Notre Dame ReSources

Author: Dennis Brown

Notre Dame ReSources
Sept. 7-13, 1997
p. p. Notre Dame faculty are available for additional comment on these people and events in the news: p. p. National education testing : President Clinton’s proposed national student achievement testing program could be helpful, but the focus must remain on developing first-rate teachers, says sociologist Maureen Hallinan , the White Professor of Arts and Letters and director of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives. “National standards and a national testing program to measure student performance relative to standards can be important dimensions of a high quality educational system.” she says. “At their best, they provide goals and motivation for educators and students. However, it is important to remember that standards and tests must be accompanied by high quality teaching that directly meets student learning needs, in order to increase student achievement.” (219) 631-8294; hallinan.1@nd.edu. * p. *Exotic meson: Evidence of a new subnuclear particle — an exotic meson — has been discovered by a team of physicists from Notre Dame and six other institutions. Long theorized, the particle had been undetected until now, says Neal Cason , professor of physics at Notre Dame and a cospokesman on the project. A meson is a very unstable, medium-mass elementary particle with a short life span that is similar to but smaller than a proton or neutron. It is composed of one quark and one antiquark. Working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cason and his colleagues discovered a meson that “we know is not made up of a quark and antiquark, which means it must be an exotic meson,” Cason says. He adds: “Our observation of the exotic meson is significant to understanding the basic forces at work between the elementary particles. Comparing our results with current theoretical models will allow us to begin the detailed understanding of these forces.” (219) 631-6305 p. Computer research: The first experimental demonstration of a transistorless approach to computation – quantum-dot cellular automata (QCA) – is reported by University of Notre Dame researchers in the Aug. 15 issue of Science. For the first time a single electron was used to control the position of another electron during this experiment. “This is the technology of the future,” says Gregory L. Snider , assistant professor of electrical engineering, who headed the research team. He believes it will be another 20 years before computers and other electronic equipment will incorporate QCA. “We are trying to bring information storage down to the molecular level,” he says. Snider may be reached in his office at 631-4148. Other authors include Gary H. Bernstein (631-6269) , associate professor of electrical engineering, and Craig S. Lent (631-6992) , professor of electrical engineering.p. Mir: The continuing problems aboard the Russian space station Mir have more to do with the people on the ground than the hardware in the sky, says Steve Batill , professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and director of Notre Dame’s Hessert Center for Aerospace Research. “It appears that the support structure for that very complex system is lacking,” he says, "but it’s probably more a people problem – political and psychological – than hardware. Mir’s continuing problems do draw attention to the great sophistication and complexity that is needed on the ground to support a space program. It’s not a good idea to continue this endeavor with a crumbling infrastructure. These are the kinds of things that people in the Russian space program are going to have to consider as they contemplate the future of Mir. (219) 631-5591 p. Bulls and Bears : The recent ups and downs of the stock market are no cause for alarm, says Frank Reilly , Bernard J. Hank Professor of Business Administration at Notre Dame. “Given what has occurred over the last three years, this is a fully or even over-valued market,” he says. “But, given the economic environment, I can’t foresee a major adjustment. I would expect a flat, volatile market. Investors should not panic and start selling stocks, though you might want to look at the international and emerging markets.” (219) 631-6393 p. School choice: “School choice is not anti-public school,” writes Douglas Kmiec , professor of law, in an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune. “I know of many excellent public school classrooms and teachers. Choice advocates, by definition, want what the word describes — additional options. It is not who owns the school that matters necessarily, but whether the school provides a well-thought-out program of instruction, ample opportunities for parental involvement, reasonable discipline and a hardworking staff unencumbered by educational bureaucracy. It’s time to stop blocking the schoolhouse door and let parents direct the upbringing of their children by allocating their share of the general public education fund to the school of their choice.” (310) 456-4664 p. Spanking: A Notre Dame psychologist who specializes in child development agrees with a recent study that condemns spanking as a form of discipline. “Spanking is not something parents should resort to,” says Julia Braungart-Reiker , assistant professor of psychology, who studies behavior in children. “Spanking teaches that physical aggression can be used to solve problems, and it doesn’t teach children alternative methods of getting along in this world.” (219) 631-6914 p. William Weld: “He’s the wrong man at the wrong time,” says Jimmy Gurule , professor of law at Notre Dame, on William Weld, President Clinton’s nominee for ambassador to Mexico. “He has a reputation for being pro-law enforcement,” says Gurule, who reported to Weld in the 1980s when both were in the Justice Department. “But there are two problems with his nomination. One is clearly political, which I won’t comment on. But the other is his public position on using marijuana for medicinal purposes. That position sends a mixed message to the Mexicans. If anything, at this time the United States should be sending a tough message on drugs, including marijuana. It isn’t helpful if the ambassador who is carrying the tough message has his own caveat.” (219) 631-5917; gurule.1@nd.edu. * p. *Market values: Government social welfare programs have helped create a less secure labor environment for the typical American worker by inadvertently harming family values, according to a new study by Notre Dame economists Ralph Chami and Connel Fullenkamp . The study appears in the latest issue of The Cato Journal and can be obtained by calling Chami at (219) 631-8672 or Fullenkamp at (219) 631-8432

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