“Your article acknowledges, though grudgingly…”

No moo moo here or there

Regarding the cover article (“Future Fillet,” May–June/09), Jason Matheny’s visit to the chicken farm wasn’t Old MacDonald’s Farm. Fine. If the idea works, and we can economically produce lab-grown meat that tastes like meat but with less fat, carcinogens, and additives, that’s also great. But Jason is concerned about the welfare of the animals under the current system. Does he realize that if his idea works, there won’t be many of these animals around? Aside from zoos and a wealthy few who like cattle grazing in their fields because of the English gentry look, who will pay or bother to raise cows, chickens, and other farm animals?

Peter Clauss, AB’55
Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

Those in glass houses

I enjoyed the May–June/09 issue very much, but the quads article’s (“Make No Little Quads”) dorm pictures showed some horrific amounts of plate glass.

This brought to mind the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe first principle of architecture: “There exists NO architectural problem that cannot be solved by a sufficient infusion of energy.”
Absent aforesaid energy, glass-walled abodes are almost as habitable as hydrated limestone caves. Plate glass does make the interior lighter (and, unfortunately, hotter) in the daytime. Less appreciated, it makes the interior darker in the evening and night, since some of the light exits to the night through the glass. It does not make the interior cooler at night, due to the behavior of glass and infrared.

They don’t teach architects very much physics; probably just as well. Fortunately, the University of Chicago can afford the energy.

Richard A. Karlin, AB’55, SB’57

University architect Steve Wiesenthal responds: The glass incorporated into the residence halls and dining facility is not plate glass—it is insulating Low-E glass. Insulating means that each panel of glass is actually two plies of glass, separated by an air space. The outer ply is treated with a low-emissivity coating, which reduces the amount of heat gain or loss through the glass.

The exterior envelope of the entire building was tested for compliance with the City of Chicago’s Energy Conservation Code. These calculations consider the insulating values of both the solid and glazed areas of the exterior wall. The solid areas of exterior wall are well-insulated, which helps to balance the large areas of glass.

Astronomical session

The University of Chicago Magazine reported two sessions at the annual meeting in February in Chicago of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that involved the University (“Science Fare,” Chicago Journal, Mar–Apr/09). There was a third session with some contacts. The session had Nobel laureate Leon Lederman as moderator and was organized by me, Ronald Calinger, PhD’71. A unifying theme was the Swiss-born genius Leonhard Euler and his legacy. Siegfried Bodenmann (Bern) spoke on Enlightenment lunar theories, and I commented on new findings concerning Euler’s second St. Petersburg period. With the aid of a Swiss Euler telescope, Christophe Lovis, a lead researcher with Michel Mayor at the University of Geneva, has searched for exoplanets, those outside our solar system, in a habitable zone. Previously these were massive, roughly the size of Neptune and Jupiter. Lovis had helped discover the first three. He and Scott Gaudi of Ohio State University noted the importance of new instrumentation.

Mayor calls the search for super Earth–sized planets “the holy grail” of exoplanet research. Subsequent to the meeting, his team found the first super-Earth planet, Gliese 581. It is less than twice the size of Earth and would seem to have oceans. In addition to the Hubble, astronomers will soon have the Kepler, Herschel, and Planck telescopes to explore new astronomical phenomena, some of which challenge accepted laws.

The Chicago session was exciting, bringing together findings in a quickly developing area of astronomy and related history of the mathematical sciences.

Ronald Calinger, PhD’71
Silver Spring, Marylan

Olympic controversy

Your article on Chicago’s bid for the 1904 Olympics (“Hyde Park’s Olympic History,” Chicago Journal, May–June/09) acknowledges, though grudgingly, the controversy surrounding the city’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. But it ignores the question of the propriety of the University of Chicago lobbying for the City of Chicago’s 2016 bid—for example through Vice President [for Civic Engagement] Ann Marie Lipinski, whose portfolio explicitly includes that task. The University administration often speaks of the Kalven Report strictures, which are said to forbid the University from taking a stance on an issue of public concern. Yet the University does not consider the Kalven Report when it comes to this controversial proposal; presumably the Kalven Report is only invoked as an excuse to reject an action that the administration wishes to reject.

Robert Michaelson, SB’66
Evanston, Illinois

Pastures looked greener then

In view of the three references to The Green Pastures in the University of Chicago Magazine’s May–June/09 issue (“Spiritual Bondage,” Investigations), I would like to point out that this play was based on Ol’ Man Adam an’ His Chillun. This book contained short stories previously published by Roark Bradford in various magazines. Bradford was a Southerner who had ample opportunities to enjoy black tale-spinning in a dialect different from his own.

The Green Pastures was well received—this nonagenarian can attest to that. Nor did my parents, years-long subscribers to the Nation and the New Republic, feel disloyal to their social values in taking me to see it. Would a current-day Broadway producer risk the charge of political incorrectness by producing The Green Pastures? Probably not.

Paul E. Grayson, SB’38
Silver Spring, Maryland

Race and evolution

Despite the confident assertions of [religious historian] Curtis Evans and countless other social scientists that race is nothing but a “social construct,” there is in fact ever-increasing evidence that human population groups (or races, if one prefers) have evolved differently and thus differ, to some extent, mentally, physically, and behaviorally (consider the work of Vincent Sarich and Cochran/Harpending as well as the science journalism of Nicholas Wade, who has written that “humans have spread globally and evolved locally”). That this sort of research should be considered taboo (the cases of James Watson, PhB’46, SB’47, and of the U of C’s own [geneticist] Bruce Lahn come to mind) is yet another reminder that the ideological rigidity of the academic left continues to afflict the American university.

Jonathan Ekman, AM’81
New York

Solid in chemistry

In your Next Generation story in the Mar–Apr/09 Magazine (“Light Plastic,” Investigations), you missed an opportunity to plug the past generation of U of C chemists. You mention that three Bell Labs scientists invented the solar battery in 1954 but perhaps are not aware that one of those three was my father, Calvin S. Fuller, SB’26, PhD’29. I write only because it struck me as interesting that again Chicago chemists have advanced the field of solar energy. They can be seen as following in the footsteps of Calvin S. Fuller and his two colleagues at Bell, Gerald Pearson and Daryl Chapin, who invented the “solar cell,” which now powers our space satellites. Perhaps there is a mysterious connection between the U of C and solar energy.

Robert W. Fuller
Berkeley, California

P.S. I also attended the U of C from 1959 to ’60 in graduate economics before going on to a PhD in physics (Princeton, ’61) and serving as president of Oberlin College (1970–74).

One response to gangs

The letter “Gang Up on Gangs,” (May–June/09) by Ned L. McCray suggested that the solution to the gun violence plaguing Chicago is to wage an all-out war on gangs. This is exactly the wrong approach. As has been illustrated in countless reports, including the 2007 Justice Policy Institute’s “Gang Wars: The Failure of Enforcement Tactics and the Need for Effective Public Safety Strategies,” heavy-handed gang-suppression efforts have a poor track record on reducing violence and often work to increase gang cohesion and exacerbate poor police-community relations.

On the other hand, there now is a scientifically proven solution, and it is working in Chicago. The CeaseFire program, modeled after University of Chicago public-policy professor Irving Spergel’s work, was proven effective at reducing shootings and homicides by an independent three-year evaluation funded by the Department of Justice. CeaseFire zones were shown to have shooting and homicide reductions of 41 percent to 73 percent. And the program has been successfully replicated in 16 Chicago communities as well as in other cities across the United States.

If CeaseFire works, why is there still a serious gun-violence problem in Chicago? The program is funded only in 25 percent of the most violent Chicago areas. To have a serious impact on shootings in the city, the proven CeaseFire model needs to be adopted throughout Chicago.
More information on CeaseFire can be found at www.ceasefirechicago.org or in the Oct/03 University of Chicago Magazine, where it was profiled in “Curing the World, One Epidemic at a Time.”

Charlie Ransford, MPP’04
Data Analyst, CeaseFire, Chicago

How prohibition fits in

I read Ned McCray’s letter about gangs in the May–June issue, and I can answer his question from a historical perspective. We did not seriously attack organized crime in America until about 20 years after the end of alcohol prohibition. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to connect the rest of the dots.

Michael L. Simon, X’66
Rockford, Illinois

Electric-car debate continues

If General Motors had been able to deliver its promises, it would not be going bankrupt. As for the randomly reedited Wikipedia, well enough said for ‘reliable sources’ (Letters, May–June/09). Here are some real facts. Actual measured brake-horsepower data from manufacturers like Toyota and Honda, which sell cars people buy, operate at 2,500 rpm and 120 to 160 ft-lbs of engine torque while getting 31 and 23 mpg for compact and standard cars, respectively, traveling at 60 mph on a level highway. That translates into 57 and 76 horsepower, respectively, for these models. Opel's NeCar5, DaimlerChrysler, Mercedes A-Class, and Jeep Commander all use a 75 kW fuel-cell power source to motivate a subcompact size/weight automobile after finding that 50 kW was not enough to do a credible job. To deliver sufficient horsepower, a battery or fuel cell must provide 40 or 53 kW of electrical power, respectively, for the cited examples. That assumes 80 percent of the power goes to the drive shaft because an electric motor can operate at 90 percent, but 10 percent is reserved for creature comforts, support systems, and entertainment in back for the kids. Because a computer-controlled electric car or hybrid can recover some braking and idling power and is more efficient at start-up, i.e., acceleration, I also allowed the commonly accepted improvement of 30 to 33 percent over petrol.

The respondents, Harold Finn and Gillian Zaharias Miller, would have us believe GM's claims of 18.7 kW power based upon 9.35 kWh to go 30 miles or twice that to go 60 miles at 60 mph. My real-world power estimate is about twice that value; not a factor of 10. Now here's the rub no one considered. If you want to get 1 kWh out of the battery or fuel cell, you have to buy at least 2 kWh from the electric company because of the basic thermodynamics I learned at U of C. The power you buy goes into enthalpy of chemical formation; the power you get comes from a voltage-loss fraction of the Gibbs free energy, which—according to "Fuel Cell Systems Explained" by James Larminie, et al, 2nd ed. (2003), which I highly recommend to the respondents—is very difficult to get much more than 50 percent. You will also find a discussion of the cars I cited in that excellent book. So, net net, to go 60 miles at 60 mph to keep it simple, the compact petrol car uses 1.94 gallons, and the same size electric car uses 40 kWh or 20.6 kWh/gallon. However, you have to buy twice that from papa Edison, so it's about 40 kWh/gallon like I said. Do this exercise for the standard car and—what do you know!—you get just about the same result.

As for solar, no one in my sunny neighborhood buys it because a) they can't afford it and b) they don't want to be perpetually climbing on the roof to clean bird presents. Read the manufacturer's fine print about lifetime guarantees. Bruce Power Co. of Canada operates an 8-reactor nuclear facility at 6.4 gigawatts and is building a new facility with four 1.0 gigawatt reactors. France reprocesses nuclear fuel, which reduces the volume of waste to 1/25 of what we have to put up with and with less and shorter-lived radioactivity. If only the purveyors of energy mythology would get their facts straight, we might climb out of the economic morass into which the United States seems to be inexorably sinking. I did make a mistake in print where 16 trillion should have read billion. My apologies to the editor and readers.

Halbert Fischel, SB’59
Santa Barbara, California

To continue the debate or to add your own comment, go to our discussion board.—Ed.

The Erie House legacy

Thank you for the story about Ricardo Estrada, AM’93 (“Glimpses,” Mar–Apr/09). Erie Neighborhood House is clearly thriving under his leadership.

I’m especially interested because I was the first trained social worker hired at ENH (as a new SSA grad I worked there between 1965 and 1968, when I moved to Canada), reporting to the Presbyterian minister who was the executive director. I was the case worker and also worked in the Alinsky community-development projects. Like Ricardo, I trained at seminary (McCormick) but chose to focus on social work. My husband, Michael, AM’68, did one of his SSA fieldwork placements at Erie House in the days when street gangs were the focus of youth work there. We were married in the chapel in ’66 with staff, clients, community leaders, and parishioners present along with our families.

A lot has changed since then. I’m grateful that the agency has continued to thrive and serve the community with excellent leadership, advocacy, and innovative programs.

Dorothy “Dot” McCarter Quiggin, AM’65

West side story

I enjoyed reading this article very much. You see, I live and grew up in West Town, where Erie House is located. I have e-mailed the article to both of my daughters, who are now in college. One, in fact, attends the U of C [Angelica Angeles, ’12]. This article has true meaning for me because my parents, as Mr. Estrada’s did, made huge sacrifices to give us the best education possible by also sending us to Catholic school (there were eight kids in my family), even though they themselves did not finish elementary school in their native Mexico. My father was a factory worker, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. Growing up we did not have a fancy house or fancy toys, but my dad did invest in a full set of encyclopedias (a lot of money back then), which got a lot of good use. I can still picture the encyclopedia set in a special place in my family’s living room.

Thank you for sharing this story.

Dolores Angeles

The Shoreland of old

I was born at Lying-In Hospital and got my AB and MD at Chicago. The Shoreland was always the epitome of elegance on the lake (“Hallowed Hall,” the Core, May–June/09). My great-aunt Josie and her husband lived in Florida in the winter and the Shoreland in the summer. He wore two-tone shoes, and she always had fresh flowers in their suite. I looked forward to their return every summer because they gave their nieces and nephews what seemed to me extravagant gifts.

I was so happy to see that despite being a dorm, some of the old elegance has been preserved. I live in Santa Monica quite happily now, but if I were in Chicago I think I would look into renting one of the planned apartments. You can go home again.

Loraine Stern, AB’65, MD’69
Santa Monica, California

The article entitled “Hallowed Hall” brought back fond memories of a June evening spent at the Shoreland. The once in a person’s lifetime experience was Hyde Park High School’s senior prom in 1938. Music was supplied by Eric Sagerquist and his orchestra. Mr. Sagerquist was the director of the studio orchestra on a popular weekly radio program, “The First Nighter.”

Seven-and-a-half years later, years that included undergraduate studies at the U of C and duty as an engineering officer with the Pacific fleet during WWII, I and my prom date that June evening were married, a union that continued for over sixty years until her death in 2006.

Thanks for the memories.

Arthur Fradkin, SB’42, MBA’54

The two articles in your May-June publication, “Hallowed Hall” and “The Secret History of Butternut Playlot,” caused the wheels of my 95-year-old brain to start turning, so here are a few memories.

I have enjoyed a wonderful 67 years of marriage with Joyce Bodenheimer Kohn, AB’37, until she succumbed to Alzheimer’s in 2006. We spent our wedding night at the Shoreland in June 1939. Then we strictly city kids who had grown up in rented apartments around Hyde Park had a Victory Garden in a vacant lot at 53rd Street and the lake and actually saw vegetables grow. About the time the veggies became edible I, a University of Michigan engineering grad, was given a business transfer to a new operation in Los Angeles to contribute to the war effort.

Thanks for helping me remember the beginning of our 67 years (again) of a very busy married life.


Arthur Kohn, University of Michigan Class of 1934

For more letters about the Shoreland closing as a dorm, see the Nov–Dec/09 issue of the Core.—Ed.

Mrs. Obama’s neighborhood

I am disappointed that Michelle Obama, in her commencement address at the University of California, Merced, chose the University of Chicago as an example of an educational institution that ignored local African American students. I am also dismayed that although she held an administrative position at the U of C, she didn’t acquaint herself with the University’s historical and ongoing outreach to the black community. In 1955 I was one of several graduates of Bronzeville’s Wendell Phillips High School who received scholarships from the U of C, and that fall we were joined on the Midway campus by African Americans from such Chicago high schools as Calumet, Englewood, Fenger, and Tilden. All were on scholarship, and some (myself included) were from public housing projects. However, not all were the “best and brightest”; I was one of the borderline students the University took a chance on because tests had shown that we had academic and athletic promise.

That same year, Harvard admitted only one African American from a Chicago high school. My crowd at the U of C applauded the DuSable graduate’s good fortune, which made headlines in local newspapers, but we didn’t envy him. Harvard and other Ivy League schools were more prestigious than the U of C, but we were further evidence that our institution was willing to recruit more black students. Among the U of C’s graduates are Benjamin Mays, AM’25, PhD’35, president emeritus of Morehouse College; noted anthropologist Diana Slaughter-Defoe, AB’62, AM’64, PhD’68, of the University of Pennsylvania; and William Lester, SB’58, SM’59, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. The U of C’s faculty has included such luminaries as Alison Davis, William Julius Wilson, John Hope Franklin, and of course, the first lady’s husband.

This doesn’t sound like a university that has ignored African Americans.

Hosea L. Martin, AB’60

The full text of Michelle Obama’s speech can be found online.—Ed.

Lives remembered

I grieve over the death of one of SSA’s greats, Margaret Rosenheim (Deaths, Mar–Apr/09). She did so much for SSA and its relationship to the law and to the United States as a legal adviser. She was so pretty and so professional.

Patricia O’Grady, AM’67
Roseville, California

Just to say a few words about Oscar Walchirk (Deaths, Jan–Feb/09). He was a longtime South Sider who was very proud of his association with the University and who, as a lifelong learner, teacher, and mentor, touched the lives of many, many people. The values he lived by reflected the values of the education he received: intellectual honesty, personal integrity, service to the community, and a social conscience.

Judy Kotzin, AM’91
Highland Park, Illinois

Department of corrections

In “Style Conscious” (Investigations, May–June/09), dates should have been listed as 600–300 BC, and the Greek gods’ wraps should have been called chitons. We regret the errors.

The Magazine welcomes letters about its contents or about the life of the University. Letters must be signed and may be edited. We encourage writers to limit themselves to 300 words or fewer. Write: Editor, University of Chicago Magazine, 401 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1000, Chicago, IL 60611. Or e-mail: uchicago-magazine@uchicago.edu.

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