The Johns Hopkins Gazette: January 28, 2002
January 28, 2002
VOL. 31, NO. 19


In Brief

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Hopkins groups launch New Chamber Festival Baltimore

Three Johns Hopkins cultural institutions--the Shriver Hall Concert Series, the Evergreen House Foundation and the Peabody Institute--in conjunction with the former Chamber Music Society of Baltimore, have established the New Chamber Festival Baltimore, a three-day event devoted to 20th-century music.

The inaugural festival, to take place June 20 to 22, will offer seven concerts in three locations: Shriver Hall, Peabody and Evergreen House. Groups already scheduled to perform include the St. Lawrence String Quartet, ensemble in residence at Stanford University; the Endellion String Quartet, ensemble in residence at Cambridge University; and the Flux Quartet, formed by musicians at Juilliard. Programs will include works by composers from throughout the century.

The festival, expected to become an annual event, will have as its honorary chair Wendy Brody, wife of President William R. Brody.

The cost to attend the entire event is $99; prices per concert range rom $12 to $20. To receive a brochure, or for more details, call 410-516-7164.

APL-developed shoe harnesses the power of human motion

Maxwell Smart or 007 would want a pair of these. An Applied Physics Laboratory team has developed and patented the concept for a "rechargeable shoe" that generates electrical power as the user walks or runs on it.

The electricity generated can be used immediately or stored in batteries carried by the person. In one version, pressure on the heel turns a generator flywheel; in another, the walking motion drives fluid between two chambers, causing a generator flywheel to rotate.

The inventors came up with the idea after reading about a pilot who was shot down in Bosnia and had trouble operating his radio due to low battery power. A prototype is currently in development and it's foreseen that the device would have many military and commercial applications.

Johns Hopkins scientists find brain's 'nose plug'

Scientists from the School of Medicine and elsewhere have found the brain's "nose plug"--the switch in the brain that lets us stop smelling something, even though the odor is still there.

Two papers published in a recent issue of Science show that a protein called CNGA4 helps plug the "nose" of odor receptor cells--neurons whose job is to detect smells and send that information to the brain as an electrical signal. The "nose" is really a channel in the neurons' membrane that opens when an odor is presented and closes as the neuron becomes desensitized to that smell.

For details on the research, go to< p>

D.C. Center students begin online American politics journal

The Johns Hopkins Journal of American Politics is the name of a new graduate student-run online journal that seeks to provide an academic forum for faculty and students to publish their works related to American politics and its connections to government, communications and economics. The Web for American Politics is

The journal, which debuted this month, was created by, and serves as a special resource to, students enrolled in KSAS's Advanced Academic Programs at the Washington Center campus. It contains news articles, opinion pieces, edited course papers and details on lectures, programs and social events that occur at the Washington Center. Sections include those on homeland security, domestic policy, economic policy, politics in the media and book and film reviews.

Adam Segal, a graduate student at the Washington Center and the journal's senior editor, says the publication seeks contributions from throughout the JHU community. Queries or comments can be sent to Segal at

Broccoli compound found to be disease-inhibiting anti-oxidant

A cancer-preventing compound in broccoli, first isolated a decade ago at Johns Hopkins, may protect against a much broader spectrum of diseases. A new study shows that the compound, sulforaphane, helps cells defend themselves for two or three days against highly reactive and toxic molecules called oxidants.

Unlike standard anti-oxidants that use the molecular equivalent of hand-to-hand combat, broccoli's compound is a covert operative that works indirectly. Oxidants are like molecular hit men, damaging DNA and killing cells, eventually leading to cancer, retinal degeneration, atherosclerosis and other conditions unless they are neutralized.

According to the investigators, it turns out that sulforaphane's anti-cancer properties and its indirect anti-oxidant effects are both due to its ability to make cells create a diverse group of enzymes, called phase 2 enzymes, that protect against cancer by blocking select chemicals from becoming carcinogens. Not previously considered oxidant fighters, the enzymes have the ability to detoxify oxidants, a characteristic that increases their value in disease prevention, say the scientists.

For more details on the research, go to

APL engineer Harry K. Charles to lead space research team

Harry K. Charles Jr., assistant department head for engineering in the Technical Services Department at APL, has been named team leader for the Technology Development Team of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. A NASA-sponsored consortium of 12 research institutions led by the Baylor College of Medicine, the NSBRI focuses on research to pave the way for human exploration of space.

Charles will manage scientists from six institutions working on eight projects. The team focuses on developing devices and systems to improve research techniques and medical care on the ground and in space. Projects focus on designing lightweight, compact research tools and on developing simple, minimally invasive and noninvasive methods of gathering health-related data in space.

On Earth, these transportable and remote technologies will increase a physician's ability to provide care in a variety of settings such as rural clinics, nursing homes and isolated areas.