Newsmakers

Science  18 Aug 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5789, pp. 913
  1. TWO CULTURES

    CREDIT: JULIAN VOSS-ANDREAE
    CREDIT: JULIAN VOSS-ANDREAE

    DUAL NATURE. A wave-particle duality runs through Julian Voss-Andreae's life. He was a budding painter before opting for a graduate program in physics at the University of Vienna in Austria. But before long, Voss-Andreae's artistic nature reasserted itself. Since graduating 2 years ago from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, Voss-Andreae has focused on abstract sculptures of hemoglobin and other proteins. “My interest is really nature,” he says. “One way to explore it is through science. Another is through intuitive sense and a search for metaphors.”

    His latest sculpture, titled Quantum Man, will be unveiled next month in Moses Lake, Washington. The 2.5-meter sculpture is made of 115 thin steel slabs connected and spaced apart by 1000 short steel rods. Seen from the front, the figure looks dark and solid. But from the side the quantum walker nearly disappears, as light shines through the spaces between the slabs. “It shows that when you look at things from a different perspective, they can look extremely different,” says Anton Zeilinger, a physicist at the University of Vienna and Voss-Andreae's former group leader. “That's part of the quantum message.”

  2. ON CAMPUS

    TERRORIZED. A failed attempt to bomb the home of a colleague was apparently the last straw for Dario Ringach, a primate neurobiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). “You win,” he wrote earlier this month in an e-mail to several animal-rights groups that says he plans to stop doing animal research immediately. “Please don't bother my family any more.”

    Marie-Francois Chesselet, chair of the school's neurobiology department, says Ringach was shaken by a recent attempted bomb attack on the home of another UCLA researcher (Science, 28 July, p. 437). Ringach continued his work on visual object recognition in monkeys even after animal-rights activists had previously vandalized and staged demonstrations at Ringach's home, frightening his children, Chesselet says. But when the FBI told him the explosive could have blown up a house, Ringach decided to remove his family from the line of fire. “It was his responsibility to do whatever it took to protect them,” Chesselet says.

    Some of Ringach's colleagues have expressed surprise at his decision to abandon his monkey research. “Everyone is concerned that his gesture will empower the activists,” says Chesselet. “Of course it will. But he shouldn't be blamed for that.”

  3. IN THE COURTS

    JUSTICE, IN SECRET. A Russian scientist has received a 6-year suspended prison sentence for selling dual-use technology to a South Korean company. Oskar Kaibyshev, 66, who directed the Institute for Metals Superplasticity Problems in Ufa until he was fired by the institution last year, has also been banned from holding positions of authority for 3 years and fined $131,000.

    During a closed-door trial last week in a Bashkortostan court, prosecutors argued that the technology that Kaibyshev sold to a subsidiary of the Hankook Tire Manufacturing Co. in South Korea could also be used to produce weapons. Kaibyshev plans to appeal the sentence. Prosecutors, who argued for a 10-year prison term, are also considering an appeal.

  4. PIONEERS

    CREDIT: NATIONAL CHENG KUNG UNIVERSITY

    ANCIENT MARINER. Few people know much about Zheng He, an accomplished Chinese seafarer who led major voyages in the early 15th century. Jin Wu, an ocean scientist and former education minister in Taiwan, hopes to change that—and drum up interest in science in the process.

    Wu, who studied antisubmarine warfare for a U.S. defense contractor before spending 20 years at the University of Delaware, was inspired to learn more about He from a Taiwanese documentary that referred to his seven expeditions, with 200 ships and 28,000 men.

    The historical record is sparse because the Ming Dynasty decided to destroy the ships and cancel ocean exploration. But last month, Wu began a 4-month fellowship at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to study questions such as whether the wooden boats were really 144 meters long and how the fleet supported a crew of 28,000. Wu also hopes China will rebuild one of He's vessels. Wu has already organized Zheng He societies in six U.S. cities, and he says a recent bout with cancer won't prevent him from sailing full steam ahead on the project.

  5. THEY SAID IT

    “How could it be that the Romans built aqueducts 2000 years ago that are still standing today while the ceiling on the Big Dig tunnel came down in 2 years?”*

    —Bernard Gordon, an electrical engineer and founder of Analogic Corp., citing last month's collapse of concrete panels in the recently completed $15 billion Boston tunnel project as a sign that the United States was losing its engineering prowess. To stem the decline, Gordon last week gifted $40 million to support engineering education and research at Boston's Museum of Science and Northeastern University.

    • * Source:The Boston Globe

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