loder
  • News |

    washington The US Department of Energy is defending its ‘lab-to-lab’ collaborations with Russian weapons scientists against criticism in a report from the General Accounting Office.

    • Colin Macilwain
  • News |

    tokyo Prominent basic research institutes in Japan are set to be transformed into semi-autonomous ‘agencies’ with enhanced managerial independence.

    • Asako Saegusa
  • News |

    london Nine days of talks on regulating international trade in genetically modified organisms broke down last week, even though at one point agreement appeared within sight.

    • Ehsan Masood
  • News |

    bonn Biotechnology researchers, east German scientists, women and young scientists are to be the main beneficiaries of the future growth in the German research budget.

    • Alison Abbott
  • News |

    munich Björn Wiik, director of DESY, Germany's national research centre for particle physics, in Hamburg, died last week after an accident at home.

    • Alison Abbott
  • News |

    cape town South Afruca's Minister of Health, Nkosazana Zuma, has refused to alter her decision not to pay for a pilot programme administering AZT to HIV-positive pregnant mothers.

    • Michael Cherry
  • News |

    cape town The US space agency NASA has agreed to locate its first satellite laser ranging system (SLRS) on the African continent in South Africa.

    • Michael Cherry
  • News |

    montreal More than 600 Canadian scientists have written to the prime minister demanding that planned legislation to protect endangered species be based on scientific principles.

    • David Spurgeon

News in Brief

Briefings

Correspondence

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Africa is splitting apart down the East African Rift. An analysis of the relative motion of the tectonic plates involved allows the rate of continental rifting to be estimated.

    • Fred F. Pollitz
  • News & Views |

    Proteins inside cells that convey information from the outside often contain special signalling modules known as SH2 domains. These domains may have developed during the evolution of multicellular animals, and were typically identified by their amino-acid sequence. But now one has been discovered in a human protein called Cbl that has a quite different sequence, raising questions about the ancestral origin of these domains.

    • John Kuriyan
    •  & James E. Darnell Jr
  • News & Views |

    Supernova observations have indicated that the Universe is expanding faster than the theory of inflation predicts. Some theoretical cosmologists suggest that an exotic form of energy density called quintessence may be responsible. Quintessence began as Einstein's cosmological constant, but if it is not, in fact, constant it may explain why we appeared just when it had the same value as the density of ordinary matter.

    • P. J. E. Peebles
  • News & Views |

    Little is known about the molecular basis of taste perception compared with, say, vision or touch. Now, not one, but two, potential mammalian taste receptors have been discovered. Both are guanine-nucleotide-binding (G) protein-coupled receptors, with sequence homology to other known chemosensory receptors.

    • Alison Mitchell
  • News & Views |

    To flag themselves for destruction, virus-infected cells express viral peptides on their surface. It was always thought that these peptides were generated from viral peptide made inside the cell. Over the years, however, another theory has gained ground —namely that cells can also take up viral antigens. The first direct evidence to support this theory is now reported.

    • Ton N. M. Schumacher
  • News & Views |

    Sapropels are layers of sediment on the sea floor that are rich in organic carbon. The way in which they were formed has been a matter of intense debate, with researchers usually invoking one of two alternative explanations. Work in the Mediterranean now allows those explanations to be reconciled.

    • Connie Sancetta
  • News & Views |

    One way of switching on certain genes to express their encoded proteins is to increase the concentration of calcium ions inside the cell nucleus, which can happen in response to an instruction from outside the cell. A new mediator of this effect has been discovered: it is a protein called DREAM, which sits tightly on the gene, preventing its expression, until it has bound four calcium ions. It then detaches itself, leaving the gene exposed for transcription.

    • Gail Mandel
    •  & Richard H. Goodman
  • News & Views |

    A giant, multilayered carbon nanotube, one micrometre across and coated with slippery graphite fluoride, would be an ideal biological electrode, thinks Daedalus. In the brain, such a microdermic needle could work like a precise electroencephalograph. And a mass of needles distributed through the nervous system, and hooked up to a computer, could be used to create the very first cyborg robot.

    • David Jones

Scientific Correspondence

Book Reviews

Article

Letters

Erratum

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