April 17, 2002
Astronomy Professor Honored for NEAR Project
| April 17, 2002
Joseph Veverka, professor and chair of the Department of Astronomy at Cornell, has been recognized by the magazine Aviation Week and Space Technology for his work in the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) project.
The magazine named Veverka a “laureate” and he was honored with a trophy on April 16 at the National Air and Space Museum.
“It was a great exploration adventure and we all feel wonderful about it, and it’s even nicer [when] someone notices and has a celebration to give you an award,” Veverka said.
NEAR’s landing on the asteroid 433 Eros in February 2000 was the first landing of a space craft onto an asteroid.
Veverka said that while he is honored to be named a “laureate,” he was “just one of the hundreds of people involved in the mission.”
Veverka is now also working on Comet Nucleus Tour, a Cornell led NASA mission to study at least two comets. Veverka is principal investigator of the project which is NASA’s $154 million attempt to explore the nucleus of a comet, and how they change as they near the sun.
The Contour team is made up of Cornell staff, faculty and students. Prof. Jim Bell, astronomy, who has worked with Veverka for the past seven years said that Veverka is “an incredibly well respected and very experience astronomer who’s written some of the most important work in our field [concerning] asteroids and comets. …He’s been a mentor to many people, including me.”
Some of Veverka’s courses at Cornell integrate his teaching with his outside research.
“For example, this fall, a graduate seminar [will be taught] on comets and the Contour mission,” Veverka said. He also noted that astronomy students often have the chance to get involved with projects such as Contour.
Archived article by Diana Lo
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April 18, 2002
In relatively recent years, the comic book industry has widened its scope from heroic comic books of juvenile fancy to illustrative stories of valor, courage, history, and education. These comic books are the same old paper and ink creations, yet the topics that they cover consist of anything but the same old content that categorizes our favorite comic books. Along with superheros or our goofy friends who brought us laughter in series, such as Archie and Jughead, their content traverses themes and issues never before explored in the comic book form and are specific to our culture. A comic book in response to the September 11th attacks tackles issues that are new to the comic book medium. Entitled Heroes, Marvel Comics published its tribute comic on October 16, 2001 in response to the deplorable attacks on the United States. Similarly, other comic book tributes dealing with this same tragedy have sprung up after the attacks to pay tribute to those heroes, both dead and living, who are now immortalized. A New York Times article quoted comics pioneer and graphic novelist Will Eisner on the subject of these various tribute comics: “I’ve been waiting for the graphic novel or the use of comics for serious material to be accepted, and here for the first time, this medium has dealt with a major event.” Nevertheless, this is not the first time that a comic medium has aptly dealt with the subject of traumatic memory. Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, a two-part publication, explores the Holocaust in a similar medium, and has been the focus of my own senior thesis project at Cornell. Winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, Spiegelman’s work delves into tragic tribute by way of the postmodern form. In a compelling tale of his father’s experiences in Auschwitz, Spiegelman explores the memory of his father’s experiences through the allegoric depictions of the Jews, Nazis, and Poles as animals. Thus, by creating a harrowing tale contrasting the levity of the comic medium, Maus serves as a precursor for more recent attempts at the comic tribute. Through this artistic form, the postmodern structure of literature can develop to its fullest capacity. Authors and artists are granted a sense of poetic license that allows them to develop these ideas through unconventional forms and reach their audiences on various perceptual and emotional levels. The broader tale of Spiegelman’s Maus explores the author’s relationship with his father and thus grants the author and the audience accessibility to his father’s nightmares through the comic book form. These new forms of media have imparted an accessible venue for an audience to experience the traumatic repercussions of issues, such as the Holocaust and the recent attacks on our nation. Imparting equanimity to word and image in a visually dependent culture, comic books have begun a new wave of literature that is as “postmodern” as the new media technological craze of recent decades. This week’s Entertainment Weekly links readers to a website in conjunction with Michael Chabon’s comic, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which will soon be made into a movie. Although I have not read this comic marvel, the Web site, members.tripod.com/martinetc/id102.htm, seems to be the Cliff Note dictionary for the comic book. This website helps to define the mysterious words that consume the comic through a game that helps readers discover the extensive vocabulary of the comic book’s creator. Composed of fifty-four words, this game allows visitors to the site to match these random words to their definitions. Perhaps some would have never guessed that strabismus is a “disorder in which both eyes cannot be focused at the same time, such as cross-eyes, or a squint?” Or that the word meaning “pestering, bothering, boring” is nudzhing? This vocabulary game, according to Entertainment Weekly, “serves double duty: word nerds can use it to gauge their smarts — and the verbally impaired can use it as a cheat sheet,” and shows the vocabulary expertise of the author. The educational level of Chabon’s comic book seems as if it coincides with the educational benefits of both Maus and the various September 11th comic book creations. Thus, as a genre, the comic book has become an influential source of literary power — a source of media in which the time-honored connotation of purely “child’s play,” has subsided. By introducing the visual to the textual and the textual to the visual, a postmodern visual culture finds it perhaps easier to relate to tragedy and such historic traumas. The comic book, a time-honored medium of farcical fun has entered the realm of “new media,” as the visual accompaniments that it applies to these serious, historical, and educational topics makes these topics ironically more realistic. Perhaps these authors and artists can be called “pamphleteers,” which according to the afore-mentioned site, means “writer or publisher of booklets, ephemera, or screed-pieces on topics of current interest.” These comic book creators are doing exactly that — they are visually stimulating a society to engage in cultural and intellectual thought using a medium that seems all too accessible to our era. Thus, as this new genre gains predominance, the “comic” becomes adversely serious and compelling.Archived article by Barbara Seigel
April 18, 2002
As the audience for No Doubt grew steadily larger last Sunday, attending concert-goers were ushered into the show by the very danceable beats of The Faint. Relatively obscure, but on their way up the musical ladder, the Nebraska five-some’s music is a mix of new wave electronica and alternative keyboards rifts. What made their sound catchy was its fusion of upbeat ’80s-influenced sounds with dark, more alternative-style undertones. Two songs in particular, “Posed to Death” and “Glass Danse,” deserved attention and potentially another listen to. While most of the songs were lively, lead singer Todd Baechle, refused to put down the synthesized microphone and allow the audience to hear any of his inspired lyrics. All and all, The Faint, garbed in all black as if they were on their way to a fraternity date night, were the band I would have started if my Casio keyboard had come with an 80,000 watt sub-woofer, the lanky white kids on the box, and a tube of black eye-liner. After their set, members of The Faint helped dismantle their own equipment and made room for the ever more accomplished No Doubt. This is where I would include quotes I got during my interview with No Doubt. Unfortunately, when I went to get that interview, the band decided they were uninterested. I spent all day filling my head with bits of useless No Doubt trivia and when it came time to put it to use, I was told to go home. Instead, still trying for an interview I waited outside the band’s ready room, banging on their window and trying to score at least one quote. That’s when pair of eyes peaked through the window, pulled up the blinds to waist level, and one of the band members proceeded to drop their pants and moon me. (Not Gwen) That being said, No Doubt’s official pre-show quote was, “Phhht.” To the roar of a near-packed Barton Hall, the lights shot on and revealed an elaborate stage set-up complete with 30-foot tapestries and enormous light fixtures. To the more-than-seven-years-worth of fans in the front few rows, the only thing that could dwarf the set-up was, of course, the band. Gwen on vocals, Tony Kanal on bass, Tom Dumont on guitar, and Adrian Young on drums. Accompanying the group were two synthesizer players who doubled on trumpet and trombone for select tracks. Their first song, “Hella Good,” from the concert-namesake album, Rock Steady, sufficiently welcomed the crowd to the new sound of No Doubt. Still reliant on heavy guitar work, fun lyrics (“Let’s just keep on dancing”), and the star appeal of Gwen Stefani, the songs now carry heavier bass with hints of electronica flavoring and dance-pop rhythms. While the song helped pump the audience with energy, it was obvious that despite Rock Steady’s platinum status, crowds don’t know the new lyrics. Fan’s there to see and sing along with the band they met back in 1995 were soon to have their moment. The band tore into “Sunday Morning,” the top 10 single off of the now 10x-platinum album Tragic Kingdom. Throwing fuel on the already burning crowd, Gwen raised the microphone into the air and gave the audience its chance sing. Gwen then stepped up and said hello to Ithaca. For whatever reason, crowds go crazy when the talent on stage proves they know where they are. It makes the event feel more like the band has stopped by because they were in the neighborhood, and less like they’re visiting to pay for a new summer home. Before the crowd could simmer down, another wave of music rolled off the stage and crashed into the eager audience. A surprise shot of musical adrenaline cranked through the audience when Gwen explained that she had been sick, and that it would make her feel better if every person in the arena would kindly start jumping up and down. Miss Stefani’s use of the magic word prompted all 5,000 people in the crowd to follow her lead in a segment of the evening I dubbed “Follow the Bouncing Navel.” Gwen, “The Bellybutton Bernstein,” masterfully conducted her orchestra of screaming fans in what looked like a tribute to Winnie-the-Pooh’s Tigger. The sea of a thousand hands throughout the song “New,” even managed to thoroughly impress Gwen. “You can’t even see how great you guys look with the