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Obama’s latest appointment has enraged the new atheists in the US scientific community. Plus, Jupiter unexpectedly suffers a direct hit

By Philip Ball   September 2009

THE CLASH OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION

The praise for President Obama’s scientific appointments is faltering. His nomination of “media doctor” Sanjay Gupta of CNN for surgeon general (the foremost spokesperson on US public health) was considered by many to be a lightweight choice. In the event Gupta declined, and Obama’s new nominee, Alabama community physician Regina Benjamin, has raised no eyebrows.

But the nomination of Francis Collins to head the National Institutes of Health, which co-ordinates most US biomedical research, is more controversial. Collins is a former leader of the Human Genome Project, he has a track record of large-scale…

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