Daniel Nathans, esteemed scientist, professor, former interim
president of the university and recipient of the Nobel Prize,
died in his sleep Nov. 16 from leukemia. He was 71.
Funeral services were private. The date for a
memorial service will be announced soon.
University Professor of Molecular Biology and
Genetics at the School of Medicine, where he was a faculty member
for more than three decades, Nathans also was senior investigator
of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Hopkins. He served as
interim president of the university from June 1995 until August
1996. In addition to being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1978,
Nathans was a 1993 recipient of the National Medal of Science,
the nation's highest scientific award.
Alphabet's history rewritten by
Sometime during the beginning of the second millennium B.C., long
before ancient biblical times, a traveler passing through a
desert valley of what is now southern Egypt stopped at a rock and
inscribed on it his name, his title and probably a short prayer
for safe passage.
The discovery of this traveler's ancient
calling card, and another similar one found on a rock nearby,
offers new clues to the origins of the alphabet, said Kyle
McCarter Jr., the William Foxwell Albright Chair in Biblical and
Ancient Near Eastern Studies and an expert in epigraphy, or the
study of ancient writings. The inscriptions indicate that the
first alphabet--from which all modern alphabets have evolved--is
centuries older than previously believed and was probably
invented in Egypt, not, as previously believed, in the Levant
region, or what is now modern-day Syria, Lebanon and Israel.
Until now, scholars believed that the forefather of written
Hebrew, Arabic, Greek--virtually all alphabets, including
ours--was invented in the 1700s B.C. The Egypt inscriptions now
point the alphabets' origins toward the 1900s B.C.
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