Newsmakers

Science  28 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5906, pp. 1309
  1. TWO CULTURES

    CREDIT: ROYAL OPERA HOUSE

    GO WITH THE FLOW. Dance produces many good things, but good data? That's what David Kirsh, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), hopes to capture from British dancer and choreographer Wayne McGregor (below). Starting 26 January 2009, the Olivier Award-winner will spend 3 weeks at UCSD developing a new dance, called “Entity,” under the intense scrutiny of Kirsh's research team.

    CREDIT: ROYAL OPERA HOUSE

    The mental and social processes involved with choreography are mysterious, says Kirsh, who describes it as “using the body as a thing to think with.” His plan is to use high-definition cameras and a tiny camera on McGregor's head to capture every instruction that McGregor gives to his dancers and every movement they make, from the first brainstorming session in the dance studio to the final performance. Kirsh hopes to understand the dialogue between body movement and cognition and get a better handle on the creative process. McGregor says his aim is to find a “new choreographic form with possibilities drawn from science but applied in dance.”

  2. THEY SAID IT

    “I've got some in my fridge. It tastes fine to me.”

    —NASA engineer Bob Bagdigian, on water derived from urine using a new wastewater recycling system that will be installed on the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a mission to renovate its living quarters. The device, developed under Bagdigian's charge, was part of the cargo transported to the ISS by seven astronauts aboard the shuttle, Endeavor, last week.

  3. ON CAMPUS

    TRAGIC RECORD. More than 6000 pages of documents related to the 16 April 2007 massacre at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg are now available online, thanks to an effort led by computer engineering student Justin Harrison.

    Now a senior, Harrison knew some of the victims killed by Seung-Hui Cho (Science, 27 April 2007, p. 525). The Prevail Archive (www.prevailarchive.org/archive/) was culled from the boxes of e-mails, police reports, and handwritten materials that the university released to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Harrison and nine others spent 2 days scanning the documents.

    Harrison says they wanted to understand how administrators reacted as the tragedy unfolded. He doesn't believe the events of that day could have been prevented, he says, “but there were so many red flags [about Cho], it's clear something more should have been done.”

  4. IN BRIEF

    Wilfrid Rall, who pioneered the application of computation modeling to neuroscience more than 5 decades ago, was awarded the inaugural $25,000 Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience at the Society for Neuroscience meeting last week. Rall, who had a background in physics before he went into neuroscience, showed in the 1950s that simulations could be used to analyze the properties and behaviors of neurons. The work laid the foundations of computational neuroscience. The prize is sponsored by the Swartz Foundation.

  5. CELEBRITIES

    REFORM PLATFORM. “I haven't had the chance to tell if I feel tired or not,” says Toshihide Maskawa of Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan, explaining his hectic schedule since the announcement on 7 October that he had won the Nobel Prize in physics. One new responsibility is advising Japan's Ministry of Education on how to strengthen basic research and foster scientific creativity.

    The panel of advisers, which includes his co-laureate Makoto Kobayashi of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Tsukuba, physics laureates Leo Esaki (1973) and Masatoshi Koshiba (2002), chemistry laureates Ryoji Noyori (2001) and Koichi Tanaka (2002), and medicine laureate Susumu Tonegawa (1987), met for the first time on 7 November. One of their first pearls of wisdom, according to Shigekazu Matsuura, an official in the ministry's Research Promotion Bureau, was that “some [Japanese] professors really hope not to be upstaged by their students' accomplishments, even though this is shirking their responsibilities.”

    (L to R): Esaki, Koshiba, Kobayashi, Tanaka, Tonegawa, Noyori, and Maskawa.

    CREDIT: 2008 MAINICHI NEWSPAPER CO., LTD.

    The group will meet at least once more before offering formal advice to the ministry.

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