ScienceScope

Science  03 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5898, pp. 29
  1. Protection for Researchers

    1. Greg Miller

    A California measure signed into law this week aims to protect researchers from harassment and attacks by animal-rights extremists. Publishing information about researchers that is likely to incite threats or acts of violence or trespassing on a researcher's property with the intent of interfering with his or her academic work is now a misdemeanor. Police hope arrests made for these infractions will yield evidence on shadowy extremist groups. Several university researchers have been targeted in recent attacks (Science, 8 August, p. 755).

  2. Hubble Trouble ... Again

    1. Andrew Lawler

    The failure of a critical device that formats data aboard the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope has delayed this month's long-planned shuttle rescue mission until at least February. Agency officials say it will take several months to prepare the spare data system, which they want to send up because relying on a redundant component would leave the telescope without a backup. Changing out the component will add to the list of fixes, says John Shannon, shuttle program manager. But NASA science chief Edward Weiler says, “Hubble has a habit of coming back.”

  3. Making Space Reservations

    1. Andrew Lawler

    NASA will be allowed to buy seats through 2016 aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which ferries passengers to and from the space station, as part of a stopgap funding measure passed this week. The U.S. government slapped sanctions on Russia for alleged sales of nuclear material to Iran, which prohibited NASA from dealing with the Russian space industry. A waiver that allowed the space agency to carry out such spending was set to expire in 2011. Soyuz needs to be booked well in advance, however, and a failure to extend the waiver this year would leave Americans without a way to get into space if the shuttle, as planned, is taken out of service in 2010.

  4. Not Those Stock Analysts

    1. Erik Stokstad

    The United States faces a shortfall of Ph.D.s to help analyze the status of its fisheries, according to a joint report by the departments of Commerce and Education. The report estimates that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) alone will need to hire 150% more stock-assessment scientists (it now has 90) over the next decade, and universities are expected to confer about half the degrees needed each year.

  5. Italy Restricts Academic Hires

    1. Laura Margottini

    An attempt to address Italy's economic woes appears to place tough restrictions on academic hiring. An amendment to a newly enacted financial law restricts institutions to replacing at most 20% of the jobs lost through retirement and other reasons. “We cannot [hire] anyone until 2013, as there is nobody who is going to retire for the next few years,” says physicist Stefano Fantoni, head of SISSA, the prestigious postgraduate science school in Trieste.

    Italian scientists are also wary about a provision that authorizes public universities to look for sponsors and become private foundations. The new law comes on top of a proposed 10% cut in university funding by 2010. “In Italy, pure research is always the first sector in science to suffer,” says Giancarlo Ruocco, head of the physics department at the University of Rome La Sapienza.

  6. Going Green Once, Twice ...

    1. Rachel Zelkowitz

    North America's first carbon-emissions auction went smoothly last week. Organized by a consortium of 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states aiming for a 10% reduction in carbon emissions from their power companies by 2018, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction closed at a price of $3.07 per ton. Jim Rubens, an energy policy adviser with the Union of Concerned Scientists, called the price a “Goldilocks” figure: It's enough to impact carbon emissions from utilities in participating states without destabilizing the economy.

  7. A Rewarmed Climate Report

    1. Eli Kintisch

    In a surprising twist, White House officials plan to rework a draft report on climate change because of complaints that it hypes—not underplays—the threat of global warming. The Unified Synthesis Product, released in July, was meant to summarize the 21 previous federal Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) reports. But statements like “The future is in our hands” and “the choice is ours” have enraged critics such as Roger A. Pielke Sr. of the University of Colorado, Boulder. Pielke says the draft “promotes a particular narrow perspective.”

    CCSP staffer Chad McNutt says the report was released before it was ready because “we wanted to do this fast.” Now editors are sifting through 500 pages of comments. One editor, Jerry Melillo of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, doesn't think that the July version was overly politicized. But he says some points “could have been stated more clearly.”