Science  17 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5763, pp. 931

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  1. Innovation Craze Hits China

    1. Gong Yidong

    BEIJING—China has unveiled an ambitious 15-year plan for ditching its follow-the-leader approach to R&D in favor of one that prizes innovation.

    The plan calls for boosting spending on R&D from 216 billion yuan ($26 billion) in 2004 (1.4% of GDP) to 900 billion yuan ($110 billion) in 2020 (an estimated 2.5% of GDP). The plan identifies 16 state projects, including human space flight and broadband wireless communications, and four priority basic science programs: protein sciences, reproductive biology and development, nanotechnology, and quantum mechanics. Chinese Academy of Sciences biophysicist Zou Chenglu says the blueprint is “generally good. … But it leaves limited room for basic science.”

  2. Grantee Granted Reprieve

    1. Erik Stokstad

    The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has reinstated funding for a study published in Science that determined that logging after wildfires harms a forest's recovery (Science, 10 February, p. 761). BLM had suspended the $300,000 grant to Oregon State University (OSU) while it investigated whether the authors had used their paper to lobby against pending federal legislation that would facilitate salvage logging in national forests.

    OSU says that a reference to the pending legislation inadvertently left in by Science editors was not supposed to have appeared in the online version of the paper.

    Representative Greg Walden (R-OR), who has introduced the salvage logging bill, will chair a field hearing in Medford, Oregon, next week on the implications of the paper.

  3. Taira on Offensive

    1. Dennis Normile

    TOKYO—Kazunari Taira, a University of Tokyo chemist whose research results have been questioned, is fighting back. Last month, a university investigating committee concluded that no one could reproduce the results in several of his published RNA studies (Science, 3 February, p. 595). In a 4 February letter, Taira called the committee's report “one-sided [and] exaggerated.” He says he was not given an opportunity to respond, and he wants a new investigation. Kimihiko Hirao, the university's engineering school dean, defended the investigation in a statement the same day, pointing out that Taira's group was not able to produce any raw data for the disputed work. Another committee is considering his punishment.

  4. Venture Adventure at NASA

    1. Andrew Lawler

    In an effort to return to its 1960s status as high-tech vanguard, NASA is launching a venture capital fund modeled on a similar program set up by the Central Intelligence Agency called In-Q-Tel. That private company was created in 1999 to counter the intelligence community's lag in netting the latest technologies, and Michael Griffin, now NASA's chief, served as In-Q-Tel president from 2002 until 2004. Now Griffin is creating Red Planet Capital, which would combine private and government funds to pinpoint emerging technologies while avoiding bureaucratic barriers. The agency intends to plow more than $10 million into the effort in 2006, with more later. It's looking for private investors in fields such as nanotechnology, robotics, and intelligent systems.

  5. Stamp of Disapproval

    1. Pallava Bagla

    NEW DELHI—A head of a group that campaigns for the free movement of scientists has fallen victim to the U.S.'s tough visa regime. Indian organic chemist Goverdhan Mehta, president of the International Council for Science in Paris, had applied for a visa to visit the University of Florida, Gainesville, for talks and collaborative research. During a routine consular interview last week, Mehta says a U.S. official accused him of “hiding things” and suggested that his research could be applied to chemical weapons work. An embassy spokesperson calls requests “for more information” standard. Mehta says his work is “by no stretch of imagination related to chemical warfare.” With a visa still not issued, Mehta has canceled his trip and calls the experience “humiliating.” Scientists should participate “without discrimination and on an equitable basis in legitimate scientific activities, including attendance at international meetings,” wrote Mehta in Science in 2004 (10 September 2004, p. 1531).

  6. Oui to French Stem Cells

    1. Martin Enserink

    PARIS—Government regulations published last week have paved the way for French scientists to begin deriving their own stem cell lines from human embryos. Until now, researchers could work with imported embryonic lines—about 10 teams are doing so—but could not create their own. “We're quite satisfied,” says stem cell researcher Michel Pucéat of the National Center for Scientific Research in Montpellier. The French Biomedicine Agency will supervise the work.