July 12, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 19

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    In the News

    Philip Eaton, Professor in Chemistry, was interviewed for a front-page Chicago Tribune story on the chemical synthesis of the compound octanitrocubane, which Eaton and his assistant Mao-Xi Zhang accomplished after nearly two decades of research. The story reported on the compound’s potential use as an explosive and how the American Chemical Society has praised the synthesis of the compound as a significant discovery of 2000. The story was published Monday, June 25. Reports also were broadcast by Chicago television and radio stations, including WBBM-TV, WLS-TV, WMAQ-TV, WGN-AM and WBEZ-FM.

    Jeffrey Harvey, the Louis Block Professor in Physics, and Noel Swerdlow, Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, were quoted in a Tuesday, June 19 New York Times essay on the Seven Pines Symposium, which brought together physicists and science historians and philosophers to discuss the influence of communications technology on fundamental physics research. In a story about the symposium in the same issue, Robert Wald, Professor in Physics, was quoted about a discussion between scholars in attendance who attempted to find common ground about the nature of time and space that includes both Einstein’s theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics. “Many approaches have run into major stumbling blocks that seem to require some new understanding of space and time,” said Wald.

    The findings of a study conducted by Nicholas Christakis, Associate Professor in Medicine and Sociology, and Elizabeth Lamont, Instructor in Medicine, and published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine were the subject of recent newspaper stories published Tuesday, June 19. The researchers looked at how physicians respond to terminally ill patients who ask about their prognosis. According to a Chicago Tribune article, Christakis and his team of researchers found that less than 40 percent of physicians who were polled for the study said they would give patients a frank survival estimate. Stories also were published in the Chicago Sun-Times and USA Today.

    Edward Snyder, Dean of the Graduate School of Business, was interviewed for a feature on the selection of new business school deans at the University and Northwestern University. The story appeared on the front page of the Chicago Tribune business section Sunday, June 10. Speaking on the GSB curriculum offerings, Snyder said: “I doubt whether people spent a whole lot of time thinking about whether the business school ought to create an e-commerce M.B.A. It’s not for Chicago. And I don’t view it as conservative. I view it as good fundamentals. The way you prepare students is that you give them cutting-edge knowledge based on research and you try to transform the way they think.”

    Catherine MacKinnon, Visiting Professor in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that was published in the Sunday, June 17 New York Times. In her piece, MacKinnon argued that the Supreme Court upheld a citizenship law that she views as discriminatory against men and ultimately against women. “Particularly disturbing is the sex stereotyping that the court indulged. The majority opinion assumed that motherhood is passive, automatic and natural while fatherhood is active, voluntary and legal,” MacKinnon wrote. She added that because the ruling makes parenthood a biological fact for women but something that is legally optional for men, it promotes men’s control over women and children, allowing men at their whim to acknowledge their fatherhood or not.

    Michael Roizen, Professor and Chairman of Anesthesiology & Critical Care, and David Faxon, Professor in Medicine and Chief of the Cardiology Section, were quoted in a Friday, June 15 Wall Street Journal article about the move toward using drugs to lower cholesterol levels rather than diet. “If people make significant enough dietary and lifestyle changes, 70 percent or more of this at-risk group can lower their cholesterol levels enough without drugs,” said Roizen. Faxon added, “Physicians aren’t so well-versed in it, so they haven’t spent as much effort in dietary control as they might.”

    Following a trip to Europe, Mark Lilla, Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, wrote an essay that appeared in Newsweek International Monday, June 4. Lilla described the differences between European and American society that came about after the cultural revolution of the 1960sóseeing deep social divisions among Americans that he does not see among Europeans. And yet, he wrote, the ease with which Europeans absorbed cultural customs of the 1960s into the old is viewed by some Europeans, including French author Michel Houellebecq, as an erosion of that society. “It is one thing for European societies to tolerate changes in social customs that enhance the range of human possibilities, or at least leave our basic humanity untouched; it is quite another to reach the point where societies can no longer distinguish such changes from those that demean or trivialize human life,” he wrote.

    Alumnus David Auburn (A.B.,’91) was interviewed by The Los Angeles Times after winning the Tony Award for best play for his first, full-length play, “Proof.” The production setting is on the porch of a house near the University.

    Albert Alschuler, the Wilson-Dickenson Professor in the Law School, was a source for a story published Tuesday, June 12, in the Chicago Tribune. The story reported on the Supreme Court’s opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, a former University Law School professor, that requires law enforcement officials to get a search warrant when using technical devices that would encroach on an individual’s privacy rights. Alschuler praised the decision, saying it was “a welcome piece of clear thinking in an area characterized by confusion and disingenuous analysis.” Alschuler also appeared on WBEZ’s Odyssey program and CNBC/MSNBC to discuss the ruling.

    Mark Krupnick, Professor in the Divinity School, wrote an op-ed that argued for a new attitude toward death that does not push dying patients to resist it and seek miracle cures. “The patient may assume an activist stance only because she doesn’t want to look like a quitter. She becomes a victim of an American cultural myth,” wrote Krupnick. “We can once again achieve dignity at the end of our lives if we can accept death as a part of life.”

    Don Coursey, the Ameritech Professor in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, wrote an op-ed on how today’s students need to learn about the complex relationships between science, the economy, public choices and the environment, instead of the anti-business picture and one-dimensional views about the global climatic system that many textbooks publish. Speaking of a generation of students who are preparing to take on positions of leadership in corporations and government, Coursey wrote: “These young people, as well as many adults, don’t understand the relationship between the material lifestyles they enjoy and the environmental resources that must be harnessed for them to enjoy these lifestyles.” Coursey’s commentary appeared in the Wednesday, June 13 Chicago Tribune.

    Mark Strand, Professor on the Committee on Social Thought, was featured in the Monday, June 11 issue of The New Yorker magazine, which reported on his acting debut in the film “Chelsea Walls.” Strand portrays a journalist in the film directed by Ethan Hawke.

    Douglas Baird, the Harry A. Bigelow Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School and an expert in bankruptcy law, was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article about USG Corp.’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because of multimillion-dollar asbestos claims. The article was published in the business section Tuesday, June 26.