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Trickle-down paranoia

The rule of Joseph Stalin left marks not only on the military, economy, and politics of Soviet Russia but also on the quotidian lives of its citizens. In her book Everyday Stalinism (Oxford), Sheila Fitzpatrick, the Bernadotte E. Schmitt professor in modern Russian history, talks about the many victims—from former nobility to kulaks to leading Communists—who faced shortages in work, food, and shelter during the 1930s under Stalin. She details how corruption seeped into the lives of regular folks, many of whom denounced unwanted neighbors and spouses as “enemies of the people.” Yet, amid the scarcities and depravities, Fitzpatrick shows how young people still fell in love and how some families grew closer in their resistance to Stalinism.

What really matters is matter

Until 1964 scientists believed that particles and their antiparticles behaved like mirror images of each other. Then they discovered a slight asymmetry between them, known as charge-parity violation. Earlier this year, Fermilab researchers, led by Bruce Winstein, the Samuel K. Allison distinguished service professor in physics, announced they had found a new measure of CP violation that provides insight into the unbalanced decay of subatomic matter and antimatter. The discovery, to which assistant physics professor Edward Blucher also contributed, suggests that without this imbalance, the Big Bang would have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter, which would have annihilated each other and left nothing but light in the universe.

Save the reefs

The industrialized world’s growing carbon-dioxide emissions could destroy the ocean’s coral reefs by the middle of the next century, warns a study published in the April 2 issue of the journal Science. The findings were based, in part, on a model—developed by David Archer, an associate professor in geophysical sciences—that tracked the movement of carbon dioxide from the ocean surface to the deepest sea floor.

Another round in the gun wars

Some 85 percent of the general public and 75 percent of gun owners support mandatory registration of handguns, says a survey by the National Opinion Research Center and the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. The survey also found that 75 percent of the general public and 63 percent of gun owners support government regulation of gun design to improve safety. Further, 80 percent of the general public and two-thirds of gun owners favor mandatory background checks in private handgun sales, such as gun shows.—J.P.
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