Volume 400 Issue 6745, 12 August 1999

Opinion

  • Opinion |

    Appropriations bills drawn up this summer suggest that Republicans in the House of Representatives have been paying little more than lip-service to the importance of a balanced science budget.

  • Opinion |

    French researchers, angry and upset over last week's synchrotron decision, deserve a full explanation.

News

  • News |

    munich

    Scientists at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics are celebrating a technological breakthrough that could allow them to begin to characterize the elusive Higgs boson before the end of this year.

    • Alison Abbott
  • News |

    st. louis

    A ‘tree of life’ that provides the most complete picture yet of the evolutionary relationships among the Earth's green plants was unveiled last week at the International Botanical Congress in St Louis, Missouri.

    • Rex Dalton
  • News |

    munich

    Britain's science minister, David Sainsbury, has announced a shift in the British government's space science policy that gives higher priority to basic space science research.

    • Quirin Schiermeier
  • News |

    washington

    US critics of xenotransplantation are threatening to sue the government for failing to respond to request for a ban on the practice because of its potential health risks.

    • Meredith Wadman
  • News |

    washington

    The US House of Representatives has approved a patent bill that would reverse the reduced patent protection that companies say they will face as a result of legislation implementing the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.

    • Meredith Wadman
  • News |

    paris

    A decision by the French government to support the construction of a new synchrotron facility in Britain has generated a strong backlash in the French scientific community.

    • Heather McCabe
  • News |

    tokyo

    Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) last proposed the mandatory labelling of 28 food products containing detectable genetically modified (GM) products, including soybeans, corn and potatoes.

    • Asako Saegusa
  • News |

    new delhi

    The Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore has triggered controversy with plans to convert part of a 100-year old solar observatory into a modern auditorium for hosting an international scientific meeting.

    • K. S. Jayaraman
  • News |

    washington

    Animals rights activists have launched a series of television advertisements attacking vice president Al Gore for backing a controversial US government screening programme for common chemicals.

    • Meredith Wadman
  • News |

    washington

    The US National Research Council has concluded that insufficient data exists to assess accurately the risks to public health posed ‘endocrine disrupters’ in the low ambient doses found in the environment.

    • Colin Macilwain
  • News |

    moscow

    The exodus of trained scientists from the Siberian branch of the Russian academy of sciences (SBRAS) is accelerating, according to the academy.

    • Carl Levitin

News in Brief

Correspondence

Commentary

  • Commentary |

    The drive to squeeze ever more food from the land has sent Europe's farmland wildlife into a precipitous decline. How can agricultural policy be reformed so that we have fewer grain mountains and more skylarks?

    • John R. Krebs
    • , Jeremy D. Wilson
    • , Richard B. Bradbury
    •  & Gavin M. Siriwardena

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    The Messinian salinity crisis was a dramatic event during which the Mediterranean became cut off from, then reconnected to, the Atlantic. The beginning and end of the episode have been securely dated, through an approach known as astrochronology, meaning that debate about the causes has a clearer frame of reference.

    • Judith A. McKenzie
  • News & Views |

    The clonal-selection theory of B- and T-cell development holds that B and T cells have a diverse array of antigen receptors before they ever encounter antigen. Increasingly, though, the idea is taking hold that antigen-specific interactions may, in fact, produce new receptors. Two studies now describe a powerful tool to allow further study of these issues, and the results may help to reconcile previous findings with the clonal-selection theory.

    • David G. Schatz
  • News & Views |

    Chemists often rely on theoretical structures to help determine the crystal structures of new materials, such as zeolites. Previous attempts to predict new structural types have been empirical and intuitive. But a systematic enumeration of the main classes of such structures has now been achieved, making rational synthesis much easier.

    • Michael O'Keeffe
  • News & Views |

    Digital organisms are computer programs that are designed to mimic evolutionary processes by mutating and reproducing. Their use is controversial, but they might allow scientists to ask questions about evolution that cannot be answered easily by studying real organisms. Such organisms have been used to study how multiple mutations in the same organism interact, with combined effects that can be greater or less than the sum of their parts.

    • Inman Harvey
  • News & Views |

    Although hydrogen is the fuel of choice for many energy-conversion systems, its widespread use is limited by its cost. Some fuel cells can use natural gas (methane), but require high operating temperatures to process the methane internally. New intermediate-temperature fuel cells that can oxidize methane directly are a promising alternative.

    • Brian C. H. Steele
  • News & Views |

    Neurons within the basal ganglia — a network of brain structures that may influence information processing in the cortex — can fire in oscillatory bursts. A new study sheds light on the origin of these bursts by defining synchronized oscillations in a cell-culture model of the basal ganglia. Interestingly, this 'pacemaker' seems to oscillate at roughly the same frequency as the tremors seen in people with Parkinson's disease.

    • Thomas Wichmann
    •  & Mahlon R. DeLong
  • News & Views |

    When beavers dam streams, they inadvertently set in motion a process that leads, eventually, to the forest re-establishing itself. Once the beavers have abandoned their ponds, and the dams are breached, the ponds drain and are invaded by vegetation. But it can take up to 70 years for a forest cover to become established here, and a new study indicates that this is all down to a tiny fungus.

    • Peter D. Moore
  • News & Views |

    A Nash equilibrium is a highly desirable situation in game theory, which earned its discoverer a Nobel prize. Such a fundamental result might seem hard to improve on, but new work has multiplied the situations in which Nash equilibria can apply.

    • Ivar Ekeland

    Special:

  • News & Views |

    When people pose for an informal snap or family portrait, most of them, it seems, turn their left cheek towards the camera. When they're trying to look serious or unemotional, by contrast, they are more likely to present their right cheek. These findings come from a review of portraits and a study of posing behaviour.

    • Alison Mitchell

Millennium Essay

  • Millennium Essay |

    The existence, or otherwise, of atoms was hotly debated for several centuries. In the early 1800s, Eilhardt Mitscherlich's descriptions of crystal structures enraged some, but struck a decisive blow for the 'atomist' cause.

    • Robert W. Cahn

Scientific Correspondence

Book Review

Correction

Article

Letter

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