UPWARD GAZE. The new head of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) hopes to make the 45-year-old organization even more of a player on the international astronomical scene.
Dutch astronomer Tim de Zeeuw, now scientific director of Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, says his biggest challenge will be to persuade ESO's 13 member states to build the 42-meter European Extremely Large Telescope. The observatory is also a partner with the United States in the Atacama Large Millimeter Array being built in Chile.
Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, says de Zeeuw is a “fantastic choice” for ESO. De Zeeuw, 50, succeeds French astronomer Catherine Cesarsky, who is leaving to become president of the International Astronomical Union (Science, 8 September 2006, p. 1385).
WOLF PRIZES. George Feher has always had a knack for cracking tough problems. Growing up in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, he taught himself radio electronics. In 1941, he and eight Jewish friends escaped Nazi persecution and fled to British-ruled Palestine. After a stint in British detention, Feher worked out a way to decode radio transmissions between the British High Commissioner and 10 Downing St. that later proved pivotal in the Israeli war for independence. Feher moved to the United States in 1946 and eventually wound up at the University of California, San Diego, where he turned his sleuthing to uncovering the workings of the reaction center: the molecular machine that drives photosynthesis.
Last week, Feher's detective work earned him a share of the 2007 Wolf Prize in Chemistry. Feher (above) shares the $100,000 prize with Ada Yonath, a chemist and structural biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, who pioneered ways to use x-rays to map the three-dimensional structure of the ribosome. Other Wolf Prizes this year go to Stephen Smale of the University of California, Berkeley, and Harry Furstenberg of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (mathematics), and Albert Fert of CNRS in Orsay, France, and Peter Grünberg of the Jülich Research Center in Germany (physics).
IN THE COURTS
DEVASTATED. A mathematics professor who was fired from a Korean university 11 years ago shot an arrow at a Seoul high court judge last week after losing his appeal of the dismissal. The judge suffered only minor injury, and the researcher has been charged with attempted murder.
Myung Ho Kim lost his job at Sungkyunkwan University in 1996 after telling institutional authorities about an error in a math problem on the university's entrance exam. He claimed retaliation, but administrators said he was sacked because he had been rude to students and contemptuous toward the university (Science, 5 September 1997, p. 1441).
On 15 January, Seoul high court justice Park Hong Woo upheld the university's decision. “Although we recognize Kim as a man of decent scholarship who has a clean conscience, we did not find him as a qualified member of the academic membership,” the judge said.
Kim then whipped out a crossbow and fired a stone arrow at the judge, wounding his midriff. “When my appeal was dismissed, I felt that my life was over,” Kim told reporters, denying that he had tried to kill the judge. The Korean Professors Union issued a statement after the incident decrying the ruling as biased. Kim, who's been unemployed for the past several years, could now even face a death sentence if the attempted murder charge is proved, officials say.
CRAFOORD PRIZES. Earth scientist Wallace Broecker has won the 2006 Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Broecker (left), a researcher at Columbia University, receives the $500,000 award for his pioneering studies of the link between ocean chemistry and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The academy has also announced the winner of the 2007 prize: anthropologist Robert Trivers (above, right) of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who receives the honor for his contributions to the understanding of cooperation and conflict in the animal world.