Science  07 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5450, pp. 25
  1. Looking Ahead

    The future may be “made of the same stuff as the present,” the French philosopher Simone Weil wrote in the 1940s, but time finds surprising ways to transform the familiar into the fresh. Science previews what may be some of 2000's new twists on old tales:

  2. Help Wanted

    Some plum science policy jobs are open—but who will risk taking them in the last year of the lame-duck Clinton Administration? The answer might come this spring, once search committees are through vetting candidates to replace former National Institutes of Health (NIH) head Harold Varmus and Department of Energy science czar Martha Krebs. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is also seeking an infusion of new blood. But according to Duncan Moore, OSTP's associate director for technology, “it's getting harder to attract good people [in the] eighth year of an 8-year administration.”

  3. Sharper Focus

    Cell gazers are anticipating more detailed looks at some of the major molecular complexes that make life possible. Using improved methods and machines, crystallographers may unveil the first high-resolution structure of one of the ribosome's two subunits by year's end, revealing the innards of the cell's protein factory. And researchers will get to know other structures—such as the nuclear pore that allows molecules to migrate in and out of the nucleus—in more vivid detail.

  4. Third Time Out

    The Kyoto Treaty to stem global warming is frozen in political limbo in the United States, where the current Congress is likely to reject the pact—but that won't stop international teams from stepping up work on climate change science and policy. A September deadline looms for what one researcher calls “the climate Bible”—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC's) draft Third Assessment Report, a once-every-5-years bid to sum up the state of the world's climate knowledge. But donor nations may have to cough up some cash quickly: The IPCC faces a “dire financial situation” because many nations have stiffed the body, according to chair Robert Watson. The “lack of financial commitment is rather disturbing, given the incredible effort of the experts who give so freely of their time,” he says.

  5. Science Under Siege

    When security outfits in three former Soviet countries stepped up their activities in 1999, scientists paid the price. The Cold War games kicked into high gear last July, when Russian ecologist Vladimir Soyfer was accused of mishandling classified documents on nuclear contamination. The Ukrainian KGB charged marine biologist Sergey Piontkovski with diverting Western grant money to foreign accounts. And Belarus got in on the act, reportedly imprisoning a researcher who studies lands blighted by Chernobyl. No matter the outcome of these cases, there's no sign that the attack dogs will be under tighter leash in 2000.

  6. Getting Out the Vote

    Cutting-edge science promises to be a 2000 election issue—but not in the way many might hope. Antiabortion groups have put a high priority on banning taxpayer funding of promising research using cells and tissues from human fetuses. The Traditional Values Coalition is already running TV ads attacking four senators, including Nebraska's Bob Kerrey (D), for voting against an amendment that would have required scientists to document the source of fetal tissues. Meanwhile, biomedical lobbyists are girding themselves for a bruising congressional debate this spring over legislation that would ban or restrict federal support for fetal tissue studies.

  7. E-Publish or Perish?

    Web-based scientific publishing will see some major roll-outs this year, as NIH test drives its controversial PubMed Central biomedical journal database and several players develop more preprint sites for posting papers that haven't yet been exposed to a peer reviewer's red pen. And expect universities and research societies to step up their assaults on for-profit journals, founding more low-priced competitors.

  8. Genomaniacs

    Researchers racing through a trio of high-profile genome sequencing efforts are likely to see some checkered flags soon. First across the finish line should be a complete picture of the fruit fly genome, scheduled for release within a couple of months. But the runner-up will get much more press: a rough first draft of the human genome, due by March. Plant scientists are rooting for a bronze for the humble mustard, whose genome could be sequenced by year's end. The list of organisms that have had their genetic codes cracked could grow to nearly three dozen by year's end.

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