James Cronin, Nobel laureate who overturned long-accepted beliefs about the fundamental symmetry of laws of physics , dies at 84

Washington Post

Originally Posted: August 28, 2016

James W. Cronin, who shared the Nobel Prize in physics for discovering a startling breakdown in what was assumed to be the immutable symmetry of physical law, thereby helping to explain the behavior and evolution of the universe as a whole, died Aug. 25 in St. Paul, Minn. He was 84.

Dr. Cronin’s death was announced by the University of Chicago, where he was a professor emeritus of physics as well as of astronomy and astrophysics. No cause was reported.

Through the study of the decay of a single subatomic particle, Dr. Cronin and a colleague, Val Logsdon Fitch of Princeton University, made it possible for inferences to be drawn about the laws of nature on a scale as vast as the entire universe, in all its unfathomable immensity and multibillion-year duration. The two shared the 1980 Nobel Prize.

Scientists had assumed a symmetry between the particles making up matter and what theory described as their oppositely charged counterparts. These counterparts formed what is known as antimatter.

In addition, it had been assumed that the laws of nature were, in the terms of science, “invariant under time reversal.” This meant essentially that physics would be the same whether time flowed forward or backward, a concept as intriguing as it is foreign to experience. READ MORE

We Can’t Resurrect T. Rex and We Don’t Want To

Inverse
Originally Posted: August 22, 2016

Molecular biology Ph.D. candidate Lauren Ammerman has looked into and Jurassic megafauna would be a megaproblem.

The Jurassic Park franchise, like the dinosaurs it reanimates, won’t be ignored. Michael Crichton’s masterpiece makes a lot of cameos in academic papers. Still, it’s rarely the focus of true inquiry. It is, after all, kind of easy to dismiss. But Lauren Ammerman, a molecular biology Ph.D. candidate at Southern Methodist University, doesn’t want to be dismissive. This is why, as a senior at Baylor University, she authored an honors thesis about what happens when Jurassic gene editing meets the rewilding movement meets the ultimate alpha predator. She made herself — and this is truly awesome — an expert on what would happen if we brought back the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Inverse spoke to Ammerman, whose work reads like a potential sequel to Jurassic World, about how science and blockbusters can coexist.

Okay, I know we can’t actually resurrect the T. rex — for now. What’s holding us back?

We have one or two complete genes, but they’re not anything important, like dinosaur hemoglobin. And the information we do have is pretty badly damaged so, right now there’s not that much we can do about it. We don’t know enough about these decaying processes to reverse them and determine the original sequence. So the whole Jurassic Park idea of using frog genomes and reptile genomes to supplement it doesn’t really work because we don’t have anything to supplement. Dinosaurs are also actually physiologically different than the reptiles we have on Earth right now. We don’t have a good foundation to build on there.

I didn’t really have the chance to get into this in my thesis and I’ve never seen anyone mention it, but you also have this problem of ‘Okay, it’s in the cell, now what do we do?’ DNA is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s pretty strictly regulated by epigenetic mechanisms, processes that make DNA available or unavailable for gene expression. We have no way of knowing what key points turn it on or off. READ MORE

Nobel laureate and SMU alumnus James Cronin dies

Physics World

Originally Posted: August 27, 2016

American nuclear-physicist James Cronin, who shared the 1980 Nobel Prize for Physics with Val Fitch, died on 25 August, at the age of 84.

James CroninCronin and Fitch – who died in February last year – were awarded the prize for their 1964 discovery that decaying subatomic particles called K mesons violate a fundamental principle in physics known as “CP symmetry.” The research pointed towards a clear distinction between matter and antimatter, helping to explain the dominance of the former over the latter in our universe today.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, on 29 September 1931, Cronin completed his BS in 1951 at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where his father taught Latin and Greek. Cronin moved to the University of Chicago, where he graduated with a PhD in physics in 1955. While there, Cronin benefited from being taught by stalwarts of the field, including Enrico Fermi, Maria Mayer and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

After his doctorate, Cronin worked as an assistant physicist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) until 1958, when he joined the faculty at Princeton University, where he remained until 1971. He then returned to the University of Chicago to become professor of physics. Cronin met Fitch during his time at BNL and it was Fitch who brought him to Princeton. While there, the duo aimed to verify CP symmetry using BNL’s Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS) by showing that two different particles did not decay into the same products. READ MORE

Drone video footage of Malawi dig site

YouTube
Originally Posted: August 22, 2016

American archaeologists of their field areas in Malawi, where Louis Jacobs is now. He is working with Dr. Elizabeth Gomani Chindebvu, former SMU graduate student.  The Mwakasyunguti valley is below the red layer where the archaeologists were digging.  The dinosaur beds are the light colored beds.

Oh, the places Dedman College students will go… (after graduation)!

Dedman College graduate employer list

Engaged Learning Fellowship announces Sept. 15 application deadline

Daily Campus

Originally Posted: August 25, 2016

SMU’s Engaged Learning Fellowship (ELF) presented by the Engaged Learning Center announces its Sept. 15 deadline for fellowship applications. The Engaged Learning Fellowship, a student-driven program, is aimed at mentoring students so that they can create a project that both fulfills the students’ learning goals and impacts the greater community and world.

The Engaged Learning Fellowship lasts until the semester of graduation and includes four phases: a proposal, the project, the presentation of the project and the final product. The ELF allows students to be involved in scholarly research, civic engineering, professional internships or other creative opportunities in its aim to link classroom experience with the greater world.

ELF projects begin in a student’s sophomore or junior year and ends when they graduate, and through the funds provided to ELF by SMU, students can earn fellowships of up to $2000 per project.

In order to complete an ELF application, students should have a well-written proposal that includes the following: a title, statement, purpose, methodology, timeline, bibliography and mentor approval.

For more information, go to http://www.smu.edu/Provost/EngagedLearning/FELLOWSHIPS

One of the most significant Etruscan discoveries in decades names female goddess Uni

EurekaAlert

Originally Posted: August 24, 2016

Archaeologists translating a very rare inscription on an ancient Etruscan temple stone have discovered the name Uni — an important female goddess.

The discovery indicates that Uni — a divinity of fertility and possibly a mother goddess at this particular place — may have been the titular deity worshipped at the sanctuary of Poggio Colla, a key settlement in Italy for the ancient Etruscan civilization.

The mention is part of a sacred text that is possibly the longest such Etruscan inscription ever discovered on stone, said archaeologist Gregory Warden, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, main sponsor of the archaeological dig.

Scientists on the research discovered the ancient stone embedded as part of a temple wall at Poggio Colla, a dig where many other Etruscan objects have been found, including a ceramic fragment with the earliest birth scene in European art. That object reinforces the interpretation of a fertility cult at Poggio Colla, Warden said.

Now Etruscan language experts are studying the 500-pound slab — called a stele (STEE-lee) — to translate the text. It’s very rare to identify the god or goddess worshipped at an Etruscan sanctuary.

“The location of its discovery — a place where prestigious offerings were made — and the possible presence in the inscription of the name of Uni, as well as the care of the drafting of the text, which brings to mind the work of a stone carver who faithfully followed a model transmitted by a careful and educated scribe, suggest that the document had a dedicatory character,” said Adriano Maggiani, formerly Professor at the University of Venice and one of the scholars working to decipher the inscription.

“It is also possible that it expresses the laws of the sanctuary — a series of prescriptions related to ceremonies that would have taken place there, perhaps in connection with an altar or some other sacred space,” said Warden, co-director and principal investigator of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project.

Warden said it will be easier to speak with more certainty once the archaeologists are able to completely reconstruct the text, which consists of as many as 120 characters or more. While archaeologists understand how Etruscan grammar works, and know some of its words and alphabet, they expect to discover new words never seen before, particularly since this discovery veers from others in that it’s not a funerary text.

The Mugello Valley archaeologists are announcing discovery of the goddess Uni at an exhibit in Florence on Aug. 27, “Scrittura e culto a Poggio Colla, un santuario etrusco nel Mugello,” and in a forthcoming article in the scholarly journal Etruscan Studies. READ MORE

Tips from a Dedman College pre-health, biology major- 10 Things I Learned My First Year at SMU

SMU New Student Orientation

Originally Posted: August 23, 2016

Jaden Amilibia, one of our Orientation Leaders from Flower Mound, Texas, is a sophomore pre-med biology major in the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Jaden is here to wish you a fantastic first week of school AND share with you a few things she learned during her first year in college! 

  1. You WILL feel homesick, at one point or another.

It’s a natural feeling. You convinced yourself that after you graduated high school, you would NEVER come back or miss home and that you couldn’t wait to leave the nest. But like all of us, one day you’ll be talking to your parents or even a best friend, and you’ll want that sense of comfort in your everyday life again. It is totally okay!

2. Get out of your comfort zone.

Go out. Get involved. Explore campus with people or by yourself. Just like you, everyone is learning new things about college and are all displaced in some way or another. Don’t sit on the fence and be reluctant to try something. Who knows? You might just meet your new best friend, or find that one club that you absolutely LOVE.  

3.  LEARN. TIME. MANAGEMENT.

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You know that triangle telling you that you can only choose 2 of 3 aspects of college life? The one between sleep, a social life, and your grades? Yeah, wrong. Learning to manage your time efficiently will help you discover more free time to hang out with friends a little longer, or even dare say, time for a nap. Go to the ALEC for a “Semester At A Glance” page, invest in a durable planner, or learn how to wing it because you do not want to be cramming 3 chapters, 10 or more lectures, and 3 weeks of notes two nights before the exam.  

4. 8ams aren’t the end of the world… and neither are Bs.

We all have that one class that challenges us, both mentally and physically. Even though you may feel constantly defeated by the class, don’t let one subpar grade stop you from fulfilling your goals. Your entire life is not going to be altered and your goals are still attainable. Don’t forget that you are trying, and it’s perfectly acceptable to experience failure every once in a while to keep yourself on track. 

 5. Your “roomie” doesn’t have to be your “froomie”.

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You’re living with someone you’ve probably never met before, so it’s natural to not always get along. With any gamble in life, you might luck out, or you might have to completely switch roommates by the end of the first semester.

 

6. Explore food options on and off campus

The dining halls are wonderful- but there are a ton of options in the Dallas area that are a $5 Uber away from campus! Velvet Taco, Villa-O, Torchy’s, and Café Brazil, just to name a few, are all student favorites if you’re interested! 

7.It’s OK to say no sometimes (or most of the time).

We get it. It’s college. You want to go out and enjoy your weekend, or even each night of the week. We’ve all been there. But it is SO IMPORTANT to say “no” at times. Believe it or not, skipping your 8am the next morning has consequences. Even if your professor doesn’t take attendance, going to class is more beneficial in the long run, and might even be the difference of a half-grade. 

8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

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GO TO OFFICE HOURS. This cannot be stressed enough. Your professors are there to help you, and are more inclined to do so if they see your face in their office enough.

9. Being undecided is fine, and so is switching your major!

Not everyone knows what he or she wants to major in when they’re 18. Sometimes, neither do 19 or 20-year-olds. It’s normal, and it’s likely that you’ll meet someone that completely changed their minds once they started taking pre-requisite classes.  

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10. College is a bigger world than high school, and it’s wonderful.

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You’re going to meet some fantastic people, some people you might not click with at first and learn so much about yourself in a few just a few short months.  Be free, open, and learn. And we promise you, it’s going to be great!

PONY UP! 

SMU Clements Center awards top book prize Sept. 27

SMU News

Originally Posted: August 15, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies will present its annual book prize on Tuesday, Sept. 27, to historian Andrew J. Torget forSeeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850 (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

The David J. Weber-William P. Clements Prize for the Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America honors both the Center’s founding director and founding benefactor.

Torget, a former Clements Fellow, will be honored Sept. 27 at a 5:30 p.m. reception, followed by a 6 p.m. lecture and book-signing at McCord Auditorium in Dallas Hall, 3225 University, SMU. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. To register, call 214-768-3684 or click here.

Andrew TorgetIn Seeds of Empire, Torget, associate professor of history at the University of North Texas, explores the roles that cotton and slavery played in fomenting the Texas Revolution, which was in part a reaction against abolitionists in the Mexican government, and in shaping Texas’ borderlands into the first fully-committed slaveholders’ republic in North America.

In selecting the book from a large field of entries, judges wrote: “Torget’s deep archival work brings a fresh perspective to the conflicts over slavery in Texas on the eve of the Civil War. The book’s most notable accomplishment is the emphasis on cotton and slavery as a world-wide system that bound Texas history to larger economic and political forces in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. He challenges the traditional interpretation that the westward movement in the early nineteenth century was primarily motivated by ideologies of racial supremacy that characterized Manifest Destiny. Instead, Torget demonstrates that, although westering Americans felt superior to the people whose lands they invaded, they mainly migrated to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the trans-Atlantic cotton economy that the Mexican government had established by offering them free land.”

Finalists for the Weber-Clements Book Prize are Emily Lutenski for West of Harlem: African American Writers and the Borderlands; and former Clements Fellow John Weber for From South Texas to the Nation: The Exploitation of Mexican Labor in the Twentieth Century.

This is the eighth major book prize Seeds of Empire has won.

The $2,500 Weber-Clements Book Prize, administered by the Western History Association, honors fine writing and original research on the American Southwest. The competition is open to any nonfiction book, including biography, on any aspect of Southwestern life, past or present. The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies is affiliated with the Department of History within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The center was created to promote research, publishing, teaching and public programming in a variety of fields related to the American Southwest.  READ MORE

Trump smartly ditches Manafort. Is this the pivot?

SMU NEWS

The following is an excerpt from an SMU news release.

CUTTING TIES INSULATES TRUMP, BUT MORE IS NEEDED

Matthew WilsonMATTHEW WILSON:
jmwilson@smu.edu

Friday’s announcement that Trump had accepted the resignation of former campaign chair Paul Manafort was a wise move, says Wilson, but more action than that will be needed to turn the election around.

“Bringing Manafort on board has not seemed to fix any of the Trump campaign’s problems. It’s bad optics for a campaign that emphasizes themes of patriotism, nationalism and American pride to have a guy so deeply involved in Russian and Russian-allied dictators in such a prominent role,” Wilson says “Cutting ties now, from Trump’s standpoint, should make the story go away, but Trump has many other things to worry about.”

Wilson points out that Trump made a smart follow-up move by travelling to the flooded regions of Louisiana, which could indicate his new advisors are getting their unruly candidate pointed in the right direction.

“The fact that Trump perceives this is a major disaster and that people down there could use some support and attention – that speaks well for him and that’s a real contrast from Obama vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard,” Wilson say. “If his new team advised him to do that … It shows him being thoughtful, empathetic, presidential.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science. He can discuss:

  • religion and politics
  • political psychology
  • voting behavior of religious voters
  • public opinion and politics