July 23, 2005
Most members of Congress who want to unravel a scientific controversy call a hearing. There, witnesses with opposing views make their best case. Or they call the National Academies of Science or another independent panel for expert advice. Not Texas Republican Joe Barton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He has opted for a witch hunt. Last month, Barton launched an investigation into the research and backgrounds of three prominent climate scientists.
March 16, 1986 |
Last spring, when physicist David Wright began asking Cornell University faculty members to sign a pledge refusing to participate in "Star Wars" research, a colleague told him he would be lucky if 10 percent agreed to sign. But Wright, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, felt that it was important to take a stand against the Reagan administration's plan to develop a shield against nuclear attack. He felt that the Strategic Defense Initiative, commonly known as Star Wars, was both technically unworkable and morally wrong.
April 16, 1986 |
In the early 1970s, David Carlson was conducting experiments at the RCA Corp. laboratories when he discovered a method to make inexpensive solar cells that could be used to generate electricity from sunlight. Until then, solar cells had been expensive to make because they relied upon silicon crystals that had to be carefully grown in a laboratory. But Carlson's cells - made by depositing a thin film of chemicals onto glass - could be manufactured far more simply, opening up the possibility of inexpensive mass production.
March 14, 1986 |
After 40 years as a chemist, Harold Bodenstab clearly understands the scientific principle of combustion. Still, the assignment was a difficult one: In 40 minutes or less, explain combustion - the oxidation of a substance accompanied by the generation of heat and light - to a group with the attention span of a 10-year-old, a group of fourth-graders. "Have you ever really observed a birthday candle?" Bodenstab, a retired Du Pont Co. expert on textile fibers, asked the class of 20 sometimes- mesmerized, sometimes-distracted students at the Pierre S. Du Pont Elementary School in Wilmington.
October 7, 1993 |
"The Republic has no use for scientists," declared the judge at French chemist Antoine Lavoisier's nasty Reign-of-Terror trial, and most people ever since have pretty much agreed. Science, of course, is fine. So are its products. Just keep those scientists out of sight. They're wonky, colorless and - with the rare exception of prima donnas such as physicist Richard Feynman - endowed with the funnybones of mollusks. What, then, to make of the Journal of Irreproducible Results?
June 1, 1986 |
The American family is being buffeted this way and that way by several major trends. More of the country's adults are living well into old age, for instance, and this means that their grown children - especially adult daughters - are increasingly saddled with the job of caring for them. And while America's elderly are doing much better financially than they have in years, that news is offset by a negative trend - more of the nation's children are becoming poor. Divorce is rampant, meanwhile, and large numbers of children are experiencing the disruptions of living in single-family homes.
November 5, 2011
The Board of City Trusts, which oversees the Wills Eye Health System, has given the John Scott Award to two scientists with local ties. Jenny P. Glusker, who spent the last 50 years at Fox Chase Cancer Center, was honored for helping discover the chemical formula of Vitamin B12. David E. Kuhl, a former University of Pennsylvania radiology professor, helped develop PET and SPECT scans that are widely used in hospitals. Each will receive $12,500. The award dates back to the early 19th century.
August 28, 2011 |
Amid the preparations for Hurricane Irene, scientists are scrambling, too. But while most people are dreading the storm, the scientists are also on a geeky high, seeing it as a huge data-collection opportunity to better learn how to predict and withstand future storms. Rutgers University has two underwater vessels, stuffed with sensors, that will be sending back temperature, turbidity, and other data from far below the surface off the coast of New Jersey. At Temple University's Ambler campus, environmental science professor Laura Toran will be logging storm-water data, watching to see if parking-lot catchment systems do their jobs.
May 9, 1987 |
When professors play politics, the bitterness is often inversely proportional to the stakes. That was the case when some scientists recently denied Prof. Samuel Huntington of Harvard membership in the National Academy of Sciences. Actually, Huntington's vocation, properly pursued, makes him unsuited to the academy as it evidently wants to be understood. And his civic virtue would make him uncomfortable in the academy as it is currently composed. Huntington is a distinguished political scientist who has served several presidents in national-security capacities, and his critics say he has committed other sins, too. He and a colleague recently published a scholarly article, "Dead Dictators and Rioting Mobs: Does the Demise of Authoritarian Rulers Lead to Political Instability," and did not note that the CIA helped fund the research.
May 15, 1990 |
A leading group of space scientists, with the endorsement of Vice President Quayle, recommended yesterday that an international group of astronomers, aided by military satellite-tracking equipment, search for asteroids headed toward Earth and destroy them before they hit the planet. "If we know where they are and know where they're going, then maybe we'll have time to do something about it," Jerry Grey, director of science and technology policy for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said yesterday.