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Worm grunting on NPR

Mar. 11, 2011—“What is worm grunting?” That is one of the questions that moderator Richard Sher asked panelists last weekend in a rerun of a pre-recorded edition of “Says You!” – the popular radio game show that airs on National Public Radio. After all the guessing and wise-cracking, Sher explained that worm grunting was the practice of...

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Future of the Parable of the Lost Sheep

Mar. 3, 2011—Bob Scherrer is bicultural: Not only is he a practicing theoretical physicist, but the chairman of Vanderbilt’s physics department is also a published author of science fiction. Several years ago we did a story about his split personality. Normally, Scherrer keeps his physics and science fiction efforts separate. So far he has published eight science...

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Hal, make room for Watson

Feb. 18, 2011—Hal, make room for Watson. When it defeated two of the all-time champions of the television game Jeopardy this week, the IBM computer named Watson joined Hal 9000 in the ranks of intelligent computers in the popular culture. The characterization of Hal as portrayed in the movie “2001,” embodied the dream of computer scientists 50...

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When events conspire

Feb. 1, 2011—Have you ever had the feeling that events beyond your control are working in your favor? That certainly seems to have been the case in the extraordinary sequence of events that led Vanderbilt chemist Brian Bachmann to establish the first systematic program designed to search for novel drugs among cave microbes. The first event was...

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Scientists of the future

Feb. 1, 2011—Report after report, it seems, warns that the United States is falling behind other countries in science and technology. Where will the scientists of the future come from? Some of them will come from the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt. Launched in 2007 as a project of the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach,...

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How universities can help fill the “pipeline” with important new drugs

Jan. 27, 2011—Bringing a new drug to market is an increasingly daunting – and expensive – task. Today it costs more than $1 billion and takes more than seven years, on average, to complete the human studies required for a drug to be approved for marketing. Only about one in five drugs makes it through the clinical...

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Trillion, trillion everywhere

Jan. 20, 2011—The number trillion has popped up in the news several times in recent weeks. On January 11, for example, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey-III – a scientific consortium that includes Vanderbilt – announced that it had created the largest digital image of the sky and is releasing it to the public. The color image contains...

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Hope endures in Haiti

Jan. 19, 2011—Seven years ago this month, I was in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with a contingent of Vanderbilt University AIDS researchers and health care professionals. That was before the earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak riveted international attention once again on this, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Yet hope endures, even in the midst of successive calamities....

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Health care reform at the “grass-roots” level

Jan. 15, 2011—Health care reform will likely remain a hot-button issue through the 2012 election. But while the pros and cons of last year’s health reform legislation are debated in Congress and on the campaign trail, considerable efforts are underway at the grassroots level to redesign the way health care is delivered in this country. The goals...

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