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The dark side of the universe
Observations presented by U of C astronomers at the April 29 meeting of the American Physical Society confirm mounting evidence that ordinary matter accounts for less than 5 percent of the contents of the universe. The rest consists of mysterious dark matter (30 percent) and an even more mysterious dark energy (65 percent) that causes galaxies to rush apart from each other at an accelerating rate. The findings, from a research team led by John Carlstrom, the S. Chandrasekhar distinguished service professor in astronomy & astrophysics, are based on measurements taken at the Degree Angular Scale Interferometer (DASI) in Antarctica. DASI has revealed a pattern of minute temperature variations in the cosmic microwave background radiation, the afterglow of the Big Bang. By measuring differences in the radiation's intensity, Carlstrom's team was able to estimate the contents of the universe.

Genetic link for DiGeorge syndrome
A team led by Akira Imamoto, assistant professor in the Ben May Institute for Cancer Research and the Center for Molecular Oncology, has identified genetic abnormalities in mice that are responsible for the multiple malformations associated with the human disorder DiGeorge syndrome, which affects one in every 4,000 live births and is the second most common genetic cause of heart defects. Mice lacking a functional version of the gene CRKL, according to the March Nature Genetics report, have multiple defects of the heart, thymus, and facial structures-malformations also found in humans with the disease.

Early industrial complex
Complex industry was a reality as long ago as the Early Bronze Age, says K. Aslihan Yener, associate professor in Near Eastern languages and civilizations and the Oriental Institute. In The Domestication of Metals (E. J. Brill, 2000), Yener charts the organization and management of tin mining and smelting in southeastern Anatolia from 8000 to 2000 B.C. Her findings are based on 15 years as director of excavations at the highland tin mine of Kestel and the nearby tin-smelting workshop in the lowland town of Göltepe.

Start small, think big
Students beginning school in small classes are likely to outscore other students in high-school mathematics, reports Larry Hedges, the Stella M. Rowley professor in sociology, psychology, and education, in the Spring 2001 Journal of Experimental Education. Minority students in the study, conducted in Tennessee, did particularly well: those in small classes from kindergarten through third grade scored 7.26 points higher on standardized mathematics tests than students who were in regular-sized classes. White students in small classes scored 3.91 points higher.

Visions of math
Jack D. Cowan, professor of math and neurology, and University of Utah researchers have mathematically reproduced the dancing geometric patterns some people see when they ingest mind-altering drugs, view bright, flickering lights, or have near-death experiences. As the visual cortex tries to make sense of stimuli, says the March 2001 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London-Biological Sciences, the firing of specific nerve cells creates the patterns.

The ballots are in - again
It was hands off, lips zipped, and eyes checked for the study participants who scrutinized and logged into a database detailed descriptions of some 180,000 disputed Florida ballots from the 2000 presidential election. Each ballot was examined by three people for the NORC study, which aims to quantify how perceptions vary during hand recounts. Led by statistics professor Kirk M. Wolter, NORC senior vice president for statistics and methodology, the study was funded by a consortium of news organizations, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN, which will publish analyses of the data later this year.-S.A.S.



  JUNE 2001

  > > Volume 93, Number 5


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