Science  22 Aug 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5892, pp. 1029

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  1. Obama: Lunar Sooner

    1. Andrew Lawler

    Both major U.S. presidential candidates looked to the heavens last week. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) supported President George W. Bush's plan to return humans to the moon as part of a seven-page space policy white paper that also calls for increasing international efforts in space. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), during an event near NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, backed current efforts to build a successor to the shuttle to transport humans and material but did not support returning to the moon. Both men are keen to win support in the battleground state of Florida.

  2. Plans for Nuclear Plant Proposed

    1. Eli Kintisch

    Last week, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission told Congress how it plans to license a nuclear reactor that would use technologies not yet invented or tested to produce electricity, heat, and hydrogen. The Department of Energy's (DOE's) $2.4 billion Next Generation Nuclear Plant, to be built at Idaho National Laboratory, is supposed to demonstrate the feasibility of a gas-cooled reactor that operates at 950°C, three times the temperature of current water-cooled reactors. Congress has ordered DOE to complete the plant by 2021, and last week regulators explained how it hopes to conduct research to license the plant by 2017. But that timetable is too ambitious, warns Edward Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, noting that reactor materials able to withstand such high temperatures don't exist.

  3. Vioxx Trial Criticized

    1. Jennifer Couzin

    Researchers combing through internal memos and other correspondence submitted by the drug company Merck in suits involving its anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx claim that a clinical trial carried out in 1999 was actually initiated by Merck's marketing department to promote sales. The trial, which compared the gastrointestinal effects of Vioxx and naproxen, a commonly used anti-inflammatory, was largely run by primary care doctors. In contrast, most clinical trials are run by specialists, suggesting that the company wanted to create buzz for the drug with the doctors likely to prescribe it. The authors of the criticism, published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, were all paid consultants to attorneys representing plaintiffs that sued Merck for heart attacks they say were caused by the drug. The company says the study, published in the Annals in 2003, was not done for marketing purposes.