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AUGUST 2003
Volume 95, Issue 6
 

GRAPHIC:  ResearchInvestigations
In defense of modernity - While postmodernists declare modernity dead, Robert Pippin says the movement—and its preeminent philosopher—are misunderstood.
After working on a book called Hegel’s Practical Philosophy for 13 years, Robert Pippin says he needs just one more year—“to write a couple more chapters and link it all together.” For the Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner distinguished service professor in the philosophy department and chair of the Committee on Social Thought, 2003–04 should be the year. Pippin will be at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin—Berlin’s Institute for Advanced Study—trading ideas with 40 scholars from around the world.
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Speaking of the Balkans
Victor Friedman, AM’71, PhD’75, began his first serious linguistics work as a nine-year-old living in Hyde Park, when he became interested in foreign curses and obscenities. “My grandfather’s brother and my father used rather harsh Russian expressions humorously as terms of endearment,” explains Friedman, a grandson of Russian and Romanian immigrants. He started a collection, to which his parents’ friends cheerfully contributed.
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The facts about truth serum
In a fascinating chapter of Mesmerized: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain (Chicago, 1998) associate professor of history Alison Winter, AB’87, details how mesmerism was commonly used to treat chronic illness. Originally called “animal magnetism” and later “mesmerism” after its creator, Franz Anton Mesmer, the practice required the mesmerist (usually a man) to make “magnetic passes” over his subject (usually a woman) to bend her to his will. These passes—long, sweeping hand gestures over the surface of the subject’s skin—were close enough that each felt the body heat of the other, without actually touching.
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Citations
Cancer-treatment response is in the genes
Your genes may determine how you respond to cancer treatment, reports Chicago oncologist Mark Ratain. In a study of 61 colon-cancer patients, Ratain found that a patient’s UGT1A1 gene variant determines his or her susceptibility to severe side effects from the new colon-cancer drug Irinotecan. Patients with the gene variant 7/7 taking the drug experience a substantial white-blood-cell drop and become infection prone. Ratain, who announced his findings at a spring American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, believes that a screening test for the variant could become available soon.
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Next Generation
This artist’s conception of a NASA Mars Exploration Rover portrays the rover after landing on the Red Planet. University physicist Thanasis Economou is on the science teams for two missions—”Spirit,” launched June 10, and “Opportunity,” launched July 7—to examine the rocks and soil of Mars for evidence that water ever existed there.
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