Newsmakers

Science  16 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5780, pp. 1595
  1. PIONEERS

    CREDIT: MIT

    BABY CAM. Even the most doting parent would be put to shame by the amount of video and audio recordings that cognitive scientist Deb Roy (above) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge is collecting on his 10-month-old son. But it's all in the name of science. Roy wants to understand how the boy acquires language, and he's rigged up 11 fisheye video cameras and 14 microphones at his home to monitor every sound and motion.

    “We're primarily capturing the environment of the baby so we can feed that into a learning system on the computer,” Roy says. The plan is to model how early words and grammar are learned.

    Linguist Ray Dougherty of New York University worries that the amount of information generated by the project might be too much to analyze. “Children learn language on the basis of the smallest amount of data,” he notes. The key is to figure out which pieces of data are important, he says.

  2. AWARDS

    KYOTO PRIZE. A Japanese mathematician, a U.S. immunologist, and a Japanese designer have won the 2006 Kyoto Prizes from the Inamori Foundation.

    Hirotugu Akaike, 78, a researcher at the Institute of Statistical Mathematics in Tokyo, wins the basic sciences prize for work leading to the development of statistical models used in forecasting economic trends and natural phenomena. Leonard Herzenberg, 74, an immunologist and geneticist at Stanford University in California, receives the advanced technology prize for the flow cytometer, an instrument developed in the early 1970s for sorting different types of cells that has been a boon for regenerative medicine. Japan's Issey Miyake, 68, is the winner of the arts and philosophy prize for creating clothes that don't lose form while allowing unrestricted body movement.

    Each winner will take home a gold medal and $446,000.

  3. MOVERS

    CHANGE ATWOODS HOLE. Robert Gagosian is stepping down as head of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts. The 61-year-old marine geochemist, who has led WHOI since 1994, plans to devote himself to raising the “visibility of the ocean sciences, nationally and internationally.”

    Since 2000, Gagosian has helped create four ocean institutes, launched a new coastal research vessel, got funding to replace WHOI's 42-year-old research submarine Alvin, and raised $150 million.

    Executive vice president James Luyten will take over as acting director when Gagosian steps down next month.

  4. A LIFE IN SCIENCE

    CREDIT: NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE

    THE VALUE OF RESEARCH. Molecular biologist Anita Roberts, who studied the role of TGF-β in the progression of cancer and wound healing, died of gastric cancer at her home in Bethesda, Maryland, on 26 May. She was 64.

    A researcher at the National Cancer Institute, Roberts wrote extensively about her experiences as a patient (www.anitaroberts.net/blog). She offered this insight in an interview for the spring 2006 issue of CR, a publication of the American Association of Cancer Research: “When I was first diagnosed with this cancer, I was so angry about my research. I thought: ‘What have I been doing for 25 years? Who cares what compound binds to what piece of DNA?’ That lasted about a week. Then I realized we now have drugs based on what we understand from our basic research.”

  5. THEY SAID IT

    “I haven't done any conquering, per se.”

    —University of Miami, Florida, accounting professor Thomas Robinson, quoted in the Miami Herald last week after a British gene-testing company identified him as a descendent of the Mongolian warrior Genghis Khan.

  6. THREE Q'S

    CREDIT: TOM TROWER/ARC/NASA

    Simon “Pete” Worden, the new director of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, was once called Darth Vader for his advocacy of missile defense as an Air Force colonel. He also championed the Pentagon's successful Clementine mission to the moon before retiring from the Air Force in 2003. An astronomer by training, the 56-year-old Worden is an old friend of NASA chief Michael Griffin.

    Q: How can Ames survive a shrinking budget?

    We must find new ways of doing things in space and forge new partnerships—particularly with the private sector.

    Q: Name one radical idea you would like to pursue.

    I think we can build a small lunar lander for under $50 million in less than 2 years, in collaboration with private companies. We can start sending several of these landers to the moon.

    Q: What will space look like a century from now?

    Besides [having] my final resting place be some asteroid we diverted to save Earth, I would expect the first human colonies on planets discovered by Ames's missions to be thriving.

Log in to view full text

Via your Institution

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Navigate This Article