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The sun is a turbulent orb, with massive storms and eruptions that disrupt the Earth's magnetic field and create what is known as space weather. To study solar phenomena, at press time NASA was scheduled to launch STEREO, a pair of identical twin solar observatories built by Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory, on October 25. Courtesy of Kristi Marren, managing editor of APL News, here's a solar and STEREO lexicon.

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs): Powerful solar eruptions capable of blowing into interplanetary space up to 10 billion tons of the sun's atmosphere. These immense clouds of material can cause large magnetic storms in the Earth's magnetosphere and upper atmosphere. CMEs can affect satellite operations, communications, power systems, the lives of humans in space, and global climate.

Solar prominences: Loops of magnetic fields with hot gas trapped inside. Sometimes as the fields become unstable, prominences erupt and quickly rise off of the sun.

Space weather: Everyone is familiar with changes in the weather on Earth. But "weather" also occurs in space. "Space weather" generally refers to conditions on the sun and in the solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere that can influence the performance and reliability of space-borne and ground-based technological systems, cause electrical power surges and corrosion in oil pipelines on Earth, and endanger human life or health.

Lunar swingby: A technique that uses the moon's gravity to redirect spacecraft to their specified orbits. A swingby is efficient and cost-effective, and in this case accomplishes what STEREO's Boeing Delta II rocket cannot on its own. This will be the first time lunar swingbys have been used to manipulate orbits of more than one spacecraft.

Vital Signs

Promising treatment for ragweed
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine researchers have successfully tested an experimental vaccine for ragweed allergies that could eliminate the need for traditional remedies or costly immunotherapy regimens. The vaccine, delivered in a series of six injections, reduced allergy symptoms in test subjects 60 percent versus a control group. Lead investigator Peter Creticos, medical director of the
Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center, noted that the vaccine's efficacy was undiminished in the second year of the trial, without any further injections. The study appeared the October 5 New England Journal of Medicine.

Stem cells seem to help ALS
Onset of nerve-cell damage in rats from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — Lou Gehrig's disease — has been delayed by injection of stem cells. In a study published in the October 15 Transplantation, Hopkins researchers placed human stem cells in the lower spines of rats bred to duplicate ALS. The stem cells developed into nerve cells, formed substantial connections with existing nerves, and did not succumb to the disease. The rats eventually died from the effects of ALS on their upper bodies, but co- author Vassilis Koliatsos, a School of Medicine associate professor, says the study provides proof of principle for stem-cell grafts.

A simpler, faster, cheaper TB test
Tuberculosis kills 5,000 people per day, mostly in poorer countries. Scientists led by Robert H. Gilman, professor of international health in the Bloomberg School, now have developed a new diagnostic test for this treatable disease that is simpler, faster, and cheaper than current tests. The new procedure, announced in the October 12 New England Journal of Medicine, is called MODS, for "microscopic-observation drug-susceptibility." Standard microbial tests can take months; MODS delivered results, on average, in seven days.
—Dale Keiger


For more than 125 years, Johns Hopkins University has encouraged faculty and students to think imaginatively and act globally. But figuring out where to go to discover the fruits of such labors hasn't always been easy — that is, until the creation of the new Johns Hopkins international Web site. Want to know more about the Johns Hopkins University Japan-U.S. Mathematics Institute? Or the Anthropology Department's Child on the Wing project, which looks at how children worldwide maintain everyday life in zones of violent conflict? And what about international research opportunities for nursing and medical students? The site provides links to worldwide academic programs, information on global research and global health, news of international students and alumni, and resources ranging from JHU's libraries in Bologna to the Johns Hopkins Travel Center, which offers useful information on international travel. —Maria Blackburn


Undergrads on the Trail to Discovery
Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards (PURA) program began in 1993 to encourage undergraduates to engage in research activity. Each year students receive awards up to $3,000, with the option of conducting their research for academic credit. Here's a look at two of the 17 PURA recipients for fall 2006:

Altair Peterson, A&S '07, mathematics, "Women at Work in Charm City"
Women make up more than 60 percent of the U.S. workforce, yet they are generally paid as little as 76 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same jobs. Through a photo documentary of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.-area women in the workforce, Peterson aims to explore the nature of women's work and to show the human side of these labor statistics. The goal, she says, is to enhance understanding of working women by critically examining the nature of skilled and unskilled work and the similarities and differences that circumscribe the lives of female workers today.

Andrew R. Arceci, Peab '08, double bass and viola da gamba/violone, "The Viola da Gamba: A New Setting"
The viola da gamba is primarily an instrument of the Baroque period. Arceci's aim is to research how the viola da gamba was originally used in the solo, chamber, and orchestral music of the Baroque period, then use that information to compose a concert piece for solo viola de gamba and modern chamber orchestra. It's an unusual instrument to combine with orchestra, he admits, but the viol's delicate, subdued, and resonant sound is one that Arceci believes has the potential to be quite effective with the orchestra. He hopes to perform the piece at a recital next fall. —MB


With shoes off and minds open, students, faculty, and staff can now take a few moments to pray and reflect by walking the new Labyrinth of Hope at Johns Hopkins' Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith and Community Service Center.

Crafted of scarlet carpet and inlaid into the gray wall-to- wall that covers the floor of the Interfaith Center, the labyrinth was a creative solution to a practical problem. Hopkins Chaplain Sharon Kugler needed to replace the carpeting that had grown threadbare after seven years of heavy use by the more than 20 student religious organizations whose members walk, sit, pray, and eat there. The Interfaith Center already had a traveling labyrinth, and, staring at the worn carpet, Kugler wondered whether a permanent labyrinth could work in the space. Two Hopkins students — a Sikh named Zorawar Noor and a Mormon named Brittany Schriver —designed the labyrinth's shape and a carpet installer did the work.

"It was really a lark," Kugler says. "Everything just came together."

The labyrinth was dedicated on September 11. "This was the floor so many of the students walked" five years ago, Kugler says. "It just seemed right."

On the evening of the dedication, when walkers reached the labyrinth's center, they were asked to take a card from a basket and answer two questions: "What is your hope for the future of humankind?" and "What are you willing to do to see this hope fulfilled?" The answers, which will be displayed at the Interfaith Center, ranged from hopes for "humility and love between people" and "mutual respect for one another" to a willingness to "look, listen, love" to see those hopes fulfilled.

The Labyrinth of Hope will be open Wednesday evenings from 5 to 6:30 pm. —MB

Up & Comer

Name: Jeffrey Weisner
Age: 36

Position: Faculty member, Peabody Conservatory, and a double bassist in the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, D.C.

Stats: BMus '91, Boston University; MMus '95, Peabody Conservatory

Scouting report: Paul Johnson, principal double bassist for the Baltimore Opera Company and a member of the bass faculty at Peabody, says, "Jeff's an excellent player, and it's not every performer who wants to spend the kind of time it takes to teach. Jeff wants to be part of what we're doing here, and he really has his thumb on the pulse of what's happening today in new music."

First instrument: "I played the piano from age 7 to 11 or so. Then I rebelled and quit. My mother is a music teacher, so it's sort of the family business, and I think I had a phase when I wanted to get away from it."

Why the double bass: "When you're the bass, you're down in the nuts and bolts of the music. You see the structure of how things work because you're at the root. I love the feeling that you're driving the whole structure along."

Lugging such a big instrument: "After a while, you stop thinking about it because you do it all the time. Bass plays a big role in determining what kind of car you drive."

Great bass parts: "The composer a lot of bass players love is Richard Strauss, who wrote very, very difficult bass parts. But I prefer Johannes Brahms, because when you play a Brahms bass line you see the whole structure of the music laid out in the line. His dad was a bass player, and clearly he knew what the instrument was best at doing."

Mentor: Harold Robinson, who was one of his teachers at Peabody. "He's a giant in the classical bass world. Hal plays from the gut, and he lays out what he feels the students need to do to be great players in a heartfelt way."

Bottom Line

10,000: The number of new book titles that the Johns Hopkins Campus Bookstore at Homewood carries in its new 29,000-square-foot digs on St. Paul Street in Charles Village.

The bookstore's former home in the basement of Gilman Hall was hard to find, and its size of about 16,000 square feet meant that it could carry 2,400 textbook titles but had limited space for general interest books, says store manager Paul Lynch. Now the bookstore, a full-service Barnes & Noble that opened in October, has departments on cooking and gardening and an entirely new children's section. So in addition to titles found at the old bookstore like I Love Crabcakes! and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, shoppers will now also find Mastering the Art of French Cooking and The B.F.G. "We've always had a good representation of academic subjects, but now we have a good representation of general subjects, too," Lynch says.

The new bookstore is open seven days a week, as well as evenings. And, yes, Virginia, there is a Starbucks.

But really, it's about the books. "I've been waiting 22 years for this," says Lynch. —MB


Course: Africa and the Museum

Instructor: Jane I. Guyer, professor in the Department of Anthropology

Course description: Part of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences' new Museums and Society program, this class aims to introduce Africa, the concepts of culture and art, the logic of ethnographic research, and the dilemmas facing our national museums and exhibits organized in Africa. The readings support students' own study and interpretation of original material. The course will also address current debates about museum representation and introduce new exhibit themes and styles. By the end, students will have explored, in practice, how interpretations of cultures have been created.

F. J. Lamp, See the Music, Hear the Dance: Rethinking African Art at the Baltimore Museum of Art (2004).
Joannes Fabian, "Curios and Curiosity: Notes on Reading Torday and Frobenius," from The Scramble for Art in Central Africa (1998).
E. Schildkrout, "Personal Styles and Disciplinary Paradigms: Frederick Starr and Herbert Lang," from The Scramble for Art in Central Africa (1998).
Alfred Gell, Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory (1998).
Mary Nooter Roberts, "Does an Object Have a Life?" from Exhibitionism: Museums and African Art (1994).

Field trips:
Baltimore Museum of Art
National Museum of Natural History
National Museum of African Art

Fang: An Epic Journey, by Susan Vogel (2001).
In and Out of Africa, by Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Taylor (1992).


Mission to Mars, in pictures
An imaging spectrometer built by Johns Hopkins'
Applied Physics Laboratory has begun producing images from orbit around Mars. The instrument, aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, had been encased in a protective cover since the orbiter's launch in August 2005. On September 27, operators opened the cover and verified that the instrument had deployed properly. A week later, it began producing images. The spectrometer, known formally as the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM to its friends), analyzes 544 colors of light reflected from the planet's surface, to detect minerals. It will search for areas of the planet that were wet long enough to leave a tell-tale mineral signature. CRISM also will map the geology, composition, and stratigraphy of various Martian surface features. The instrument produces images with a resolution of about 60 feet per pixel, 20 times sharper than any previous observation of Mars.

Nanotechnology strikes gold
One aim of nanotechnology research has been to create a means of dispensing medication from tiny devices implanted in the body. Johns Hopkins professor of materials science and engineering Peter C. Searson recently presented a new technique that uses a burst of electricity to release biomolecules from a gold launch pad. Searson and two Whiting School graduate students, Prashant Mali and Nirveek Bhattacharjee, first took gold electrodes, each the thickness of a hair strand, and connected biomolecules to them with tethers made from hydrocarbon molecules. Then they sent a mild pulse of electricity through the electrodes, and the current broke the bonds between the tethers and the electrodes, releasing the biomolecules. The researchers believe the technique could be applied to dispense medication from a biocompatible chip implanted in patients. Searson presented the research September 10 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society. —DK

Here and Abroad

Johns Hopkins University is the 23rd best university in the world, according to The Times Higher Education Supplement's "World University Rankings," released in October. That's up from 27th place on last year's list (the publication's third). In the same survey, JHU ranked 13th in the United States. The supplement is published by The Times of London.

... A third of the countries that have plans aimed at dealing with pandemic flu fail to prioritize who should get vaccinations and antiviral medications, according to a new study from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Published in the October 2006 issue of PLoS Medicine, the study included 45 national plans. Countries that did prioritize most often put health care workers at the top of the list. After that, opinions varied. Some included high-risk groups like children and the elderly, while others listed essential service workers: communications workers, firefighters, and government decision-makers.

... On October 4, the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies marked the opening of its new U.S.-Korea Institute. The institute, according to SAIS, is "an effort by the school to improve knowledge and understanding between the United States and Korea through academic studies, research, and outreach efforts in the Washington area and elsewhere."

... Johns Hopkins scientists and a team of researchers at Makerere University, in Kampala, Uganda, began Phase I trials for a vaccine to prevent mother-to- child transmission of HIV through breastfeeding. If the study finds the vaccine safe, and if later trials prove it effective, it could potentially stop up to 8,000 of Uganda's 22,000 infections a year in children.

Return to November 2006 Table of Contents

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