Oct. 19, 2006
Vol. 26 No. 3

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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.

    David Jablonski, the William Kenan Jr. Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the College, and the results of his newest paleontological research were published broadly in the national and international press. The scientists examined the richness of biodiversity in the tropics compared to that in higher latitudes, and found a consistent pattern that showed three-quarters of the marine creatures they studied had originated in the tropics and only one-fourth emerged at higher latitudes. They also uncovered that 30 varieties of the bivalves they studied, which had lived exclusively in the tropics, went extinct, while 107 varieties that lived outside the tropics had gone extinct. The results suggest a need to protect the rain forests, coral reefs and other tropical ecosystems. Many news outlets reported on the study, including the Chicago Sun-Times, BBC World Service Radio, USA Today, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, BBC World News, the Los Angeles Times, German Public Radio, the Washington Post and WBEZ Radio.

    Douglas MacAyeal, Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the College, and the results of a seismological study conducted on the B15A iceberg in Antarctica were the subject of numerous news reports published and aired beginning Monday, Oct. 2. MacAyeal and his team found that an iceberg in Antarctica broke apart from sea swell generated by a storm 8,300 miles away in the Gulf of Alaska. “We think that B15A was in the right position where these waves would be fatal to it, said MacAyeal in a CNN report. “The iceberg shattered like a gracile wine glass being sung to by a heavy soprano,” he added. Reports on the iceberg’s breakup were published in and broadcast on such media outlets as National Public Radio, the Los Angeles Times, The Times of London and the Washington Post.

    The University’s College Class of 2010 was the subject of a full-page feature in the Sunday, Oct. 8 Chicago Sun-Times. The article reported on the College’s most diverse class to ever enroll, with one in four students being either African-American, Latino or from a foreign country. The article featured some of the University’s Chicago Public Schools Scholars, who received full-tuition scholarships to attend Chicago.

    Diane Sperling Lauderdale, Associate Professor in Health Studies, was quoted and photographed for a Sept. 18 Crain’s Chicago Business story about the adverse affects a lack of sleep has on humans. Sperling Lauderdale has revealed that individuals with higher incomes—$100,000 a year or more—have a restful sleep advantage over poorer individuals. “We would have expected that people with higher socioeconomic status got less sleep, and we in fact found the opposite.” She noted that the reasons for this outcome might only be explained by speculation: “The beds might be better, it might be quieter, there might be fewer people in the household.”

    Steven Kaplan, the Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a Saturday, Sept. 30 story published in the Economist. The article was about the emergence of a club atmosphere among the top private equity firms, where the firms bid against each other one moment and team up the next. For investors eager to put more money into private equity, the club deals have raised concerns about risk concentration, according to the article. “If five firms are investing in one deal, you can be pretty sure two or three are not doing thorough due diligence,” said Kaplan.

    Geoffrey Stone, the Harry Kalven Jr. Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that was published in the Tuesday, Oct. 10 Chicago Tribune. Stone, a constitutional law professor, wrote 10 propositions that define what it means to be a “liberal” today. In No. 9, he defended what he calls the false accusation that “liberals are unwilling to protect the nation from internal and external dangers.” He wrote: “Because liberals respect competing values, such as procedural fairness and individual dignity, they weigh more carefully particular exercises of government power (such as the use of secret evidence, hearsay and torture), but they are no less willing to use government authority in other forms (such as expanded police forces and international diplomacy) to protect the nation and its citizens.”

    Susan Lambert, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, was quoted in a Monday, Oct. 2 New York Times story that reported on Wal-Mart’s recent employee policies to “create a cheaper, more flexible work force by capping wages, using more part-time workers and scheduling more workers on nights and weekends.” Lambert points to the downside of these new policies of the discount giant and how such practices as schedule changes can affect employees’ family life. “You have to set up child care for every day just in case you have to work, and this makes it hard to establish routines like reading to your kids at night or having dinner together as a family.”

    Randal Picker, the Paul and Theo Leffmann Professor of Commercial Law in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Sunday, Oct. 8 Chicago Tribune. Picker provided his economic law perspective on the bootleg latte, covered in an earlier story in the newspaper. The bootleg coffee drink has become a favorite concoction of some Starbucks customers who are using the free milk at the popular cafes to mix up their own lattes, after paying a smaller price for a double shot of espresso. Add free milk, and customers save $1.45 on the $3.20 latte price. “Starbucks may be engaging in what an economist would call latte price discrimination,” wrote Picker. “That means selling the same thing—the latte—to different customers for different prices. If we assume that the fake latte is profitable for Starbucks even when sold for $1.75, Starbucks may be perfectly willing to allow some of its customers to home-brew using Starbucks ingredients,” wrote Picker.

    Omar McRoberts, Associate Professor in Sociology and the College, was interviewed for an article published in the Monday, Oct. 9 USA Today. The article described how some communities want to restrict storefront churches from locating in areas traditionally occupied by shops and restaurants. They argue that such religious organizations do not generate tax revenues and the economic activity that businesses do. McRoberts, the author of Streets of Glory, a book on storefront churches in a poor Boston neighborhood, said, “The churches are not causing these areas to be economically underdeveloped. They’re there because the area is economically underdeveloped.”