News highlights for December 17, 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.

BBC News

Iapetus moon’s mighty ridge stirs debate

The mountainous ridge that circles the equator on the Saturnian moon Iapetus is both weird and spectacular. No explanation for its existence has yet won total support, but a new study argues that the ridge could then have come from debris that once orbited the moon. “Imagine all of these particles coming down horizontally across the equatorial surface at about 400 meters per second, the speed of a rifle bullet, one after the other, like frozen baseballs,” said Professor Bill McKinnon from Washington University in St Louis. “Particles would impact one by one, over and over again on the equatorial line. At first the debris would have made holes to form a groove that eventually filled up.” Link to Article See also, USA Today / Science Fair, Smithsonian,

Discover Magazine

Top 100 science stories for 2010

January / February 2010

Washington University claimed 3 mentions in Discover’s list of the top 100 science stories for 2010.

#21: Scans can track brain development: In just six minutes, an MRI scanner can reveal whether a child’s brain is developing normally. That newfound capability was announced in September by a team at Washington University in St. Louis. Led by neurologist Bradley Schlaggar, the group studied 238 healthy volunteers, 7 to 30 years old, using functional MRI, a technique that identifies active neural circuits based on blood flow and blood oxygen levels. The scientists then used powerful computers to crunch the imaging data, seeking out common patterns of neural activity at different ages. Link to Article

#39: Microbes are key to a happy gut:
Inside your gut is a complex ecosystem: bacteria that are crucial to the digestive process, along with bacteria-invading viruses whose role is largely unknown. A genetic analysis conducted by microbiologist Jeffrey Gordon at Washington University in St. Louis offers one of the first comprehensive descriptions of this inner world. More than 80 percent of the viral gene sequences he found were new to science. Link to Article

#89 Chinese Pompeii unearthed: In 2003 Chinese archaeologists began excavating piles of tiles and bricks in Sanyangzhuang, a rural town located in the central plain of China. What they found exceeded their wildest expectations. In July, archaeologist Tristram Kidder of Washington University in St. Louis and his Chinese colleagues discovered evidence of even older agricultural fields beneath the excavated houses and a larger buried town about two miles away. “If these are preserved in the same way the houses are, it would really turn out to be a staggering development,” Kidder says. Link to Article Technology & Science

Opportunity rover takes a detour on Mars


NASA’s Opportunity rover is chugging toward some interesting mineral deposits on the rim of a fresh crater on Mars, guided by the NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which detects the minerals from 150 miles up while circling the Red Planet. This level of teamwork between rover and spacecraft is unprecedented, researchers said. “It’s the first time we’ve used minerals detected from orbit to drive where a rover should go,” said Mars Exploration Rover deputy principal investigator Ray Arvidson, of Washington University in St. Louis.Link to Article See also Wired Science, Europa Press (Madrid, Spain), Malaysia Sun

The New York Times

Health suits stir concerns on court partisanship


Legal scholars say there is nothing new about the use of the federal courts to revisit divisive policy debates once they have moved beyond Congress. Andrew D. Martin, a professor of law and political science at Washington University in St. Louis, has studied the influence of ideology on judicial decisions. “Where district judges are presented with questions of first impression and have to make the type of constitutional judgments the Supreme Court does all the time, it’s not at all surprising to see those choices line up along party lines,” he said. Link to Article See also Wall Street Journal Law Blog

Chicago Tribune

A Japanese architect with ties to the Midwest, Fumihiko Maki, wins the AIA Gold Medal

Maki Fumihiko Maki, a distinguished Tokyo architect with numerous links to the Midwest, on Thursday was named the 2011 winner of the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects.

His Midwestern connections include study in the early 1950s at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. and several years of teaching at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also completed his first commission, an art center. His Kemper Art Museum on the Wash. U. campus opened in 2006, as did another Maki-designed arts building on the campus, Walker Hall. Link to Article


MRI scans reveal brain changes in people at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s


People with a known, high risk for Alzheimer’s disease develop abnormal brain function even before the appearance of telltale amyloid plaques that are characteristic of the disease, according to a new study. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report in the Dec. 15 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience that these patients had a particular form of a gene called APOE4. 
Link to Article See also St. Louis Riverfront Times, 
Innovations Report (Germany)

The Motley Fool

Killing Google, from the inside out

TechCrunch reports that Anna Patterson, founder of the now-defunct search upstart Cuil, has returned to Google as a director. What role she’s taking now isn’t entirely clear, but last month she gave a talk at Washington University in St. Louis in which she was identified as Google’s “Director of Research.” Her return is timely. Google’s going to need as much help as it can get to keep search users loyal. Link to Article
 (Tampa Bay, FL)
Making college campus tours more affordable

Today, many high school students to apply to and visit multiple colleges, challenging families to make the most out of college visits for the least amount of money. Some colleges like Washington University in St Louis, generally regarded among the top dozen U.S. schools in academic rankings, sets aside some money for visits by students who cannot afford a trip on their own. “If a student requests a visit but cannot afford it, he or she can apply for a travel grant,” said Julie Shimabukuro, director of undergraduate admissions. Link to Article See also WUSTL in sidebar story: Cost Saving Tips

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
 (Pittsburgh, PA)
Dangers from coal, cars

The future of coal could hinge on research into health risks posed by high sulfur power plant emissions. Based on research by the Electric Power Research Institute Inc., the coal-fired power industry argues the EPA should focus on transportation emissions rather than smokestack emissions since vehicle pollution is more harmful to human health. The institute collaborated with Washington University in St. Louis on a study that focused on particulate-matter exposure and resulting mortality rates in 70,000 veterans. It concluded that a person’s proximity to traffic was associated with a higher risk of death. Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MLB accuses A-B of cheating on sponsorship deal with NFL

In the latest turn of a legal spat between two longtime partners, Major League Baseball has accused Anheuser-Busch of running around on the side with the National Football League. MLB details A-B’s cheating heart in new court papers responding to a federal lawsuit filed by A-B last month. Baseball’s claims amused Ambar Rao, a retired marketing professor at Washington University. “It makes me laugh,” Rao said of baseball’s argument. “The whole thing is ridiculous.” Rao speculated that MLB was simply surprised by how much A-B paid for the NFL rights. Link to Article

Daily RFT 

New Wash. U. study detects super-early signs of Alzheimer’s


If you’re genetically disposed to develop Alzheimer’s, Washington University Medical School has good news and bad news. The good news is, they’ve recently discovered that your brain starts functioning differently even before it begins producing the telltale deposits of amyloid plaque that lead to senility. The bad news? They still haven’t figured out what to do with this information, so for now, your only benefit is an earlier warning that the disease is coming. The study, led by Dr. Yvette I. Sheline, conducted MRI scans and spinal fluid tests on 100 people. Link to Article

St. Louis Beacon

Review: Nadler’s ‘Infrastructure’ holds up very well


“Infrastructure” at Good Citizen Gallery features four new works by Arny Nadler, associate professor of art at Washington University, that continue the artist’s use of basic building materials —here, concrete and rebar — as expressive sculptural media. Link to Article

News in higher education

Wall Street Journal

Pell Grant program faces 5.7 billion dollar gap

Add this to Congress’s year-end to-do list: Dealing with a potential $5.7 billion gap in grants for low-income students. Federal Pell grants are a form of need-based aid typically given to low-income students. There’s usually little political wrangling around funding for the Pell grant, but this year, lawmakers underestimated the surge in students going to college — and their financial need — helping to create the gap. Congress would need to authorize the additional billions to fully fund the program for all students who qualify for the aid. They’ve done so in the past, but the gap hasn’t ever been this large and comes in the midst of a tense political climate. Link to Article

New York Times

Growth in Graduate Degrees in Real Estate

Despite the scarcity of jobs in real estate, more students are enrolling in master’s programs in real estate, where the recession is seen as a teaching tool and a rich source of case studies. Link to Article

For additional higher education news (subscription may be required):
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Inside Higher Ed
University Business

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