Month: January 2021

first_imgMost students are so preoccupied enough with classes, schoolwork and extracurriculars that they cannot escape their immediate surroundings. However, for Brian Greene, his work places him in the cosmic realm on a daily basis, transcending the world, the galaxy and even the universe. Greene, a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia and a leading expert on string theory, delivered a lecture Tuesday titled “The Fabric of the Cosmos” at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Greene has published three books written for a non-scientific audience, which he drew material from for Tuesday’s lecture. Greene cited Einstein’s theory of general relativity as the foundation of today’s work in the cosmic arena. Using the analogy of a rubber sheet, Greene explained general relativity in terms of the physical observations gleaned from gravity. He said warps created by an object with mass, such as a bowling ball, parallel those in space and time itself, creating the gravitational force we know. “Imagine space and all around us, envisioning an astronomical body like the sun warping the fabric of space just by virtue of its presence in it, changing the trajectory of objects around it,” he said. “The moon is kept in orbit because in a sense, it’s rolling along a valley in the curved environment [in the rubber sheet] that the earth creates. This means that at the deepest levels of our understanding of the cosmos, space and time are vital participants, not just the stage on which events take place.” According to this theory, Greene said black holes are warps so steep, not even light can escape. He said in effect they are masses so compact they create nearly vertical vortexes.  “One very specific puzzle that black holes have raised is the question of what happens if I take an object and throw it into a black hole,” Greene said. “One of the very basic principles of physics is that the data in any object, everything from its appearance to the distribution of the molecules and atoms that make it up, cannot fundamentally be lost. If a black hole were to actually eat information and it was permanently gone from the universe, it would violate this law and ultimately wreak havoc on our fundamental equations of quantum mechanics.” The widely accepted solution to this problem has fantastic implications for the conventional understanding of our very existence, Greene said. “We now believe that when an object crosses the edge of a black hole and falls in, the information it contains gets ‘smeared out’ over the surface of the black hole and that the bits of information on the surface are in principle retrievable,” he said. “The two-dimensional version of the object that is smeared out on the surface has a three-dimensional counterpart inside the space of the black hole.” Because the spatial environment within a black hole is governed by the same laws of three-dimensional space, Greene said it is probable the environment we inhabit can also be described by two-dimensional information at the very edge of the observable universe. He compared this to a holograph.  “Not only do objects in a black hole have a holographic description, but so do we in the two-dimensional surface surrounding the universe,” Greene said. “A sort of binary code can contain a fundamental description of everything we see, so everything we perceive is, in some sense, just an illusion.” Continuing his examination of the expansion of space, Greene addressed the always-transient nature of our observational capacity and the effect this may have on future discovery. He said the increasing expansion speed of the universe means one day the other galaxies will be beyond our observational capacity. “Now, we can examine faint pinpoints of starlight from distant galaxies, but in the future those galaxies will be rushing away faster than the speed of light,” Greene said. “This means we won’t be able to see them because they’ll be going faster than light can show us.” Greene said he sees this as a source of urgency in physics today. “We are living in a remarkable era when answers are in reach, which may not always be the case,” he said. “Sometimes, nature guards her secrets with the unbreakable grip of physical law, but sometimes the true nature of reality beckons to us from beyond the horizon.” The most important thing this generation’s scientists can do is retain their childlike wonder, Greene said. “It’s so important not to lose what you already have; we all begin life as little scientists smashing things together to figure things out,” he said. “A successful scientist goes into the unknown not afraid of being right or wrong, but giving it an uninhibited shot. The great scientists are the ones who don’t lose their childlike wonder and willingness to explore.”last_img read more

first_imgDavid Prentkowski, director of food services at Notre Dame, died Thursday at his home in a drowning accident, a University press release stated. The accident also claimed the life of his 18-month-old granddaughter, Charlotte Chelminiac. “Dave and Charlotte’s tragic deaths are a shocking and heartbreaking loss,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said. “Dave’s energy, devotion and courage will continue to inspire the Notre Dame family even as his death and the Prentkowski family’s grief are in our prayers.” St. Joseph County Police responded to the Granger home just after 7:20 p.m. Thursday evening, a department press release stated. Preliminary autopsies ruled the cause of death for Prentkowski, 55, and his granddaughter to be accidental drowning. There is no evidence of foul play, police said. “Officers at the scene were told that the 55-year-old had taken the 18-month-old for a walk while his wife prepared dinner,” the release stated. “When the wife saw that the two had not returned from their walk after some time, the wife sent the couple’s adult son to look for them.” Prentkowski’s son had just returned from checking the surrounding neighborhood when he noticed the two in the bottom of the backyard pool, police said. He and a friend jumped into the pool and pulled the two victims from the water. Officers called to the home performed CPR on the victims, but both were pronounced dead Thursday night. The accident is still under investigation. Prentkowski had served as the director of food services at Notre Dame since 1990. He graduated from Purdue University in 1979, and he had also worked at Stouffer’s Hotel in St. Louis, the University of Utah and the University of Michigan. “A seemingly omnipresent and indefatigably cheerful presence wherever meals were being planned, prepared, enjoyed and shared at Notre Dame, Prentkowski twice was honored by Notre Dame’s student body with its Irish Clover Award for contributions to student life, in 1998 and earlier this year,” the release stated. Last fall, Prentkowski was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Even during his treatments, he served as an honorary chairperson of Notre Dame’s 2012 Relay for Life, which raises funds for cancer research. He often spoke openly about his illness with colleagues and friends. “I’ve always tried to be the positive person and get them to talk,” he said, quoted in the University’s press release. “The more people learn about it, the more people hopefully will contribute to cancer research on any disease that’s out there.” Arrangements for Prentkowski and his granddaughter have not yet been finalized.last_img read more

first_imgTwenty years after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, members of the Notre Dame community commemorated the lives of the victims and prayed for healing with a memorial mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Monday, April 7.Some 1 million Rwandans perished during one hundred days of violence directed by Hutu Rwandans against Tutsi Rwandans. In addition to remembering the immense loss of life, the mass memorialized four members of the Congregation of Holy Cross who perished in the genocide: Brothers Eulade Gasasira, Jean-Baptiste Mundeli, Leonard Karemangingo and Fr. Claude Simard.Alice Cyusa, a Notre Dame budgets and grants coordinator who is from Rwanda, organized the event with the help of Dr. Catherine Bolten of the Kellogg Institute of International Studies and Fr. Paul Kollman. She said the mass emphasized prayer and remembrance as forms of memorial. ANNETTE SAYRE | The Observer The presider of the memorial mass for the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide delivers his homily. The violence claimed nearly 1 million lives, including three Holy Cross brothers and one priest.“As a Christian [and] as a Catholic, I think a memorial mass is the best way to celebrate the lives of lost loved ones, but also the best way to support genocide survivors,” Cyusa said. “Here in South Bend, we have many Rwandan genocide survivors. Praying with them and for them and asking God to continue to strengthen their faith is very important to me.”Cyusa said April 7 has served as a day of remembrance for the Rwandan genocide since the initial tragedy, making it the ideal day for the memorial mass.“Every year on April 7, people from all over the world come together with Rwandans to learn about and commemorate the genocide against the Tutsi,” Cyusa said.Cyusa said this memorial mass was important for the Notre Dame community due to its focus Holy Cross brothers and priests.“For the first time, we celebrated the lives of the CSC brothers who were killed during the genocide,” Cyusa said.At the international level, Cyusa said the twentieth anniversary will be commemorated through the Kwibuka 20 movement. Cyusa said “kwibuka” means “remember” in Kinyarwanda and describes a commitment to renewal and unity valued by the Rwandan people.“Rwandans are resilient people,” Cyusa said. “Rwanda as a nation, as one people overcame hatred as many of the perpetrators came forward and asked for forgiveness. In Rwanda, survivors, victims and neighbors are united with people who participated in the genocide. That is the Rwandan spirit, to which Rwanda owes the survival.”Tags: Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Rwandan Genocidelast_img read more

first_imgOn Oct. 9, two press releases announced two multi-million dollar donations to the University.Pat and Jana Eilers have donated $3 million to endow the football team’s defensive backs coaching position, and alumni James Parsons and Carrie Quinn have made a $20 million donation to establish a new Institute for Global Investing within the Mendoza College of Business, according to the releases.Jack Swarbrick, University vice president and the director of athletics, praised the Eilers for their continuing generosity to Notre Dame.“This extraordinary gift is just one of many ways in which Pat and Jana continue to give back to Notre Dame. I have not met anyone who believes more strongly in value of intercollegiate athletics and the role it can play in educating young people; we are very fortunate to count Pat and Jana among the members of the Notre Dame family,”  Swarbrick said in the release.This is the first endowed assistant coach position at the University, the release stated. In June, the University announced gifts from alumnus Richard Corbett that endowed the head football coaching position.Pat Eilers is a member of the 1988 national football championship team, the release stated.“Last year, Eilers took a sabbatical from his work as managing director of Madison Dearborn Partners (MDP), a Chicago-based private equity firm, to serve as defensive quality control assistant for the Fighting Irish in order to support Kelly’s staff while defensive graduate assistant coach Kyle McCarthy was on a medical leave,” the release stated.Of Parsons and Quinn’s donation, Roger D. Huang, Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College of Business, said it would supplement and improve existing educational opportunities for students, faculty and alumni.Huang said in the release he believes the institute “provides that vital nexus for research, the classroom, our alumni and other partners so that we can leverage all of it for a greater impact than the sum of its parts. … I’m confident that the institute will enable us to expand opportunities for our stakeholders — especially for our students — and become a significant thought leader in the global investment community.”The institute will employ expertise of the finance faculty, the finance curriculum and partnerships to “form a platform for both learning and influencing the way investment managers the world over think about global finance,” the release stated.According to the press release, Parsons and Quinn received their undergraduate degrees from the University. Parsons received an MBA from Harvard Business School and is founder and portfolio manager for Junto Capital Management in New York City. Quinn graduated from Tufts University Medical School and is currently an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital and executive director of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center.Tags: defensive backs, football, Institute for Global Investing, mendoza college of businesslast_img read more

first_imgLast January, the University began offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) in partnership with the online learning platform edX. Since registration began, several of the University’s online courses have been completed, and the courses’ instructors said they have gained insight into MOOCs’ innovative educational approach.Professor of physics Michael Hildreth and associate professor of teaching in mathematics Annette Pilkington collaborated as instructors for the University’s offering of “Math in Sports.”“We had a couple of TAs who would monitor the online assignments and the blog chat,” Hildreth said. “The Office of Digital Learning did a huge amount of work in terms of post-production. … If I were to try do this by myself, I could never do it.”Though producing the courses was a group effort, the instructors found the courses themselves were less collaborative. Pilkington said in an email she experienced less interaction with students than she had expected, and Hildreth agreed.“There definitely is a disconnect. Because there was no feedback, you’re standing up there talking to an imaginary group of people. It is a little strange,” Hildreth said.Gabriel Said Reynolds, professor of Islamic Studies and theology and the instructor for the University’s offering of “Introduction to the Quran: The Scripture of Islam,” said teaching an online course is challenging because the instructor does not have the direct contact of the physical classroom experience.“Students are able to profit if they are motivated,” he said. “The great majority of students are not taking the course for a letter grade. … It showed me how much students are motivated by the grade.”Hildreth said although the online courses were less interactive than more conventional offerings, he felt students received timely feedback and had their questions answered.Pilkington said the edX has a good layout and smooth video playing, though she encountered programming limitations in creating math questions.“The platform was pretty slick,” Hildreth said. “Production values are really high. I did some editing of the modules and things like that, and it was pretty easy to customize things and move things about.”While there is speculation that MOOCs will fundamentally change higher education, Pilkington said she believes they offer more opportunities for students and teachers.“I don’t think it will threaten the university system as we know it,” she said.Hildreth said the MOOCs are missing the engagement of a physical classroom, where, crucially, students can engage with each other as well as the professor. The technology of online courses cannot replicate the interactivity of a conventional classroom experience, he said, although Hildreth did not rule out such a future possibility.“I think putting as much content out there for people is better than nothing, but online learning doesn’t, by any sense of the imagination, replace what we do here in the classroom,” Hildreth said.Reynolds said he felt online classes were a good thing for students, particularly those in countries without access to expert teachers. MOOCs also give more students access to leading scholars, he said, and facilitate the democratization of knowledge.“Having taught mature students, I know that they have incredible motivation but struggle greatly with finding time to study,” Pilkington wrote. “I think that online courses and degrees will have great appeal to part-time students and will improve their lot by freeing up time that would otherwise be spent traveling to and from class at their local university in addition to providing options at distant institutions.”Hildreth said he may use methods from his online class in his physical classroom, such as producing videos of him addressing a problematic concept. The instructional video could save instructors and students time on frequently asked questions.Reynolds said there are many new possibilities to engage students created by the development of the technology behind MOOCs, and he believes they are an exciting way to use technology to aid, if not replace, the conventional learning process.“Some students would thrive in an online environment and some would not do well. It is certainly beneficial to have resources available in the form of online courses,” Pilkington said. “However, I think given the choice between studying full-time at a university and studying part-time online, the better choice is to immerse oneself fully in their studies for a few years on a campus.”Tags: edX, moocs, Office of Digital Learninglast_img read more

first_imgThis week’s installment of the Justice Friday series focused on the definition of sex and gender, as well as the socialization of gender identity. The conversation was led by seniors Bri O’Brien and Vanessa Troglia.  Troglia said that biologically speaking, gender is not a dichotomy. She said there are instances where a person’s chromosomal combinations can differ from XX and XY.“No one can see sex, it is chromosomal,” said Troglia. “There isn’t one or the other [sex], there could be something in between.”Adrienne Lyles-Chockley, a visiting professor in the justice education program, listed several components of gender, and said this means that someone’s gender identity may not match their biological sex.“There are two components of gender,” Lyles-Chockley said. “My internal sense of self — which you don’t know — and the external, which is my performance … gender expression is performance, identity is sense of self and sex is the biological aspect that nobody can tell.”O’Brien laid out different terms used for gender expression.“If your gender identity, your gender expression and your bodily sex all align with each other and is what the expectation is for you, then you’re cisgendered,” she said. “If you deviate from that, then you’re gender nonconforming.”O’Brien said people put expectations on others based on their biological sex.“Gender is socially constructed,” she said. “You’re assigned a sex at birth, and from that, different gender expectations are put on you.”Troglia said the social construct of gender can have real consequences on society such as an equal distribution of both genders in jobs.“Even though gender construction is made up by society and does not make any real sense, as a consequence, men and women are discouraged from going into certain jobs … ” Troglia said.  “Because of social constructs, there not an equal distribution into certain job fields.” O’Brien also said society could be different and less exclusionary if gender standards were eliminated.“It’s an interesting thing to think about,” she said. “We don’t know for sure, but if we eliminated gender constructs in society, it could lead to more opportunity.”The Justice Fridays discussions take place every Friday from 12:10 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. Tags: Justice Fridayslast_img read more

first_imgGive the gift of literacy to someone you know today, and the gift will also be shared with others.That is the aim of the ninth annual Usborne Book Fair which will be held Thursday and Friday in the atrium of the Student Center at Saint Mary’s. This fair is held to assist The Learning Tree, a resource education center In Madeleva Hall open to both college students and the wider community. Half of the sales from the book fair will be returned to The Learning Tree in the form of free books.Jayne Fogle, The Learning Tree’s director, said the fair has contributed many books to its library throughout its existence. As the center operates without a budget, these contributions are critical.“We have a children’s literature library, textbooks … educational game packets … a laminator, poster board, cardstock and lots of other types of paper. We also have machines that punch out shapes and letters for bulletin boards,” Fogle said.These tools are useful to a wide range of students, not just education majors and professors. Students use The Learning Tree’s resources for class assignments as well as personal projects, such as making birthday cards. The center offers workspace for student use.The Learning Tree charges for its resources and services in order for the items to be replenished, Fogle said. The costs must be paid with cash or a check.The children’s literature library has picture books, chapter books and reference books that Saint Mary’s students use for education classes and student teaching. Among the collection Fogle said the Usborne books among the collection are “high quality and informative.”Reference and instruction librarian Catherine Pellegrino said familiarity with books is essential for children.“Even before kids are reading, getting to know what a book is and how it works is important — turning the pages and such,” Pellegrino said. “The benefits of books for young kids are obvious, and now there are programs that recognize that benefit of having age-appropriate children’s material in a household.“Young children can become acquainted with books by visiting the offices of doctors and social service agencies. Some such offices even send the children home with a book, allowing for a home library to be built for all those who enter the household, Pellegrino said. College students also gain much from access to books, both for their studies and for leisure.In today’s world, however, the fact that physical books are still being used — and purchased — is surprising to many people.“We’ve asked, and the response has been overwhelming that students prefer print over electronic format… nobody asks for the e-book format. They check out the print,” Pellegrino said. “The leisure reading books circulate like crazy. They get checked out way more than anything in the building, especially right before breaks. That’s when a lot of [books] go off the shelves.”Saint Mary’s librarians sometimes call this collection, located at the very front of the library, the “fun books.”The book fair takes place just as the onset of holiday shopping is becoming apparent. Books for all ages will be available, including picture books, middle grade chapter books, reference books and adult coloring books. Purchasing these books benefits more than just those who receive them, thanks to Usborne’s sharing of the sales with the Learning Tree.Tags: Books, Library, Literacy, The Learning Tree, Usborne Book Fairlast_img read more

first_imgThis week, Notre Dame celebrates three consecutive nights of Las Posadas, a Christmas-time Catholic tradition in Spanish-speaking countries around the world. It commemorates Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus.Farley rector Elaine DeBassige, who was instrumental in bringing the tradition to campus, said Notre Dame’s version compresses a nine-night novena down into three.“It’s supposed to be a novena, but on campus, we just don’t have that kind of time, so we readjusted,” she said in an email. “We sing carols and travel to many locations seeking shelter for Jesus and Mary. Each location we stop at, we sing a part of the Las Posadas song and are turned away. We pick up more carols at the place that rejected us. We continue until we reach our final destination.”Becky Ruvalcaba, assistant director of multicultural ministry, said in an email that each night ends in festivities.“Once we are invited in at the end of the procession, we move to the chapel and have scripture, music and prayer. Finally, at the end we have a celebration,” Ruvalcaba said.Music and food are an integral cultural part of Las Posadas. DeBassige said Notre Dame can expect to see home-cooked Hispanic dishes, catering, mariachi and a pinata.“Because the crowds are growing, we have some catered food from local restaurants like Mango Cafe. This year in Farley, we are adding cheese enchiladas, pozole and bizcochitos,” she said. “Several women learned how to be New Mexican tonight.”For Ruvalcaba, Las Posadas embodies the beauty of the Catholic image of the Holy Family, she said.“My favorite part is the walking and singing as one community of God, prayerfully remembering our Holy Family,” Ruvalcaba said. “Las Posadas has allowed me to deepen my devotion to the Holy Family and to reflect on the mystery of the incarnation of our Savior Jesus Christ, who was born to the holiest of families in the poorest of material circumstances.“Las Posadas also allow me to reflect on all those people still today that are left out in the cold, seeking refuge — people seeking a place to rest after a long journey and are turned away because there is ‘no room,’” Ruvalcaba said. “This journey of Mary and Joseph is hopeful for all of us, those that seek shelter and for those that provide shelter. My heart is constantly moved by the image of Mary and Joseph on journey, seeking to birth peace in the world.”DeBassige said the celebration lets her share her home in a special way.“People say how this makes them feel at home and part of something special,” DeBassige said. “Every year, I hear something like this. It makes me feel like I am honoring my village, San Rafael, New Mexico, my culture and my mom who always has a big showing at her house when she hosts. Making a home that welcomes everyone is what this is all about. When we get to welcome others in from the cold for fellowship, food, prayer, comfort, laughs, warmth — this is living.”The event kicked off Tuesday night on Mod and East Quads, with a reception in Dunne Hall. Wednesday night it takes place on North Quad, with a reception in Farley Hall. Thursday night will be on South and West Quads, with a reception in Coleman-Morse Center.Tags: Campus Ministry, Farley Hall, Las Posadaslast_img read more

first_imgThe Mercugliano-Lund ticket must forfeit its candidacy after it was found to have engaged in “highly unethical behavior,” Judicial Council announced in a press release early Thursday.The council’s Election Committee found junior Zachary Mercugliano and freshman Aviva Lund violated Section 17.1(i)(1) of the Student Body Constitution, which reads: “The promise of any office or position in the Student Union by any ticket or candidate shall be considered highly unethical behavior, the penalty for which may include a maximum penalty of forfeiture of candidacy.”All votes cast for the ticket will be voided and not considered in the primary student body elections.Tags: 2020 election, Judicial Council, sanction, Student Body Electionlast_img

first_imgIn a Wednesday email to Saint Mary’s students, Mona Bowe, vice president of Enrollment Management and chair of the coronavirus relief fund task force, said all students of the College are able to apply for a grant to help with expenses relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.“If you have incurred unexpected expenses due to the disruption of Saint Mary’s operations, your expenses might be eligible and we encourage you to apply,” Bowe said in the email. “Expenses not related to the disruption of campus operations will not be eligible. All current students at Saint Mary’s are able to apply for a grant.”The relief fund was financed by federal funds awarded to colleges through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund as well as by donations from families of current Belles, staff, faculty and others who which to support students. Students looking to apply for a grant through the fund are encouraged to fill out an online form. Once the grant is awarded, the money can be spent however the student wishes. The application window closes on June 30, 2020, and grants are not guaranteed to be available for everyone. “Funding is limited and there is no guarantee funds will be available later in the summer, so we encourage you to apply early,” the email said. Bowe encouraged students with questions to first check the FAQ page online and then email her with additional questions. Tags: coronavirus relief fund, COVID-19, grants, Mona Bowelast_img read more

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