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  > > Investigations


Citations: Eve Van Cauter, Ted Cohen, Tom W. Smith, Stephanie M. Rollmann, Jack T. Iwashyna, Anil K. Kashyap, Andrew Abbott

image: Research headerSweet Dreams
A research team led by U of C research associate Eve Van Cauter has found that chronic sleep loss can reduce the capacity of even young adults to perform basic metabolic functions. As reported in the October 23 issue of Lancet, when the researchers cut the standard eight hours of sleep down to four for 11 healthy young males, they found that changes in metabolic and endocrine functions resembled the effects of aging. They also suspect that lack of sleep can increase the speed and severity of age--related problems, such as diabetes, obesity, memory loss, and hypertension.

Joking matters
In Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters (University of Chicago Press), philosophy professor Ted Cohen, AB'62, takes a look at what aspects of humor either make or break a joke. Cohen explores how jokes about sensitive issues, such as Alzheimer's disease or death, can unhinge the listener's sense of morality, while at other times, he writes, jokes can help one laugh while taking a breather from "unbearable affronts like crude racism and stubborn prejudice."

Education first!
Through the last decade, support for education has risen to the top of America's priority list, according to a new National Opinion Research Center survey. Education spending has ranked first place in surveys from 1990, 1996, and 1998, as compared to its rank of sixth (out of 11) in 1973 and 1975. Tom W. Smith, PhD'80, director of the general social survey, links the concern with shortcomings in the education system, the needs of the information age and the global economy, and bipartisan support for education initiatives.

Salamanders get swinging
Male salamanders produce a protein that chemically signals female salamanders to speed up the courtship process and hasten mating, conclude researchers led by graduate student Stephanie M. Rollmann, SM'96, in the September 17 issue of Science. By shortening the amount of courtship time, the salamanders decrease the chance of being interrupted by predators or other males.

Communal CPR
People who live in racially integrated neighborhoods are more likely than those in mostly white areas to receive CPR from bystanders, say U of C researchers in the October 1999 Annals of Emergency Medicine. The chances of getting CPR are even less in a predominantly black neighborhood. The reasons behind the findings are not clear, but team leader and Pritzker third--year Jack T. Iwashyna says the key point is that "neighborhood characteristics appear to be more important than the characteristics of the cardiac--arrest victim in explaining why people receive CPR."

Japanese banks shrink
Japan's lenders will be trimming down, predicts a National Bureau of Economic Research study by Graduate School of Business associate professor Anil K. Kashyap and UC--San Diego professor Takeo Hoshi. In response to new competition for both its deposit--taking and its lending businesses, Japan's banking system is headed for a "massive contraction," say the researchers.

Social schooling
How do "schools of science" reproduce themselves over time? Do they rely on rigid rules or exist as flexible structures? Sociologist Andrew Abbott, AM'75, PhD'82, addresses such questions in his new book, Department and Discipline: Chicago Sociology at One Hundred (University of Chicago Press). Detailing the history of intellectual rivalry and faculty politics in the Chicago School of sociology, Abbott analyzes the shifts in social--scientific inquiry and explores the development of modern--day scholarly publishing. --E.C.

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Coming of age
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Positively medieval
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Elements of style
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Gift trapped

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