1993: remember, you read it here first (1): Independent on Sunday writers look ahead to a turbulent year in which they foresee scandal, revelation and controversy in Britain and around the world: Earth survives as asteroid just misses its target

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A GIANT asteroid that collided with Earth and wiped out life as we know it could be the biggest event next year. However, scientists estimate that such athing happens only once every half a million years, so the world may have some time left.

In the meantime, the most important date for British researchers is the day William Waldegrave, the cabinet minister responsible for science, publishes his White Paper on Science and Technology. This will herald the biggest shake-up of research since 1971 when the late Lord Rothschild introduced the customer- contractor principle, and scientists had to learn how to become a service sector. Some science administrators have already expressed concern that it will result in the privatisation of the country's top research institutes.

Next year will also see the approval of the revolutionary technique of gene therapy. Two proposals will be approved in the UK, one for treating cystic fibrosis, and one for a disorder of the immune system.

Scientists will announce the discovery of more genes for important disorders next year, eventually leading to improved diagnosis and cures.

More data on the depletion of the ozone layer will emerge as the Arctic winter draws to an end.

European and American physicists will fall out over claims that the elusive 'top quark' - the missing fundamental constituent of matter - has been found in experiments at particle accelerators ('atom-smashers') in the USA.

Britain's particle physicists meantime will have to reconcile themselves to a re-run of the cash crisis of the mid-1980s as the effects of the pounds's devaluation undercuts the UK's subscription to CERN, the European Centre for Particle Physics.