Friday, 3 March 2000
1. MICROGRAVITY: REPORT DUMPS ON PROTEIN CRYSTAL GROWTH.
impact of space-grown crystals on structural biology "has been
extremely limited" according to a National Research Council study
released Wednesday that evaluated biotechnology research plans
for the International Space Station. Enormous investment in
protein crystal growth on the Shuttle and on Mir has not led to a
single unique scientific result, the panel concluded, and should
be de-emphasized. The study confirms warnings of the American
Society for Cell Biology, which two years ago called for
cancellation of the space-grown protein crystal program
(WN 17 Jul 98).
The NRC study was undertaken for NASA, which hopes to
regain credibility lost a year ago after a NASA press release
proclaimed: "NASA develops flu drug in space." The implication
was that data from crystals grown on the shuttle was essential to
the design of the drug. A NASA funded crystallographer, Larry
DeLucas, had made the same claim in congressional testimony
(WN 11 Apr 97).
But Science magazine (25 June 99) disclosed that the crystals
used were not even grown in space, but in Australia.
Space-grown crystals can be distinguished only by their cost.
2. CLIMATE CHANGE: TEXACO DESERTS THE GLOBAL CLIMATE COALITION.
Under pressure from shareholder groups, including the Episcopal
Church, the energy giant became the first U.S. oil company to
leave the Global Climate Coalition, the powerful lobby group that
opposes the Kyoto Protocol; the GCC argues there is insufficient
evidence that warming is due to CO2 emissions. Other U.S.
defectors from the GCC in the past two years include Ford and Dow
Chemical. The pullout does not mean Texaco supports the Kyoto
approach to CO2 reduction. It does mean corporations will heed
the ethical sensitivities of shareholder groups. So what happens
if the Episcopal Church and the 700 Club both own shares?
3. MISSILE DEFENSE: NAVY CHIEF DOESN'T WANT TO BE LEFT OUT.
Everybody, it seems, want's a piece of the NMD budget, which is
$12.7B and certain to grow. According to the Washington Post,
Admiral Jay Johnson is urging Defense Secretary Cohen to add a
mobile layer of defense using the Navy's Aegis Cruisers, a plan
Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) has been pushing for some time
(WN 9 Apr 99).
It's not clear how this would affect negotiations on the
ABM Treaty, which bans mobile defenses. Russia might not oppose
it, since missile trajectories from Russia are over the pole.
4. WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE? ABC PAYS INEPT PSYCHIC $1M.
In 1993, ABC covertly videotaped Mark Sanders and his colleagues
working the telephones of the Psychic Services Network. The tape
aired on "Prime Time Live," which depicted the telephone psychic
business as a scam. Sanders sued ABC for ruining his reputation.
A jury, of course, agreed: Having failed to sense that he was
being secretly taped, Sander's career as a psychic was shattered.