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GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
JUNE 2003
Volume 95, Issue 5

GRAPHIC:  ResearchInvestigations
Beam it up — David Grier’s optical vortices may be an answer for everything from making nanorobots to curing cancer.
Chicago physicist David Grier’s latest work has given a new twist to optical vortices: rings of light that rapidly spin microscopic particles suspended in water around the rings’ circumference. Using a technology he coinvented in 1997—holographic optical tweezers (HOT), or computer-generated holograms that create large optical traps that can suspend particles in three dimensions—Grier twists ordinary, microscopic light beams into a corkscrew pattern. Generating 200 twists in the corkscrew—far exceeding the eight or fewer twists that other methods of creating optical vortices have produced—Grier and his colleagues can control and tune the beam precisely.
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A friend in God
As mainstream U.S. Protestant sects lost members over the past few decades, according to two 1993 reports, more demanding faiths exploded. With so many converts, Tanya Luhrmann, professor in the Committees on Human Development and the History of Culture, wondered how God, a supernatural figure, became real for adults who grew up without such an intimate religious life.
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Moms behind bars
Since the 1980s the number of women sent to prison has increased dramatically—by roughly 10 percent per year, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics. The vast majority of these women are nonviolent offenders serving short sentences for minor drug or theft offenses.
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Grow up already
Most Americans agree that becoming an adult is a gradual process that culminates around age 26. That’s according to the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), which found that today’s young adults are reaching certain milestones about a half-decade later than did their parents, says study author Tom Smith, PhD’80, who directs the General Social Survey. The report, based on in-person surveys of Americans over 18, identified seven steps toward adulthood and the average age of expected completion.
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Next Generation
Thanks to the Access Grid (AG) developed by Argonne National Laboratory’s Futures Lab, directed by Chicago computer-science professor Rick Stevens, scientists nationwide now can collaborate in a virtual conference room. For example, 28 remote sites popped in on this September 2002 National Science Foundation (NSF) meeting—the largest such meeting to date.
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Original Source
When the sky falls, get a sample
When explosions rocked Chicago’s south suburbs after midnight one late-March morning, geophysical-sciences professor Lawrence Grossman heard the crashes and woke up. A few hours later Grossman, who happens to specialize in meteorites, learned that a meteor had exploded nearby and that his own research subjects were strewn about Park Forest—the home of Steven Simon, a senior research associate in the geophysical-sciences department, who saw the bright light but didn’t hear the explosion.

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Fig. 2
War: the frugal option?
Three Chicago economists pared down the argument for war in Iraq versus further containment to—what else?—dollars. On March 20, the day after the United States began its air campaign, GSB professors Steven J. Davis, Kevin M. Murphy, and Robert H. Topel released a paper arguing that the cost of containing Saddam Hussein, at $630 billion, “dwarfs” their war estimate of $125 billion.

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