May 26, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 17

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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/.

    Gary Becker, the University Professor in Economics and Sociology, wrote an op-ed on nuclear power that was published in the Thursday, May 12 Wall Street Journal. Becker argued that although the risk of building more nuclear power plants in the United States for energy purposes is not zero, the “risk has to be balanced against geopolitical risks and those to the environment from relying on fossil fuels to generate electricity.” Becker wrote that the case against nuclear power plants is based on several considerations—fear of a nuclear accident; the risks in disposing of radioactive waste; terrorist attacks on plants that might release large amounts of radioactive materials; and a general fear of nuclear energy. He also argued that these risks are exaggerated. “Fear of nuclear power might be significantly reduced through greater education about its safety, its greater use in some other democracies and its significant role already in the U.S.”

    Robert Pape, Associate Professor in Political Science, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Wednesday, May 18 New York Times. Pape, who has compiled a database on every suicide bombing and attack around the globe from 1980 through 2003, has studied these incidents and concluded that the commonality between them is “a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland. Religion is often used as a tool by terrorist organizations in recruiting and in seeking aid from abroad, but is rarely the root cause” of suicide attacks. “Understanding that suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation rather than a product of Islamic fundamentalism has important implications for how the United States and its allies should conduct the war on terrorism,” wrote Pape.

    University radiologists and cardiologists, who have been testing the world’s first computerized tomographic X-ray scanner, were featured in the Monday, May 16 Chicago Tribune for their work with Philips Medical Systems, the company developing the scanner. David Faxon, Professor in Medicine and the Chief of the Cardiology Section at the University Hospitals, described the advantages of using the new technology for diagnosis. The scanner creates three-dimensional images that physicians can manipulate on a computer screen to look closer at a particular area inside the human body. “This is definitely cool,” said Faxon. “There’s nothing better than a 3-D picture that makes it look real. You can spin it around, move it in any direction. It’s an enormous advantage.” The article also quoted Richard Baron, Chairman and Professor of Radiology, as well as Dianna Bardo, Assistant Professor in Radiology, who commented on using the scanner for children. “The smaller a patient is, the more risky it is to make an angiogram because their vessels are smaller.”

    Robert Rosner, the William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, Physics and the College, was quoted in a Saturday, May 7 Chicago Tribune story that reported on his ideas for Argonne National Laboratory’s future success. As the lab’s new director, Rosner said he believes Argonne must continue to conduct broad, basic research. “Today, national labs like Argonne must become the Bell Labs for the nation. We have to do the broad research that others no longer do.” He also believes that Argonne and the Fermi National Laboratory should create a new national institute and combine efforts to advance accelerator technology. “Northern Illinois already has this concentration of accelerators, and an institute here would cement our status as the nation’s premier center for accelerator technology.”

    Jacqueline Stewart, Associate Professor in English Language & Literature and the College, was a guest on WBEZ radio’s Odyssey program on Friday, May 13. Stewart, author of the new book Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity, discussed race, the movies and the audience.

    The University’s annual Scavenger Hunt was the subject of a Monday, May 9 Chicago Sun-Times article that also featured a photo of two students, Jesse Friedman and Elliott Brannon, who traveled 1,531 miles on a road trip to find and collect items on the Scavenger Hunt list. Friedman described the local people of the small towns they visited as “incredibly friendly. They talked our ears off. They were very curious about what we were doing and willing to help out.” Nine residence hall teams, with a total of about 300 students, alumni and friends, competed. Winning teams—Snell-Hitchcock’s Armadillo of Darkness team and Max Palevsky’s Team Fluffy, Destroyer of Worlds—shared the $1,500 prize money.

    Douglas Baird, the Harry A. Bigelow Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School and an expert on bankruptcy, was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune for an article published in the Friday, May 6 issue of the newspaper. The story reported on United Airlines’ attempt to have the court void the contracts of three unions, including those of flight attendants, mechanics and machinists, for the economically ailing company. Should United succeed in that attempt, the story reported, the company would then invoke the Railway Labor Act to force workers to stay on the job. Baird described the airlines’ argument as unprecedented. “There’s a deep-seated principle that’s working here independent of the airlines. This is a country where we don’t force people to work under terms and conditions they never agreed to.”

    Mark Strand, the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in Social Thought, is featured in the June issue of Chicago magazine. Strand, a former U.S. poet laureate and the recipient of a 1999 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, is the editor of W.W. Norton’s forthcoming 100 Great Poems of the 20th Century. Strand commented on his task of choosing the poems for the anthology: “Time will tell what the great poems of the century were, and that jury will be out for a long time. These are poems that I wish I could have written. Poems that are beyond me or just so foreign to my own impulses that they are valuable simply in that regard.”

    Abner Mikva, Senior Director and the Schwartz Lecturer in the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic at the University’s Law School, was quoted in the Tuesday, May 17 USA Today. The article, which noted the “Senate fight about judicial nominees,” reported on the GOP’s reshaping of the courts that began under Ronald Reagan’s administration in the 1980s. Mikva, a former circuit court judge appointed by Jimmy Carter, said that when he first expressed interest in a court post, Carter’s first question to him was: “How do your senators feel about this?” Cass Sunstein, the Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, noted that Reagan’s efforts to put younger conservatives in key judicial posts led to “a quiet revolution” in the federal judiciary.