Newsmakers

Science  06 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5881, pp. 1269
  1. IN THE NEWS

    CREDIT: AP

    DEFENDING CAPTIVITY. Is Jane Goodall in favor of keeping animals in zoos or isn't she?

    Last month, the celebrated primatologist and animal-rights activist found herself under fire from animal-welfare advocates for remarking that chimpanzees might be better off in zoos than in the wild. “If I were a chimpanzee, I know what I would choose,” she said in a 19 May speech at the opening of a new monkey enclosure at the Edinburgh Zoo in the U.K., contrasting the safety and comfort of zoos to the dangers of poaching and habitat loss in the wild. Her words put her at odds with Advocates for Animals, a U.K. organization that Goodall herself has led since 1998.

    “I would prefer that zoos did not exist,” she explained in a 25 May letter to the London Times, which ran a story about the event. But rather than condemn all zoos, “I choose to praise those that are doing the best job.”

    Goodall has stepped down as president of Advocates for Animals but says her resignation is unrelated to the controversy. “I just don't have time for them,” she told Science, adding that she's on the road 300 days per year. Last week, for example, she was in Brussels presenting a petition asking the European Union to abandon experimentation with animals.

  2. AWARDS

    FIRST KAVLI PRIZES. Researchers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Sweden have won inaugural $1 million prizes from the Kavli Foundation. The awards are for accomplishments in nanoscience, neuroscience, and astrophysics, fields that Norwegian-born philanthropist Fred Kavli wants to boost.

    Louis Brus of Columbia University and Sumio Iijima of Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan, win the nanoscience prize: Brus for his work on nanocrystal semiconductors and Iijima for his research on carbon nanotubes. Maarten Schmidt of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Donald Lynden-Bell of the University of Cambridge in the U.K. share the astrophysics prize for work related to quasars. And Sten Grillner of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, Pasko Rakic of Yale University School of Medicine, and Thomas Jessell of Columbia University are co-winners of the neuroscience prize: Grillner for spelling out how patterns of neuronal circuitry affect locomotion and Rakic and Jessell for work on how neurons develop in the embryonic brain and spinal cord, respectively.

  3. AWARDS

    CREDIT: JOHN ABROMOWSKI/BROWN UNIVERSITY

    CALCULUS OF PEACE. David Mumford, one of three winners of the 2008 mathematics prize from the Israel-based Wolf Foundation, is donating his share of the $100,000 award to Palestinian causes. Mumford, professor emeritus of mathematics at Brown University, will give half of his award to Birzeit University in the West Bank and half to the Tel Aviv-based human rights organization Gisha, which works for freedom of movement of Palestinians in Gaza.

    A pioneer in algebraic geometry who previously won the Fields Medal, mathematics' highest honor, the 70-year-old Mumford says his donations were inspired by a trip to Israel and Palestine 4 years ago, when he saw how difficult it was for Palestinians to study abroad. Sari Bashi, director of Gisha, says Israeli restrictions on travel from Gaza are particularly hard on science students: “There are many advanced degrees that don't exist in Gaza. Hundreds of students are trapped there and can't reach their studies.”

    Mumford stresses that he is “not doing this as a criticism of Israel. This is in Israel's interest as well. Educated Palestinians can be better partners for peace than uneducated ones.” A full list of Wolf Prize winners is at http://www.wolffund.org.il/.

  4. THREE Q'S

    CREDIT: GEORG DUJMIC/I.S.T. AUSTRIA

    VIENNA, AUSTRIA—On a visit here last week, Nobelist Eric Kandel attended the debut of In Search of Memory, a film about his life and work, dined with Austrian President Heinz Fischer, and urged officials to rename a boulevard that bears the name of a 19th century mayor known for his anti-Semitic views. Kandel, who fled Nazi-controlled Austria in 1938 at the age of 9, is now a member of the newly built Institute of Science and Technology Austria.

    Q: How did Austria lure you back?

    Of course, I had distrust of the Viennese. The Catholics here nearly took my life. Unlike Germany, where they've confronted their [anti-Semitic] history very transparently, Austria has never dealt with it. I remember a Viennese woman said to me at the time, in a very typical comment, “You know, they weren't all bad.” So when I won the Nobel, I stuck it to the Austrians by saying that it was certainly not an Austrian Nobel; it was a Jewish-American Nobel. After that, I got a call from the [former] Austrian president [Thomas Klestil], asking me, “How can we make things right?”

    Q: What are your goals here?

    First, Doktor-Karl-Lueger-Ring should be renamed. Lueger was mayor of Vienna [1897 to 1910] and a notorious anti-Semite. Hitler even cited him in Mein Kampf. The fact that the University of Vienna is on this street is offensive. Second, I would like to see the Jewish intellectual community brought back to Vienna. There need to be scholarships for Jewish students and researchers.

    Q: Who will pay for it?

    I'm talking to a private donor. Public money, private money, … I don't care. The Jewish community here was incredibly vibrant. Imagine bringing that back. Wouldn't it be nice?

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