ScienceScope

Science  22 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5440, pp. 653
  1. Double Vision?

    India now has two science ministers. Last week Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee retained physicist Murli Manohar Joshi as cabinet minister overseeing the civilian science portfolios and education; the space and atomic energy agencies still report directly to Vajpayee. At the same time, the PM appointed lawyer Santosh Kumar Gangwar to the new junior post of minister of state for science and technology.

    Joshi says the ministry plans a 2-day brainstorming session later this year to prepare an S&T agenda. The plan may tilt toward applied projects: Gangwar, who will tend to the science portfolio on a daily basis, told Science that research institutions must work harder on problems that address national needs.

  2. Dead End

    Kennewick Man, the 9000-plus-year-old remains found on the banks of Washington's Columbia River 3 years ago, does not appear to be related to modern-day American Indians or Europeans. The skeleton's analysis, released last week by a government panel, weakens Native American claims to the remains, which are at the center of a court case brought by researchers who have been denied access to them. Kennewick Man was probably part of “an early migration of Asian Pacific peoples into the Americas who left no descendants,” says panel member Jerome Rose of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

    The government, which last month finally sent out some bone samples for more exact radiocarbon dating, must now settle the question of Kennewick's “cultural affiliation.” That's going to be a tough task, because the only cultural evidence is a broken basalt projectile point embedded in the pelvis. And if officials want DNA tests to shed more light on Kennewick's lineage, they'll have to act fast: A court order requires a custody decision by March.

  3. Polygraph Retreat

    Protests from 'scientists at the nation's three nuclear weapons research labs have apparently convinced Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to scale back controversial plans to polygraph some 5000 employees in a bid to boost security (Science, 3 September, p. 1469). But protest leaders are withholding comment until they see the new rules, which are due out on 1 November and reportedly cover fewer than 1000 people.

  4. Crozemarie Guilty

    A French court this week sentenced Jacques Crozemarie, former president of France's Association for Cancer Research (ARC), to 4 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his role in a scandal that nearly bankrupted one of Europe's leading medical charities. The 74-year-old defendant will remain free while his lawyers mount an appeal.

    Crozemarie and two dozen other defendants allegedly siphoned off $50 million from the charity, which once spent about $60 million a year on research (Science, 9 February 1996, p. 750). But after the scandal broke in 1996, grants nearly dried up, rebounding to $40 million this year. The guilty verdict may help boost that total, ARC president Michel Lucas, a former government inspector who exposed the scandal, told French TV station LCI. “Donors have told us they would start giving more once there was a judgment,” he said.

  5. Diamond Desire

    Tension is rising as researchers in the United Kingdom compete for DIAMOND, a next-generation synchrotron source. Most scientists had assumed the $290 million machine, which will allow researchers to study the atomic structure of everything from proteins to ceramics, would replace the current Synchrotron Radiation Source at the Daresbury laboratory near Manchester. But this summer the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford surfaced as a contender.

    The competition marks the newest twist in DIAMOND's 6-year history. Financing problems had put the project—the biggest single investment in British science in 15 years—on hold. Then, last summer, the charitable Wellcome Trust pledged $184 million to get construction started, with the British and French governments supplying the rest (Science, 6 August, p. 819). But instead of speeding things up, Wellcome's involvement “opened up the site issue again,” says Susan Smith, a scientists' union representative at Daresbury. If DIAMOND ends up in Oxford, she fears her lab could close. Where Secretary of State Stephen Byers will decide to place the scientific jewel, however, won't be known for at least a few more weeks.

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