Blues appeal

By John Monczunski

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“Jumpin’ Gene” Halton plays harmonica, or “harp,” as it is known in the blues world, with his group, Off-the-Wall Blues Band, and acoustic duo, The Dillon Brothers. His alter ego, Professor Eugene W. Halton, teaches sociology at Notre Dame. In the past, Halton has combined his two identities, teaching the sociology course Blues and American Culture. This fall he will again use the blues as a window to examine American social history for a segment of his course on The Materialization of America

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Rethinking superconductivity

By John Monczunski

Despite their name, “high temperature” electrical superconductors actually require quite low temperatures by normal standards to work—the highest around minus-211 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature an electrical current flowing in a loop of superconducting wire would whip around forever with no additional power source because the superconductor has no electrical resistance.…

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ND astronomer finds two new planets

By John Monczunski

So maybe our solar system isn’t so special after all. In February, an international team of astronomers that includes Notre Dame’s David Bennett, announced the discovery of two planets in a distant solar system similar to ours, 5,000 light years from Earth.

Using a technique known as “gravitational microlensing” in which the gravitational field of one star acts as a lens, bending and magnifying light from another star, astronomers discovered “blips” in their data that indicated the presence of the two planets about the size of Jupiter and Saturn orbiting a red dwarf star about half the size of our sun.…

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Ante up to batter up

By John Monczunski

Before the first pitch is thrown on Opening Day each year since 1973, Major League Baseball has played another game that has a profound effect on the season. “Salary Arbitration,” usually played every February, pits certain eligible players who believe they are underplayed against team management in a contest to wrangle out their new wages.…

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The widow's pendulum

By John Monczunski

The loss of a spouse is one of life’s most traumatic events. Following a husband’s death, widows report riding a roller-coaster of emotions. However, a study by Cynthia Bergeman, a Notre Dame psychology professor, suggests the emotional trajectory of widowhood more closely resembles a pendulum experiencing friction as it swings.…

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The more 'ribbids' the better for Kermit

By John Monczunski

If they want to be the biggest frog on a pond’s lily pad, male frogs need to speak up. Lady frogs prefer “talkative” males, according to Sunny Boyd, Notre Dame professor of biological sciences. It seems the ladies judge Kermit on the basis of his vocal talents, with the more pulses and the longer the call equaling the more desirable male. Girl frogs aren’t interested in the strong silent type; the studs are the guys belting out the long “ribbids.”…

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Having coffee with Martin Nguyen: The portrait of an artist

By John Monczunski

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Pale morning light streams through the four tall windows that dominate the eastern wall of Father Martin Lam Nguyen’s room in the Holy Cross Annex, a 50-year-old prefab building tucked in the woods along the road to Saint Mary’s. “This,” the associate professor of art announces with a grin, “is a historic place.”…

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Domers in the News

By John Monczunski

A team of Washington Post reporters led by Tom Jackman ’82 received the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news this year for the paper’s coverage of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which 32 people were murdered by a troubled student. . . . Lieutenant Colonel Michael Zacchea ’90 was featured in a New York Times story this spring about the efforts of Iraq war veterans to help protect their former Iraqi aides who have been branded collaborators. The story detailed his efforts to help his Iraqi interpreter, “Jack,” secure a visa to emigrate to the United States. . . . Annette Hasbrook ’85

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The million-year questions

By John Monczunski

Since nuclear energy is a source of clean, virtually limitless power, many people see it as a key to solving the planet’s greenhouse gas problem. Unfortunately, it’s a solution with its own serious problem: radioactive waste. How do you safely store something that will remain toxic for a million years? To answer that challenge, a host of basic scientific questions must be answered first.…

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Power to the computers

By John Monczunski

The era of all-pervasive computing is rapidly approaching—some would argue it already has arrived—in which countless computers run unnoticed in the background of everyday life, making it more convenient and manageable.

In the not-too-distant future, for instance, clothing may have sensors embedded for medical monitoring. Automobiles may be equipped with computing systems that find the timeliest route to your destination, steering you there based on traffic patterns monitored by remote sensors.…

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The ionic solution to pollution

By John Monczunski

The best way to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is to stop burning fossil fuels. Realistically, that won’t happen soon. Therefore, a bridge strategy is needed until clean, renewable energy becomes the dominant form in the world. That’s where CO2 capture and ionic liquids may come in, says Edward Maginn.…

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Green power from rainbows

By John Monczunski

Nearly three-fourths of America’s electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels that pump 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. One of the most promising ways to cut those numbers and go green, Prashant Kamat believes, is through the rainbow, as in rainbow solar cells.

A recent breakthrough by the Notre Dame professor of chemistry and biochemistry has moved this next-generation photovoltaic power cell a step closer to reality. Kamat and his colleagues have demonstrated that quantum dots, incredibly tiny nanoscale structures, can be used to create more efficient power cells that create electricity directly from sunlight.…

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Burn hot, burn clean, by design

By John Monczunski

If power plants could burn coal above 1,500 degrees Celsius, experts estimate they could increase generating efficiency 10 to 15 percent. It’s not now possible because turbines made of conventional materials can’t stand the heat. At those intense temperatures parts break down and fail. Notre Dame aerospace and mechanical engineering professors John Renaud and Vikas Tomar, however, are working to find a way around this roadblock to the promised land of clean coal technology.…

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Religious help poor with record giving

By John Monczunski

U.S. religious congregations, regardless of denomination, are supporting relief and development efforts in poor countries with record amounts of money, according to a recent survey conducted jointly by Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society and the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Prosperity (CGP

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Space station science

By John Monczunski

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Dennis Jacobs’ research is out of this world. Literally. Back in March, astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavour installed an experiment devised by the Notre Dame chemistry professor on the outside of the International Space Station. The research, conceived by the ND chemist who also serves the University as a vice president and associate provost, is designed to test how well a variety of materials stand up to the rigors of near-Earth orbit.…

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'Lab on a Chip' goes up a notch

By John Monczunski

In 1975 a Stanford University researcher devised the first “lab on a chip,” essentially a series of incredibly tiny tubes etched in silicon and “seeded” with certain molecules that chemically react with the fluid being analyzed. In effect, the chip brings a super-miniature lab to the sample, rather than the sample to the lab. The result is a tremendous savings in time, expense and complexity.…

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Big stars, small screen

By John Monczunski

Christine Becker has the Baby Boomer couch potato’s dream job. Over the last several years the ND assistant professor of film, television and theatre has watched countless hours of vintage 1950s television shows as she researched her study on the relationship of Hollywood film stars to the fledgling medium.…

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A vaccine from sand fly spit?

By John Monczunski

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Soon after the invasion of Iraq, U.S. troops began reporting strange sores on their bodies that they nicknamed the “Baghdad boil.” Mostly a nuisance, the large skin lesions are caused by the Leishmania parasite spread by sand fly bites. The sores are a source of concern, however, since they can leave large, disfiguring scars. If the parasite invades bone or a vital organ, it can even cause death.…

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Taking the University up another notch

By John Monczunski

Notre Dame has long stated its ambition to become a pre-eminent research university while remaining committed to undergraduate education and its Catholic character. In an unprecedented move this spring, the University dramatically backed up that rhetoric, doling out an initial $40 million in internal funds to foster the kind of high-impact research that could make the rest of academia take notice.…

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The tiny thoughts on ND's MIND

By John Monczunski

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The electronics industry is in trouble. Unless someone develops a bright idea soon, the long assembly line of progress that has produced ever smaller, faster, cheaper, more powerful computers, cell phones and other electronic devices will likely short circuit and grind to a halt by 2020. Experts predict the limits of current semiconductor technology will be reached that year.…

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Domers in the news (Autumn 2008)

By John Monczunski

Thomas Moe ’75M.A., who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam with John McCain and later commanded Air Force ROTC at Notre Dame, was singled out by vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin during her acceptance speech at the GOP convention. . . . The former dean of Notre Dame Law School, David T. Link ’58, ’61J.D.

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Taking Matters Into His Own Hands

By John Monczunski

Ten years ago John Crowley was heading up the ladder of success. But one day in March of 1998, in the office of his daughter’s pediatrician, the trajectory of his life took an unexpected and frightful turn.

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A very startling leap

By John Monczunski

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In 1993 Raymond Very, Notre Dame class of 1983, made the startling leap from manager of sales training for Fischer Scientific International, Inc., to apprentice tenor with the Houston Opera Studio. Since then, the man who had no formal voice training has established himself as an up-and-coming tenor in the world of professional opera. He has performed in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Oslo and Munich. Next year he will debut with New York’s Metropolitan Opera Company. Not bad for a guy who had never even seen

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Genetic judo may kill dengue fever

By John Monczunski

Dengue is a potentially deadly tropical illness that infects up to 100 million people per year. Unfortunately, no effective vaccine exists for the disease spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. But Malcolm Fraser Jr., Notre Dame professor of biology, thinks a nifty bit of genetic judo he invented may be able to turn the virus against itself.…

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Purple Landings

By John Monczunski

In the not distant future you may notice two remarkable things about a landing airplane: The landing gear glow purple and the landing is much quieter than you’d expect. The two linked curiosities result from some innovative technology developed at Notre Dame.

For some time, engineers have known they could make an airplane touchdown less noisy by streamlining the landing gear. Manufacturers, however, haven’t incorporated the designs because mechanical wind screens add weight, don’t stow easily and are difficult to maintain.…

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Notre Dame's Furniture Maker

By John Monczunski

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Say “research,” and most people think experiments, books and papers. But in Robert Brandt’s case it may be a cabinet that looks like a circus popcorn machine or a massive, magnificently detailed mahogany and ebony cabinet housing rare books. Trained as a wood sculptor, the director of the School of Architecture’s furniture design concentration has constructed nearly 100 pieces of fine furniture since joining the faculty in 1992.…

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Spin breakthrough for computers

By John Monczunski

Consumers have come to expect new computers to be always smaller, faster and cheaper. But as the industry approaches the physical limits of silicon-based chip technology—some experts say as soon as 2010—those days may be over.

Or maybe not. An emerging technology known as “spintronics,” which literally promises a quantum leap in speed and capacity, is waiting in the wings. And now thanks to a breakthrough from Notre Dame physicist Boldizsár Jankó and his colleagues, that technology, which exploits an electron’s spin as well as its charge, appears one step closer to feasibility.…

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Domers in the News: web extra

By John Monczunski

Investment management firm Franklin Street Partners named Craig Lewis ’86 as chief investment officer. . . . In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Mike Turzai ’81 is running for re-election to the state house. . . . John Donahue ’85J.D. is running for Berrien County, Michigan, Circuit Court judge. . . . Joan Biever ’79M.A., ’81Ph.D.

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The Priesthood in Peril

By John Monczunski

The theme of the April 2002 annual meeting of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils was “evangelization,” but whenever two or more gathered during breaks the topic of conversation inevitably turned to the ever-unraveling clerical sexual abuse/coverup scandal.

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