ScienceScope

Science  03 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5603, pp. 29
  1. Changing Guards

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. ScienceScope predicts that many of last year's science policy debates will continue in 2003—although the cast of characters will change. Science reporters go out on a limb, however, with these science-related predictions for 2003:

    Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson has long been rumored to be on his way out. He could follow Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who departed last month. Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman could also embark for greener fields.

  2. Storms Over Corn Fields

    Crops engineered to produce pharmaceuticals and industrial compounds will attract more headlines as companies launch new field trials and ask for permission for commercial planting. Expect more controversy about whether genes from modified corn have made their way into Mexican landraces.

    CREDIT: KEITH WELLER/USDA
  3. Fresh Leftovers

    This month, the Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP) satellite team will release the finest images of the radiation left over from the ancient universe. MAP's exquisite map will mark the beginning of a new phase in cosmologists' attempts to understand the cosmos.

  4. Just ITER It

    Encouraged by a spate of positive reviews, the U.S. government will rejoin the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, a fusion power experiment. The U.S. quit an earlier version in 1998 due to cost concerns but is more positive about the current $5 billion design. Still, the U.S. might balk at coughing up the $100 million or more per year expected of full partners.

  5. Clone Clouds Gather

    The global storm will continue to gather over human cloning and related stem cell research. Some U.S. states will move to ban cloning-related work, but efforts to develop a unified national policy might remain stalled in Congress—unless somebody actually succeeds in cloning a human child, as one group claimed on 27 December. European and Asian nations will refine their policies, allowing some research to proceed under regulation.

  6. Deceleration

    After 5 years of 15% annual growth, the National Institutes of Health will have to adapt to a far smaller increase. Can director Elias Zerhouni bring the agency in for a soft landing—or will scientists who don't get grants feel whiplash?

  7. Changing Climate?

    Researchers will let the Bush Administration know what they think of its new climate change research strategy, released late last year. Comments are due 13 January, with a final plan to come in spring.

  8. Experimental Defense

    The Bush Administration is set on building a basic missile defense system by 2004, but critics predict that tests this year will run into the same old problems of hitting targets, both real and budgetary.

  9. Vaccine Verdict

    Researchers will find out whether the first AIDS vaccine to be subjected to efficacy testing actually works. Results from the VaxGen- sponsored trial, which started in June 1998, will be unveiled early this year.

  10. Cod Peace?

    Scientists say Europe and the United States need to further cut or ban Atlantic cod catches. But fishers are resisting, and researchers will know by the end of the year how populations are faring. Meanwhile, a pair of high-profile study commissions—one government and one private—is expected to issue major reports on U.S. marine policy, setting the stage for potentially major changes.

    CREDIT: CORBIS
  11. Freeze to Ease

    German scientists might see a thaw in a proposed budget freeze. Despite a prior promise of a 3% budget boost for science (Science, 21 June 2002, p. 2119), the recently reelected Social Democrat/Green government decided that researchers would share national budget woes. The budget freeze could cost up to 2000 young scientists their grants, says the German research council, and the Max Planck Society would have to delay two planned institutes. But Germany's 15 state governors oppose the freeze and have pressed Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to back off. A decision could come 17 January.

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