While the amazing advances in molecular biology over the past 20 years have led to many significant advances in diagnosis of disease and drug design, the true potential of the "Human Genome Project" awaits a solution to the question "how does the gene sequence govern the final structure of the protein it codes for?". Structural biology is starting to provide glimpses of the answer to this question, which when fully understood will unleash the full power [terror] of molecular biology. During this talk I will outline the experimental approaches and results that I and my students are using to understand how a protein assumes its active three dimensional structure and how we are using this type of information to "understand" the structure and function of proteins whose true biological function is currently unknown. Among the proteins that will be discussed is a protein in saliva that helps protect teeth from decay and a viral protein that may be related to how certain viruses cause tumors.
The mathematical theory of combinatorial games has provided insight into many mathematical games (including games on graphs, variants of Nim, and Sprouts) as well as some more popular games (most notably, Dots & Boxes and, due to our research, the game of Go). The field was developed in the landmark book by Berlekamp, Conway and Guy, entitled "Winning Ways" in 1982 which Martin Gardner, author of Scientific American's Mathematical Games column for 25 years, dubbed as, "the best book in recreational mathematics in the 20th century."
Go's popularity and simplicity of rules makes it a tempting target for similar analysis. This ancient game is at least as old as Chess, and about as popular worldwide due to its following throughout Asia.
I'll introduce the audience to this theory through the game of Domineering, and sketch some of our results in the area. These results include new approaches to analyze Domineering and Go positions, and "hardness" results explaining why Go is such a challenging game.
The historian's paradox lies in the contradiction between the historian's expertise on a historical subject, which implies a certain proximity or even intimacy with it, and the distance that the historian relies upon for perspective and impartiality. This discussion will center on the role of the scholar and intellectual as an outsider, or as Edward Said puts it, as an amateur. What role does the distance (in time, space, identity, etc.) play in the process of historical research? Do historians sufficiently acknowledge this distance, and their place within it? Are historians protagonists in the histories they produce? These questions emerge from recent research experiences in Brazil and serve as the basis for rethinking the public representation of the historian. Perhaps historians, as well as scholars in other disciplines, should follow the lead of anthropology by describing their research experience when presenting their research results. Or, even if not integrating personal experience into historical narrative, perhaps the historian should at least treat the distance between themselves and their subject as an element of that study, and a defining characteristic of their research methods.
Historically and today, religious belief and religious institutions play key roles in structuring support for major political parties in the United States. In the 20th century, however, almost no connections are found between religion (however defined) and voting for minor parties and independent candidates. My talk will explore how and why minor candidates fail to draw support from religious Americans, demonstrating continuities among the most important minor presidential candidates of the 20th century and offering some modest new insight into the recent presidential bids of H. Ross Perot. Finally, I will describe how the insights gained from this research bear on the question of whether a third, viable political party will ever take root in the United States.
Pitch is defined as that attribute of auditory sensation in terms of which sounds may be ordered on a musical scale. Historically, there have been two different theories of pitch perception. The first is that there is a spectral analysis in the inner ear so that different frequencies excite different places along the structure mediating mechanical transduction, the basilar membrane. An alternative to this place theory, a temporal theory, suggests that the pitch of a stimulus is related to the time pattern of neural impulses evoked by that stimulus. Bats compute the range to a target from the delay of ultrasonic echoes. A cross-correlation scheme derived from psychophysical experiments with bats can be adopted as a model for pitch perception in humans. Single-unit recordings of neural coincidence detectors in the auditory cortex of bats support this model.
Everybody knows that the move from print to electronic culture will change humanistic scholarship as much as did the move from manuscript culture to print culture. I have been working with some colleagues on an e-text edition of a 14th-century literary monument, Piers Plowman. Even more than the imaginative speculations about a brave new electronic world, the practical experience of putting together such an edition has convinced us that the new medium will indeed change the practice of our profession, both for good and for ill. I will present a brief tour of our first "product," recount exemplary stories from the process of creating it, and theorize, a little, about how the misty worlds of the e-possibles are condensing into a complicated new world for humanistic textual scholarship.
This presentation will review some of the latest mind/body research and suggest applications for teacher and student use. Specific references will be made to material from the Mind/Body Medical Institute New England Deaconess Hospital/Harvard Medical School training program under the direction of Herbert Benson M.D. and the Preventative Medicine Institute under the direction of Dean Ornish M.D.
In the last several decades the field of biomechanics has produced an important body of information that has enhanced performance in athletics and many other areas of human locomotion. Our presentation will summarize the work we have done over the last seventeen years on the biomechanics of trombone performance. We will emphasize the work we have done in the last five years since receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation. The research compares professional, college, and beginning trombone students. All performers played a series of musical exercises and excerpts at fast and slow tempos. An ultrasonic ranging system was used to test the hypothesis that professionals would move the slide faster than student performers. Electrogoniometers were used to assess movement of the wrist and elbow during performance. Discussion will focus on the implications of this research for trombone pedagogy, models of skilled performance, and the nature of interdisciplinary study.
A number of years ago, I became very suspicious of my obsession with
collecting up unusual eating experiences of ethnic cuisines. Why did I always choose to
try out a new cuisine when it was available, rather than ever go back to an old familiar
one? Why was I so obsessed with finding out what "the natives" ate when I dined
in a restaurant? Why did I derive such pleasure from being able to be jaded about a
cuisine that others were just now "discovering"? ("Peruvian food? You've
never had Peruvian food before? You must be kidding!")
I've come to describe these various attitudes as part of a system I call cultural food colonialism. I identify three central aspects of cultural food colonialism: the quest for novelty-cum-exoticism, the tendency to regard the Other as a resource for my use and adornment, and the desire for authentic experiences of that Other.
In the shop talk, I'll focus my attention on authenticity, a concept I've come to believe is both deeply confused and deeply confusing, for reasons I shall enumerate. I'll examine the strange-but-"true" case of curry, to illustrate the trouble with authenticity, and suggest an alternative reading of that notion.
Faculty Shop Talks provide a serious (though not solemn) forum for the presentation of original research and artistic creation by Gustavus faculty. The meetings are generally Friday afternoons at 4:30 and last no more than an hour, though some may come earlier or stay a bit later. The audience is limited to Gustavus faculty and their guests. The actual presentation should be no more than 30 minutes, and those who run over may find themselves interrupted in mid-sentence. The model should be a "conference" paper adapted to a non-specialist academic audience. Shop Talks aim to speak both to departmental colleagues and those in completely different disciplines. Wine, soft drinks, and snacks are available for a small fee.
The self-appointed Shop Talk organizing committee (Stewart Flory and Paul Saulnier) would like to solicit abstracts for the Shop Talk series. These 20-30 minute presentations will allow Gustavus scholars to share their research/art and enthusiasm. A title, brief abstract (electronic format), and A/V requirements should be sent to Paul (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Stewart (email@example.com). If the current Shop Talk schedule does not have any vacancies do not hesitate to contact Stewart or Paul to reserve a future date. We look forward to hearing from you.