News highlights for October 20, 2010

CisionPoint news monitoring provides this small sampling of the university's daily news coverage. Click headline to read full text via Cision or link directly to the online article where available. For questions or comments about this service, or to add or delete a name from the mailing list, please contact Gerry Everding.

World of Psychology
Humor, Neuroplasticity and the Power To Change Your Mind

A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that we have much more control over our minds, personalities and personal illnesses than we realize. Tal Yarkoni of Washington University in St. Louis, a student of the human brain’s responses to emotions, suggests that part of the reason extroverts seek social contact more often than neurotics may be that their reward system responds more positively to other people’s smiles, causing the extrovert to feel greater pleasure when they are around other people. Link to Article
Republican Blunt and Democrat Carnahan lead the field in race to replace Bond

The race for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat has come down to a spirited battle between members of two of Missouri’s best-known political families. Blunt and Carnahan are running for the seat being vacated by retiring four-term GOP Senator Kit Bond. “This is a campaign that’s turned out to be one in which polarized positions and polarized styles have dominated,” said Washington University political scientist Steve Smith. The differences are as stark as they could be. Link to Article

Saint Louis Beacon
Can city-county split be healed? It’s a great debate

The question of how to end the longtime divorce between St. Louis and St. Louis County won’t be on the ballot next month, but the election results could spark discussions for some sort of governmental combination. That’s the view of former St. Louis County Supervisor Gene McNary, who was one of three panelists talking about city-county relations in a debate at Washington University Tuesday night. Link to Article

Yahoo! Finance – News & Opinion
How to Be a Millionaire by Age 25

Yahoo profiles five American entrepreneurs who made their first million under the age of 25, including 21-year-old Washington University student Juliette Brindak, co-founder and CEO of the teen web site, Brindak won’t divulge when she earned her first million, but says that her company was valued at $15 million when she was 19. She is now seeking investors and preparing to take the site public. Link to Article

Battle of the “Embarrassing Grandparents”: Racist Progressives vs. Herbert Spencer

Brian Tamanaha, a law professor at Washington University and a contributor to the popular liberal legal blog Balkinization, had a post ( over the weekend challenging libertarian critics of the Progressive Era to face libertarianism’s “own embarrassing grandparents.” Specifically, after admitting that “there is much truth” to libertarian arguments about the ugly racism enshrined into law by turn-of-the-century progressive reformers, Tamanaha argues that libertarian forerunner Herbert Spencer is equally problematic. Link to Article
The biotech company

The biotech company Illumina is introducing a new machine that it says will decode a person’s DNA in one week using $10,000 worth of materials–five times cheaper than any other competing gadget on the market. “It’s a pretty dramatic leap,” says Elaine Mardis, a geneticist at Washington University in St. Louis. “This really provides a platform that is going to propel studies of complex diseases like cancer and autism,” she says. If the machines live up to their promise, one machine will allow her to generate the same amount of genetic data in a week that would previously have required six machines running for 10 days. Link to Article

Nature News

Poisonous platypuses confirm convergent evolution


Don’t be fooled by the playful-looking duck’s bill — platypuses deliver a venom containing more than 80 different toxins. A new genetic analysis of these toxins reveals striking similarities between the poisons of different animals. Like eyes, fins and wings, which have evolved independently in a number of different lineages, platypus venom looks to be an example of convergent evolution, says study leader Wesley Warren, a genomicist at Washington University. Link to Article
Wydown’s a Great Street

The American Planning Association (APA) has designated Wydown Boulevard in Clayton as one of 10 Great Streets for 2010 under the organization’s Great Places in America program. APA singled out Wydown for its historic origins that reflect innovative planning concepts. In 2007, a partnership between the Clayton, the Clayton School District, Fontbonne University, and Washington University was formed to help maintain and irrigate the median. Link to Article

News in higher education

New York Times

In Digital Age, Students Still Cling to Paper Textbooks


They text their friends all day long. At night, they do research for their term papers on laptops and commune with their parents on Skype. But students are still hauling around bulky, old-fashioned textbooks — and loving it. Though the world of print is receding before a tide of digital books, blogs and other Web sites, a generation of college students weaned on technology appears to be holding fast to traditional textbooks. Link to Article

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