The Eck's Tyrannosaurus rex

By John Monczunski

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A new face with a toothy grin now greets patrons of Notre Dame’s Eck Visitor’s Center. A replica of the skull of “Peck’s Rex,” the Tyranosaurus rex fossil discovered in 1997 by a crew led by Notre Dame paleontologist J. Keith Rigby, Jr., went on display at the University in May. The 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus fossil, which derives its name from its discovery site near Fort Peck, Montana, made the national news when a ranch family claimed ownership and attempted to dig it up before Rigby’s crew could excavate it. Subsequently, legal authorities established that the family did not have title to the land and forced them to return the skull and other bones to Rigby. Recently, we had a brief chat with Notre Dame’s dinosaur hunter.

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The Power of Perambulation

By John Monczunski

For some time now I’ve had a nagging suspicion that I didn’t receive the complete instruction manual to life. Apparently, someone ripped a few key pages from my dog-eared, smudged copy when I wasn’t looking. How else to explain those days when it seems as if everyone else has inside information that gives them a competitive edge?…

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The ND Drain Brain

By John Monczunski

A heavy rainstorm shouldn’t cause pollution. But many cities have combined sanitary and storm sewers, and that’s precisely what happens when a cloudburst strikes. The swamped system overflows, forcing raw sewerage into rivers and lakes.

The conventional solution has been to build separate sanitary and storm sewers. Unfortunately, that fix is costly and time-consuming. In South Bend, for instance, the price tag has been estimated at $200 million over 20 years. But Jeffrey Talley, Notre Dame assistant professor of civil engineering, has a better idea: Make the existing sewers smart.…

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Quick like a cockroach

By John Monczunski

As anyone who has ever attempted to smash one knows, cockroaches are among God’s most agile creatures. They can achieve speeds of 50 times their body length per second, darting to safety before your rolled-up newspaper is anywhere near wreaking its vengeance. That ability, researchers have concluded, makes them an excellent model system to learn how to make nimble, maneuverable robots. All of which explains the smile that came to Alan Bowling’s face last spring when the Notre Dame assistant professor of mechanical engineering examined the equations and analysis of his graduate student Yanto Go.…

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Too sweet for your own good

By John Monczunski

A spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but when too much glucose is afloat in the bloodstream bad things happen. Renal failure and blindness, for instance, which can result from diabetes, has been associated with so-called “non-enzymatic glycated proteins,” in which glucose has been added willy-nilly to the protein.…

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Seminar: Should you fear and loathe your teenager?

By John Monczunski

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Some mothers and their children glide easily through the preteen’s transition from childhood to adolescence. Others face a difficult time. Notre Dame associate professor of psychology Dawn Gondoli is in the seventh year of a longitudinal study of mothers and their children aimed at finding out why that is. Recently, we talked to her about parents and their teenage mutant ninja children_.…

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Preparing the Way of the Lord

By John Monczunski

Mike Buckler was a little late for work one morning at South Bend’s Chapin Street Clinic. As he hung up his coat, he smiled at the lone woman sitting in the waiting room of the free health clinic.

“I just said ‘Hi, how are ya?’ and she immediately started bawling,” Buckler recalls. When he sat down next to the woman, the story gushed out. The day before, her son had been sentenced to life in prison. She came to the clinic because throughout her son’s trial she had been experiencing chest pains from all the stress.…

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It's a dance, it's a fight

By John Monczunski

Capoeira (pronounced kah-po-AE-rrrrah) is: A. the newest latte from Starbucks; B. the Mafia’s term for a hitman; or C. the Brazilian answer to tai-chi.

If your final answer is C, you may go to the head of Greg Downey’s class, where the Notre Dame assistant professor of anthropology will teach you, among other things, Portugese songs and how to play the berimbau, a single-string, bow-like percussion instrument with a gourd on one end. Both the singing and playing are essential to the Afro-Brazilian martial art, which is the object of Downey’s scholarly research and one of his hobbies.…

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Translating the Dead Sea Scrolls

By John Monczunski

A glance at the periodical rack in any supermarket checkout confirms that the Dead Sea scrolls continue to fascinate the general public 50 years after their initial discovery. Two new books by Notre Dame theology professors and scroll scholars Eugene Ulrich and James Vanderkam make the ancient religious texts more accessible to academics and laymen alike.…

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God? Country? Notre Dame?

By John Monczunski

As much as the leprechaun and football, military training has been a part of Notre Dame tradition. Ever since 1858 when the student-organized Continental Cadets began marching across campus in their blue and buff American Revolutionary-style uniforms, Notre Dame has been teaching students how to be good soldiers.…

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The Creeping Bent Kentucky Blues

By John Monczunski

I am miserable. I have just looked through a window into my backyard and surveyed my domain. The yard is an uneven checkerboard of sickly gray-green turf, alternating with patches of bare dirt and wisps of buff-colored straw. This is hardly the velvet green carpet for which I have yearned, lo these many years. After more than a decade of study, I have reluctantly concluded that the grass is always

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Spent

By John Monczunski

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I covet my neighbors’ goods and I have engaged in conspicuous consumption numerous times. Here’s a partial list of the things I’ve needed since my last confession: A notebook computer, a cell phone for me, cell phones for my two daughters, an SUV would be nice but I’ll settle for a new station wagon, a DVD

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Spotlights, web extra

By John Monczunski

Malaria mosquito mapped

Researchers now have a blueprint of the genes of the primary mosquito that transmits the malaria parasite to humans, and Notre Dame biologist Frank Collins helped create it.

Collins, the Clark Professor of Biological Sciences, and Robert E. Holt of Celera Genonimcs Inc., the company that mapped the human genome, were the corresponding authors of a study that determined the genetic sequence of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae

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Mom and I buy only . . .

By John Monczunski

Blood is not only thicker than water, it also appears to be stronger than coupons, celebrity endorsements and other product marketing devices. A study by marketing faculty Elizabeth S. Moore and William L. Wilkie along with a colleague at the University of Florida found that mothers pass down powerful preferences to their daughters for certain brand-name products. The researchers separately surveyed about 100 mothers and their college-age daughters to see which brands of household products they most preferred to purchase. The matches were then adjusted to see which items were popular beyond what their market share would predict. The following are the products that appeared to benefit most from what the researchers term “intergenerational influences”:

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How to Deliver Bad News and Live to Tell About It

By John Monczunski

No one likes to deliver bad news. It’s especially difficult to deliver it to one’s boss. After all, they shoot messengers, don’t they? But now and then most of us have to tell someone something we’d rather not. In an organization it’s especially critical that those in charge have accurate, even if uncomfortable, information to solve a problem. So how do

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One Pollution Solution?

By John Monczunski

“Ionic liquid” may sound like a new brand of dish detergent. But it’s really an unexplored class of chemical compound with the potential to help clean the nation’s air while saving industry millions of dollars. At least that’s the hope. Whether it’s any more than that an interdisciplinary team of Notre Dame researchers intends to find out.…

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Tales from the Crypts

By John Monczunski

The Dead Sea scroll bones tell a tale. Unfortunately, it’s much sketchier than Susan Guise Sheridan and other anthropologists had hoped it would be.

After a recent analysis of skeletal remains exhumed from 18 graves at Qumran, the archeological site in Israel associated with the ancient Dead Sea biblical scrolls, the Notre Dame forensic anthropologist can say this for sure: One was a teenager who had been ill most of his life, another was an old man who died in his 60s, another was an older woman, and the remainder were adult men, between 30 and 60 years of age. Nails from the coffins appear to be Roman in origin. And that, more or less, is it.

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KH 15 D: Now You See It, Now You Don't

By John Monczunski

It’s a neat trick. Every 48 days a recently discovered speck of light in the night that astronomers call KH 15 D vanishes. Then, 20 days later —presto—the star reappears. What’s going on? As with any disappearing act, it’s most likely smoke and mirrors, or, in this case, the cosmic equivalent.

Peter Garnavich, a Notre Dame associate professor of physics, and colleagues from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Wesleyan University theorize that a large, swirling disk of dust and gas, “leftovers” from the star’s birth which eventually will coalesce into a planet, is the cause of the star’s periodic winking.…

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A Carload of Contradictions

By John Monczunski

For poor people it is the classic Catch-22. Ever since the welfare reforms of the ’90s, most aid recipients have been required to work to qualify for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The problem is, since you need dependable transportation to get to work, very often you need a car. But if you own a car worth more than $1,000 you no longer qualify for aid in nine states, while other states have a higher limit.…

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Finding Far-flung Planets

By John Monczunski

“Boggle” might be the perfect name for the planet Notre Dame’s David Bennett and an international team of astronomers discovered recently. The distant world, estimated to be one-and-a-half times the size of Jupiter, is so far away from Earth and the means of its discovery is so novel that it boggles the mind.…

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Are the Orange Beetles Sexier?

By John Monczunski

Maybe it’s that lady Jamaican click beetles see the guy beetles with the orange lights as more their type, or maybe it’s that the bats who dine on them have trouble finding the orange fireflies. Whatever the reason, Notre Dame biologist Jeffrey Feder and graduate students Uwe Stolz and Sebastian Velez have strong genetic evidence that natural selection is occurring in the Jamaican click beetle population. Beetles that glow orange at night appear to be winning over the ones who glow green or yellow-green.…

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Charting the Skyscraper Dance

By John Monczunski

When the wind gusts, skyscrapers swing, sway and twist. Sometimes they creak and groan. But that’s okay because they’re designed to do that, and most of the time the movement is imperceptible. “Tall buildings dance; the flexibility allows them to handle wind load, the force of the wind,” says Tracy Kijewski-Correa, Notre Dame assistant professor of civil engineering.…

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What the church has to say

By John Monczunski

Despite repeated iterations and reiterations of Roman Catholic Church teaching over the past 30 years from the Vatican and the U.S. Catholic bishops, the morality of homosexuality remains clouded and confused in the minds of many Catholics. Stated in the simplest terms, the core of that teaching emphasizes that being homosexual

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The Hotspots of Invasion

By John Monczunski

The attacks happen every day all across the world. An ocean-going freighter takes on ballast water at Port A, then later discharges its tanks at Port B, injecting alien creatures from the A ecosystem into the B ecosystem. Anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 different species may be floating in a ship’s ballast water, explains David Lodge, Notre Dame professor of biology. “…

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Marketing's moral myopia

By John Monczunski

The vegetable soup was chock full of good things to eat. Unfortunately, the good things were at the bottom of the bowl, invisible. The photographer for the print ad, however, had a novel solution: He put marbles in the bowl, forcing the veggies to the surface. No one saw a problem with the sleight of hand, and thus was born one of the classics of deceptive advertising. The Federal Trade Commission filed and won a lawsuit, and Campbell Soup Company was left with egg on its face.…

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Digging Back in Time

By John Monczunski

A group of Notre Dame students and area volunteers dug into local history this summer—literally. Led by anthropology professor Mark Schurr, the group worked a 16-square-meter archaeological dig along the banks of the Kankakee River in northwest Indiana. The project yielded hundreds of artifacts dating as far back as 800 B.C. The Notre Dame archaeologist termed the site the richest he has found in 14 years of work in the area.…

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Seminar: Would You Like Soy with That?

By John Monczunski

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Neil Shay is a Notre Dame associate professor of biological sciences who studies the biochemical mechanisms involved in nutrition and metabolism. Currently he is researching the effect of soy foods and isoflavones on cholesterol levels. Recently we asked him if it is true that you are what you eat.…

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