Science  04 Jan 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5552, pp. 27
  1. New Faces at NIH

    A director will finally arrive—and immediately face questions about the best way to adapt to slower budget growth. A report from a congressionally ordered panel due out within a year of the new director's appointment is rumored to be looking at merging several institutes as part of a perennial quest to make the Bethesda biomedical behemoth more efficient.

  2. ITER Inches Ahead

    Plans for a multibillion-dollar international fusion reactor will continue to crawl forward, with the United States making noises about rejoining the project. The Bush Administration is mulling requests to send observers to planning meetings— although other partners say they don't want the United States present unless it is ready to pony up some cash. In 1998 U.S. officials pulled out of a more costly version of the project.

  3. Kyoto Clash

    The Bush Administration is still working on an alternative to the Kyoto climate change treaty. In the meantime, dozens of other nations may implement a carbon emissions-trading scheme that would allow some countries to emit more of the gas in exchange for undertaking projects—such as tree planting—to soak up carbon.

  4. To Clone ... Or Not?

    The U.S. Senate will debate a controversial bill to ban human cloning early in the year, while nations from Germany to China continue to discuss how to regulate their own cloning and stem cell research. Some researchers fear that talent and resources will flow to countries with the most permissive laws.

  5. Deep Dreams

    Scientists hoping to convert an abandoned gold mine in South Dakota into the world's deepest laboratory will find out whether National Science Foundation (NSF) reviewers think the idea is a good one. Backers haven't waited for NSF's blessing to move ahead with the $300 million project, however. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) last month tucked language into a defense spending bill that makes the mine state property, opening the way to future renovations.

  6. NASA Shakeup

    Newly confirmed space chief Sean O'Keefe is preparing to name ex-astronaut Charles Bolden, an African American, as his deputy. O'Keefe is filling that job for the first time in a decade as part of his effort to lift the agency from a budgetary morass.


    Space scientists are anxious to see how the duo deals with NASA's research program. Earth-based astronomers recently headed off an attempt to chop $550,000 in annual support for the Arecibo radar in Puerto Rico, used to track near-Earth objects. NASA complained that the funding wasn't peer reviewed, but later restored $400,000 for 2002—with no promises for 2003. Planetary scientists, meanwhile, recently won approval for two new missions. Dawn (above) will rendezvous with the largest known asteroids, Vesta and Ceres, while a space telescope called Kepler will search for Earth-sized planets orbiting other stars. Both are slated for a 2006 launch, although budget troubles will delay Kepler for at least a year.

  7. Gene Count

    Sequencers hope to at least double the number of documented microbial genomes, to more than 50. The number of genes in the human genome, meanwhile, will creep steadily upward from initial estimates of about 35,000. But that total will be dwarfed by the discovery of many more thousands of genes within genes—coding regions for a variety of proteins that begin or end in different places along the sequence of a single gene.

  8. Science & Security

    Congress will finally pass legislation that increases security at labs working with potential bioweapons, leading some universities to decide that the costs outweigh the benefits of the research. Some scientists, meanwhile, are waiting to see how the Department of Heath and Human Services wields its new authority to classify some information—including lab locations and possibly research findings—as secret.

    University researchers will finally get some relief from export regulations that have ensnarled projects—from satellites to supercomputers—involving advanced technology and foreign partners. The State Department is expected to publish new rules that protect academics who allow foreigners access to bona fide research projects.

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