ScienceScope

Science  03 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5727, pp. 1391
  1. Northrop Withdraws as Los Alamos Race Opens

    1. Eli Kintisch

    In an unexpected twist, there's now one less competitor for the 7-year contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Northrop Grumman surprised insiders by dropping out of the race last week, despite public assurances that it was serious about a bid (Science, 27 May, p. 1244). Northrop's decision came a day before the University of California's Board of Regents voted 11-1 to vie for the management contract, which UC has held since 1943. Congress forced the competition for the $2.2 billion laboratory after persistent management and safety scandals. Although Lockheed Martin and a combined UC-Bechtel team lead the pack, the National Nuclear Security Administration has not said whether other teams are in the hunt.

  2. DOE Pushes for Solar Power

    1. Robert F. Service

    Officials at the Department of Energy (DOE) are testing the waters for what some are calling a “Manhattan Project” for solar energy. Despite decades of progress in solar cells and rising gas prices, electricity produced by the devices still costs up to 10 times as much as that produced by fossil fuels. DOE currently spends $10 million to $15 million a year on basic solar energy research, such as efforts to discover novel semiconductors that harvest sunlight more efficiently. If DOE officials get the go-ahead from congressional appropriators, that figure could rise as high as $50 million a year, according to Mary Gress, who manages DOE's photochemistry and radiation research. Officials will preview an upcoming report on solar research next week at a DOE advisory committee meeting.

  3. A Lease on Life for SREL?

    1. Eli Kintisch

    If the House of Representatives has its way, the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) will have a bit more time to fight a White House plan to shutter it. Under that proposal, the $8-million-a-year lab would close on 30 September. Although the measure failed to provide new funds for the lab for 2006, language attached to a House spending bill passed last week would allow the Department of Energy lab to operate until next June using any “available funds.” The Senate must now decide whether to appropriate new money for the 54-year-old lab.

  4. Non on E.U. Constitution

    1. Martin Enserink

    PARIS—France's rejection of the European Constitution last Sunday will have little immediate impact on European science policy, experts say. The proposed constitution, which was expected to face another defeat in the Netherlands this week, contained few new science provisions. And the ambitious, 7-year Framework Programme, proposed in April (Science, 15 April, p. 342), is based on the existing E.U. treaty, points out Peter Tindemans, a spokesperson for EuroScience. But in the long run, says former French science minister Claude Allègre, the vote will hamper attempts to create a more open, competitive research landscape. He adds that a cabinet reshuffle announced in the wake of the defeat seems set to further delay the long-awaited science reform bill in France.

  5. Italians Face Vote on Embryo Research

    1. Gretchen Vogel

    Dozens of Italian scientists are staging a 7-day hunger strike in an effort to persuade fellow citizens to vote in an upcoming referendum on fertility treatments and embryo research. On 12 and 13 June, Italians will have a chance to strike down four provisions in Italy's current law, including a ban on research on embryos created by in vitro fertilization that prevents scientists from deriving new human embryonic stem (hES) cell lines. Press coverage has been “very, very biased” and has left the impression that adult stem cell research makes work with hES cells unnecessary, says medical historian Gilberto Corbellini of the University of Rome, who helped launch the hunger strike campaign. If public participation doesn't top 50%, the referendum will be invalid, and opponents, including Catholic Church leaders, who say the research is immoral, are encouraging people not to vote.

  6. Shakeup at SLAC

    1. Charles Seife

    Administrators at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) have reorganized the laboratory, a first step in a planned shift in focus away from high-energy physics (Science, 1 April, p. 38). Among other changes, Keith Hodgson, former director of SLAC's synchrotron laboratory, has been named the head of a new Photon Science division, which will concentrate on the basic energy sciences end of SLAC's portfolio. Physicist Persis Drell will head the new Particle and Particle Astrophysics Division, which will focus on high-energy physics at SLAC.