Science  10 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5762, pp. 773
  1. Pioneers

    Detail, More Detail. For more than 2 decades, photomicroscopist Dee Breger of Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has used artistic photographs from scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) to lure the public into learning about science. “It's a bait and switch,” says Breger (left, top). “You grab someone's attention with a pretty image, and you tell them what it is.” Last fall, she did one better: She offered an hourlong guided session on an SEM as part of an auction to raise money for educational software.

    The auction, organized by Galaxygoo, a San Francisco nonprofit, featured works of art inspired by science, including Breger's own SEM image of a penguin feather. The SEM session was bought on eBay last month by Aaron Messing (center), a 65-year-old amateur microscopist, for $153.75.

    Messing, who has eight light microscopes at his West Orange, New Jersey, home, says the 2-million-fold magnification was too good to pass up. Messing is preparing for his session by reading the microscope's lengthy user's manual. He hopes to study “some state-of-the-art nano-items” borrowed from Drexel's College of Engineering and avoid “a nice little exercise that is cute but not meaningful.”

  2. Movers


    Crossing Over. In 2000, Aristides Patrinos brokered a truce between a U.S. government project to sequence the human genome and a competing, private effort led by J. Craig Venter. Now, the 59-year-old engineer-turned-science administrator is leaving the Department of Energy after 3 decades to run a company founded by Venter. As president of Synthetic Genomics in Rockville, Maryland, Patrinos will work with companies to develop made-to-order microbes that can produce ethanol or hydrogen, eat oil, or sequester carbon.

    “He's got the respect of the entire government and scientific communities,” says Venter, a former government employee himself who has since founded a string of companies and research organizations. Patrinos is also a star in Greece, the native country of his parents: Last year, he finished fifth in a poll by an Athens newspaper for Person of the Year.

  3. Awards

    Spanish Ecology Prize. Biological oceanographer Paul Dayton is the inaugural recipient of a new ecology prize awarded in memory of Spanish ecologist Ramón Margalef i Lápez. Dayton, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, known for his work on coastal, estuarine, and Antarctic habitats, received the $120,000 award at a ceremony in Barcelona last month. The prize is funded by the government of Catalonia.

  4. Deaths


    Ideas And More. Great Britain's Nicholas Shackleton started out studying physics, switched to measuring minuscule isotopic differences in microscopic bits of ocean mud, and ended up establishing the metronomic qualities of climate change. His death on 24 January, at age 68, leaves a hole in the field of paleoceanography that he pioneered with the understanding that ice ages fluctuate with the rhythmic variations in Earth's orbit.

    “He was full of ideas, but he followed up with measurements,” says marine geochemist Wallace Broecker of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York. “The only competition for his work was the clarinet.”

    Shackleton, who retired from Cambridge University in 2004, amassed a world-class if not unique collection of historical clarinets, published scholarly papers on the instrument, and played it himself. “In a sense,” says Broecker, “he was just as much an explorer” as his distant relative, Antarctic adventurer Ernest Shackleton.

  5. Two Cultures


    Genomic Advance. Working with Princeton University biologist Bonnie Bassler, choreographer Liz Lerman has developed a multimedia production that mixes dance with scientific imagery to explore the impact of genetic research on society. This photo shows Gregor Mendel (acted by Ted Johnson) leading a female protagonist (Margot Greenlee) on a journey retracing evolution's footsteps. The production, titled Ferocious Beauty: Genome, premiered at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, last week.

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