August 17, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 20

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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/. If you are aware of news articles that feature the University or its faculty, students and/or alumni, feel free to bring them to the attention of the Chronicle editor to be considered for In the News. News clips may be sent to ldavis@uchicago.edu.

    Robert Pape, Professor in Political Science and the College and Director of the Program for International Security Policy, recently discussed his expertise and research on suicide terrorism with numerous media outlets regarding both the conflict between Israel and members of Hezbollah, and the foiled plot of terrorists to destroy 10 airliners in flight and bound for the United States on Thursday, Aug. 10. Pape, the author of Dying to Win, discussed the motives of suicide terrorists with reporters. He appeared on BBC World News Tuesday, Aug. 8, and on Thursday, Aug. 10 he was interviewed by BBC Radio 4; BBC Radio 5; the Australian Broadcasting System; ABC Radio Network; WTTW-Channel 11, WMAQ-Channel 5; WLS-Channel 7; and Channel 4 News (U.K.) Pape also wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Thursday, Aug. 3 New York Times. Writing about Israel’s attacks on Hezbollah in Lebanon, Pape noted that Israel will likely meet with continued resistance from Hezbollah until it is recognized as a broad resistance movement “with a variety of religious and secular aims. What made its rise so rapid, and will make it impossible to defeat militarily, was not its international support but the fact that it evolved from a re-orientation of pre-existing Lebanese social groups,” he wrote.

    Mark Courtney, Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and Director of the Chapin Hall Center for Children, wrote an op-ed on welfare reform—and more specifically, Wisconsin’s work-first approach—that was published in the Monday, July 24 Washington Post. During the first four years after new welfare reform law was introduced in the country, Courtney and his colleagues began tracking 1,075 parents who applied for welfare in Milwaukee County, Wisc. Courtney wrote in the op-ed that as the Tuesday, Aug. 22 anniversary of welfare reform approaches, among the successes is a darker side to the story. “Simply put, many of the parents coming into the welfare office today are too unhealthy, too poorly educated, too service-needy and too psychosocially challenged to work. And the typical welfare office isn’t doing enough to help them.” Courtney noted that the Deficit Reduction Act passed last year will penalize states that fail to increase the proportion of welfare participants working or training for work. “But states that don’t help welfare participants overcome their personal challenges will have trouble avoiding penalties. If Wisconsin’s experience is any indication, the majority of parents applying for welfare today are simply not employable when they walk in the door.”

    Esra Tasali, Instructor in Medicine, was photographed and interviewed for an article published in the Tuesday, July 25 Chicago Tribune. Tasali and her research team are studying how sleep and body weight are related. They recently found that sleep deprivation had a significant effect on the two hormones that control appetite: leptin and ghrelin. “The men who slept only four hours not only were subjectively hungrier, but we also had objective evidence that hormones were telling their brains they needed more energy. We still need to identify the underlying mechanism for what makes people fatter when they’re sleep- deprived.” One clue may be that the sleep-deprived subjects in her study craved high-carbohydrate foods more than others. “Maybe that’s because the brain uses glucose—sugar—as it’s main energy source,” said Tasali.

    Pradeep Chintagunta, the Robert Law Professor of Marketing in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a story published in the Sunday, July 30 Chicago Tribune. The article reported on Motorola Inc.’s latest cell phone the Razr and its popularity, which now equals in sales that of Apple Computer’s iPod. Having recently rebounded from losing its edge in the telecommunications business, Motorola will have to follow-up its newest success with others to maintain its edge among competitors, say experts. The company already has introduced new phones with four-letter monikers similar to Razr, such as the Krzr. Chintagunta said Apple’s iPod success has more to do with its companion service than its unusual name. “I don’t think (the iPod) would have been successful without iTunes,” he said. “The strategy of dropping vowels won’t last forever. I was looking at the Krzr,” Chintagunta said, “and I thought, ‘what does this mean? Is it crazier than the Razr?’”

    Helma Dik, Associate Professor in Classics and the College, was quoted in a Wednesday, Aug. 2 Chicago Tribune article on how the prefix “meta” has become a separate word in the English language, as well as how it has become a pop culture device, appearing in the plots of films and other entertainment. Dik commented on the prefix’s historical usage, dating back to Aristotle’s Metaphysics. “I think that the Greek ‘meta’ was indeed taken and extended [in English], probably beyond recognition for a native speaker of ancient Greek,” she said. “But then, the ancient Greeks stretched prepositions themselves all the time, so after a quick immersion course in present-day English I’m sure they would be fine with it.”

    Many of the ancestors of today’s middle-aged population may have been thin, sickly individuals with a variety of health problems, but many of their baby-boomer descendants are bigger, healthier and more robust, according to current research that focuses on how the human form and life expectancy have changed over the past 100 years. Robert Fogel, the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of American Institutions in the Graduate School of Business, and colleague Dora Costa have added to the collective findings on this subject with their study of all the health-related records of nearly 50,000 Union Army veterans that document their health throughout their lives. Fogel’s research was featured in a Sunday, July 30 New York Times story reporting on the search for what could be responsible for these changes in body form and longevity. Fogel describes this transformation of the human body as “a unique form of evolution that is unique not only to humankind, but unique among the 7,000 or so generations of humans who have ever inhabited the earth.” In a comparison of height and body mass index between Union Army veterans who were 65 and older in 1910 and veterans of World War II who were that age in the 1980s, the data relating size to health led Fogel and Costa to predict that the WWII vets should have 35 percent less chronic disease than the Union Army vets, and that is exactly what they discovered.