Newsmakers

Science  10 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5899, pp. 173
  1. CAMPAIGNS

    HUMANE LENS. A former New York City fashion photographer hopes his camera can help end deadly attacks against albinos taking place in Africa.

    CREDIT: RICK GUIDOTTI

    Rick Guidotti, 51, has spent a decade photographing children and adults around the world with the rare genetic disease, which leaves eyes, skin, and hair without normal pigment and is a source of stigma. This passion left him determined to try to stem the violence in Tanzania, where at least 19 people with the disease have been killed in the last year as part of a brutal trade in albino body parts.

    “I don't think we're going to stop everything with this one trip,” says Guidotti, who leaves on 19 October on a campaign sponsored by Under the Same Sun, an albinism advocacy group in Canada. But, he says, he hopes to “demystify [albinism] and take away its oneness” by meeting with officials and sharing his photographs. Pictures of children with albinism and other genetic diseases can be seen on his Web site http://www.positiveexposure.org/.

  2. PIONEERS

    HIGHER. Talk about an upward trajectory. Elon Musk lasted only days in his graduate physics program at Stanford University after he enrolled in 1995. But he's been no slouch since, having created and sold two major Internet companies and invested millions in solar energy and electric cars. Now 37, the South African-born Musk achieved a dream last month by sending the first private rocket into orbit.

    CREDIT: SPACEX, SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES

    SpaceX, which he founded in 2002, launched its Falcon 1 rocket from an island in the central Pacific. The 28 September flight followed three failed attempts. The rocket can carry up to 1100 kg, with a larger version rated to 12,500 kg. SpaceX plans to fly Malaysian and Canadian science experiments into orbit and has contracts with NASA and the U.S. military to fly payloads into space.

  3. POLITICS

    FRESH AIR. Barbara Hogan was serenaded recently by AIDS advocates in Cape Town, South Africa, celebrating her appointment as health minister by incoming president Kgalema Motlanthe.

    The impromptu choir also hailed the departure of her predecessor, the controversial Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who earned the ridicule and wrath of the HIV/AIDS community for downplaying the effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs and promoting alternative treatments such as lemon juice and beetroot. “We're ecstatic about her ousting,” says Nathan Geffen, a member of the Treatment Action Campaign, who was a part of the choir.

    Hogan has been a member of the South African Parliament since 1994 and has worked on economic issues. A presidential election is scheduled to take place in 7 months, which leaves her little time to repair what Geffen sees as the “disaster” caused by Tshabalala-Msimang. “But Hogan can lay the groundwork for change to happen,” he says, suggesting that she can start to heal the rift between civil society and the health department. And she could be kept on if Motlanthe retains power. “Many of us are hoping that things will play out quite well.”

  4. THEY SAID IT

    “The funding provided by the United States for the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) does not constitute a 'major Federal action' as defined by the National Environmental Policy Act.”

    —Judge Helen Gillmor of the U.S. District Court in Hawaii dismissing a lawsuit by Walter Wagner and Luis Sancho, who believe that smashing beams at high energies in the newly commissioned accelerator at CERN in Switzerland might endanger the planet. The 26 September ruling did not address the question of whether the LHC poses a threat but noted that U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction over the facility.

  5. AWARDS

    CREDIT: COURTESY OF TRIESTE SCIENCE PRIZE 2008

    TRIESTE PRIZE. A Brazilian astrophysicist and an Indian aerospace engineer are co-winners of the $100,000 Trieste Science Prize from the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World.

    Beatriz Barbuy, a professor at the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Säo Paulo, Brazil, studies the chemical composition of stars and has shown that metal-poor stars in the halo of the Milky Way have an overabundance of oxygen. The work has enabled a better understanding of how galaxies form.

    Roddam Narasimha, chair of engineering mechanics at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore, India, and a professor at the University of Hyderabad, analyzes the role of turbulence in applications related to aerospace and atmospheric sciences. His research has helped improve aircraft design and monsoon predictions.

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