Here & There


KRUGMAN PENS COLUMN

Paul Krugman, the Ford International Professor of Economics, now writes a column, "Reckonings," for the New York Times. "Reckonings" is the Times' first regular op-ed column devoted to economics, business and finance. It appears on Wednesdays and Sundays.

SCIENTISTS' ETHICS

Scientists must tackle issues such as the population explosion and environmental problems in the new century -- "not as scientists on an individual basis but organized for strength," writes Professor and Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa wrote in an opinion piece headlined "Social issues can be solved by human intelligence" that appeared in the February 14 issue of Tokyo's Nikkei Weekly.

"In the 21st century, the ethics of scientists will be more important than ever. We cannot deny the possibility that researchers at times lose control of their work," he wrote. "Dealing with this danger entails the creation of guidelines and laws, but these must be developed scientifically and in accordance with the facts. Emotion-based rules will only hinder the healthy development of science and could even lead to its suppression."

MONITORING GLUCOSE

MIT research on a new, painless way of monitoring glucose levels through the skin was reported in the March issue of the journal Nature Medicine by Professor Robert Langer and Visiting Scientist Joseph Kost of chemical engineering and colleagues (MIT Tech Talk, March 1).

The news, which is of special interest to diabetics, was reported in a wide variety of media, from the evening newscasts on Boston TV channels 5 and 7 to the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Herald.

The ultrasound technique "seems a more efficient way of extracting glucose, so it's promising" and may be "the next step" in glucose monitoring, Robert Sherwin, president-elect of the American Diabetes Association, told USA Today's Anita Manning.

ANTI-AGING GENE

MIT researchers led by Leonard Guarente, the Novartis Professor of Biology, reported in the February 17 issue of Nature new information about an anti-aging gene (MIT Tech Talk, March 1).

According to Nicholas Wade, writing in the February 22 issue of the New York Times, "a gene known to govern the rate of aging in yeast cells has been found to be active in mice, yielding a new insight into why mice and people age and into possible ways of enhancing life span."

The work was also featured in a February 17 issue of The Herald in Glasgow, Scotland.

V.R. IN THE E.R.

Jonathan Thierman, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, was in the December 1999 issue of Discover magazine for his work on a new medical tool. With Harvard University professor Roger Brockett, he found a way to improve surgeons' sense of touch while doing laparascopic procedures in areas they can't clearly see.

"When the probe moves over tissue, any hard lumps beneath the surface deform the bubble, changing the position of about a dozen small dots on its inner surface. A mini-camera monitors the dots and relays the movement to a computer, which then calculates the dimensions of the lump," the article explained.

"Right now the device merely displays a lump as a wire-mesh graphic on a video screen. Eventually, Thierman and Brockett will link the sensor to a mechanical arm that can guide the surgeon's hand. 'When we hook up the two devices,' Thierman says, 'the surgeon will be able to feel everything, like virtual reality in terms of touch.'"

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 29, 2000.


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