Science  01 Dec 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5804, pp. 1365

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    THE FIRST PODSTER. There you are, standing by your poster at the big annual meeting, when the Big Kahuna in your field walks up. If only you had some multimedia to make a quick impression. Next time, try attaching some video iPods to your poster, says graduate student Pascal Wallisch of the University of Chicago in Illinois, who unveiled what may be the world's first “Podster” at October's meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Wallisch got the idea after a poster session at the 2005 neuroscience meeting in which he used his laptop to show videos of his research on the primate visual system. Reaching around to point at the screen was awkward, however, and the batteries ran out. So this year, he replaced the laptop with two iPods, each loaded with videos to explain different features of his experiment. It gave visitors a more interactive experience, he says, and left his hands free.

    Passers-by loved the concept, says Wallisch, as did two Apple Computer reps from a nearby booth—until they found out he'd used a Microsoft product to create the poster's text and graphics. “Then they just left,” Wallisch says.


    CLEVERNESS CONTROVERSY. A Danish IQ researcher who was suspended after his research suggested that men have slightly higher IQs than women has been found guilty of “official misconduct” but reinstated in his job.

    Psychologist Helmuth Nyborg, 69, of the University of Aarhus was suspended last spring following criticism of a report from a longitudinal study called the Skanderborg project. Nyborg reported in a June 2005 paper in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences that when IQ test scores of 62 Danes he has been following since the 1970s are properly analyzed, they reveal a roughly four-point advantage for males.


    Although Nyborg is not alone in reporting such a sex difference, some scholars criticized the research on methodological grounds. University officials set up a committee to investigate, and in July, it reported that there was no evidence of fraud. In September, the university declared that Nyborg had demonstrated “grossly negligent behavior” and issued him a “severe reprimand” before revoking his suspension. Colleagues from around the world have rallied to his defense, accusing the university of having political motives and claiming that the errors in his research were trivial.


    U.K. SCIENCE MINISTER. An educator turned politician is the new U.K. minister for science and innovation. Malcolm Wicks, 59, succeeds David Sainsbury, who stepped down last month after 8 years marked by a doubling of U.K. spending on research.


    The son of a Labour Member of Parliament and a Labour MP himself since 1992, Wicks most recently guided a strategic plan for a dramatic shift to low-CO2-emitting power sources as energy minister in the Blair government. Slowing the buildup of greenhouse gases, he said, is the “world's most pressing challenge.” Wicks has called the United Kingdom's and the world's failure to address nuclear waste “an absolute disgrace,” although he has also said that nuclear power could be a clean alternative to fossil fuels. Wicks attended the London School of Economics but has no formal training in science.



    IN TANDEM. Sometimes a little sibling rivalry can be a good thing. Last week, Kevin Shenderov, a 19-year-old senior at New York University, followed the footsteps of his brother Eugene by winning a Rhodes Scholarship. Kevin (left) intends to pursue a doctorate in immunology at Oxford University—just as Eugene (center) is now doing.

    The brothers credit their parents, Peter, a medical physicist, and Faina, who is completing a doctorate in pharmacy, for inculcating a love of science. Both worked at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City when the boys were growing up, and “the dinner conversation pretty much always centered around what was going on at the hospital,” says Eugene, 23, who won a Rhodes 2 years ago. “Science was the family's bread and butter.”

    Peter says the brothers have pushed each other but remain close. “This kind of competition is pulling them together,” he says. “The accomplishment is the icing on the cake.”