Dec. 11, 2003 – Vol. 23 No. 6

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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: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/.

    New physics research conducted by University faculty members and graduate students was reported in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Baltimore Sun and The Seattle Times. The findings-which were the results of a collaborative effort between researchers at Chicago and their colleagues at Purdue, Harvard and Oxford universities and the New Jersey Institute of Technology-were first reported in the journal Science. Itai Cohen, a former Chicago graduate student, began the research in 1999, when he was studying how water broke off from a nozzle when it dripped into thick silicone oil. When researchers made further studies, they found that the water formed a narrow strand, about two millimeters in length, which maintained its shape with no distortions. This phenomenon is likely to prompt further studies using other materials and chemicals. Sidney Nagel, the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor in Physics and the College, said further manipulation could lead to advancements in such applications as microelectronics and micromechanics. Wendy Zhang, Assistant Professor in Physics, also was quoted in the articles, which appeared Wednesday, Nov. 19, Monday, Dec. 1, and Wednesday, Dec. 3, respectively, in the above-mentioned publications.

    Current research by Susan Goldin-Meadow, the Irving B. Harris Professor in Psychology and the College, was the subject of stories published in the Friday, Nov. 14 Wall Street Journal and the Tuesday, Nov. 25 Chicago Sun-Times. Goldin-Meadow, whose research focuses on the meaning and function of hand gestures that accompany speech, has recently published a new book on her studies, titled Hearing Gesture: How Our Hands Help Us Think. Said Goldin-Meadow in The Wall Street Journal: “Gesturing is a way to take your thoughts and put them out there for you and others to see. It may help you examine your thoughts, even if not consciously.”

    Austan Goolsbee, Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Sunday, Nov. 30 New York Times. Goolsbee argued that unemployment in the United States is not dropping with the current economic growth. He wrote that although the government recently announced the economy has grown faster than expected, the unemployment rate shows there is more to the country’s jobless recovery than has been told. “The reality is we didn’t have a mild recession. Jobs-wise, we had a deep one. The unemployment rate has been low only because government programs, especially Social Security disability, have effectively been buying people off the unemployment rolls and reclassifying them as ‘not in the labor force.’ In other words, the government has cooked the books.”

    A small study conducted at the University Hospitals to test an experimental drug for treating patients with advanced kidney cancer was reported on in the Friday, Nov. 21 editions of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. Walter Stadler, Associate Professor of Hematology/Oncology in Medicine and a kidney cancer specialist, said the drug, BAY 43-9006, is the most promising development in kidney cancer treatment in at least 10 years. Though the drug successfully shrank tumors by at least one-fourth in 42 percent of the patients tested and by more than half in 12 percent, physicians caution it is not a cure. Mark Ratain, Professor of Hematology/Oncology in Medicine, was quoted in the Tribune story.

    John Coetzee, Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, was the focus of a feature story published in the December issue of Chicago Magazine. The article appeared after Coetzee had won the Nobel Prize in Literature and before the Swedish Academy’s award ceremony yesterday. Coetzee, who almost never gives interviews, responded to the writer’s questions via e-mail. His final question-“What is it about Chicago and the University’s Committee on Social Thought that makes it attractive for you?”-brought the following response. “To be quite candid, it is the University of Chicago rather than the city of Chicago that has drawn me here. To be candid to the point of being outrageous, I would be happy if the University could be bodily removed to, say, the Michigan woods, miles from anywhere. It’s not that I dislike Chicago as Chicago, it’s simply that I have never been happy in big cities.” He described his affection for the University and its scholars. “Every time it produces yet another oddly shaped graduate student who doesn’t fit into any of the slots that the new world order provides, I cheer.”

    President Randel was noted in an article about the new edition of the Harvard Dictionary of Music, which he has edited recently, and in the past. The story appeared in the Sunday, Nov. 23 New York Times and mentioned that the dictionary, while including some updates in its content such as entries on hip-hop and rock music, also has maintained conciseness in its 1,000 pages.

    Argyro Tasitsiomi, a graduate student in Astronomy & Astrophysics, was featured in a profile published in the Wednesday, Nov. 19 Chicago Sun-Times. Tasitsiomi, who also is a painter, described her interests in art and science as two investigative passions with the same goal. “I think I’m trying to answer the same questions following different styles. We assume we understand all these things about the universe, and we try to recognize patterns to answer the fundamental questions about our existence.”