July 17, 2003 – Vol. 22 No. 19

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    In the News

    The Chronicle's biweekly column In the News offers a digest of commentary and quotations by a few of the University faculty members, students and alumni who have been headlining the news in recent weeks. Chicago faculty members are some of the most frequently quoted experts, so space allows publishing references to only selected examples. To read many of the full newspaper articles mentioned in this column, visit the In the News column at the University News Office Web site.

    Eugene Parker, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Physics, Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College, was the subject of several stories published after the Inamori Foundation of Japan announced its Kyoto Prizes on Friday, June 20. Parker, one of three recipients of the $400,000 prize, which honors lifetime achievements in basic sciences, was cited for his contributions to solar astronomy. An innovator in that field, Parker was supported by his colleagues in a Friday, June 20 Chicago Sun-Times story. “His work is the bedrock of solar astronomy,” said Patrick McCarthy of Carnegie Observatories in California. A spokesman for the Inamori Foundation said of Parker and his research: “Eugene Parker is truly regarded as being among the greatest astrophysicists, space physicists and geophysicists of the past 100 years. He has been the pioneer.” The Chicago Tribune, the Associated Press Newswires, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Salt Lake Tribune and Nationalgeographic.com also carried stories about Parker’s award.

    Raghuram Rajan, the Joseph L. Gidwitz Professor of Finance in the Graduate School of Business, was the subject of reports that announced his recent appointment as Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department for the International Monetary Fund. The New York Times reported on the appointment in its Thursday, July 3 issue, followed by stories that appeared in the Chicago Tribune Sunday, July 6, and in the Financial Times Monday, July 7.

    David Strauss, the Harry N. Wyatt Professor in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that was published in the Friday, June 27 Chicago Tribune. Strauss, an expert in constitutional law and the Supreme Court, wrote about the Court’s recent ruling in the University of Michigan affirmative action case. Strauss pointed out that though the ruling was viewed as a victory for liberals, the court’s decision was “deeply conservative.” He wrote that conservatism took shape in the 18th century in response to the French Revolution, and that those who opposed that revolutionary change were conservatives and not so different from today’s conservative thinkers on the Supreme Court. Strauss explained that affirmative action has been strongly woven into American life and is engaged by businesses, universities, governments, the media and the military. He also wrote that those who oppose affirmative action more closely resemble the radical sophisters of the French Revolution era. “The critics of affirmative action, by contrast, have a bright, shining abstraction—the ideal of colorblindness. With that abstract ideal they proposed to sweep away these accumulated decisions of literally thousands of individuals and institutions, big and small. This is not conservatism; it’s radical social engineering that the French revolutionaries would have recognized. It was an effort to make society conform to an intellectually pleasing blueprint.”

    Charles Lipson, Associate Professor in Political Science, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Sunday, June 29 Chicago Tribune that supported the Bush administration’s decision to go to war with Iraq, even though many are criticizing that decision because the alleged weapons of mass destruction have not yet been found. Lipson wrote that he believes the administration’s motives to go to war with Iraq—because Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction—were justified and that White House officials would not have taken the strong stance they took if they did not believe their intelligence information was solid. Describing the accusations being voiced, Lipson wrote: “The most disturbing question of all is: Did the Bush administration cook the books? Is the White House really Enron-on-the-Potomac? I strongly doubt it.”

    Elizabeth Lamont, Assistant Professor in Medicine, was quoted in a Friday, June 27 Chicago Sun-Times story that reported on a University Hospitals study, which found that breast cancer survivors may be one-third less likely to have heart attacks than other women. “We don’t know for sure what the link is, but it’s certainly biologically plausible that what caused the breast cancer could protect the heart, or what’s treating the breast cancer could protect the heart,” said Lamont.

    Experimental particle physicist Maria Spiropulu, Research Scientist in the Enrico Fermi Institute, was interviewed about recent research regarding the elusive Higgs boson, a particle that scientists have been searching for, and which could explain why the universe has mass. Two published articles report that astrophysicists have lowered their expectations of finding the particle. That will not deter Spiropulu and her colleagues from continuing with experiments that could unravel some of the mysteries of space. One of the questions scientists continue to ask is, what is the composition and evolution of the universe, including dark matter and dark energy? Finding supersymmetric particles could help explain dark matter. “Supersymmetry is more important than finding water on Mars,” said Spiropulu.

    Terry Vanden Hoek, Assistant Professor in Medicine, was an expert source for a story published Tuesday, July 8, in the Chicago Tribune. The story described a new medical procedure that rapidly cools comatose patients whose hearts have been restarted. Cooling the body to between 89.6 and 93.2 degrees and maintaining that temperature for 24 hours has shown that those patients suffer less brain damage and fewer deaths than those who are resuscitated quickly. “This is very exciting—there are potentially a lot of people who can benefit,” said Vanden Hoek, who also is a co-author of the American Heart Association’s endorsement of the technique.

    The business plan competition, the New Venture Challenge, sponsored annually by the University’s Graduate School of Business, was the subject of a Chicago Tribune column Monday, June 30. Ellen Rudnick, Clinical Professor and Executive Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at the University, described this year’s competition entries as unusually strong. The top prize of $25,000 went to Michael Moyer and Alyson Tesler who developed a plan for a software company called Vicarious Communications. Their up-start company helps dental-product manufacturers and suppliers more effectively market their products through dentists.