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Elizabeth Thomson
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Phone: 617-258-5563
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TRIGGERING CANCER

Some 100 newspapers here and abroad ran stories in early August about MIT research identifying a single gene that lends certain cancer cells the ability to break off a tumor and travel to other parts of the body. This process, called metastasis, is responsible for 90 percent of cancer deaths.

Dr. Robert Radlinsky, a physician-scientist at Amgen, told Delthia Ricks of New York Newsday that the MIT discovery is a "significant step... Metastasis is the key event in cancer biology. Without it, cancer would be an easily treatable disease."

Ms. Ricks' story ran in a variety of publications from the Huntsville, AL Times to the Denver Post. An Associated Press story by Jeff Donn ran in several other papers, from the Dephos, OH Daily Herald to the Washington Post. Stories also appeared in the Wall Street Journal and international publications including Il Gazzettino (Italy) and the New Sunday Times (Malaysia). The original research was reported in the August 9 issue of MIT Tech Talk.

MADE OF QUARKS?

That was the subject of a talk by Nobel laureate and Institute Professor Jerome Friedman at a public lecture in Osaka, Japan for the 30th International Conference on High Energy Physics.

Gary Tegler of the Mainichi Daily News (Tokyo) wrote about the talk in an August 8 story.

"We are made up of up-quarks, down-quarks and electrons," Dr. Friedman told the group. (The quarks are within our protons and neutrons.) "As far as we know, they are pointlike objects, smaller than anything we can measure."

Professor Friedman, who won a Nobel Prize for "fundamentally confirming the existence of quarks," said that "so far, data suggests that the six types of quarks scientists have been able to identify are the last we're likely to discover."

JAPANESE FISCAL CRISIS

Japanese debt and its potential impact on the world economy were the focus of an August 16 article by the Reuters news service that ran in papers including The Straits Times (Singapore).

"Japan is facing a national debt burden that is comparable only to countries that have gone through major wars or Third World nations like Albania," said David Asher, a Research Fellow in the Center for International Studies.

Dr. Asher, wrote the reporter, "believes Japan is in such a deep debt trap that the government must announce a three-year fiscal stabilization plan right away with the aim of returning the budget to surplus by 2003/04."

INDIANS DUE $1.7B

Professor of Economics Peter Temin has calculated that the Cayuga Indian Nation deserves $1.7B in interest for lost land. Temin is an expert witness for the Cayugas in a trial to determine whether the size of a jury award this spring should be increased.

In February 2000 "jurors awarded the Cayugas $36.9 million as the fair market value for 64,027 acres of land in Cayuga and Seneca counties that was illegally acquired by New York state in 1795 and 1807," wrote the Associated Press in an August 15 story in the Herkimer, NY Evening Telegram.

"As part of that award, jurors decided the land had a yearly rental value of $17,157," continued the article. "Temin used that number as the principal" for his calculations.

A story on the latest trial also appeared in the August 15 issue of the Syracuse, NY Post-Standard.

ASK PROFESSOR SCIENCE

Why does helium make our voices sound like the cartoon chipmunks, Chip and Dale? "The speed of sound is faster in that particular gas because it's less dense," said Kenneth Stevens, the Clarence J. Lobel Professor of Electrical Engineering and winner of the National Medal of Science for his work on speech recognition. His explanation appeared in Ask Professor Science, a column in the August 7 issue of the Ames, IA Daily Tribune.

QUOTES

"This is a long-awaited and necessary step towards the ultimate dream of self-evolving machines." -- Rodney Brooks, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab, in an August 31 Boston Globe story describing Brandeis University robots created by a computer.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 20, 2000.


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