News Service


Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa --

One for the aged

John Glenn's scheduled return to space this week is full of nostalgia for baby boomers, but if the space agency is wanting to capture the imagination of the younger set, then it's missing its mark, says Iowa State University science historian Alan Marcus. The Discovery space shuttle mission, which will include John Glenn, is ostensibly billed as an effort to understand how space travel affects the aged. It really is a publicity stunt by NASA to gain support for its programs, Marcus says.

The John Glenn flight is part of NASA's effort to portray itself as more humanistic than its past image as a glorified "can-do" national agency, like when Glenn made his first trip into space in 1962. This humanization of NASA was center stage during the Mars Pathfinder mission of 1997, Marcus says. Gone were the button down white shirts, the lab coats and expert aura of NASA. In its place was Matt Golembeck, the Mars Pathfinder project manager, replete in flannels and plaid presenting a NASA employee more as a "geek enthusiast" space explorer than conqueror. While the Pathfinder mission was hugely successful for NASA, the upcoming John Glenn flight will not be for everyone, says Marcus, who has just completed a second edition of his book "Technology in America: A Brief History."

"With Glenn, the nostalgia factor is the key harkening back to when America was portrayed as great and had promise," Marcus says. "It may work with some baby boomers, but the Glenn thing is failing miserably with gen-x'ers and other younger people." Contact Marcus at (515) 294-5956, or Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917.

Saving women scientists in the Ukraine

Iowa State University's International Women in Science & Engineering (IWISE) program has received a $300,000 U.S. Information Agency grant to develop retraining programs for women scientists in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

"Kharkiv enjoyed a well-earned reputation as one of the top education and science centers of the former Soviet Union," said Ardith Maney, IWISE co-director and political science professor. "However, as a result of the economic shocks which have hit Ukraine, thousands of women with advanced scientific and technical training are currently unemployed or under employed."

The IWISE program, in collaboration with the Kharkiv State Polytechnic University, will help women scientists in the Kharkiv region improve employment opportunities and assume a greater role in economic and political decision-making in the new Ukraine. The program will be targeted at retraining women scientists for new careers in such areas as business management, computing and environmental engineering. In October, Maney led an ISU team that worked with Ukrainian counterparts on a workforce needs assessment. In March 1999, the first group of Ukrainian faculty, administrators and women scientists will come to Iowa to develop curriculum materials, after which Mary Ann Evans, IWISE co-director and director of ISU's Program for Women in Science & Engineering, will lead a second ISU group that will launch the retraining program in Ukraine. Retraining courses and exchanges between Ukraine and ISU will continue through 2001.

IWISE is a program of the International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics, a collaboration between Iowa State and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Contact Maney, (515) 294- 3824; Evans, (515) 294-5883; or Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917.

Ruedenberg to be honored by journal

The International Journal of Quantum Chemistry is recognizing the work of Klaus Ruedenberg, a distinguished professor emeritus in chemistry at Iowa State and an associate senior chemist in the Ames Laboratory, by dedicating a volume of the journal to him as an "outstanding pioneer" in the field of quantum chemistry. The volume will be devoted to a paper symposium on "Rigorous Computations and Conceptual Interpretations in Quantum Chemistry." The symposium will include papers dealing with the various aspects of the description of molecules as consisting of "atoms" in quantum chemistry, studies of the nature of the chemical bond, and various conceptual interpretations in quantum chemistry -- all problems on which Ruedenberg's research has had particular impact.

Editors of the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry welcome contributions of a more personal nature from Ruedenberg's students, associates and collaborators. Contributions for the special volume will be accepted through November. Mark Gordon, Ames Lab program director for Applied Mathematics and Computational Sciences, will be a guest editor for the special volume. For more information contact Gordon at (515) 294-0452, or Saren Johnston, Ames Laboratory Public Affairs, (515) 294-3474.

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