Newsmakers

Science  11 Jan 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5860, pp. 141
  1. TWO CULTURES

    CREDIT: NYU

    HEADBANGERS. The Amygdaloids, a rock band formed by researchers at New York University, has played only 10 shows in its first year of existence. But the band's songs about brain science, fear, and love now grace a new CD, Heavy Mental, and last week the band gave a free performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Here's who they are:

  2. MOVERS

    CREDIT: CNR

    QUALIFIED. Merit triumphed over politics in Italy's choice of a new research chief, according to scientists who hope that big changes will follow. Theoretical physicist Luciano Maiani was named head of the $1.5 billion National Research Council (CNR) in December and is expected to be confirmed soon to the 4-year post. Maiani, best known for jointly predicting the charm quark with two other scientists, served as director general of CERN from 1999 to 2003 and previously ran Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics.

    CNR has been without a director since the resignation of former chief Fabio Pistella last summer. Critics claimed that Pistella was a political favorite and publicly challenged his qualifications to run the agency. Last year, to cut political interference, the Italian government adopted a new system for selecting research heads, in which an international selection committee sifts applications and proposes three names to the government to choose from. Maiani was picked from about 50 applicants.

    Maiani says he wants to restore CNR's role as the primary driver of Italian research. He intends to ramp up the agency's programs in particle physics, astronomy, and areas of medicine and biology. Luciano Pietronero, head of CNR's Institute of Complex Systems in Rome, says Maiani's experience makes him “perfectly suited for the challenge of revitalizing the agency.”

  3. IN THE COURTS

    CLEARED. A French court has removed the taint of espionage from chemist Luu Bang. But Luu is still looking to his employer, the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), to restore his honor.

    Luu, 67, was arrested at the Strasbourg airport on 8 April 2006 while on his way to Guangdong, China, to attend a seminar on Sino-French collaboration. Border police found four vials containing a white powder in his suitcase. Luu said they were chemicals for prospective scientific partners in China, but CNRS filed a theft report and suspended Luu as emeritus researcher (Science, 28 April 2006, p. 512).

    The French government eventually charged him with “breach of trust” for trying to take the samples abroad without proper consent. But last month, an appeals court in Colmar in eastern France said that CNRS did not have internal rules governing such shipments and that Luu had notified the French consulate in Guangzhou of his plan. The government did not use the 5 days it had to appeal the verdict. CNRS did not respond to requests for comment.

  4. DEATHS

    CREDIT: STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY

    FIRST IN CLIMATE. The founding chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Bert Bolin, 82, died 30 December 2007 in Stockholm, Sweden, of stomach cancer.

    “A lot of credit [for the Nobel] has to go to Bert,” says Robert Watson of the University of East Anglia, U.K., Bolin's successor at IPCC. “If he had not done the superb job that he did, it wouldn't have happened.” IPCC's current chair, Rajendra Pachauri, and Al Gore accepted the prize at the Nobel ceremony last month.

    Beginning in the 1950s, Bolin's work at Stockholm University on the cycling of carbon through land, ocean, and atmosphere drew attention to the carbon cycle's vital role in climate change. In 1988, he became IPCC's first chair and set the organization's direction through its first two major climate assessments involving thousands of climate scientists. After the Nobel Peace Prize was announced, he told Science that their hard work helped “to unite the scientific community around the part of climate knowledge that is really robust without going beyond that to speculation.”

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