Posted inNews & Politics

He Thinks We’re Alone Now

Fred Raslo Astrophysicist Northwestern University The three planets that now circle Upsilon Andromedae–a faint star that rises in the east on fall evenings–travel in wildly varying elliptical orbits, moving from close to their sun to almost twice as far away. Northwestern astrophysicist Fred Rasio thinks this has a telling message for us. In an article […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Cosmic Jiggle

Sean Carroll Cosmological Physicist University of Chicago As recently as the 1920s, astronomers thought the Milky Way galaxy was the entire universe. Now we know it’s one of hundreds of billions of similar galaxies out there. Last fall Sean Carroll and graduate student Jennifer Chen published an article in the online journal High Energy Physics […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Organizing Iraqi History

Steve Nash Anthropologist Field Museum of Natural History Steve Nash is in charge of the roughly 1,500,000 objects in the Field Museum’s anthropology collection, from 40-foot totem poles to bronze bathtubs from Pompeii to rain gear made from sea mammal intestines by arctic natives. His current project is cataloging 32,000 relics excavated in the 1920s […]

Posted inNews & Politics

When “Broken” Is Better

Anna DiRenzo Geneticist University of Chicago Do genetic diseases come from defective genes? Not always, as Anna Di Rienzo and her colleagues found in a study published last year in the American Journal of Human Genetics: sometimes it’s just that circumstances change faster than our genes can adapt. Di Rienzo, along with her research assistant, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Body Counters

Rebecca Lipton Epidemiologist University of Chicago Department of Pediatrics Rebecca Lipton spends her time investigating a disease for which there is no cause–no single cause anyway. Since 1991 she’s worked on the Chicago Childhood Diabetes Registry, studying factors linked to the disease in urban populations. After asthma, diabetes is the most common childhood disease, but […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Like Alice in Wonderland

David Uttal Psychologist Northwestern University David Uttal’s recent work takes a serious look at a funny phenomenon: toddlers’ misperception of scale. For a study he coauthored, published in Science last year, the children first played with a child-size chair, slide, and car, then were taken for a walk and brought back to the same room, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Poison Eaters

David Tsao Environmental Engineer BP David Tsao specializes in phytoremediation, the use of plants to clean up pollution. Working from the business center of oil giant BP, in west-suburban Warrenville, he’s in charge of developing, designing, implementing, and monitoring more than 150 phytoremediation sites on four continents. Harold Henderson: When we say “clean up,” that […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Remember That? No You Don’t.

Ken Paller Director, Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory Northwestern University At Northwestern’s Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, electroencephalograms (EEGs) and functional magnetic resonance imaging are used to link acts of memory–remembering, forgetting, and falsely remembering–with specific activity in the human brain. Recently lab director and professor of psychology Ken Paller and his colleagues were among the first researchers to […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Largest Family in North America

Margaret Thayer Entomologist The Field Museum of Natural History Asked what he could infer about God from nature, British biologist J.B.S. Haldane replied that the deity must have “an inordinate fondness for beetles.” Margaret Thayer, assistant curator of insects at the Field Museum, spends her time studying just one family, the rove beetles, or staphylinids, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

When a Sticky Pollutant Is a Good Pollutant

Franz Geiger Physical/Analytical and Environmental Chemist Northwestern University Franz Geiger heads up a research group at Northwestern that uses lasers to see how tightly pollutants stick to other substances. This new field’s called environmental surface science–and research in it may help improve our groundwater. Harold Henderson: Why “surface science”? Franz Geiger: Environmental pollutants interact with […]