Science  07 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5745, pp. 31

You are currently viewing the .

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

  1. Nuclear Traffic Report

    VIENNA— There's good news and bad news about illicit trafficking of radioactive materials, says the International Atomic Energy Agency in a new report. The good news is that the number of incidents involving uranium, plutonium, or thorium—ingredients for a “dirty bomb”—have remained low since peaking in the early 1990s. Perpetrators were caught with such materials 19 times in 2003 and 2004 combined, compared with 45 in 1994 alone.

    The bad news is that the market is booming for less dangerous materials. There were a record 78 incidents last year involving isotopes such as cesium-137, which is used in hospitals as a source of x-rays. The most worrying was a 2003 incident in the Republic of Georgia, where an arrest netted 170 grams of weapons-grade uranium that seems to have been part of a larger cache for sale.

  2. More Bang for the Buck?

    BARCELONA—Spain plans to boost research spending next year by 33%, but scientists are unhappy that much of the increase will go toward building more military weapons.

    The total research budget for FY 2006, which starts on 1 January, will be $6.5 billion, including a 27% increase for military research. But funding for basic research in physics and chemistry, for example, would rise only marginally. The budget “reinforces the scientific militarization undertaken by previous governments over the last 10 years,” says Jordi Armadans, director of a group of scientists against military research called Fundació per la Pau.

    Researchers also object to the government's continued listing of military construction programs—tanks, ships, and the like—as research, despite a pledge this summer from Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero that such spending would not be part of the government's promised doubling of the research budget over the next 5 years. According to Fundació, more than 80% of the $1.7 billion for military R&D will go toward construction.

  3. Baltimore Bids Adieu

    Biologist David Baltimore will step down as president of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena in June 2006 after 9 years on the job. The 67-year-old Nobelist plans to return to research and teaching as a faculty member.

    “I analyzed a lot of things about myself and my position in the world and my age and where my satisfactions were, and I decided that, on a personal basis, this was a time to think about it,” he said, announcing his decision last week. “And as I thought about Caltech, I recognized that we had a lot of things in place and had done a lot of things and it wasn't a bad time to have a transition.”

    Caltech has already raised $1.1 billion in a $1.4 billion capital campaign that it launched in 2002, and Baltimore was instrumental in creating the Broad Center for the Biological Sciences. He will go down in history “as one of the great presidents of Caltech,” says Eli Broad, a trustee of the institute and namesake of the center.

  4. Googling NASA

    After years of casting about for a major industrial partner, NASA's vast Ames Research Center will take advantage of its Silicon Valley location and partner with Google.

    The famous search-engine company will develop up to 93,000 square meters on an Ames research park for its research and development efforts. Ames Director G. Scott Hubbard predicts that Google's presence will provide advances in “new sensors and materials from collaborations on bio-info-nano convergence, improved analysis of engineering problems,” as well as in supercomputing and data mining.

  5. Annan Names U.N. "Flu Czar"

    British public health expert David Nabarro has been picked to become the United Nations' point man for influenza. The 28 September appointment by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan gives Nabarro, who has held various positions within the World Health Organization (WHO), a coordinating role in efforts against avian and human influenza across U.N. branches. WHO will remain the lead agency on flu.

    Nabarro immediately made world headlines when he told reporters that a flu pandemic might claim as many as 150 million lives. The next day, a WHO spokesperson said that a more reasonable projection would range from 2 million to 7.1 million deaths.