Author: Ed Cohen

Down the hall from the Spirit of St. Louis

Notre Dame is now represented in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

A cosmic ray particle detector invented and built by Randy Ruchti, ND professor of physics, and Barry Baumbaugh, research engineer, was installed last fall in a new permanent exhibit in the Smithsonian museum.

“Explore the Universe” contains an array of instruments invented by astronomers and scientists over the centuries, but theirs is the only one actually functioning. Its display window, adapted from a sniper rifle’s night-vision scope, allows visitors to see muons (subatomic particles) as they pass randomly through a block of special fiber-optic material about once every 15 seconds.

Show me the coins

What’s a picture worth? On eBay, an extra 12 percent apparently. That’s one of the findings from a study of on-line auctions.

Charles Wood, assistant professor of management, and a colleague at the University of Minnesota, examined 7,362 transactions on eBay from 1999 to 2001 involving 19th century coins. For the most recent months, they found that if two identical coins were auctioned, the one with the picture sold for about 12 percent more than the one with a text-only ad.

Among their other findings: Coins sold for 2 percent more on weekends. And although longer auctions attract more bidders and higher selling prices, the premium is declining. In 1999, longer-length auctions commanded a 5.2 percent premium. By 2001 it was down to 1.7 percent.

How do criminals get guns?

A new research project aims to explain how guns sold in compliance with federal regulations and by licensed firearms dealers nonetheless end up in the hands of criminals.

Virtually all new guns used in crimes go into circulation through legitimate distribution channels. But with no federal limit on the number of guns that can be purchased in a single sale, “straw purchasers” often buy large numbers and resell them to criminals, leaving no paper trail.

In their research project, marketing faculty Gregory T. Gundlach and Kevin D. Bradford ’91MBA, working with a team of MBA students, will examine these secondary distribution channels and other issues. Their data may be used to support public policy efforts and litigation aimed at recouping public costs related to firearms-related injuries. These costs — including police response to shootings, incarceration of perpetrators and disability payments for victims — can exceed $1 million for a single shooting incident.

Guns are used to commit some 350,000 violent crimes annually, including more than 13,500 murders.

Notre Dame Magazine, Summer 2002