Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 10, 1997

In Brief

APL part of U.S./Russian ionosphere experiment

When several days apart, in late January and early February, two Russian rockets blasted off from Kapustin Yar, a missile testing site near Volgograd, Russia, a satellite built by the Applied Physics Lab watched them as they gathered data for the Active Geophysical Rocket Experiment program. AGRE, designed to inspect dense plasma regions in the ionosphere and their impact on radio communications, used the two rockets and the equipment they carried to "sound" the space environment. "The space environment can have a profound effect on the operation of U.S. and Russian satellites," said Robert Erlandson, AGRE program scientist at APL. "Changes in the ionosphere can severely disrupt communication between satellites and their ground stations," he said.

The two rockets carried explosives that, when detonated, formed a dense plasma cloud. The cloud was analyzed by a Mid- Course Space Experiment satellite, called MSX, built by APL. "MSX acquired the first spectrographic image of an artificial plasma cloud from space," said Erlandson.

Scientists hope the data will give a better understanding of this region and disruptions to radio communications.

JAMI researchers to meet, March 20-23

Mathematicians from around the world will meet at Homewood from March 20 to 23. Co-sponsored by the Department of Mathematics and the Japan-U.S. Mathematics Institute, an exchange program that allows Japanese mathematicians to come to Hopkins to do research, the 1997 JAMI conference will focus on recent developments in the arithmetic of elliptic curves and related problems of arithmetic algebraic geometry. For more information, contact the Department of Mathematics at (410)516-4178 or by e-mail at You can also visit the conference Web site at

Sliding scale regimen not effective, study says

Patients with diabetes mellitus, a disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to metabolize blood sugar, may not have their blood sugar levels well controlled when they are hospitalized. Because the common "sliding scale" regimen is not effective, patients, 76 percent of whom are placed on this regimen, may even find their conditions worsening, said William S. Queale, lead author of a study reported in the March 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. "Sliding scale insulin regimens are one of those approaches that have been passed from generation to generation of physicians without evidence that they work," Queale said. "Until further studies, we recommend keeping patients on whatever standard insulin regimen has been working for them at home and modifying that regimen according to their response to treatment."

Using the sliding scale, insulin is given four times daily according to changing blood sugar levels. This approach was found to create a threefold increase for the risk of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. The Hopkins study found that hospitalized patients receiving a fixed amount of insulin twice daily, or no insulin and controlling their blood sugar through diet, fared better than those on the sliding scale.

An estimated 3 million people are admitted to U.S. hospitals yearly for diabetes-related problems. Poorly controlled blood sugar weakens the immune system and increases the risk of nerve damage.

President sets office hours for students

President William R. Brody will hold office hours for students on four Friday afternoons this spring.

Hours will be 3 to 5 p.m. on March 28, April 4, April 25 and May 2.

Students may sign up for a 15-minute appointment during any Friday office hour by contacting the president's office between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. of the previous Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The president's office is at 242 Garland Hall, Homewood. The phone number is (410)516-8068.

Students making appointments will be asked to leave their name, class year or department, phone number and the topics they wish to discuss.

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