Science  11 Oct 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5592, pp. 341

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  1. Misconduct Aftershocks

    Bell Laboratories is moving to clear the wreckage created by the misconduct of its one-time nanoscience star, Jan Hendrik Schön. Officials at the Murray Hill, New Jersey, lab said this week that they are withdrawing six patent applications that are based on Schön publications, which an investigating committee has concluded contain fake data (Science, 4 October, p. 30). The lab had already asked U.S. and foreign patent offices to put the applications on hold, pending completion of the investigation. Lab parent Lucent Technologies had once hoped the patents, which involve novel transistors and electronic switches, might become cash cows.

  2. Anger in Italy

    The heads of Italy's 107 research institutes are protesting government plans to cut science budgets and redirect ongoing reforms. Their strongly worded letter last week to Guido Possa, the government's vice minister for research, escalates a controversy that began last summer, when researchers attacked a leaked government plan to revamp Italian science (Science, 16 August, p. 1106). Now, they fear that a rumored 10% cut in the National Research Council's $500 million budget would virtually eliminate $50 million for new projects—along with about twice that amount in matching funds from other sources. Possa had not responded to the letter as Science went to press, but he told researchers earlier that he would meet with them next month.

  3. Canadian Student Aid

    Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's swan song to his country contains an ode to graduate researchers. Last week Chrétien promised to boost spending on graduate studies and research in his first “Speech From the Throne” since this summer's announcement that he would retire in February 2004. His words lend support to a proposal by the nation's three granting councils for a 10-year, $2 billion program to help train young academics, although Industry Minister Allan Rock says that details await the new budget, due out next spring.

    “There's a need for more money per student and more students,” says Canadian Institutes of Health Research president Alan Bernstein. “There's 25% more people doing research than there were 2 years ago, and they all want good students and postdocs.”

    Any expansion, however, must find room in a tight government budget. And Chrétien's ability to set the political agenda is also in doubt after a de facto coup by former Finance Minister Paul Martin forced him to declare his pending departure.

  4. A Pox on Polygraphs

    In the first major U.S. government report on polygraphs since 1983, a panel of the National Academy of Sciences this week said the government should not use the so-called lie detectors to see if an employee poses a security risk. The study, commissioned by the Department of Energy (DOE) in the wake of the Wen Ho Lee affair (Science, 15 September 2000, p. 1851), says that although the devices can be a help to criminal investigators, they are too crude to screen out possible spies.


    The panel, led by statistician Stephen Fienberg of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, notes that lie detection research “has not progressed … in the manner of a typical scientific field.” It calls for expanded tests of the polygraph and other “indicators of deception.”

    The panel has briefed DOE and other agencies that now test thousands of employees. Fienberg didn't say if any was planning a change in policy, but polygraph critics say the course is clear. Physicist Alan Zelicoff of DOE's Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, says the panel has come to a “very strong conclusion. … As a screening test, [the polygraph] has now been tossed onto the ash heap of history.”

  5. Hatchet Buried

    After years of wrangling, Russia and the World Health Organization (WHO) have agreed to cooperate in attacking the country's tuberculosis (TB) crisis. The deal, reached late last month, will funnel up to $150 million in World Bank loans into a revitalized TB monitoring and treatment system.

    TB has soared to epidemic levels in Russia, and the disease now claims 30,000 lives annually. But many Russian specialists rejected WHO's insistence on tying aid to the use of Western anti-TB strategies, such as microscopy for detection, saying that homegrown methods, such as mass x-ray screening, worked fine (Science, 12 July, p. 170). New results from 18 projects that integrate Russian and WHO methods, however, helped end the standoff. The projects, begun in 1994, have boosted detection and lowered incidence rates, officials say.

    “Five years ago … we couldn't find common ground,” Anatoly Vialkov, a deputy health minister, said in announcing the deal. “Today we understand each other.” The World Bank must still approve the loan.