Winter baby woes

By John Monczunski

Social scientists have found that children born during the winter months have a more difficult time in life than those born during the rest of the year. While there are many examples of successful people born in winter, winter children seem to get shortchanged quite a bit.

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The origin of species

By John Monczunski

Somewhere Charles Darwin must be smiling over the article that appeared in the February 6 edition of the journal Science. In it, Notre Dame biologist Jeff Feder and his colleagues present evidence that suggests new species may evolve in response to changes in other species.

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Molecular movies combat AIDS

By John Monczunski

Notre Dame’s Jeffrey Peng is a filmmaker of sorts, but you won’t see his work at your local multiplex theater any time soon. The biggest fans of the assistant professor of biochemistry’s work are pharmaceutical chemists who design drugs.

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What’s behind a giving heart?

By John Monczunski

“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor,” the _Gospel of Mark_ reports Jesus said to a would-be disciple. Over the millennia, however, despite at least 99 other biblical verses encouraging generosity, the vast majority of Christians historically have fallen far short of that ideal. So why don’t Christians follow this teaching more faithfully? The discrepancy between stated belief and behavior intrigues Notre Dame sociologist of religion Christian Smith and led him, with Michael Emerson and Patricia Snell, to explore the phenomenon. They write about it in their recent book, _Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give More_.

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Beyond Roe reversal

By John Monczunski

As important as reversing _Roe v. Wade_ may be to ending abortion in the United States, overturning the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made the procedure legal throughout the country would probably have a smaller effect than most people realize. Consequently, a much broader political strategy is needed, argues Joseph Wright, a Kellogg Institute visiting fellow.

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Ashes, ashes, we all fall down

By John Monczunski

Ash Wednesday has always been my least favorite holy day. I’ve disliked it from the time I was a kid, growing up in the 1950s in a Polish-Italian-Irish parish on Chicago’s far northwest side.

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'I want to do more'

By John Monczunski

If you were to ask Yamil Colon to name his favorite place on campus, his answer would likely be a tie between the LaFortune ballroom and Professor Joan Brennecke’s lab in Fitzgerald Hall.

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Carrine Etheridge: minister of hospitality

By John Monczunski

“Never a dull moment” is how Notre Dame’s longest reigning rector, Sister Carrine Etheridge, IHM, sums up her 16 years in Farley Hall. Need proof? How about the day someone’s pet iguana got loose, running up and down the corridors “scaring the bejeebers out of all the housekeepers and residents"?

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‘How it ought to be’

By John Monczunski

“I think the point of political science is to somehow get to how the world ought to be. Namely at peace,” John Busch says. “The problem is we disagree on how the world is. Until you agree on that, you can’t get to how it ought to be.”

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Memorial mania

By John Monczunski

Spontaneous memorial shrines have become a standard mode of grief expression in modern Western society, says Erika Doss. The Notre Dame professor of American studies notes that the ritual has become commonplace, repeated whenever an unexpected tragedy happens.

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‘Spider’ silkworms

By John Monczunski

As anyone who has ever seen a Spiderman movie knows, spider silk is strong, helpful stuff. The problem is that spiders don’t make enough to be useful.

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Ahead of His Time

By John Monczunski

A Notre Dame Priest/Scientist Embraced Evolution

Notre Dame’s legendary priest-scientist Father John Zahm, CSC, was the first prominent U.S. Catholic scholar to embrace evolution publicly. He popularized the theory in his writing and on the lecture circuit, which attracted large crowds wherever he spoke.…

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Questions That Won't Go Away: Darwin and Intelligent Design

By John Monczunski

"I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feeling of anyone," Charles Darwin wrote in the closing lines of _The Origin of Species_. It was a nice try at positive spin by the British naturalist, but in the end only wishful thinking. Darwin's treatise on evolution did, of course, shock his 19th century audience and has continued to upset some people ever since, particularly those Christians who hold a literal understanding of the Bible.…

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Puritan vindication?

By John Monczunski

It’s an overstatement to say the road to hell leads through the mall, but somewhere Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards must be saying “I told you so.” Notre Dame economist Dan Hungerman has reported an interesting link between public morality and the repeal of “blue laws,” which originated with the Puritans and, most notably, banned stores from doing business on Sunday.…

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Notre Dame's seers

By John Monczunski

Eight years ago Notre Dame astronomer Peter Garnavich and his colleagues observed that certain distant exploding stars were fainter than accepted formulas had predicted. What may seem like a “so what?” fact turns out to have profound theoretical implications that have fueled the speculation of cosmologists ever since.

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Don't fight, compromise

By John Monczunski

Parents who often fight with one another or ignore their spouse in front of their children may do well to resolve their differences constructively, according to two recent studies. Researchers at the University of Rochester and Catholic University have confirmed earlier findings by Notre Dame psychology Professor E. Mark Cummings that parental conflict can have a lasting negative impact on a child’s development.…

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You've got mail . . . just like Darwin and Einstein

By John Monczunski

Little did you know that you have a lot in common with Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. At least when it comes to managing your email.

Notre Dame Professor of Physics Albert László Barabási and his colleague João Gama Oliveira recently found that the correspondence of the famed scientists followed the same mathematical formula Barabási earlier identified describing the pattern for email correspondence.…

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Don't be a bad sport

By John Monczunski

Ideally, youth sports programs like Little League and Pop Warner football build character by instilling positive values associated with fair play, goal-oriented teamwork, respect, camaraderie and the like. And most often that is the effect they have. But unfortunately sometimes negative lessons rooted in a win-at-all-costs ethic may be taught as well.…

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The power of magnetic chips

By John Monczunski

A revolutionary computer chip made of ultra-small magnets that holds the promise of almost unimaginable speed and power came a step closer to reality thanks to a recent Notre Dame breakthrough.

Notre Dame electrical engineering researchers Alexandra Imre, Lili Ji, Gary Bernstein and Wolfgang Porod, along with Gyorgy Csaba of the Technical University of Munich, demonstrated that submicroscopic magnets, billionths of a meter in size, can perform the function of transistors in a logic circuit, the basis of all computing functions.…

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A really cool planet

By John Monczunski

In our galaxy far, far away—20,000 light years, near the center of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius, to be exact—an international team of astronomers that includes Notre Dame’s David Bennett recently discovered a planet that resembles Earth, albeit remotely.

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Architect captures the shape of change

By John Monczunski

Doug Garofalo ’81 says he strives to create forms that have never been seen before. If you doubt that, consider the Chicago architect’s design to update the Manilow House in rural Wisconsin, pictured here. Oh, sure, the gabled main house and red-barn wing of the family’s summer home may look like a conventional Midwestern farm house at first glance. Yet there’s certainly nothing traditional about that titanium-clad roof oozing over and around the home.…

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Painting a bull’s eye on bacteria

By John Monczunski

Notre Dame Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Bradley Smith and his colleagues recently found what may be a new way to target drugs and image sites of bacterial infection. While examining a series of low molecular weight zinc (II) complexes, the Notre Dame researcher found that the zinc compound could differentiate between mammalian cells and such disease-causing bacteria as E. coli

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The physics of flix

By John Monczunski

A savvy Hollywood movie mogul would be wise to consult Cesar Hidalgo before investing in any film sequels. The Notre Dame physics graduate student and his colleagues have developed a mathematical model that describes the life cycle of a film’s popularity. In the process, it renders a quantitative indicator of a film’s commercial value.…

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The girls’ dream matchup

By John Monczunski

Hillary Rodham Clinton versus Condoleezza Rice ’75M.A. Would that race for president excite your political imagination? A study by two Notre Dame political scientists suggests that such a match-up between the Democratic senator from New York and the Republican secretary of state likely would be the dream race for teenage girls in the United States.…

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When “men” came off the menu

By John Monczunski

The fossil record suggests that our ancestors had an unfortunate habit of becoming breakfast, lunch and dinner for other beasts. Holes in hominid skulls match saber-toothed tiger fangs, and piles of fossil bones have been found in South African caves where ancient predators apparently dragged our forebears and dropped them. But Notre Dame anthropologist Agustin Fuentes notes things began to change mysteriously for the better about two million years ago, when, he says, “predation rates on other species went up, while ours declined.”…

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The world is no longer MAD

By John Monczunski

During the Cold War, neither the Soviet Union nor the United States held the upper hand when it came to nuclear weapons. The world’s two superpowers kept each other in check for 50 years through a stalemate known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), in which either side could destroy the other if attacked. But that is changing, and the shift has profound consequences, says an article co-authored by Notre Dame political scientist Kier Lieber. The article was published last March in the journal Foreign Affairs

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Tiny tubes increase solar power

By John Monczunski

Incredibly tiny carbon tubes might one day lower the cost and increase the feasibility of solar power, according to some promising preliminary research by a Notre Dame chemist. Actually, “incredibly tiny” may be an overstatement since it would take more than 25 million carbon nanotubes lined up side-by-side to equal an inch. The unusual tiny chemical structures, however, have some curious electronic properties that seem to enhance the efficiency of photovoltaic cells.…

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Nasty ads win

By John Monczunski

Remember all those negative political ads on TV last fall? The ones that made you say you’d scream if you ever saw another one? Well, clear your throat and buy some lozenges, because it looks like they’re here to stay.

Based on the amount of negative advertising employed by candidates, last fall’s midterm election may have been the most negative in U.S. political history. An estimated $2 billion was spent on “issue” TV commercials, and in the last two months of the campaign 90 percent of those ads were negative. As outrageously high as those numbers are, they’re likely to stay high for one simple reason: Nasty works.…

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