SFA Theatre Arts Division's production of Six Characters in Search of an Author, February 21 to 24, at the BU Theatre Mainstage

Vol. IV No. 23   ·   16 February 2001 


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Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have found evidence that challenges the standard theory of how the universe works. The researchers found that a subatomic particle called a muon behaved differently than expected under the Standard Model, a theoretical description of the basic structure of all the matter in the universe and how it interacts, using three of the four fundamental forces of nature. The Standard Model is the basis of modern physics and has withstood 30 years of challenges, although most physicists assume it to be just the best approximation to date. CAS Professor of Physics Lee Roberts, a researcher involved in the muon project since 1984 and a spokesman for the project, says in February 9 front page stories in the New York Times and the Boston Globe, "People have been looking for holes in the Standard Model since it was invented. This is the first signal that there might be something beyond." If the findings of the approximately 80 physicists worldwide who have been working on the project stand up to what will be intense scrutiny from around the world, they would mark the beginning of 21st century physics (see "BU physicists challenge theory of universe").

A story in the February 5 Boston Globe reports that during Rwandan leader Paul Kagame's visit to the United States recently, he was criticized by human rights groups and others about allegedly allowing the dismemberment of Congo by its neighbors, condoning human rights abuses, and concentrating Rwanda's power and wealth in the hands of his own ethnic group, the Tutsi. While Bill Clinton has praised Kagame as one of Africa's most promising leaders -- and Kagame himself declares that there are no human rights abuses in his country at all -- Secretary of State Colin Powell has raised issues about domestic conditions in Rwanda. Critics of Kagame, such as Edouard Bustin, a College of Arts and Sciences political science professor, say that human rights abuses are widespread and growing in Rwanda. "Now they are murdering or driving into exile anyone who does not agree with them -- either Tutsi or Hutu," says Bustin. "Rwanda today is not a country which has an army; it is an army which has a country. . . . Kagame is called president, but he is an unelected dictator who has taken power by force."

The recent presidential electoral turmoil is forcing professors at top law schools around the country to consider altering the curriculum of their constitutional and electoral law classes. A new law textbook, When Elections Go Bad: The Law of Democracy and the Presidential Election of 2000, was published eight days after the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore. Some law professors are concerned that such a unique event as the 2000 election will be difficult to teach about objectively. School of Law Professor Randy Barnett says in a Boston Globe story February 3, "Bush v. Gore is not that significant. I would put it in the same category of current interest and something to be taught now. It's not that different than impeachment. In five years, I doubt I'll be teaching it." According to the Globe, some legal scholars opine that conservative law professors see the election as a "one-way ticket," a decision so unique that it is unlikely to be cited as a defense in future cases. For liberals, the court's decision raises a host of constitutional questions, from the reach of the 14th Amendment and the meaning of equal rights protections to the role of the Supreme Court and the delicate division of power between state and federal courts.

"In The News" is compiled by Mark Toth in the Office of Public Relations.


16 February 2001
Boston University
Office of University Relations