Here & There


SIMON AND LILY

Thanks to the wonders of e-mail and the warm hearts of Department of Facilities staff, seven-year-old Simon has a new kitten.

Simon's mom, Susan Personette of Facilities was having trouble finding a kitten for him when it occurred to her to query co-workers. So she sent out a message on the department's e-mail listserv asking if anyone had a kitten that needed a good home.

"Now, I know we're not supposed to use [the listserv] for personal gain or profit, and this might be stretching the rules a bit, but I figured it would be OK just once," she reported in a letter to the editor in the latest issue of The Foundation, the department's newsletter.

Within 10 minutes of posting her e-mail, "I had five offers of kittens. Within a day, I had over a dozen, and within a week I stopped counting. The responses continued for weeks! In addition to kitten offers, I had all kinds of e-mails about kittens," Personette said.

In the end, Personette, who works for the Capital Projects Group, opted for the first kitty she was offered. Lily is one of four kittens rescued when their wild mother abandoned them three or four weeks after birth.

"Once again, the good-hearted people of Facilities came through and brought some joy to the heart of a little boy. Thanks to all of you!" she concluded.

ROBOCOPTER

Before distributing a press release on Feb. 4 about Eric Feron's robotic helicopter, News Office staff told the professor of aeronautics and astronautics to expect intense interest from the media and public. The staff couldn't, however, foresee the extent of that prediction. After slashdot.org , a web site subtitled "news for nerds," wrote about the work, "our web server exploded with visitors!" Feron reported. "Our server literally choked."

Some 133 "helicopter" comments from slashdot.org readers appeared through the publication's site over the following 24 hours. Among them:
"Another toy for the hackers to steal for use in quickly deploying hacks on top of the Great Dome ... I like it!" The writer, who included a link to a story about MIT hacks in case "you don't know what I'm talking about," finished by noting, "Now if only MIT could pull off another stunt at the big Harvard v. Yale football game."

Other media who have inquired about the helicopter include M6 and Welt der Wunder (French and German TV shows, respectively); abcnews.com ; and WiredNews radio. The story appears on page 1 of today's MIT Tech Talk.

SWEET NEWS

The discovery by MIT researchers that the sugar jackets of cancer cells can be tailored to inhibit tumors has also piqued the interest of the press.

"We've essentially shown that the sugars on tumor cells seem to be very important players in the tumor's progress," Professor Ram Sasisekharan of the Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health told Robert Cooke for a Jan. 22 story in Newsday.

In a Jan. 22 story reported by the BBC, the network queried a spokesman for the UK's Cancer Research Campaign about the work. "Although studies of this type are still at an early stage," the spokesman said, "they hold considerable promise for identifying novel growth mechanisms in cancer and new targets for drug designs."

Additional stories about the research appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Times of India and Terra Ciencias (Uruguay). Most recently the work was reported Feb. 7 in Al Dia, a Cuban publication. The story appeared in MIT Tech Talk on Jan. 30 .

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 27, 2002.


Topics: Faculty, Staff

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