Science  27 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5884, pp. 1707
  1. Hungary: Where Europe Will Be EITing

    1. Gretchen Vogel

    Budapest will host the headquarters of the new European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Conceived as a way to boost innovation à la the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, EIT has been roundly criticized by European scientists as misconceived and politically motivated (Science, 21 September 2007, p. 1676). But József Pálinkás, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, says he hopes EIT will attract new investors to the region and inspire Hungary's students and young scientists. “It shows that Hungary is a player” in the European science scene, he says.

    Hungary beat out Wroclaw, Poland; Jena, Germany; the Spanish city of Sant Cugat des Vallés; and a twin bid by Vienna, Austria, and Bratislava, Slovakia, for the right to host the administrative headquarters of the virtual institute, which is slated to receive €300 million through 2013.

  2. Council: Machine Won't Destroy Earth

    1. Daniel Clery

    With only weeks to go before particles begin whizzing around in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's most powerful particle accelerator, at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, the lab's governing council sought last week to get one thing straight: Yes, it's safe. Honest.

    Citing some of the more exotic theories of fundamental physics, online commentators have suggested that the LHC's particle collisions could create a microscopic black hole that, if stable, could swallow up Earth. Other potential threats include vacuum bubbles, magnetic monopoles, and strangelets. Two people even filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court in Hawaii in March to try to halt LHC operations until a safety and environmental audit is carried out.

    Although the lab looked into the issue in 2002, media interest in the perceived risks and new results and theories in physics drove the lab to reexamine it. CERN's 15-page report, released last week, concluded that “there is no basis for any concerns,” principally because thousands of cosmic rays with energies much higher than LHC can achieve bombard Earth every day, yet no black hole or exotic particle has yet devoured the planet. “The Web has become a place where people can steer the scientific process in unpredictable ways,” says CERN theorist Michelangelo Mangano, a co-author of the new report.

  3. New Woes for NPOESS

    1. Eli Kintisch

    The effort to launch the five-satellite National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) got a bit tougher last week.

    According to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the price tag for the multisatellite program, designed to take crucial weather and climate measurements, has risen from $12.5 billion to roughly $14 billion for security, technical, and operating reasons. The higher costs could make it harder to restore planned climate sensors that were removed from the satellites. The overruns may also make it less likely that two satellites will be able to calibrate certain delicate measurements by taking two readings simultaneously. Representative Nick Lampson (D-TX), who chaired the hearing, worries that “the risk of [a] data gap is growing along with the cost of this program.” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher, however, says that the “White House is committed” to maintaining climate measurements over the long haul.

    Pentagon officials are also threatening to cut funding for the project in October unless work is completed on key documents that should have been signed 2 years ago. The Pentagon, NASA, and NOAA are pointing fingers at one another.

  4. Canada-CIRM Cancer Deal

    1. Constance Holden

    Research on cancer stem cells—one of the hottest topics in stem cell research—is being revved up with a 3-year agreement between the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and Canada's newly formed Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, a group of public and private research agencies. California and Canada, which together do 70% of all research on cancer stem cells, want to generate some synergy by teaming up. So the consortium is putting up $100 million for Canadian researchers who collaborate with researchers in California. CIRM, meanwhile, which has been gearing up to support applied stem cell research, will devote a portion of the $122 million in disease-related grants to be awarded to California scientists next year to collaborative cancer stem cell research with Canadian scientists. Mick Bhatia, director of McMaster University's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in Hamilton, Canada, says Canadian and California researchers will meet in workshops soon to discuss how to “leverage and complement each other's work.”

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