Oct. 5, 2006
Vol. 26 No. 2

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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.

    Kenneth Alexander, Associate Professor in Pediatrics, was interviewed for a Tuesday, Sept. 19 Chicago Tribune article about a new vaccine to prevent the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which in its most harmful strains can cause cervical cancer. Because the new vaccine is for preteen girls and should be given before any sexual activity begins, many parents who want to protect their young daughters from HPV must also be prepared to have a discussion about sexual activity. “A lot of parents say, ‘I want to wait until my kid becomes sexually active’” to have that discussion, said Alexander. “But parents are not good judges of when their children are becoming sexually active,” he added. “My real hope is that this vaccine serves as a vehicle to get parents to sit down and talk about safe sex, abstinence and encourage good, frank discussions between parents and children.”

    Wadad Kadi, the Avalon Foundation Distinguished Service Professor in Near Eastern Language & Civilizations and the College, commented on the election of her former student Ingrid Mattson to the presidency of the Islamic Society of North America. Mattson, a former early Islamic history Ph.D. student at the University, was the subject of a Wednesday, Sept. 20 New York Times story. “She is one of those people who constantly strives for social justice,” said Kadi. “She recognized the importance of fundamentally understanding Islamic law and making it relevant to people’s lives.”

    Ivan Furic, Fellow and Research Associate in the Enrico Fermi Institute, was quoted in a Tuesday, Sept. 26 Chicago Tribune story that reported on a new discovery at Fermilab. Scientists at Fermilab have now confirmed the rapid commuting rate of the B-sub-s meson particle, which will help explain how matter and energy interact to form the visible universe. Confirmation of the particle’s rate of travel between matter and antimatter provides strong evidence to support the Standard Model theory, which predicted its rapid, back-and-forth movement. The precise measurement of the B-sub-s meson also puts Fermilab’s Tevatron particle accelerator in the spotlight. “We hope we will see either signs of the Higgs [boson particle] or the discovery of new physics,” said Furic. “The options are still there. The Tevatron is still taking data.”

    A Friday, Sept. 22 Chicago Sun-Times story featured a study conducted at the University on super-obese patients (those with a body mass index greater than 50) who underwent either gastric bypass surgery or a lesser-used surgery called a duodenal switch. The researchers followed 350 super-obese patients who had these two different procedures and found that patients who had the duodenal switch surgery had lost and kept off 69 percent of their excess weight, compared to 55 percent in the gastric bypass group. Vivek Prachand, Assistant Professor in Surgery, led the study, which was published in the journal Annals of Surgery.

    Anita Samen, Managing Editor of the Books Division for the University Press, was photographed and interviewed for a Thursday, Sept. 28 New York Times article. The story reported on the Internet launch of the University Press’ Chicago Manual of Style a favorite reference book and style guide. The popular reference was made available online beginning Friday, Sept. 29, for the price of $25 for the first year for individuals. Samen noted in the story that having this reference online would revolutionize the ways in which editors, publishers and writers perfect their craft. “You can consult it on the fly, so you are free to do your writing and editing without having to retain huge numbers of rules in your head,” said Samen. The article also quoted Carol Kasper, Director of Marketing for the University Press, who noted that more and more people are writing and publishing books every year. “People use it [the Chicago Manual of Style] obsessively. They’re really geeky about it,” she said.

    Russell Tuttle, Professor in Anthropology and the College, was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article that appeared Thursday, Sept. 21. The article described a new 3.3 million year-old skeleton found in Ethiopia that is being placed in the same species category—Australopithecus afarensis—as the famous fossil of an adult skeleton called Lucy. Some paleontologists have cautioned against coming to such definite conclusions until the specimen is fully cleaned and examined. Tuttle, an anatomist and expert on primates, called the skeleton find “valuable,” and a discovery that requires further analysis. “In brief, the field team deserves kudos for providing us with this interesting specimen, and readers should have a salt shaker nearby as they read the articles at this point,” said Tuttle.

    John MacAloon, Associate Dean of the Social Sciences Division, Professor in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division and a scholar of the Olympics, was quoted in a Page 1 story published in the Thursday, Sept. 28 Chicago Tribune. The story, which reported on the work and efforts of the Chicago 2016 Committee to win the bid for the 2016 Summer Games, noted some of the obstacles that must be overcome to win that bid. MacAloon said San Francisco’s 2012 bid “had serious organizational questions that may or may not have been resolved.” He added that Los Angeles might have to overcome some lingering resentment from not sharing its $225 million surplus with the international Olympic movement, after L.A. hosted the 1984 Olympic Games.

    Rocky Kolb, Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College, was a guest on KERA-FM public radio in Dallas, Texas, Monday, Sept. 18. His live discussion previewed a talk he later gave at Southern Methodist University on Sunday, Sept. 24, about the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy.