June 10, 2004
Vol. 23 No. 18

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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/.

    Michael Turner, the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, was a guest on National Public Radio’s Science Friday program on Friday, May 21. He discussed the latest scientific evidence for dark energy, a mysterious force that is causing the universe to accelerate.

    Paul Sereno, Professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy, and his two latest fossil discoveries found in the African Sahara were featured in the Saturday, May 29 Chicago Sun-Times, the Monday, May 31 Daily Southtown and the Wednesday, June 2 Chicago Tribune. One of the new fossils is of a creature that is the earliest found member of the abelisaurid species, which are known as “wrinkle faces” for the grooved surfaces of their facial bones. The creature, named Rugops primus, provides new information on when the southern continents broke apart, especially the theory that Africa was the first to split from what was once the southern hemisphere’s Gondwanaland, one of two great continents. Sereno and his colleagues Jeffrey Wilson of the University of Michigan and Jack Conrad of Chicago co-authored the journal paper on the discoveries, which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.

    Mark Heyrman, Clinical Professor in the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic and Faculty Director of Clinical Programs in the Law School, and Patrick Corrigan, Professor in Psychiatry, were interviewed for a story about a lawsuit being brought against the psychiatrist and a social worker that cared for Ellen Feinberg, a woman suffering from paranoia and major depression. Feinberg stabbed her two sons, killing one boy, and her husband is suing for negligence, charging that the two individuals caring for his wife did not warn him of her possible violence toward their children. “It is true that it is difficult often to predict what a patient might do,” said Heyrman. “And I suspect the doctor’s defense in part is going to be that, while he thought this woman was seriously disturbed, he didn’t think she was a danger.” Corrigan commented on the matter of patient confidentiality and mandated reporting.

    Emily Teeter, Research Associate in the Oriental Institute and Curator of the Egyptian & Nubian Antiquities, was featured in the Sunday, May 23 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Q-and-A style, in a discussion about the mysteries of ancient Egyptian culture. When asked about her opinion on displaying mummies in exhibitions, a practice for which some museums have been criticized, Teeter answered: “In ancient Egypt the real goal of the individual was to live forever. By saying the name of the deceased, you made them live again. It’s very likely the ancient Egyptians would be delighted to have their names remembered in this way. But certainly nobody approves of human remains being exhibited in an undignified manner.”

    Michael Silverstein, the Charles F. Gray Distinguished Service Professor in Anthropology, Linguistics, Psychology and the Committee on Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, was quoted in an article published in the Tuesday, May 25 Chicago Tribune Tempo section. The article described why comedians and wordsmiths choose certain words because they are funnier than others. Linguist Silverstein commented on Billy Crystal’s choice of words for an Oscar night joke’s punch line. Crystal noted that it took 27 days for Sophia Coppola to make her film Lost in Translation; the same amount of time it took her father Francis Ford Coppola to wake up Marlon Brando on the set of Apocalypse Now. Crystal said: “He did it with three little words: Key lime pie.” Silverstein noted, “Key lime pie is an exceedingly rich tropical dessert that is associated with the tropics, with which Brando is also associated, as he is with obesity. [The joke] has a lovely three one-syllable word structure with vowels that go e-I-I. It’s got ‘k’ in the beginning and ‘p’ at the end, and a nice ‘m’ resonance in the middle.”

    Robert LaLonde, Professor in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, was quoted in a Saturday, May 22 story published in the Chicago Tribune. The story reported on a Communications Workers of America strike, which represented 100,000 SBC Communications Inc. workers in 13 states, and how the strike might affect SBC’s operations. LaLonde remarked on the union members’ key issue of job security, since SBC has cut 29,000 union jobs in the past three years. “In general, technology is enabling this job loss. It’s pretty hard to stop that train. But it’s bad for workers—especially the older and middle-age workers—whose jobs are made obsolete. They want to hold it off as long as possible because they know when this job is gone, the next one won’t pay this well.”