Indiana University Research & Creative Activity

A Child's Life

Volume 25 Number 2
Spring 2003

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kinsey magazine cover
Photo courtesy The Kinsey Institute


radarscope
Photo courtesy University Information Technology Services

Dumbbell Nebula
Michael Pierce, Robert Berrington, Indiana University; Nigel Sharp, Mark Hanna, NOAO/WIYN/NSF. © WIYN Consortium, Inc., all rights reserved.

Abstracts

Oh! Dr. Kinsey!

Nineteen fifty-three was a remarkable year: Lucy Ricardo gave birth to Little Ricky on I Love Lucy, the structure of DNA was discovered (see next page), Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage and executed, and Alfred Kinsey and his research staff published Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. IU’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction is marking the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication with a year-long series of events, including lectures, art installations, exhibits, panel discussions, and more. Oh! Dr. Kinsey!, an exhibit of media reactions to the book, demonstrates the highly anticipated and much debated nature of Kinsey’s work. Fifty years later, debate about the nature of female sexuality and sexual problems continues. Current research from the Kinsey Institute is attempting to reconceptualize female sexuality, this time from women’s perspectives. Researchers are currently studying findings from a survey on sexual well-being, focus groups on factors that affect sexual arousal, and a study examining gender differences in response to sexual situations. For more on anniversary events, see www.indiana.edu/~kinsey/services/2003/.

A Better Mass Trap

IU Bloomington scientist Gary Hieftje and graduate student James Barnes IV have built a new mass spectrometer, an instrument used to analyze the elements or compounds in an unknown substance. A fixture in scientific labs, mass spectrometers work by charging particles and determining the weight of the particles. Because every element and molecule possesses a unique set of weights, or masses, when charged, a mass spectrometer can identify tiny particles and determine their concentrations in a sample. The new device—which combines a Mattauch-Herzog geometry mass spectrograph with a multichannel focal plane camera—is more sensitive, accurate, and efficient because it can detect all atomic and molecular components at once. Although in the early stages of development, the spectrometer may benefit many different fields, according to Hieftje, IU Distinguished Professor of chemistry: “It promises better estimation of the concentrations of pollutants, better medical and forensic diagnoses, less expensive clinical analyses, and rapid progress in bioscience,” he says.

Jerry Springer, conservative?

Incestuous siblings, cheating lovers, transsexual triangles . . . traditional family values? For all its flamboyant theatrics, the Jerry Springer Show unambiguously supports morally conservative values, according to Maria Elizabeth Grabe, associate professor of journalism at IUB. While the show highlights deviance from traditional family values, the studio audience and Springer himself actively degrade the transgressions, says Grabe, which “casts the show in a morally conservative light.” Grabe’s research focuses on the visual and narrative components of broadcast journalism. After analyzing the content of the cheers and jeers from 100 episodes of the Springer show, she says her findings show “that Springer delivers a message to a mass audience that would be supported by moralistic politicians and clergy.”

Warscoping

First there was wardriving, the act of driving around with a 802.11 wireless (“Wi-Fi”) antenna looking for access points on unsecured wireless networks. Then came warchalking, the practice of marking symbols on sidewalks to indicate the location of wireless networks open to anyone. Now the Advanced Network Management Lab, a part of IU’s Pervasive Technology Labs, is warscoping. According to the ANML’s director Steven Wallace, the “WarScope” is like a radar for wireless networking, using a rotating directional antenna to scan for wireless access points and display their physical locations. The device, which can survey wireless environments from a remote location, has various potential applications such as finding users in distress or locating hackers using mobile computing devices. The ANML also recently developed Tsunami, a network file transfer protocol designed to transfer very large data files at very high speeds over great distances. Last fall, physicists at Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics in Vancouver, British Columbia, were able to transfer 4.7 gigabits of data to CERN, the European organization for nuclear research in Geneva, Switzerland. The transfer took less than 60 seconds at speeds reaching 769 megabits per second, comparable to transferring a full-length DVD movie in less than one minute.

The Business of Hepatitis B

IU Kelley School of Business and School of Medicine researchers are collaborating to determine what approaches may be most successful at encouraging adults to receive hepatitis B vaccinations. Dena Cox and Anthony Cox, both associate professors of marketing at the Kelley School at IUPUI, and Gregory Zimet, professor of pediatrics at the Medical School, have received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to support a five-year behavioral intervention study of adults at risk of contracting hepatitis B. While schoolchildren are vaccinated for hepatitis B, far less attention has been given to adults, who may spread the disease through sexual transmission. The marketing professors, specialists in consumer behavior, will study and develop messages designed to persuade participants, recruited from sexually transmitted disease clinics, to agree to vaccinations.

Shrinking the ‘Net

As “google” becomes a verb, Internet users are accustomed to sifting a huge list of hits from a single information search. Javed Mostafa wants to minimize our information overload. Mostafa, the Victor Yngve Associate Professor of Information Science at IU Bloomington, and colleagues in the Laboratory of Applied Informatics Research, which Mostafa directs, are developing new methods of information access and retrieval. One method combines vocabulary generation algorithms with visualization. Concepts generated by a search are arranged in a graphical layout on screen. Related topics appear in same-color bubbles, clustered close to each other. Users can select as many of the visualized concepts as they want and conduct further searches. Mostafa notes that “visualization allows you to start with a list of key topics, making it more likely you’ll actually find what you’re looking for.” For more information, see http://lair.indiana.edu/.

Doing the Math

William Frascella, professor of mathematics at IU South Bend, became director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education in February. Frascella’s division focuses on training K-12 teachers as well as developing instructional materials and programs. Frascella is director of IU’s Center for Mathematics Education, which was awarded a $6.2 million NSF grant in 2002 to further develop the Indiana Mathematics Initiative. The IMI is a collaborative effort among selected Indiana school districts and IU to improve the professional development of the state’s math educators. Frascella says he hopes to establish similar links between pre-college and college-level education efforts at the NSF.

DNA Day

They called it a finding of “considerable biological interest.” Modest words for the discovery of the structure of DNA. February 21 marked the 50th anniversary of the day IU graduate James Watson (PhD ’50) and Francis Crick ushered in the modern era of biology and chemistry with their realization that DNA was the genetic material of all living organisms on earth. The two men were awarded a 1962 Nobel Prize for their finding.

Window on WIYN

Owned and operated by University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Yale University, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, the WIYN Observatory is situated on Kitt Peak in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. The 3.5 meter WIYN telescope produces sharp images of far distant galaxies and nearby objects, such as M27 (the Dumbbell Nebula), shown above in representative colors. A planetary nebula in the constellation of Vulpecula, M27 was formed when a red giant star ejected its gaseous outer envelope near the end of its lifetime, exposing a hot white dwarf at its core. In the image above, the green regions indicate locations within the gas cloud where the highest energy radiation is absorbed. Blue and red regions indicate where lower energy radiation is being absorbed. Because the hot central star emits the same spectrum in all directions, these differences are thought to originate from variations in the density of the expanding cloud. The Dumbbell Nebula is about 850 light-years away from Earth and about 1.5 light-years in diameter.