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Research Trends: Scanning the Research Horizon

Science  20 Dec 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5295, pp. 1989
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5295.1989

What's hot for 1997? Science offers its picks.

  1. 1. Closing in on cancer. Will there ever be a simple, globally effective cure for cancer? In 1997, the standard answer—“No”—may be up for revision. Already, researchers working in experimental systems have foiled many cancers with broadly targeted strategies such as boosting killer T cells, designing a virus to kill cancer cells, and thwarting the growth of blood vessels that feed metastatic tumors.

  2. 2. Just the place for a squark! As the Large Electron-Positron Collider at CERN gradually ramps up in energy, many particle theorists are echoing the Bellman in Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark: They believe that elusive supersymmetric particles—which would complete the Standard Model of the universe and which have names like squarks and selectrons—are sure to turn up at CERN.

  3. 3. Breaking the code(s). This year, cryptographers testing their handiwork breached computer security codes of all descriptions, from public-key systems that protect smart cards to a secret-key code banks use to swap data. Expect to hear the sound of more codes cracking in 1997, thanks to wider application of the powerful strategy, called a systemic attack, behind the breaches.

  4. 4. Carbo loading. Carbohydrates, seemingly simple molecules made from collections of sugars, somehow help cells recognize each other and stick together, but the details have been a mystery. Advances in artificial synthesis and in probing carbo's role in cell-cell interactions may pave the way for synthetic carbohydrates tailored as drugs fighting everything from infection to inflammation.

  5. 5. The smallest mistakes. Computers based on quantum mechanics promise undreamt-of speed, but it was thought that correcting the inevitable errors required invoking the blundering, macroscopic world, destroying the quantum advantage. Such worries may have been unfounded: If 1996's theoretical progress in quantum error correction continues, the field may leap ahead in 1997.

  6. 6. X-ray visions. After 15 years and nearly $1 billion in the making, the Advanced Photon Source is finally online at Illinois's Argonne National Laboratory. Expect the 70 beamlines using the world's most brilliant source of high-energy x-rays to reveal the dynamics of chemical reactions as they happen, the structure of complex proteins, and more.

TERRY E. SMITH

ADDITIONAL READING

Cancer:

  • J. R. Bischoff et al., “An Adenovirus Mutant That Replicates Selectively in p53-Deficient Human Tumor Cells,” Science, 18 October 1996, p. 373.

  • D. R. Leach, M. F. Krummel, J. P. Allison, “Enhancement of Antitumor Immunity by CTLA-4 Blockade,” Science, 22 March 1996, p. 1734.

  • M. S. O'Reilly, L. Holmgren, C. Chen, J. Folkman, “Angiostatin Induces and Sustains Dormancy of Human Primary Tumors in Mice,” Nature Medicine 2, 689 (June 1996).

  • C.-Y. Wang, M. W. Mayo, A. S. Baldwin Jr., “TNF- and Cancer Therapy-Induced Apoptosis: Potentiation by Inhibition of NF-kB,” Science, 1 November 1996, p. 784.

Supersymmetry:

  • J. Glanz, “Year of Strange Events Leaves Standard Theory Unscathed,” Science, 11 October 1996, p. 179.

  • G. Taubes, “Rare Sightings Beguile Physicists,” Science, 26 April 1996, p. 474.

Codes:

  • C. Seife, “New Attacks Breach Computer Codes,” Science, 1 November 1996, p. 716.

Carbohydrates:

Quantum Error Correction:

  • B. Cipra, “Error-Correcting Code Keeps Quantum Computers on Track,” Science, 12 April 1996, p. 199.

  • A. Ekert and C. Macchiavello, Physical Review Letters, 16 September 1996, p. 2585.

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