Conway Publishes Paper on Introducing Undergrads to Books in the Age of Dante

A paper by Melissa Conway, distinguished librarian and head of Special Collections & Archives, appears in the Winter 2013 volume of Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition and Culture (Duke University Press).

“Introducing Undergraduates to Books in the Age of Dante — in Twenty Minutes or Less” outlines a 20-minute introduction to medieval manuscripts in the age of Dante, using a combination of Internet resources for the study of medieval manuscripts and actual medieval manuscripts. An outgrowth of her research of dated manuscripts in Florentine libraries produced between 1265 and 1321, the article provides access to primary materials in digital format and provides teachers with a way to introduce students to book production in the Middle Ages.

“The main thrust of my lecture is not so much to teach students about manuscript production as to help them better understand the material world in which Dante created his masterpiece,” Conway wrote. “Undergraduate students are rarely aware of how laborious and costly book production was or how scarce access to books was among the laity before the invention of printing. Unless they understand that books were produced one at a time by skilled artisans using expensive materials like parchment, they cannot grasp fully what it took to develop Dante’s astounding erudition, evident in the hundreds of biblical, mythological, literary, philosophical, and historical allusions in the ‘Divine Comedy.’”

Conway also made two presentations at the Loscon 39 science fiction convention in Los Angeles in November: “Jay Kay Klein: A Man and a Camera,” about Jay Kay Klein, a prominent science fiction fan and photographer; and “The Eaton Collection,” the largest publicly accessible collection of science fiction, fantasy, horror and utopian literature in the world, which is located at UCR.

Cranor Book on Toxic Substances Now Available in Paperback

“Legally Poisoned; How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants,” a book by UCR philosopher Carl Cranor that advocates reforming U.S. policies regulating exposure to toxic substances, will be republished by Harvard University Press in March.

This new edition adds weight to Cranor’s contention that all chemical compounds should be tested before they are sold in the United States.

For three decades, Cranor, who has served on science advisory panels for the state of California and on Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences committees, has studied U.S. regulatory policy and philosophic issues concerning risks, science and the law, and the protection of susceptible population from new and existing technologies and toxicants.

Americans are exposed to hundreds if not thousands, of suspected toxic substances every day, substances that can affect the development and function of the brain, immune system, reproductive organs or hormones. But no public health law requires product testing of most chemical compounds before they enter the marketplace.

“The only way to reduce toxic contamination is to require testing of products before they come in to commerce,” Cranor says. “If they appear to pose adverse health effects, they should not be permitted, or they should be required to be reformulated so the problems disappear.”

Two Vortex Trails With One Stroke

As of today, the consensus of hummingbirds is that the bird’s flight generates a single trail of vortices, but UCR research proposes that the hovering hummingbird instead produces two trails of vortices that help generate the aerodynamic forces required for the bird to power and control its flight.

High-speed image sequences—500 frames per second—of hummingbirds hover-feeding within a white plume were used to study the vortex wake from multiple perspectives. Particle image velocimetry, a flow-measuring method in fluid mechanics, was also used to analyze the flow around hummingbirds, to record the particles surrounding the birds, and to extract velocity fields.

The results showed two distinct jets of downwards airflow-one under each wing of the hummingbird per stroke.

Therefore, Douglas Altshuler, former assistant professor of biology at UCR and leader of the research, Marko Princevac, associate professor of mechanical engineering, Sam Pournazeri, former Ph.D. graduate student in Princevac’s lab, and Paolo S. Segre, former UCR graduate student, proposed in the journal Experiments in Fluids that the hummingbird’s two wings form bilateral vortex loops.

This study could find application in aerospace technology and in the development of unmanned vehicles for medical surveillance after natural disasters.

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