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Week of 19 March 1999

Vol. II, No. 27

In the News

The rediscovery in Massachusetts of what educational rigor entails may bring excellence and democracy into confrontation. "Americans want to think every kid will graduate from high school, but they don't want them to be unhappy or under a lot of pressure so they keep lowering standards," says Charles Glenn, professor of education at SED. "We need high standards, but that doesn't mean pretending every kid will be doing equally well." Glenn was quoted in a March 3 Boston Globe story.

As the turn of the century looms, lists flourish. In the category of "most important invention" Adil Najam, CAS assistant professor of international relations, points to disposable products. "Everything became disposable. The pen, the cup in which you have your coffee, your plates. In terms of the environment, it is the motor of many of our problems," says Najam, who studies environmental issues. "The amount of waste we produce is colossal compared to what it was." CAS history professor Joseph Boskin adds the TV remote control to the list. "It's made possible hundreds of channels. It's led to instant connection, instant imagery," asserts Boskin. The Boston Herald reported both professors' opinions in a February 28 story.

Mathematics is becoming a central tool in the study of biology. Among the examples featured in a March 1 Dallas Morning News story on this trend is the research of CAS mathematics professor Nancy Kopell into the rhythmic patterns of brain-wave activity. "There are tantalizing hints that pathologies in these rhythms are associated with thought disorders" such as schizophrenia, says Kopell. "Anything that we learn more about how these rhythms get created, how they get disrupted, has immediate implications for what might be happening medically."

Dogs were among the first mammals to participate in space exploration. Now BU is carrying on that tradition, acronymically at least. As part of a NASA program, students and faculty advisers are preparing the cost-effective TERRIERS (Tomographic Experiment using Radiative Recombinative Ionospheric EUV and Radio Source) satellite for launch, tentatively scheduled for April. "When the program first began, colleagues had said that for $4 million all you could build were toys," remembers Supriya Chakrabarti, CAS astronomy professor, director of the Center for Space Physics, and co-investigator of the research project. "So now we've proved them wrong." He was quoted in a March 8 Boston Globe story.

A recent audit of the Internal Revenue Service by Congress' General Accounting Office pointed out some disturbing deficiencies. "Not being able to keep track of significant assets in any department of the government is just wrong and negligent," says Alan Feld, BU law professor. "Some of their computer systems are so antiquated it's tragic." But Feld also interjects a note of calm. "Let's not scare people into thinking this is a terribly porous system, it's not; but it has big errors that have to be corrected." Feld's comments were reported in a March 2 Boston Herald story.

"In the News" is compiled by Alexander Crouch in the Office of Public Relations.