May 13, 2004
Vol. 23 No. 16

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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/.

    The return of antiquities to the Iran Cultural Heritage Organization by the University’s Oriental Institute was covered during the past two weeks in the national and international press in numerous publications, as well as broadcast on many radio and television stations. Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute, headed a delegation to Iran this month to return 300 ancient Iranian tablets, which the Oriental Institute has had in its possession since 1937 when they were borrowed for study. Some of the newspapers and TV stations that covered the event were the Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Times, The Guardian, the Chicago Tribune, Aljazeera.net, WBBM-TV, WLS-TV, CNN.com, Iran News, Fox News, the Tehran Times and Iran Daily. “We were told that Western researchers are welcome to Iran,” said Stein in the New York Times article. “Part of Iran at least is very interested in improving relations with the West, and believes that scholarship and research play an integral role in that,” he added.

    Thomas Rosenbaum, Vice President for Research and Argonne National Laboratory and the James Franck Professor in Physics and the College, was featured in the Wednesday, April 28 Sci-Tech Scene column published in the Chicago Sun-Times. Rosenbaum, who is leading research at the University on quantum entanglement, was interviewed about this phenomenon, which is central to quantum theory. This research could eventually lead to technologies like quantum computers that could solve problems unapproachable by the fastest machines today, or sophisticated techniques to crack encrypted messages like those used by banks or perhaps those sent between terrorist cells.

    Michael Turner, the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, was quoted in a Tuesday, April 27 New York Times article about the shift in scientific priorities at NASA, following President Bush’s order that NASA redirect its energies toward human exploration of the Moon and Mars. Missions to investigate black holes and space-time ripples called gravity waves have been delayed by one to two years, while space probes to study dark energy have been postponed indefinitely. Turner, like many other astronomers, is worried about this priority shift. When asked if funding the new initiative rather than other programs will move science forward or hold it back, Turner responded: “The golden age is in jeopardy. I’m very nervous.”

    Robert Bianchi, Lecturer in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that was published Sunday, May 2, in the Chicago Tribune. Bianchi described how he views Democratic presidential contender John Kerry’s current international policy ideas, including those on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and how Kerry would handle those situations should he be elected President. “The John Kerry of 2004,” wrote Bianchi, “has a divided conscience—torn between patriotism and humanity. The ‘internationalist Kerry’ notes that the war on terrorism is not primarily a military struggle, but a broader effort of law enforcement, intelligence and public diplomacy. Yet ‘good soldier’ Kerry announces his candidacy in front of an aircraft carrier and assures us that he knows how to make the right calls on when to send in the Delta Force or the Navy Seals.”

    Eric Posner, Professor in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Wednesday, April 28 New York Times. Posner wrote that history has shown that political compromise is the wiser course to take when reconstructing governments, such as those of Germany and Japan following World War II. Posner noted that although the World War II allies resolved to punish war criminals and purge Nazism from Germany, before the Nuremberg trials began, the Americans realized they could not rebuild Germany without the help of at least some former Nazis. Posner wrote that the same should occur in Iraq—the Coalition Provisional Authority should allow some low-level Baathists to become part of the Iraq reconstruction rather than purge them from government. “The coalition officials who initially resolved to de-Baathify Iraq made the same mistakes as their World War II predecessors: they saw the former Baath members only as villains and troublemakers. Now the Coalition Provisional Authority seems to have realized its mistake.”