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Concert of American Music by the BU Chamber Chorus, Saturday, February 8, 8 p.m., Tsai Performance Center
Week of 7 February 2003· Vol. VI, No. 20

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USA Today: Tragedy could build national unity

President Reagan’s speech after the Challenger disaster in 1986 temporarily silenced Democratic grumbling over his budget priorities. At the Oklahoma City bombing site in 1995, President Clinton’s remarks improved his public image after voters had dealt him a setback in congressional elections. Similarly, President Bush’s response to the loss of the space shuttle Columbia on February 1 could deflect the growing dissatisfaction of Americans with the way things are going in the country, says the February 3 USA Today. “There’s just a certain natural sense of unity and shared tragedy and common experience that puts a focus on a president,” says Robert Dallek, a CAS professor of history and a presidential historian who has written books on FDR and Lyndon Johnson. But he says that there are risks for Bush as well. “When the country gets in a kind of funk and begins to feel it’s not heading in the right direction, an episode like this just adds to the feeling that everything is going wrong,” he says.

Heart Disease Weekly: New blood treatment for heart failure intriguing

For the five million Americans who have congestive heart failure, medication can delay the gradual weakening of the heart and special pacemakers can make the damaged heart pump more forcefully. But now a new treatment, called immune modulation therapy, or the blood zapper, may offer hope in halting heart damage, reports the Heart Disease Weekly on February 9. In a pilot experiment, a monthly treatment that involves drawing a vial of blood from a heart-failure patient, putting it into a machine that stresses the cells by heating them to 108 degrees F, zapping them with ultraviolet light, mixing in a little ozone gas, and then reinjecting the blood into the patient has significantly reduced hospitalizations. Heart damage is temporarily halted as the stressed cells die and the patient’s immune system rallies to suppress inflammation. “Intrigued’s a good way to put it,” says Wilson Colucci, a School of Medicine professor and chief of cardiovascular medicine at Boston Medical Center, who works with the American Heart Association, about the new treatment, which was also featured in stories in Biotech Weekly, Blood Weekly, and Immunotherapy Weekly. “This comes along at a time when specialists are wondering what else we can offer.”

Boston Herald: Heat-shielding tiles eyed by NASA

Seven minutes prior to the breakup of Columbia, heat sensors and other monitors on the craft’s left wing and wheel assembly stopped transmitting readings to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. This suggests that heat-shielding tile damage during the shuttle launch could have led to catastrophic heat-protection problems as it entered earth’s atmosphere, reports the February 2 Boston Herald. “The frictional forces [of re-entry] really heat up the body,” says Theodore Fritz, a CAS professor of astronomy, who studied with German rocket scientist Werner von Braun. “It is the same reason why meteors burn up when they hit the atmosphere.”

Boston Globe: Protest cancels White House poetry symposium

The office of First Lady Laura Bush announced on January 29 the postponement of the February 12 White House poetry symposium on Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes after learning that one of the invited poets had urged others to protest the pending war with Iraq at the event, says the February 1 Boston Globe. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, a College of Arts and Sciences professor of English, took no position on the protest. “I was lucky when I was poet laureate,” he says. “We had an event in which President and Mrs. Clinton joined kids from Washington public schools, disabled war veterans, former poets laureate Rita Dove [who declined this year’s White House event in protest of a possible war] and Robert Hass, and we read poems by Langston Hughes and Emily Dickinson. But that was at a time when a lot of poets were happy to be supporting the president, because they thought he was being attacked unfairly.”


7 February 2003
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