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end­­eavors Winter 2006

Research and Creative Activity  •  The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

ARE WE READY? WHAT WE’VE LEARNED FROM KATRINA AND FLOYD


As you read this issue, perhaps with a view of the dusting of snow on your

sidewalk or the lozenge of ice in your bird bath, the last thing on your mind may be hurricanes. You may, as you shiver, beg to differ with those who say that climate change is turning up the heat under tropical systems, boiling them up into monsters like Katrina or worse. You may believe, reasonably enough, that the data are inconclusive on that point. You may even be tempted to think, if you’ve survived a Floyd or a Fran or a Hugo, that we’re more or less safe around here—that a storm as cataclysmic as Katrina will never come to call. Don’t bet your life on it. Sooner or later, we’ll get nailed. On that, the experts agree. Consider the map. North Carolina dangles a flimsy filament of its most populous and pricey real estate—its beaches—right into the line of fire. A Category Four or Five storm could blast a barrier island to pieces and wash the splintered houses out to sea. Correct that: not could, will. Another Floyd, or worse, will drive people onto their rooftops all across our coastal plain. Hardcharging storms like Ivan and Frances, coming in bunches, will unleash another round of raging torrents through our mountain valleys, ripping out houses and bridges and lives. And what about the Piedmont? Surely, that will be spared? Those of us who spent the wee hours of September 6, 1996 cowering in closets, while eighty-foot oak trees toppled and crashed all around us, don’t like to think that one day soon a storm will throw a harder punch than Fran. But it will. Chicken Little talk? Not according to the people who study these things. No one here at UNC is promising to save your beach house or your mountain cabin or your oak trees. But we’re looking for ways to save lives. Where will the flood waters travel? How high will they go? How can we drop a pod of people and high-tech equipment into a storm-blasted beach or stricken city and fire up the best emergency communications system in the world? We’re sorry to interrupt your winter, but time and luck are running out. So we’d like you to know what we’re up to, and what is at stake. The Editor

Winter 2006

In 1996, Hurricane Fran’s winds and flooding tore this North Carolina house apart.

contents

Dave Gatley/FEMA News Photo


cover story

features

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The Next One Could Be Worse Have Floyd and Katrina braced us for North Carolina’s next big storm? by Angela Spivey

departments

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A Long-Buried War with the Moros Can we learn anything about conflicts like the one in Iraq from a bloody occupation in the Philippines a hundred years ago? by Mark Derewicz

Overview The oldest explosion arrives, keeping tabs on the tots, a mightier mammogram, fish get frisky quick, and breathing easier at home.

Honey, I Shrunk the Lab Mike Ramsey wants to stick a lab in your pocket. by Jan McColm

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In Print Translating past atrocities for today’s minds, sitting down to sweet potato kugel and Sabbath fried chicken, and teaching for teachers.

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The Lives Behind the Dots Mapping suicides and cancer deaths in a North Carolina town. by Angela Spivey

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Sizing Up an Old Bone Hound Was Edward Drinker Cope barking up the wrong tree? by Jason Smith

Endview Doubly exposed.

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endeavors

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Winter 2006 • Volume XXII, Number 2

James Moeser, Chancellor Robert Shelton, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Tony Waldrop, Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development

Endeavors is published three times a year by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Editor: Neil Caudle, Associate Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development

Readers’ comments, requests for permission to reprint material, and requests for extra copies should be sent to Endeavors, Office of Information and Communications, CB 4106, 307 Bynum Hall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4106.

Writers: Mark Derewicz, Ramona DuBose, Jan McColm, Margarite Nathe, Angela Spivey, and Lynn Thomasson

Use of trade names implies no endorsement by UNCChapel Hill. phone: 919/962-6136 e-mail: endeavors@unc.edu

Associate Editor: Jason Smith

Design: Neil Caudle and Jason Smith Production and online design: Jason Smith Visit us online: http://research.unc.edu/endeavors/ ©2006 by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cover: Hurricane Katrina by NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team. This page: “Sleeping at the Met” by Peter Filene; “The Only Moros from Whom We May Expect No Uprising,” Chicago Tribune, March 10, 1906; Edward Drinker Cope. Back cover: Digital mammogram by Etta Pisano; star death by NASA/GSFC/Dana Berry; Hurricane Katrina by NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team.


overview

oldest explosion

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ct One. 12.8 billion years ago, in the constellation Pisces: A massive star explodes. Light rushes out across the universe. (Curtain down.) Act Two. Summer 2004, Chapel Hill: Astronomer Daniel Reichart imagines using the new SOAR telescope to see very distant, and therefore very old, events. Maybe, he predicts, he’ll use SOAR to witness the most distant explosion in the universe. Act Three. Fall 2005, Chapel Hill and Chile: Remnants of Act One’s explosion become visible from Earth. Reichart sees the light. Okay, so it needs a little tweaking before it hits Broadway, but the fact is that Daniel Reichart and a cast of Carolina students have measured the distance to the oldest and most distant astronomical explosion to date: a gamma-ray burst likely caused by the death of a star at least thirty times 2 endeavors

Above: Discovery image (left panel) of the afterglow of GRB 050904 taken with the SOAR telescope at infrared wavelengths. The afterglow can be seen fading away on subsequent nights (center and right panels, also from SOAR). Images by Daniel Reichart.

more massive than our sun. NASA’s Swift satellite detected the burst on September 4, 2005, and within three hours, Reichart was using SOAR’s OSIRIS infrared instrument to view the burst’s afterglow and calculate the distance to the explosion. Light from that explosion, it turns out, had to travel 12.8 billion light years to get to us. Most astronomers think the universe

is about 13.7 billion years old. That means the burst came from near the edge of the visible universe, and it happened when the universe was a mere toddler—only about nine hundred million years old. “This is uncharted territory,” Reichart says. “This burst smashes the old distance record by five hundred million light years. We are finally starting to see the remnants


keeping track of the kids

Facing page: When a massive star runs out of fuel, the core collapses and forms a black hole. Shock waves obliterate the outer shells of the star. This image by NASA/GSFC/Dana Berry.

of some of the oldest objects in the universe.” The SOAR telescope is in the Chilean Andes. Workers there happened to install the telescope’s OSIRIS infrared instrument a few days before the Swift satellite detected the burst. So Reichart told one of his undergraduates, Josh Haislip, to bone up on the OSIRIS instrument just in case something interesting happened. And boom. When the Swift satellite detected the burst, it notified Haislip and Reichart on their cell phones, and they headed to the remote observing center, here in Chapel Hill, to take control of the SOAR telescope. Now Haislip will be first author—play the starring role, that is—on the resulting scientific publication. “The earliest stars exploded eons ago; we know very little about them,” Haislip says. “One of the best ways we can study them is by watching for their explosions. Swift can pinpoint the locations of the explosions, and telescopes such as SOAR can study the composition of the debris to understand where and when these stars formed and what they were made of.” ­—Jason Smith Reichart is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy. Other students who worked on the burst are seniors Chelsea MacLeod and Justin Kirschbrown and graduate student Melissa Nysewander. The Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope is a publicprivate partnership among UNC-Chapel Hill, the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the Ministry of Science of Brazil, and Michigan State University.

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or the next three decades, Carolina researchers will study the food children in Duplin County, North Carolina, eat—along with the air they breathe, the schools they attend, and even the dust in their homes—as part of a national study of children in the United States. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has selected UNC-Chapel Hill as one of six institutions nationwide—and the only institution in the South—to kick off the National Children’s Study, an unprecedented effort examining how environmental, social, behavioral, biological, and community factors affect children in the United States. Researchers from the School of Public Health and the Carolina Population Center will lead Carolina’s efforts. For the initial phase of the study, Carolina will focus on Duplin County. As a first, or “vanguard,” site, Duplin County will help determine the final study protocol to be used nationwide. The full National Children’s Study will follow a representative sample of children from early life through adulthood, seeking information to prevent and treat such health problems as autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. “This is a very ambitious study,” says Nancy Dole, deputy director of the Carolina Population Center. “It’s important to start with a few sites so we can get the details worked out, and then implement the study uniformly throughout the country.” Other North Carolina counties that will join the study later are Buncombe, Burke, Cumberland, Durham, Gaston, and Rockingham.

Carolina is one of six institutions nationally to conduct the National Children’s Study, which will track thousands of children into adulthood. Jason Smith

“We’re excited about the challenges that lie ahead,” says David Savitz, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health and a fellow at the Carolina Population Center. “Duplin is a rural county with about fifty-one thousand residents, so we’ll be working with a large portion of the people there. Our hope is that we’ll be able to provide services and information that Duplin residents will find useful, and that we’ll bring increased attention to this community that helps to improve the health of their children.” Carolina researchers, along with collaborators at Duke University and Battelle Memorial Institute, will survey the population to identify women who are pregnant or who are of childbearing age. They plan to start enrolling Duplin County women in the study in July 2007 and hope to eventually enroll around twelve hundred. The National Children’s Study will identify some one hundred thousand children at more than one hundred sites nationwide as early as possible during their mothers’ pregnancies. By tracking the health and development of these children throughout their childhoods, the study will provide researchers, public health officials, health-care providers, educators, and others who work with children with a resource from which to develop prevention strategies, health and safety guidelines, educational approaches, and possibly new treatments and cures for health conditions. ­—Ramona Dubose For more information on the study, please visit www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov. endeavors 3


Two images of the same breast: film on the left, digital on the right. The cancer, indicated by the arrows, appears clearer in the digital mammogram. Image courtesy of Etta Pisano.

digital or film?

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hould you go digital or stick with film? If you’re buying a camera, you might ask which is easier, which takes better pictures, which is cheaper. If you’re talking about a mammogram, effective detection is the name of the game. In October 2001, Carolina’s Etta Pisano, working with the American College of Radiology Imaging Network, began a four-year study by recruiting 49,528 healthy, cancerfree women for mammograms. Doctors at thirty-three sites all over the United States and Canada examined each woman using two different mammogram technologies: digital and film. Film mammography, which has been

a quick change

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n a new study of cichlid fish native to East Africa’s Lake Tanganika, Sabrina S. Burmeister, assistant professor of biology, found that subordinate male fish underwent a quick transformation when more-dominant males were removed. “When we took dominant cichlid males from an experimental tank, subordinate males started becoming dominant themselves in as few as two minutes,” Burmeister says. “Their colors—blue and yellow—got much brighter, a black stripe we call an eye bar appeared near their eyes, and they became much more aggressive than they were before. The remaining males also paid a lot more attention to females because for 4 endeavors

the standard for over thirty-five years, transfers an image of the breast and its internal tissue onto a sheet of film. Digital mammography immediately creates the image as a digital computer file, which can then be enhanced, magnified, manipulated, and transferred to film if desired. The researchers found that both technologies worked well for detecting cancers in the population of women tested. But physicians found more hard-to-spot lesions when they used digital technology to examine pre- and perimenopausal women, women under fifty, and women with dense breasts. Most women—about 60 percent—are in at least one of these subgroups. Most of the cancers the researchers found using digital mammography happened to be

of the dangerous sort that must be detected and treated early. Digital mammography offers faster imaging, easier storage—no worries about sheets and sheets of images—and easier transfer to other physicians. And most women are exposed to less radiation during digital mammograms than during film mammograms. So why don’t we all insist on digital mammograms? The biggest obstacle is cost. Digital mammogram machines cost hospitals around $500,000. Machines for film mammograms usually cost around $75,000. Researchers tested five digital mammography systems for the study: General Electric Medical Systems, Hologic, Fischer Imaging, Trex, and Fuji Medical Systems. Most of these are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are available for clinical use in the United States. “These results will give clinicians better guidance and greater choice in deciding which women would benefit most from various forms of mammography,” Pisano says. “I think it’s important that those 60 percent get digital when it becomes available.” Given that an estimated 211,240 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, more and better guidance may very well save lives. —Margarite Nathe Etta Pisano is a professor of radiology. She directs the creation of the School of Medicine’s Biomedical Research Imaging Center.

Russell D. Fernald

the first time, they had an opportunity to reproduce.” Previous studies had found that such changes took as long as a week and were associated with increased fertility. Taking the next step, Burmeister and colleagues analyzed brain tissue and found that perception of “social opportunity”—the opportunity to rise in the dominance hierarchy—caused more of a gene known as egr-1 to be expressed in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that controls fertility. “We believe that in our fish, egr-1 turns on expression of a second gene, GnRH1, which produces a hormone necessary for reproduction,” Burmeister says. The work has implications for humans because basic mechanisms that control reproduction in fish and in people are the same, Burmeister says.

Male cichlid fish can change from subordinate to dominant in minutes.

Burmeister’s report of her experiments, conducted at Stanford University, appeared in the November 2005 issue of PloS Biology. Co-authors were Erich D. Jarvis and Russell D. Fernald, neurobiologists at Duke University and Stanford University, respectively.


having more asthma-free days

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ccording to the National Center for Environmental Health, Americans spend an estimated $3.2 billion a year treating children with asthma. Trips to the emergency room, unscheduled doctor’s appointments, prescription inhalers—the cost of treatment can quickly add up. Not to mention missing work or a day of school. The Inner-City Asthma Study, published last year, found that if parents and caregivers managed environmental factors at home, children could look forward to more symptom-free days and less medication. Now, a new study shows that even though the approach may cost more, the researchers believe the benefits are worth it. The new study analyzed data from the Inner-City Asthma Study and is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The Inner-City Asthma Study followed children between the ages of six and eleven who had moderate to severe asthma and lived in inner cities across the United States. With the help of environmental counselors, families limited exposure to key asthma triggers such as dust mites, pets, rodents, and mold. Researchers provided each child with an allergen-resistant mattress and pillow cover. The child’s family received a HEPA air cleaner, a HEPA vacuum cleaner, and household pest control. The total cost per family, including pay for the environmental counselors, was over $1,400. Researchers compared the inhalers and medical services used by children in the improved home environments to a control group where home conditions remained the same. Sally Stearns, an associate professor in health policy and administration at Carolina and a researcher on the study, admits that these changes are not inexpensive. “It’s a sizable chunk of change, but a couple E.R. visits can add up too,” she says. Researchers estimated that, during the two-year study period, families who changed their home environments would pay about one thousand dollars more than families who did not receive equipment or environmental counseling. The researchers also estimated

that the treatment led to thirty-eight more symptom-free days, lower use of the b-agonist inhalers used to control asthma, and fewer unscheduled doctor’s appointments. This means that over two years, each extra symptom-free day cost $27.57. While the home-based treatment didn’t cut medical costs sufficiently to offset all the added costs, Stearns says the treatment is probably worth it. “Twenty-five dollars a day isn’t cheap, but neither is having the kids out of school,” Stearns says. “We have a hard time putting a monetary value on lost school attendance and parent productivity because of childhood asthma, but the cost may likely exceed $27.57 per day.” Stearns and her colleagues estimate that the cost could be reduced from $1,400 to just over one thousand dollars if each family used only one environmental counselor. The study sent two environmental counselors to each family making environmental changes, though Stearns says one counselor would be

sufficient. This reduced cost could mean that the money saved from less medical treatment could exceed home-based treatment costs within two years. Costs could be further offset if a child had siblings or parents who would benefit from the improved environment. —Lynn Thomasson Sally Stearns is the second author of “Cost Effectiveness of a Home-Based Environmental Intervention for Inner City Children with Asthma.” Meyer Kattan was the study’s lead author. Ellen Crain, James Stout, Peter Gergen, Richard Evans III, Cynthia M. Visness, Rebecca S. Gruchalla, Wayne J. Morgan, George T. O’Connor, J. Patrick Mastin, and Herman Mitchell also contributed to the study. Support came from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

data for cleaner air

Whether you have asthma or not, dirty air can be tough on your health, and Carolina researchers are working to help people breathe easier. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded UNC’s Carolina Environmental Program $1.4 million over five years to continue leading the agency’s Community Modeling and Analysis System (CMAS) center. The EPA established the center in 2001 to give policymakers better information about air pollution and how to control it. The center’s modeling system simulates the occurrence of ozone, particulate matter, and other toxic air pollutants. Scientists use the system to study how pollutants may affect human health. Adel Hanna, CEP research professor, directs CMAS. More information on CMAS is available at www. cmascenter.org. endeavors 5


A LONG-BURIED WAR WITH Courtesy of BoondocksNet.com

the Moros Tim Marr’s research into the history of anti-Muslim ideology uncovers a little-known past and its lessons for a troubled present.

by Mark Derewicz

6 endeavors


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distant country mostly unknown to consequences still evident one hundred firepower. After he was captured in March Americans. The United States is at years later. of 1901, the Americans quickly pacified the war. The military takes the capital Marr says he wants to peel away the northern islands and organized a Filipino city and captures the foreign leader. The reasons why the Moro situation, like the civilian government more in tune with president announces “mission accom- one in Iraq, got so messy. The Moro wars American definitions of democratic prinplished.” Rebels raid American strongholds were more than military conflicts, Marr ciples. and supply lines. The indigenous Muslim says. They were cultural conflicts with According to historical accounts, American population, hardly loyal to the fallen leader, implications few people have addressed. soldiers killed at least 250,000 Filipinos in resents American occupation. Despite More than anything, Marr wants to hear three years, most of them civilians. Soldiers inferior firepower, the insurgents don’t sur- from the Moros themselves, which very few tortured and either hanged or bayoneted to render. A guerrilla war sets in. Americans have done. death civilians under suspicion of supportMeanwhile, anti-imperialists chastise the “I’d love to get access to Moro culture but ing the rebellion. According to historians of American press for keeping quiet on the I can’t right now,” Marr says. “It’s basically a this era, soldiers commonly raped Filipino war’s immorality. They accuse the govern- war zone where I’d like to go.” women and girls. The military burned ment of stealing natural resources. Soldiers Still a war zone after four hundred years. down entire villages and sent thousands of torture captives. Locals want Americans And still, the United States is in the thick Filipinos to concentration camps. Of the out. Terrorism grips the region. The world of it. 120,000 American soldiers sent to the Philwatches America on the hot seat. It all started in 1898 when the United ippines between 1899 and 1902, over 4,200 Sound familiar? Nope, it’s not Iraq; not States won the Spanish-American War and died—ten times the Spanish-American War even the Middle East. All this death toll. happened a century ago in the John T. McCutcheon/Courtesy of BoondocksNet.com Philippines. Mission Accomplished Tim Marr, assistant professor of Incredibly, Marr says, most American studies, was conducting historical accounts of the Philresearch for his forthcoming book ippine-American War end with when he came across century-old Aguinaldo’s capture. President accounts of American encounters Theodore Roosevelt declared the with the Moros, a diverse group official end to the insurrection on of indigenous Muslims in the July 4, 1902. True, the insurrecsouthern Philippine Islands. The tion was quelled in the north. The Moros fought Spanish colonizers Moros, though, live in the south. for three hundred years before the At first, Americans and Moros Americans took the Philippines at were not at odds. The Moros the turn of the twentieth century. remained neutral during the PhilQuarreling with the Moros, it ippine-American War, after which turns out, was like stepping on a they did not attack Americans. beehive. The United States, with U.S. military advisors and Moros little colonizing experience, didn’t posed together for photographs, know how to react. The resulting and the U.S. government initially ten-year occupation, according to agreed to steer clear of Moro Marr, is eerily similar to current business as stipulated in the Bates Above: Cartoon for the Chicago Tribune, March events in Iraq. Treaty of 1899. 10, 1906. The caption read, “The Only Moros “This was really the first time The treaty, though, was set aside from Whom We May Expect No Uprising.” Muslims were absorbed into in 1904. Instead, the United States Facing page: Mass burial of Moros after the American national territory,” Marr created the Moro Province and Battle of Mount Dajo, 1906. says. “All of a sudden there were used the military to control it. these Muslims who were difficult The Moros resisted American for Americans to understand.” occupation for ten more years, So the United States created a military claimed the Philippines. Filipino leader which saw some of the most brutal U.S. milibureaucracy with little regard for Moro Emilio Aguinaldo, who was supported by tary victories of that era. Two such encounpolitical aspirations, culture, religion, or many Filipinos, declared independence in ters are now better known by historians as history. But the government could not 1899. The United States declared war—the massacres or slaughters. The first came in fully control the Moros. Thousands died, Philippine-American War. Aguinaldo chose 1906 when American soldiers killed nine and American involvement had political guerrilla warfare due to superior American hundred Moro men, women, and children endeavors 7


trapped in the crater of an extinct volcano called Bud Dajo. The second happened in 1913 when Moros opposing General John Pershing’s disarmament order took refuge in another volcanic crater called Bud Bagsak. Americans killed over five hundred Moro men, women, and children. Fourteen Americans died. President Roosevelt wrote to commanding officer General Leonard Wood after Bud Dajo: “I congratulate you and the officers and men of your command upon the brilliant feat of arms, wherein you and they so well upheld the honor of the American flag.” Marr says these encounters weren’t really battles. He found that the craters were actually traditional gathering places where Moro men, women, and children would assemble when threatened. “This assembling was perceived by the Americans as a challenge,” Marr says. American policy was to kill or capture anyone who opposed U.S. control. “But in these massacres, the killing predominated over the capturing.” Mark Twain and other anti-imperialists lambasted not only Roosevelt but silent editorial writers and men in the field. In his personal journals, Twain called American soldiers “Christian butchers” and “uniformed assassins,” two descriptions most anti-imperialists refused to use. Throughout the decade, American soldiers killed over fifteen thousand Moros armed mostly with knives and swords, if at all. Few Americans learned about the Moros in school, but Marr believes it’s time for some homework. “There are two lessons,” he says. “There needed to be clear understandings of the implications of bringing these people, who had never accepted Spanish rule, under U.S. control. And second, if you are going to get deeply involved in other people’s territories, you’d better understand their cultures.”

American Amnesia Ironically, the Philippine-American War was called “the forgotten war” until the Korean War usurped the title. The MoroAmerican War, meanwhile, is buried even deeper in what Marr calls “American historical amnesia.” Marr doubts the Moros have forgotten. Military records show that Moro women and children sometimes watched conflicts from 8 endeavors

a distance. In 2002, Filipino filmmakers Sari Lluch Dalena and Camilla Benolirao Griggers codirected a documentary on the Moros called Memories of a Forgotten War. “If I could write my own passport, I would be standing on the lip of that volcano on the one hundredth anniversary,” Marr says. “Because my deepest desire is to understand what effect this massacre had on the people themselves.” Twain and other anti-imperialists believed that the United States could have avoided war, just as today’s antiwar protesters believe the Iraq War was avoidable. According to Marr, three of five American peace-treaty Courtesy of george@arco-iris.com

This photo, taken during the conflict, depicts a Moro Datu in dress and head-gear typical of the period. The rifle is the American Krag-Jorgensen, issued to American troops. The revolver and cartridge belts also may have been captured as booty. Typically, Moro warriors were armed with the kris, a broadsword made for slashing. The kris worn here has an ornate white handle.

negotiators did not want to acquire the southern islands after the Spanish-American War. Marr says, “This was one moment when something could’ve been done differently: asking, ‘Was this territory really something we should incorporate? Was the south really part of the Philippine national

body politic?’ Because that’s still the Moro problem today.” The government did not heed the recommendation. The United States had its eye on the plantations of Mindanao, the second-largest and best agricultural setting of the seven thousand Philippine islands. “Economic development was not a motivating factor for taking Mindanao,” Marr says. “But there were visions of what could happen there if that island became a tropical American space where people could relocate and make money.” Such hopes were dashed due to Moro warriors, who gained a legendary reputation among soldiers for bravery. According to Marr, “Moros struck terror in the American military partly because of sabil, a practice in which the Muslim would take an oath, shave his body hair, bind his body tightly to staunch bleeding, and then attack American soldiers with swords before giving up his life. It is from this—the contemporary form of suicide bombings—that the idiom ‘to run amok’ entered the English language.” Amok is a Malay word meaning “out of control.” Marr added that Moro jihadis killed soldiers even after soldiers had shot them several times. This led the U.S. Army to adopt the more powerful .45 caliber revolver as standard issue. Despite Moro resistance, swords were no match for artillery. The United States was winning, and soldiers summed up American foreign policy with the punchy mantra, “Underneath a starry flag, civilize ’em with a Krag.” The reference was to the Krag-Jorgensen rapid-fire rifle, the likes of which the Moros had never seen until the war. Due to this military difference and the Moros’ darker skin color, soldiers lumped in their enemy with Native Americans. Soldiers called Moros “the Apaches of the Philippines” and said, “The only good Moro is a dead Moro.” “The easiest thing to do was to fit the Moros into existing racial categories of how Americans understood race,” Marr says. “But that was inadequate.” Popular culture was infiltrated with caricatures of Moros. George Ade’s popular 1903 operetta, The Sultan of Sulu, featured a Moro leader in what Marr calls “opulent orientalist clownface.”


The operetta features soldiers singing verses: We want to assimilate if we can the brother who is brown We love our dusky fellow man and we hate to hunt him down So when we perforate his frame we want him to be good We shoot at him to make him tame if he but understood. Marr says that many Moros resented being controlled by “a small population of transient Christian Americans.” The United States implemented taxes and a civil court system, both of which bypassed Moro traditions. Soldiers raided Moro forts. Many Moros, feeling threatened, attacked. This further agitated the conflict, which eventually led to General John Pershing’s disarmament campaign. Some Moros resisted that, too, which led to the second massacre. The Americans handed over the Moro province to Filipino civilian control in 1914, but the Moros continued striving for autonomy and independence throughout the twentieth century. Catholic Filipinos from the north, though, migrated to the south, claiming land. They gained political control, and this still adds fuel to the fire today, Marr says. Marr adds, “It’s fascinating to consider how to create a nation that federates ethnic differences in a way that the nation can hold together.” The same problem exists in Iraq, Marr says. British and American troops are trying to maintain order in traditionally distinct regions with various political, cultural, and religious desires. “The Philippines have been able to hold on to the southern territory and resist the separatist movement by giving them more autonomous control,” Marr says.

The United States Returns American foreign-policy makers, according to Marr, currently think that the southern Philippine Islands are the new postAfghanistan training grounds for Islamist terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah. After 9/11, the United States deployed one thousand military officers to advise and train Filipino armed forces to help defeat another threat, Abu Sayyaf,

A U.S. Army poster shows a romanticized view of the four-day battle of Bagsak Mountain on Jolo Island in the Philippines, June 11-15, 1913. Americans of the 8th Infantry and the Philippine Scouts, led by Brigadier General John J. Pershing, ended years of bitter struggle against the Moro “pirates,” the poster says. “These Bolo men, outlaws of great physical endurance and savage fighting ability, were well organized under their Datus, or chiefs. They had never been conquered during several centuries of Spanish rule in the Philippines. The U.S. Army .45-caliber pistol was developed to meet the need for a weapon with enough striking power to stop fanatical charges of lawless Moro tribesmen in hand-to-hand fighting.”

labeled a terrorist organization after it kidnapped tourists and Christian missionaries. The United States also considered sending three thousand troops, but did not because the Philippine constitution does not allow foreign troops to engage in combat there. The United States was also busy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Philippine government is still dealing with the Moros. Marr says the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is the latest group trying to unite Muslim areas into a homeland called Bangsamoro. According to Marr, the MILF signed a cease-fire with the Philippine government in 2004 and is presently negotiating a new political agreement. This includes a renewed push against Abu Sayyaf and its leader Khaddafy Janjalani, who has a fivemillion-dollar bounty on his head thanks to the United States. The MILF is supporting the Filipino Army in a new offensive against terrorists that began in the summer of 2005. Meanwhile, the United States is providing intelligence and communication support and has sent military advisors and former soldiers under contract with the Pentagon to support Filipino efforts. The MILF, though, opposes any U.S. military involvement. Of course, not all Moros are in the MILF.

Moros, like Muslims in general, don’t toe a company line. And many of them are interested in working together, Marr says. History might not repeat itself in the Philippines. Moros might not be massacred in volcanic craters in 2006. But Southeast Asia, not the Middle East, is home to most of the world’s Muslims. This, along with collective forgetfulness, creates a recipe for renewed conflicts. “The fact that Moro history is not known is the real Moro problem—the amnesia that we have about the United States dealing with the Islamic world,” Marr says. “This knowledge is crucial if we want to engage with Muslims in a mutually beneficial way.” e Timothy Marr researched the Moro problem this past summer with assistance from a Spray-Randleigh Fellowship. He has presented his research on the subject at American studies conferences in Ottawa, Canada; Auckland, New Zealand; and Hartford, Connecticut. He plans to continue his investigation this spring with a trip to the Army War College archives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and hopes to travel to the Philippines as soon as the southern islands are removed from the U.S. State Department’s restricted-travel list. His book, The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism, is due in July 2006 from Cambridge University Press. endeavors 9


The next one could be

worse. Hurricane Floyd killed 52 people and wrecked 17,000 homes here. But what if a monster like Katrina came to call? by Angela Spivey This image from Landsat 7 shows the sediment washed into the ocean from hurricane Floyd’s rains. NASA scientists found evidence of significant impacts on the marine food chain along the North Carolina coast from sediment and waste in the water system. Image courtesy of Scientific Visualization Studio, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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P

eople awakened in the night, five-foot-high water soaking their bed covers. Dogs and chickens perched on rooftops. Bridges washed out, 1,400 roads impassable. This isn’t Katrina. It’s a little closer to home—eastern North Carolina, back in 1999, after Hurricane Floyd. Fifty-two North Carolinians lost their lives during Floyd, compared to the more than 1,300 Gulf Coast residents who perished during Katrina. Though North Carolina’s flood was on a smaller scale, the disaster cost, and it taught. Can any of the lessons learned from Floyd help us sort through the debris of Katrina? And did Floyd or Katrina help make North Carolina more prepared for its next big storm? We asked these questions of several Carolina scientists. Here’s what they told us. Just sitting out there Does North Carolina have vulnerabilities on the scale of the weaknesses in the New Orleans levee system? Yes and no. “It’s basic that coastal North Carolina has a really high probability of being struck by a hurricane,” says Rick Luettich, professor of marine sciences. “We are close to the Gulf Stream, and the Outer Banks stick out from the coast. If you look back over the one hundred twenty-five years that we’ve kept track of where hurricanes strike, if you take all the hurricanes that have impacted the United States’ East and Gulf Coasts, the highest number of hurricanes have visited North Carolina.” It’s easy to imagine that any highintensity storm that hits North Carolina might devastate one of your favorite beaches. A draft hazard mitigation plan for Holden Beach, for example, projects that a Category Four or Five hurricane could completely inundate the island and result in catastrophic

losses (defined as multiple deaths, complete shutdown of facilities for thirty days or more, and more than 50 percent of property severely damaged). But New Orleans was a special case—a lot of people living in a lowlying area made to feel secure by a levee system, says David Moreau, professor of city and regional planning and director of North Carolina’s Water Resources Research Institute. “In North Carolina, you’re not going to have a whole city flooded out as was the case in New Orleans. You would not have the sort of massive damage

Until you move those properties out of that floodplain, you’re going to get flood damage.” Time for some definitions. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines the 100-year floodplain as the area near a river, stream, or waterway that would be covered by water in the event of a 100-year flood. A 100-year flood level is one that, each year, has a 1 percent chance of being equaled or exceeded. A 500-year flood has, each year, only a 0.2 percent chance of occurring. When Floyd hit, the resulting flooding was estimated to be a 500-year Dave Gatley/FEMA News Photo

This family in Pactolus, just north of Greenville, N.C., could only reach their flooded home by boat after Hurricane Floyd.

that occurred in New Orleans because when those levees broke, they lost nearly 200,000 houses.” But Moreau agrees with Luettich that North Carolina’s whole coastline is vulnerable. “The Outer Banks are just sitting there,” Moreau says. “There’s nothing there to protect them from a Category Five storm.

event, Moreau says. Since Floyd, the State Emergency Management Commission, in collaboration with FEMA, has been redrawing the flood maps, incorporating data from Floyd as well as 1996’s Hurricane Fran. Officials estimate that with the revised data, Floyd was probably more like a 150or 200-year flood event. endeavors 11


In 2000, Peter Elkan, a master’s student in the School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, examined the predictions of 100-year flood elevations before and after Hurricane Fran in 1996 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Simply adding those two observations to the historical record that is used to estimate flood probabilities had a significant effect, Moreau says. Elkan found that the data increased 100-year flood levels in the Tar River by 1.8 feet at Louisburg, 5.9 feet at Rocky Mount, and 1 foot at Tarboro. The increase in the Neuse River was 1.4 feet at Goldsboro and 2 feet at Kinston. “These vertical shifts have pronounced effects on the horizon extent of floodplains,” Moreau says. “For example, if the ground slope is one percent away from the river, every foot of increase in elevation would expand the one-hundred-year floodplain by one hundred feet.” In other words, more area is susceptible to flooding. But flood mapping isn’t precise. “How much flow actually takes place at a fivehundred-year event is a large uncertainty,” says Larry Band, professor of geography. “The oldest river-flow information from North Carolina goes back only to 1895, and only on a couple of rivers. So in trying to estimate the five-hundred-year event, or even the two-hundred-year event, we are extrapolating way beyond what we have data for. Since our best mapping will be only an estimate, we have to be prepared.” Philip Berke, professor of city and regional planning and faculty fellow at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies, says that preparing for hurricanes means increasing

the local commitment to disaster planning. Speaking at a forum on Hurricane Katrina sponsored by UNC-Chapel Hill’s General Alumni Association, he says, “We need to provide stronger incentives for disaster planning. Communities have few incentives to spend on looking ahead and avoiding harm.” He points out that budget cuts have reduced the portion of federal spending used on mitigation (reducing hazards before natural disaster strikes) from 15 percent to only 7.5 percent of total disaster-assistance spending. Berke also points out that the federal government has a long history of subsidizing development in flood hazard areas through flood insurance, tax write-offs for uninsured losses, beach renourishment programs, and paying for most of the rebuilding of public infrastructure after a disaster. Berke says that this type of risk-sharing creates an attitude of, “We get these disasters, we pay for them with the help of the federal government, so why worry?” Much of the United States’ flood-control policy has focused on building structures such as floodwalls, dams, and levees, Berke says. “These structural approaches create a false sense of security,” he says. “They make us think, ‘I can build here now; it’s safe.’” Band points out that in eastern North Carolina, which is extremely flat, even minor structures such as bridges and road crossings can act as “unintentional levees or dams.” “These features can reroute water and cause extensive inundation of the land,” Band says. Better mapping of these seemingly minor man-made features would help the state plan for flood control, he says.

Living in harm’s way An obvious solution: moving people out of the floodplain. After Floyd, the State of North Carolina did well at providing incentives for people to move out of the most flooded areas, says Jim Fraser, associate research professor in the Department of Geography and a senior research associate at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies. FEMA’s buyout program offers residents money for their floodplain property and then bans any future development there. But FEMA requires that either residents or local governments provide 25 percent of each property’s cost in matching funds. After Floyd, the state knew that most of those flooded couldn’t afford the match and that local governments couldn’t either. So the state provided the full matching amount. “North Carolina is the only state that’s done that,” Fraser says. “It’s probably the most progressive mitigation state in the country.” But common sense tells you that North Carolina’s floodplains will never be completely free of development. Just take a look at the multimillion dollar homes for sale on the coast, most protected by federally subsidized flood insurance. Then there are the low-lying areas down east that have been settled for centuries—many of them by groups who could afford the land because nobody else wanted it. Princeville, North Carolina, for example, a tiny town of only about 2,100 residents, is the country’s first town incorporated by former slaves. “People don’t like to talk about it, but for a long time in the South, black folks needed cheap land, and that was

Floyd in North Carolina • 52 deaths • 17,000 homes left uninhabitable • 7,000 homes destroyed • 31,000 jobs eliminated because of wind and flood damage (Source: N.C. State Hazard Mitigation Draft Plan) SeaWiFS (NASA)

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in and near the swamps,” says John Cooper, a 2004 graduate of Carolina’s doctoral program in city and regional planning. Princeville, for example, flooded at least seven times before Hurricane Floyd. In the 1960s, the town and the Army Corps of Engineers built a levee, which did a good job of protecting against a flood. Until Floyd. To accommodate a railroad, the Princeville levee included a cutout, which was supposedly on the high end of town. But during the heavy rains after the hurricane, the Tar River breached the cutout, flooding the entire town. No one died, but residents lost homes and pets, and many of the public buildings, including the town hall, were wrecked. And, just as in New Orleans, after the rain stopped, the levee kept the water from flowing back to the river; the town had to pump it out. After the flood, the Princeville Board of Commissioners voted against accepting a FEMA buyout, electing instead to take federal assistance offered for rebuilding. Many of the residents, most of them elderly, had inherited their land and homes. “They were place bound,” Cooper says. “Their families had been there for over one hundred years. Their ancestors were buried there.” The Princeville flood made national news because of the town’s significance for African American history, and celebrities such as comedian Tim Reid and musician Prince held benefits or donated money toward its redevelopment. In 1999, Cooper, who was working for North Carolina’s emergency management agency, served as a liaison to then-President Clinton’s Council on the Future of Princeville. Some of the redevelopment plans have become reality. Princeville’s population is back up to what it was before the flood. Princeville boasts a new school and a new town hall. Residents have moved into new homes and out of the trailers dubbed “FEMAville.” The levee now includes a structure that can be placed over the railroad cutout if the river rises again. But the levee couldn’t be elevated because of the liability it would create for nearby Tarboro, Cooper says. And the old town hall is still gutted. It hasn’t yet been turned into an African American history museum, though construction is slated to begin soon. “The redevelopment plan was ambitious,” Cooper says. “But once the consulting firm left there was no one left with the technical

Dave Gatley/FEMA News Photo

In Princeville, North Carolina, Floyd’s waters picked up this house and left it sitting on top of a truck. Dave Gatley/FEMA News Photo

Floyd’s rising waters killed more than 23,000 turkeys on this poultry farm in Wallace, North Carolina. The owner, Alan Reynor, also lost 2,500 hogs and his corn crop. Damages were estimated at $85,000, plus cleanup costs. In Duplin County, nearly 750,000 turkeys and 100,000 hogs were lost to flooding.

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and management capacity to implement it. So if there has not been the level of recovery that one might expect, I suspect that’s part of the problem.” The position of mayor of Princeville, for example, is a part-time one. When the Princeville redevelopment effort first began, a city manager from Jacksonville was hired temporarily to lead the effort. “So the lesson learned for me is we need to build the capacity of the folks who are left behind to do the work,” Cooper says. About fifty miles south of Princeville, in Kinston, where more than 450 residents had been evacuated during Floyd, city officials decided to take the FEMA buyout for all those living in the 100-year floodplain. Kinston used some creative solutions such as turning a former high school into apartments for the elderly, creating a pilot program that used prison laborers to build homes on vacant lots, and offering tax credits to a developer to add forty-four new apartments to an existing complex. The city also made plans to turn much of the land abandoned in the buyout into a park with open space, a nature trail, and picnic areas. In the end, more than seven hundred people participated in the buyout. But the effort wasn’t perfect. Affordable housing is still scarce in Kinston, and the historically black community called “Lincoln City” is gone forever, except for one church and the residents’ memories. And some residents had mixed feelings about the buyout. After Floyd, Fraser and colleagues conducted in-person and telephone interviews with officials and residents in Greenville and Kinston. Seventy percent of the over two hundred residents interviewed

said that they felt they had no choice but to sell because the alternatives offered to them weren’t practical or affordable. These mostly low-income residents said they were worried about flooding, but that they worried just as much about not finding affordable housing nearby, losing the support system of their neighbors, moving into a neighborhood where they were unwanted, or having to move too far away from work. Fraser says his study suggests that future buyout efforts should focus more on residents’ concerns and on gaining their trust. “In many cases, impoverished neighborhoods’ relationships with local governments are already strained,” Fraser says. “It’s not fair to expect these residents to trust the local government to be their advocate. We need to have others involved—people deeply embedded in the community whom the residents can trust.” Members of community-development corporations or other local nonprofits can be effective mediators between local government officials and the residents, Fraser says, but they must thoroughly understand the details of the buyout program so residents don’t get any surprises. Making sure all residents get the message about disasters and their aftermath is at the heart of a partnership between FEMA, Carolina’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies, and nonprofit organization MDC, Inc. Cooper, now an associate at MDC, manages this demonstration project, which will focus on how to increase disaster preparedness among disadvantaged populations such as the elderly or those with low incomes. The project will include surveys and community

forums with residents in or around Hertford County, North Carolina. “When the state emergency management agency puts the order out for folks to evacuate, why don’t people act on that message?” Cooper asks. “Is it the messenger; is it the content; is it the medium? Do we need to find another way to get the message out? “In New Orleans, the problem was not only lack of preparation on the part of the government but also on the part of the citizens,” Cooper says. “That’s what we’re working on in this project—to find out how you get everyday citizens to be more aware of the potential harm from disasters.”

The rivers recovered—this time While the losses of lives and houses were most obvious, the hurricanes of 1999— Floyd, Dennis, and Irene—changed North Carolina’s waters, too. Hans Paerl, professor of marine and environmental sciences, and colleagues have monitored waterways such as the Pamlico Sound and published several studies showing ecological changes that resulted from the hurricanes. The massive influx of freshwater from Floyd and Dennis resulted in an increase in low-oxygen water in the sound and many of its tributaries, which led to more disease and fish kills, particularly among shellfish and to a lesser extent among fin fish, Paerl says. And the nutrients in the floodwaters triggered algal blooms, which aren’t seen in the sound in years without hurricanes. “Those effects were most obvious over the first several months after the huge amount of freshwater poured into Pamlico Sound,” Paerl says. The longer-lasting effects of 1999’s hurBrian Blanton

predicting the surge Rick Luettich and Brian Blanton’s ADCIRC model can predict storm surge before, during, and after hurricanes. This image shows the maximum expected water levels along the central Gulf of Mexico coast, from the western Florida Panhandle to the mid-Louisiana coast, over the five days before Katrina hit land. The colors show the estimated height of water (in meters above sea level), with red showing the highest water level, to dark blue at the lowest.

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ricanes—Floyd, Dennis, and Irene— include a change in the composition and amount of algae on the Pamlico and its tributaries. Even that corrected itself after a year or more, Paerl says, but in the meantime fisheries declined. “The change in algae might affect some of the organisms that depend on algae for a food source,” he says. “Some of the fisheries have been off for several years since Floyd, particularly crab fisheries. The sound has more or less come back to normal, but it took several years for it to do so.” North Carolina’s fish are well adapted to the large storms that we frequently get. But the right combination of events could deal our fisheries a blow. The compounding effects of fishing pressure, human nutrient enrichment, and an increase in hurricane frequency and possibly intensity can create a “multiple stressor situation,” Paerl says. The hurricane-heavy year of 1999 didn’t diminish fisheries permanently. “But looking at the future, if we were to have a large hurricane every year or two years—that could have a cascading effect,” Paerl says. “There’s every reason to be on guard and monitor these systems very carefully, beyond just what happened with Floyd, Dennis, and Irene.” Paerl and his colleagues do that with two projects that have been emulated by other states: FerryMon and ModMon, in which water-quality monitoring systems are installed on profiling platforms and on the fleet of N.C. Department of Transportation ferries that already travel some of the state’s biggest waterways—the Pamlico Sound and the Neuse Estuary. These projects monitor the impact not only of hurricanes but also of urban, agricultural, and industrial pollution. “It’s important to have a good monitoring program to tease apart the human effects from the climatic effects,” Paerl says. “We can’t manage hurricanes, but we can manage the nutrient load they transport into our coastal and estuarine waters.” So when we do have frequent and large hurricanes, based on monitoring we can more carefully control when we apply fertilizer or when we discharge nutrients into our streams. “It can’t be business as usual if we’ve got thirty years of elevated hurricane activity to worry about,” Paerl says.

Dave Gatley/FEMA News Photo

Despite congregation members’ efforts to build barriers, the Neuse River overran the Tabernacle Free Will Baptist Church outside Kinston, N.C.

Dave Gatley/FEMA News Photo

Trucks bring manufactured housing to a temporary relocation site in Kinston. The six-acre site was slated to house sixty-seven families.

Turbocharged weather forecasting To get out of a storm’s way, you have to know it’s coming. With both Katrina endeavors 15


and Floyd, the initial hit of the storm was expected, but it was the hurricane-spawned tornadoes and floodwaters from the resulting rain that caught some people unaware. In New Orleans, that problem was not caused by a breakdown in weather forecasting, but in communications technology, says Daniel Reed, vice chancellor for information technology at Carolina. “After Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, the Doppler radar systems that capture weather data never failed. But the communication network that would get the data from the radar to forecast centers did fail,” he says. Reed collaborates with scientists nationwide to use the computing resources of Carolina’s Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), which Reed directs, to help improve weather forecasting, modeling, and disaster preparation. After Katrina, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asked marine scientists Rick Luettich and Brian Blanton to use their computer model of water levels and water flow to predict where the toxic floodwaters of New Orleans would go. The waters included paint thinner from flooded garages, gasoline, and other toxic chemicals. “Much of that stuff wound up in Lake Pontchartrain,” Blanton says. “They wanted to know, where in the ocean is it headed?” For their model to be useful to NOAA, Luettich and Blanton needed it to run fast. But they had been running it on a computer system with only sixty-four processors. Reed used his contacts to get some time on a system with over one thousand processors at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. That meant that Luettich and Blanton could run a simulation of sixty days

of floodwater behavior overnight—in about fifteen hours. On their old system it would have taken about ten days to do these runs, Blanton says. Luettich and Blanton’s model, ADCIRC, uses a grid of tiny imaginary triangles that cover a large part of the western North Atlantic Ocean. Computer code takes current information about winds, coastline, and ocean depths at each of the points of those triangles and uses it to calculate what the water levels will be and where the currents will take that water. The finer the grid they use, the more accurate their model. “If you have a grid where the separation between the lines on the earth is ten miles, then you’re saying that anything in that ten-mile region is going to be exactly the same,” Reed explains. “You know that’s not true. So the finer your grid gets, the more the forecast improves.” Luettich and Blanton put a package together for NOAA so the agency can do trial runs of the ADCIRC model on its own computers. “They’ll evaluate it, and then if they think it’s a productive product, they will start running it on a consistent basis themselves. Our job is to demonstrate the capability and help enable the transition of the product to the groups at NOAA,” Luettich says. The U.S. Coast Guard has also begun using ADCIRC to predict current patterns for search-and-rescue operations. “If they know where a missing boat started and know what the current patterns were like in the area, they can simulate where the boat might have drifted,” Luettich says. Luettich’s ten years of work on the ADCIRC model are beginning to pay off; the model produces results accurate enough Bob McMillan/FEMA News Photo

communication breakdown Katrina knocked out New Orleans’ entire communications infrastructure. Here, Royce Munker of Norfolk, Virginia, waits for a Blackhawk helicopter to lower a load of batteries onto the roof of the fifty-two story Place St. Charles office building. The batteries would power repeaters, which amplify and relay radio signals. Even so, many rescue groups found it difficult to coordinate their efforts when the various communications devices they brought didn’t interoperate.

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that it can be used in forecasting. But to do timely forecasts, they need fast computers. Reed and colleagues are installing a new computing system at Carolina that will be fast enough for Luettich and Blanton to run their models at home. The system should be up and running by January 2006. “It’s the most powerful computing system that the state of North Carolina has ever had. It will make some of these complex models possible to run at a rate so that we can actually do planning, not just nationally, but also for North Carolina weather,” Reed says. Computing power can also speed up relief efforts after a storm. Reed points out that another problem in New Orleans after Katrina was the failure of the city’s entire communications infrastructure. Reed is in the planning stages of a statewide collaboration to build and deploy a mobile communications system to use in such a disaster. “Conceptually the problem is this: open a map, point at a spot, and you have twentyfour hours to make that one of the most networked, connected places on the planet. How are you going to do it?” he asks. After both 9/11 and Katrina, Reed says, several relief organizations arrived on the scene with communications devices, but none of the devices were compatible with each other. “They don’t interoperate,” Reed says. “So the police can’t talk to the firefighters, neither can talk to military, they can’t talk to civil defense. Although people were delighted that the Eighty-second Airborne went into New Orleans to restore order, the truth of the matter is that many of the radios that those folks used are Vietnam-era radios. And they don’t interoperate with anything that’s in use now. “We’re looking at the whole technical process of being able to build mobile communications that a single individual could carry in and deploy,” Reed says. The system might be solar- and battery-powered and use wireless internet connections, satellite phones, and multispectrum radios. “You can imagine a single individual either driving in or walking up with a backpack, being able to set up around an area and create a robust communication capability where there was none before.” Technology such as cell phones and wireless internet connections has in the last five years become inexpensive enough and small enough to make Reed’s vision a reality. “You could have built that technology ten years ago,” he says, “but you


would have needed a semitrailer truck to drive it around.” Reed also plans to take advantage of the fastest processors around to do “integrated disaster response planning.” That means creating models that take into account weather, communications, transportation routes, and even human behavior to help plan evacuations, for example. “You analyze reversing lanes of highways, how much lead time is needed for evacuation, and what the timelines are for movements from different places,” he says. “We’re trying to put better tools in the hands of those folks at the state level that plan for these things,” Reed says. “Disaster response is a science problem; it’s a public policy problem; it’s a communications and transportation problem. No one group has all of the skills and knowledge to solve the entire problem. So bringing people together from different disciplines and looking at integration technology is what the Renaissance Computing Institute is trying to do.” Luettich also hopes that more collaborations among geographers, marine scientists, and hydrologists will happen because of the spotlight that Katrina has put on hurricane preparedness. Most of the Carolina researchers say that we���re more prepared for hurricanes and flooding than we were when Floyd hit. Eleven communities in North Carolina are developing hazard mitigation plans to serve as models for others in the state under a state grant program. The floodplain remapping will help too, Band says. New floodplain maps have been released for many of the areas around the Neuse and Tar Rivers, and maps for more areas should be released soon (for details, see www.ncfloodmaps.com). But no matter what you draw on the map, at some point there will be a flood that we’re not prepared for, Moreau says. “In the case of Hurricane Floyd, it was estimated to be a five-hundred-year flood, based on data at the time. So if you’re trying to protect against a one-hundred-year flood, and you get a fivehundred-year-flood, it’s too bad,” he says. “There’s just so much protection that you can put out there,” Moreau says. “Nature’s going to have its way. So get out of its path.” e Fraser’s report was funded by FEMA and the National Science Foundation. Brian Blanton is research assistant professor of physical oceanography.

Life in stormy North Carolina North Carolina Weather & Climate. By Peter Robinson. The University of North Carolina Press, 227 pages, $39.95 cloth, $24.95 paper.

F

rom heat waves to ice storms, Indian summers to hurricanes— nature deals wild cards when it comes to weather in North Carolina. “I think we get a little bit of everything,” says Peter Robinson, Carolina professor of geography and former state climatologist. In his new book, North Carolina Weather & Climate, Robinson writes about the history of North Carolina weather, the science behind it, and what we can expect in the future. Robinson retraces the development and effects of major weather events in North Carolina, including the “storm of the century” in 1993. Pressure changes morphed a normal frontal system near the Gulf of Mexico into a major storm that dumped heavy snow, blew in one-hundred-mile-per-hour winds in the mountains, and churned ocean waters against the coast. The damage from the storm’s wrath left 300,000 homes across the state without power. This year we’ve seen hurricanes with strength as devastating. Robinson says it hasn’t always been this way. After analyzing a century of North Carolina hurricane data, Robinson says some decades have seen few hurricanes, with sometimes no hurricanes in a given year. “If you look at the record, hurricanes come in clumps of years, and we’re in one of those clumps,” Robinson says. The factors behind the creation of a new hurricane still remain something of a mystery to scientists, Robinson writes. Each time one of these wind-and-water-whirling monsters rolls in, scientists gain another opportunity to study how they work. Robinson writes that until we understand these complex, fickle weather systems with greater accuracy, we must rely on general indicators such as sea surface temperature for a prediction. Robinson explains how day-to-day weather forecasts work, the science behind Doppler radar, and satellites that can sense weather patterns. “The first thing you always have to do is look outside because sometimes things will go wrong with the official forecast,” Robinson says. “If you start making observations, you soon notice that you are often a little bit warmer or colder than the official forecast.” With these observations and a little bit of knowledge about how weather works, Robinson says, you start adjusting the forecast to where you live. —Lynn Thomasson endeavors 17


Honey, I shrunk the lab. Mike Ramsey has been doing some plumbing, but you’ll need a magnifying glass to see the pipes. And someday, you may carry one of his little laboratories around in your pocket. by Jan McColm

Steve Exum

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Mike Ramsey has a dream:

one day you’ll be able to walk into a pharmacy and pick up a microchip for the blood test you need. You’ll take the chip home, insert it into an analyzer, and place your finger on it to extract a tiny sample of blood. Instant results. How close is he to his dream? Ramsey is a chemist and a pioneer in the field of microfluidics. In the mid-80s, Ramsey started thinking about how he could use tiny fluidic circuits—microplumbing, if you will—to shrink lab tests. Ramsey’s idea was to take a chip about the size of the one that runs your computer and etch on it a series of interconnected channels. These channels would bring chemicals together and, under the control of a computer, mix them in a reactor—a reactor one million times smaller than a teardrop. But getting the work funded wasn’t easy, and in the early days there were skeptics. Jim Jorgenson, also a professor of chemistry at Carolina and a graduate school classmate of Ramsey’s, says, “It’s not uncommon, particularly with really good ideas, to have trouble getting funded. The routine, mundane things are very easy to propose and very easy to get supporting data for, but really good ideas are hard to support because they actually are novel.” Jorgenson, it turns out, was part of the inspiration for Ramsey early on. Jorgenson perfected reducing the size of DNA separation techniques. And the advantages of that—quicker, faster, cheaper—were not lost on Ramsey. “I knew we’d get automation at a scale that’s too small to be manipulated manually, typically six orders of magnitude below conventional technology,” he says. “That leads to a saving in reagents and a speed advantage.” As devices get smaller the distances that molecules have to travel get shorter. “We’d be able to do a chemical separation a lot faster,” he says. But Ramsey’s graduate training and early career were in spectroscopy, a technique he was using to identify single molecules. So his switch to microfluidics was a pretty hard sell to funding agencies, “because I basically had no expertise in this area,” he says. He looked at many different sponsors and their needs, adapting his ideas to fit the particular funding agencies. Early sponsors were interested in doing chemistry in very small packages out in the field. Among other

things, they wanted to monitor the potential production of weapons of mass destruction. As in the U.N.? “Actually,” Ramsey says with a smile, “the applications were situations of cooperative and ‘noncooperative’ monitoring, to put it politely.” With work ongoing for the Department of Defense and other government agencies, Ramsey’s vision broadened and he got to thinking about biotechnology. “Biotechnology problems are, in general, easier than searching for a small molecule out in the environment,” Ramsey says. There are typically higher concentrations of the substances you are testing or looking for and the ways to measure them tend to be less difficult. Ramsey decided to work on restriction fragment analysis, more commonly referred to as DNA fingerprinting. “That’s when you take a chunk of DNA, chop it up into little pieces, and separate the pieces based on their size,” Ramsey says. As we all have slightly different DNA, the resulting fragments are unique for every individual: a DNA “fingerprint.” Since it was developed twenty years ago, DNA fingerprinting has been routinely used to match crime-scene DNA with a suspect

Screening potential molecules to determine which ones might eventually become drugs means carrying out lots of repetitive tests. By shrinking those tests down onto microfluidic chips, Ramsey has allowed machines to take over and screen more drugs at once. “The chips are manufactured by photolithography, which is a technique that allows you to make many of the same thing side by side with very small incremental costs and with very good reproducibility,” Ramsey says. And with machines capable of running twelve simultaneous channels of samples, this parallelism increases the number of tests. “In the best-case scenario a company can run about fifty thousand samples in an eight-hour day,” Ramsey says. These improvements in volume and speed potentially allow drug companies to test millions of possible new drugs against every protein that is known and then to refine them based on the results. “If you want to inhibit one particular protein, then you look at your results and see which drugs work best, and that tells us how to design a better drug,” Ramsey says. In 1994, to push microfluidic technology

Ramsey’s first product with Caliper was a bioanalyzer that resembled “a Nintendo for scientists.” and to establish paternity. But the technique is time-consuming and expensive. So Ramsey went back to his chips. “We mixed the reagents and DNA fragments together in a tiny reactor. Then, using a computer, we automatically injected those fragments into a separation device,” Ramsey says. They managed a DNA fingerprint in five minutes and published their results in the journal Analytical Chemistry in 1996. It’s an article that other scientists have cited more than two hundred times. With this success, Ramsey turned his attention to biotechnology applications. He reasoned that, with vast libraries of potential drugs to screen, the pharmaceutical industry would be a natural user of microfluidics technology.

into the marketplace, Ramsey cofounded Caliper Technologies, which formed a joint development agreement with Agilent Technologies. Their first product, a toastersized bioanalyzer, appeared in 1999. “It’s a Nintendo for scientists,” Ramsey says, as the different chips for proteins, DNA, and cell-based assays all fit into the same bioanalyzer. In 1996, this “lab-on-a-chip” technology won Discover magazine’s Technology Award, a NOVA Award from Lockheed Martin Corporation, and an R&D 100 Award. But Ramsey had come to a realization. He knew that Caliper and Agilent could invest more time and money in the technology than his research lab could, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to compete with endeavors 19


them on the same technology-development programs. “We needed to think farther out,” Ramsey says. So they shrank the size even more by moving into the realm of nanofluidics. Instead of one-millionth of a drop, think one-millionth of one-millionth of a drop. At this scale, it’s possible to make a hole that’s smaller than a single strand of DNA. “The DNA has to contort to get through the hole,” Ramsey says, and this has opened up the possibility of a new method of sequencing DNA strands. Since scientists finished sequencing the human genome in 2001, there have been all sorts of predictions about the future of medicine. But in reality, it still costs about ten million dollars and takes several weeks to sequence a genome. So if you and I are ever going to benefit from personalized medicine, DNA sequencing is going to have to be cheaper and faster. That’s one area in which nanofluidics may be able to help.

DNA is a relatively simple structure, made up of four different molecules—called bases—that connect to each other to form a long chain. The order of these four bases determines our genes—much as the order of letters determines this sentence. Ultimately, genes make proteins that account for everything from our eye color to whether we have a disease such as cystic fibrosis. Sequencing DNA involves learning the order in which those four bases appear along the length of a gene. A nanofluidic sequencer would force single DNA strands through an electrically charged nanopore. As DNA moved through the pore, it would interrupt the electrical current and cause the current to fluctuate. Ramsey’s hope is that each base will produce a unique and measurable current change, allowing the base to be identified. That’s the theory. “But, it’s still conjecture whether that can actually be done,” Ramsey says. “If it can, then we’re talking about kilohertz DNA sequencing rates.” To put that into context, nanofluidics technology would allow the sequencing of

a complete human genome in fifty minutes. “The goal,” Ramsey says, with his tongue firmly in cheek, “is to have screening portals at the airport. We blow some air over a person, collect a few skin cells, and sequence their genome as they walk through.” Whether or not that particular goal is ever achieved, Ramsey says, “it’s pretty clear that the next generation of sequencing machines will be microfluidics-based.” So how close is Ramsey to his dream? Microfluidics technology is now routinely used both in research and drug discovery. And nanofluidics? “Who knows?” Ramsey says. “Maybe in ten years?” e J. Michael Ramsey is the Minnie N. Goldby Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. He was one of several Carolina faculty members to establish the Carolina Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, funded by a National Cancer Institute grant. The Office of Technology Development is the only UNC-Chapel Hill office authorized to execute license agreements with companies. For more information, contact OTD at (919) 9663929 or visit research.unc.edu/otd/.

A microfluidics chip from Caliper, Inc.

Better, Faster, Smaller W

e’ve all been there. Your yea rly physica l a nd t he doctor suggests a cholesterol test. So a technician fills a tube with your blood. But then you have to wait at least a week for the results. Debashis Dutta, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of chemistry, is trying to turn that week into a few hours. He’s been working to miniaturize a lab test called high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). If he’s successful, many types of blood tests will be done faster, will cost less, and will require only a drop of blood. HPLC is a technique that chemists have been using for the past forty years to separate the components of a liquid. Its uses include drug testing and checking vitamin levels. 20 endeavors

In the old method, a chemist used pressure to force your blood sample through a tube packed with a mesh. The mesh is coated with a chemical or antibody to the drug or protein of interest. When the blood sample runs through the mesh, the drug or protein sticks. Then, using a chemical solution, the chemist can collect and quantify the drug or protein. This whole process is timeconsuming, needs a large sample, and can only be performed by a skilled chemist. Dutta’s miniature version of HPLC takes place on a chip, one by two inches, with wells the size of the period at the end of this sentence, joined by channels thinner than your hair. A drop of your blood is placed in the well and pressure forces it along a channel. Now, it’s the channel walls that are coated with antibody and the drug or

protein sticks to the side of the channel. Dutta can then collect and measure the drug by chemically washing it out of the channel. This process is very quick, and because it’s performed by a computer, errors are much less likely. And it’s cheap, because hardly any chemicals are required. Dutta’s HPLC —and other lab tests being miniaturized by his colleagues—are still in the development stages. “But we’ve done the proof-of-principle experiments,” Dutta says, “and shown that it can be done.” So in the next five years, if Dutta and his colleagues have their way, when we head to the doctor’s office, we may only need to give a tiny drop of blood and we’ll have our results back within the day. —Jan McColm


the lives behind the

dots

Richard Weisler’s questions about the causes of his mother’s death led him to an asphalt plant and a petroleum tank farm. Before he was finished, the dots on his map told a story that few people wanted to know. by Angela Spivey Paul Dagys

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Richard Weisler flips through the map he made of his hometown. About three feet wide, the map shows the streets of Salisbury, North Carolina. Handwritten addresses and names mark certain houses. Weisler lifts up one of the transparent sheets clipped to the top and points to a Little League baseball park, right next door to a now-abandoned petroleum tank farm where environmental remediation workers vented gasoline into the air. “The ball field just recently closed,” Weisler says. “Do you think, if they had known about the contamination, the town would have built it there in the first place? “This map is getting old,” he says. “Some of these dots are falling off.” He bends to pick one up. “This dot,” he says, “this was somebody’s life.” The adhesive dots mark the homes of each person who got sick. A pink dot means a pneumonia death. Red is brain cancer. Black, suicide. Those dots cluster around the Milford Hills and Meadowbrook neighborhoods, which sit immediately downwind from the old petroleum tank farm, a liquid-asphalt terminal, and an asphalt plant that once included a N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) site for testing asphalt quality. To an untrained eye, the dots on Weisler’s map seem to form a pattern. It makes common sense. And that is Weisler’s point. It seems that, in these neighborhoods, there were too many rare brain cancers, too many suicides to be a coincidence. Weisler doesn’t know what caused those people to get sick. But he wants those who study such things to find out whether the culprits were chemicals now known to have been lingering in those neighborhoods, both beneath the ground and in the air. Weisler is thin, with a shock of curly, salt-and-pepper hair. Talk to him and you wonder where he gets his energy. He pulls out document after document—letters he has written, reports he’s tracked down. He reels off the names and ages of children in these Salisbury neighborhoods diagnosed with rare brain cancers. He can talk about these cases for hours. Where did the chemicals come from? 22 endeavors

At the asphalt plant, the DOT testing required solvents, chemicals such as trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene. The DOT disposed of the chemicals by dumping them on the ground until 1980, when the practice was federally banned. The Salisbury Post broke the story of the DOT site in 2000, after Weisler looked at the DOT’s own studies showing contamination at the site and notified county and state health officials. Weisler has also brought attention to what happened at the tank farm near the ball field, using public reports from the N.C. Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources (N.C. DEHNR). The tank-farm company discovered in 1991 that gasoline as well as toluene and other chemicals were contaminating the ground. The contamination was cleaned up using a method called “soil vapor extraction and bioventing.” That means, basically, pumping the gasoline from the ground into the air and letting it vaporize. Weisler’s concern is that the method helped clean up the ground but soiled the air. “According to a 2001 air-modeling report from N.C. DEHNR, benzene was a mere 123,333 percent above the accepted ambient level at the site of the former petroleum tank farm,” Weisler says. Benzene is a known carcinogen. The permissible exposure limit for benzene in the air, set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect workers, is only ten parts per million for an average of eight hours. Weisler, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Carolina, never expected to be reading soil and air reports and counting cancer cases. He’s not an epidemiologist by profession, though he studied the field briefly during a summer public health fellowship at the UNC School of Public Health when he was in medical school at Carolina. What made him start putting dots on that map? Back in 2000, his mother, Rita Weisler, was dying of lung cancer. As he was going through her papers he found a report about the air quality in her Salisbury neighborhood. A state agency had done the assessment in response to his mother’s and other neighbors’ complaints about the odors from the nearby asphalt facilities. The report said that the air was as safe as typical urban air. But it also noted that at two places at the asphalt plant, levels of chemicals such as benzene and toluene were so high they were “off the chart,” Weisler says. That got Weisler thinking, especially


Paul Dagys

Richard Weisler and the map he fashioned to pinpoint illnesses and death. He and his team counted cancer deaths then began looking at suicide rates, because a chemical emitted from asphalt plants, hydrogen sulfide, is suspected to affect mood and responses to stress.

when he and his mother talked about all of her neighbors who had gotten cancer. “I took this walk with my mother, and she lived right here,” he says, pointing to his map. “So we turned a corner, and she said, you know, ‘I can’t understand why everybody in my neighborhood is getting sick. This person over here just got brain cancer, and this man was thirty-six when he developed brain cancer. This person is dying of lung cancer, and so did that neighbor.’ This particular house up here,” he says, “it turned out that a husband died of acute myelogenous leukemia. The wife died of leukemia. And the sister of the wife, who frequently lived with them, also died of leukemia.” After finding out about the chemicals in his mother’s neighborhood, Weisler started tracking cancer deaths in the area.

He wasn’t any stranger to digging up data; in his day job, he conducts clinical trials of drugs and other procedures used to treat or diagnose mood disorders and other psychiatric illnesses. He started writing letters, making phone calls, and reviewing death certificates.

Chemicals linked to suicide? Weisler’s effort to draw attention to Salisbury included a preliminary study that he and colleagues presented to the U.S. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress in November 2004. The team started counting the cancer deaths in a certain time period, using death certificates. Then they began looking at suicide rates as well. One of the chemicals known to emit from asphalt plants, hydrogen sulfide, is suspected to affect mood

and responses to stress. In animal studies, it has been shown to alter levels of brain chemicals involved in mood regulation such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, aspartate, and glutamate. Hydrogen sulfide is what often gives asphalt-plant emissions their characteristic rotten-egg odor. And people in the nearby neighborhoods had often complained about that very odor. “That’s also one of the reasons we stuck with our study of Salisbury—from 1999 to 2004, there were over five hundred formal complaints to the city about foul-smelling air and associated respiratory problems in these neighborhoods,” Weisler says. The team counted suicides and cancer cases in two U.S. census tract block groups in Salisbury that are downwind from the endeavors 23


asphalt plant. A total of 1,561 people called these neighborhoods home. Between 1994 and 2003, death certificate evaluations showed a three-fold statistically significant increase in the suicide rate. Four deaths by suicide in adults were reported among the 687 residents in the census tract block group one. Two adult deaths by suicide were reported among the 874 residents of census tract block group two. That adds up to six suicides, when only two deaths by suicide would be expected for this population over a ten-year period. “For example, here in the block-groupone neighborhood, in the mid-nineties, we found one death by suicide for about every two hundred thirty people during the worst twelve-month period, versus an average of one death by suicide for every 8,621 people in the rest of North Carolina,” Weisler says.

After Salisbury, Weisler tracked suicide rates near a paper mill in Haywood County.

In counting cancer cases, the Weisler group’s preliminary study had indicated that from 1995 to 2000, the incidence rate of primary brain cancers in these neighborhoods showed an increase about 6.4 times greater than expected for the population. Steve Wing, professor of epidemiology at Carolina, has met with Weisler and visited Salisbury with him. Wing is known for his 1997 study that reanalyzed data about the 1979 nuclear accident at the power plant on Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island, suggesting that radiation increased cancer incidence among people living downwind of the plant. Wing says that though it’s hard to tell from preliminary data what the people in Salisbury were exposed to and when, he admires Weisler’s social conscience. “I think Dr. Weisler’s strongest suit is that he’s taking a precautionary approach,” Wing says. “I wish we had more people who had the interest and the feelings of obligation to come forth with such information. He’s taken a stand to raise some important questions. Sometimes we have to shed light in places where people want to keep it dark.” 24 endeavors

Playing the waiting game In 2000, Weisler, along with Rowan County Health Director Leonard Wood and North Carolina Health Director Dennis McBride, asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to study the cancer incidence in Salisbury. In 2005, after years of making noise about the contamination, Weisler eagerly awaits the results of the CDC study. In October 2005, a CDC spokesperson says the report is under review and will be released in late December 2005. “I haven’t seen the report,” Weisler says. “But I know what our data show.” As Weisler waits, he further explores a possible connection between chemical exposures and suicide by tracking suicide rates in Haywood County, North Carolina, which is home to a paper mill in the town of Canton. “We thought it would be important to find out if we could see the suicide findings someplace else, to find out if Salisbury was just an accidental finding, or if it meant something in a more significant way,” he says. The chemicals released from the paper mill also include hydrogen sulfide. And, just as in Salisbury, Haywood County residents have complained about nausea and shortness of breath possibly caused by the fumes. In November 2005, Weisler and colleagues presented a study to the U.S. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress showing that Haywood County’s suicide rate nearly doubled in 1997. Between 1996 and 1997, the age-adjusted suicide rate jumped from 12 suicides per 100,000 residents to 20.9 per 100,000 residents. Since 1997, the rate has remained elevated, Weisler says, peaking in the year 2000 at 29.7 per 100,000 people. In all of North Carolina, the average ageadjusted suicide rate for the years 1997–2001 was about 11.4 per 100,000 residents per year. Weisler’s group speculates that the increase in Haywood County might be associated with the mill’s change in 1996 to a bleach filtrate recycling process, which involves the burning of chlorinated compounds, possibly releasing higher levels of chemicals into the air. He’s calling for a full study characterizing what chemicals are released by the mill and in what amounts. Their air permit, Weisler says, lists almost three million pounds of toxic chemical releases. Again, Weisler acknowledges that the issue needs further study. Are the paper-mill fumes just a nuisance, or a serious danger to

health? The people in Canton, Weisler says, shouldn’t have to wait to find out. If he has anything to do with it, they won’t. He keeps making phone calls, writing letters, and tracking census and health-outcome data. “Our entire study group feels that there is no reason for anyone to panic based on these observations,” Weisler says. “But we argue that public health interventions to reduce suicide and child abuse and neglect, further health-data analysis, and environmental assessments are needed.” And he hasn’t forgotten about those two neighborhoods in Salisbury. “With the help of the city and the county, there’ve been significant improvements in air quality,” Weisler says. Odor complaints have decreased since the asphalt company in 2000 installed a carbon filtering system on its storage tanks and loading platforms. “The previously untreated and uncontrolled petroleum remediation sites were shut down in 2001 and 2002,” Weisler says. “A full and safe cleanup of the nearby petroleum-contaminated sites, the solvent-contaminated asphalt company site, and the former NCDOT asphalt testing-lab site has yet to happen.” In 2005, Weisler participated in a Piedmont Area Behavioral Mental Health Agency forum to inform people that early treatment for depression, other mood disorders, and substance-abuse disorders can help prevent suicide. “Even if the data aren’t firm yet,” Weisler says, “we can do education and toxic-exposure reduction while studying the problem. “That’s what I’m hoping will happen in Haywood County, too—that they will implement those kinds of changes while studying what happened,” he says. “And get people help.” e Weisler is also an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke. Coauthors of the Salisbury study are Jonathan Davidson, professor of psychiatry at Duke University; Lynn Crosby, a toxicologist with Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL); Lou Zeller, BREDL director; Hope Taylor-Guevera, director of Clean Water for North Carolina; Sheila Singleton, executive director of the N.C. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance; and Melissa Fiffer and Stacy Tsougas, undergraduates at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and BREDL summer interns. The Haywood County study also includes Duke undergraduate Lisa Turner.


in print

Jason Smith

TERROR IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE CAN AMERICANS GRASP THE ATROCITIES OF OTHER PLACES AND TIMES? MADELINE LEVINE IS WORKING ON IT. BY MARGARITE NATHE

endeavors 25


Legends of Modernity: Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland, 1942–1943. By Czeslaw Milosz. Translated by Madeline Levine. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 266 pages, $25.00. The Woman from Hamburg and Other True Stories. By Hanna Krall. Translated by Madeline Levine. Other Press, 260 pages, $19.00.

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Above, a section of manuscript by Czeslaw Milosz, Polish writer and winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature.

26 endeavors

adeline Levine raised an interested eyebrow at what her undergraduates were saying, but she readjusted her syllabus for “Literature of Atrocity: The Gulag and the Holocaust,” and moved on. We’re bored, they’d told her. We read too many of these, and they just say the same thing over and over. They’d pored over scores of World War II essays written by Polish children who’d survived deportation by Soviet forces. Somewhat dreary and monotonous, the records say, “This person was killed here. This is what’s happening to us today.” Now the students only read a few of these, which helps them to stay focused a little longer. “I wanted to call it ‘Literature of Terror,’” Levine says, her hands folded cozily in her lap. But the course committee feared students would expect a class on Stephen King. The millions of people they read about in class aren’t fictional, but the blood and gore are there throughout. “What you’re going to learn happened is overwhelming,” she tells them. “And you will want to know more about the facts.” Levine’s research and writing are almost exclusively about things Polish. She is part of a small community of scholars who study Poland, a country that has been smashed and rebuilt time and again since the seventeenth century. Tucked away in Central Europe, Poland exists inaudibly, far from most Americans’ consciousness. Over the last fifteen years, Levine has focused her creative energy on what she calls the scholarly art of literary translation. “It’s a totally selfish indulgence,” she confesses, “of

my passion for the translator’s art.” In writing about and translating Polish literature, she can share her expertise with a much wider audience. Literary translation is the act of heaving novels, poetry, and essays from their original languages into another. The new language, though, doesn’t always share (or even have equivalents to) the original’s literary traditions. All the unfamiliar creative devices and forms must be translated along with the individual words. Meaning is conveyed across cultures, a pathway laid between separate traditions of narrative. Literary translators must know not only the language, but the culture, heritage, and values of the translated author. Levine works primarily with literature concerning historical events, namely, the Holocaust. In choosing to bear this material across the divide, she shoulders a colossal responsibility: the way she translates may affect a piece of our historical knowledge, the “memory” of the English-speaking world. Much of Poland’s literature is rich with the politics and history of the country, and is often, without the right translator, completely inaccessible to American readers. Polish writers must trust her with what she takes, and we must trust her with what she brings.

C

zeslaw Milosz, a Polish writer and winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature, had unreserved confidence in Levine’s understanding of the American audience and allowed her to cut and shape his works for translation into English. They worked together for fifteen years to bring his experiences, which spanned almost the whole of the twentieth century in a country slammed by one totalitarian rule after another, to English-speaking readers. One day in the late 1980s, Levine’s telephone rang. Milosz, already a legend and then a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, was distraught. A book he’d been working on was worrying him. Was it worth


Janina Milosz

LEVINE’S FRIENDSHIP WITH MILOSZ, WHICH LASTED THE REST OF HIS LIFE, WAS UNEXPECTED AND WONDERFUL. publishing? Was it really any good? You see, he’d recently read a critical review of one of his book proposals, and it said that some of the essays repeated each other, that some were too obscure, too Polish, for American audiences. Well, it made some good points, he said sadly. Um, do you know who wrote this review? she asked him. Editors, Levine knew, are scared to death of editing a Nobel winner and happy to attribute criticism to the “anonymous” reviewers they hire. Knowing her identity would not be revealed to Milosz, Levine had written the critical review despite her admiration for him and his work, and she hadn’t minced words. She remembered contacting him years earlier, a distant colleague whom she had met only briefly, to ask to translate one of his works; he’d politely turned her down because one of his students was already on the job. As she admitted to Milosz that the words had been hers, she saw her fantasies of translating for him disappear down the drain. Today, in her sunny office, she looks at me hard and whispers, “His response was incredible.” “Ever since I got the Nobel,” he said, grateful and relieved, “no one will tell me that anything I’ve done is not good.” Their friendship, which lasted the rest of his life, was unexpected and wonderful. Levine’s most recent translation of Milosz’s work is a collection called Legends of Modernity: Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland, 1942–1943. He wrote the original contents during World War II, when he was in his early thirties. He and his friend Jerzy Andrzejewski, whose letters also appear in the book, wanted to publish the manuscript at the end of the war, but some pieces were lost or burned when the city was razed during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. After he renounced Poland’s Communist regime in 1951, Milosz was exiled from his homeland for thirty years, until the fall of Communism. Only then did he return and begin to piece the collection of essays and

letters back together for publication. As with every book Levine translated for him, Milosz insisted on a certain dance before he would allow Legends of Modernity out of his hands. I don’t know, he said. Is it worth all the trees that would be killed to print this book? She rolled her eyes. It is, he said finally, and I would like you to translate it. Milosz was sick, dying in a hospital when Levine mailed the final draft of her translation to him. His eyesight had already failed. Through Legends of Modernity, Milosz accomplishes something Levine strives for in her classes. He hunts through the writings of certain authors—Daniel Defoe, Honoré de Balzac, André Gide—searching for an understanding of the events through which he was living at the time. What about post-Enlightenment Western civilization spawned the two totalitarian ideologies, Nazism and Communism, that brought about so many millions of deaths? Milosz passed away in 2004 without ever knowing Legends of Modernity in translation. Levine nods her head slowly and says, “It was the only one he wouldn’t see.” Her voice is soft and sad.

L

evine now translates for other Polish writers, including former journalist Hanna Krall, whose book The Woman from Hamburg and Other True Stories was released in English this year. Krall tells twelve stories that focus on the effects of World War II in Poland and on survivors and their descendants. A man with a bullet lodged in his jaw returns to Poland to see the barn where he once hid with friends. A group of Jews in hiding strangles an old man to stop his coughing; his wife miraculously rises from her wheelchair and turns them all in. Krall spoke with each of them, traveled with them, and she tells their stories in her own matter-of-fact voice, in short, pithy accounts. When undergraduates come into her

class, Levine says, they think they know what they don’t really know. Having seen Schindler’s List or read Anne Frank’s diary, many students enter the classroom confident in humanity’s ability to triumph over great evil, in the beauty of the human spirit. That’s the part of history they want to read about. But “Literature of Atrocity” is not a history course. Levine doesn’t wish to manipulate her students’ feelings by forcing a heavy diet of cruelty and bloodshed. That would be, as she says, exploitative and cheap. Instead, she shows them how experience is transformed into words and how literature engages with the human spirit in the extreme. Asking students to read coarsely written accounts by untrained authors allows her to show them how important the aesthetic structure and conscious construction of a work are to getting the reader’s attention and to making him or her understand. Actually, Levine says, her new students have it completely backwards. The day-today struggle, described monotonously in those wobbly, unskilled hands, is the reality. Writers such as Milosz attempt, in their native tongues, to expand the reader’s understanding that to be human is both evil and beautiful. World War II writers of all ages and expertise chronicled terrifying events and, in a nearby classroom, Levine’s students unravel the meanings of their stories. “I want them to think about what happens,” she says, “when you have a superbly gifted writer trying to take this, and yes, make a work of beauty out of something horrendous so that we are really moved to understand the individual’s experience. “I tell them that if they start to have nightmares to come see me,” Levine says. “And some of them do.” e Madeline Levine has been a professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures for thirty-one years. She has spent nearly half that time as department chair and is now the director of graduate studies. endeavors 27


Jewish with a

Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South. By Marcie Cohen Ferris. The University of North Carolina Press, 316 pages, $29.95.

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er mother wouldn’t let a country ham past the back door. A pork roast was out of the question. But prepackaged sliced ham, the kind that someone could mistake for turkey or chicken, was eaten at home. In her new book, Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South, Marcie Cohen Ferris, an assistant professor of American studies at Carolina, explains that many Reform Jews in the South followed a “Southernized kashrut” so they could “enjoy forbidden foods with a minimal sense of guilt.” Ferris says that exploring foodways—the places where food and culture intersect— reveals how people came to terms with being Jewish in a land where pork barbecue is king. Some families kept strictly kosher, taking pains to order food by mail, telephone, or internet. Others gradually ignored the rules and embraced Southern food. Long before her academic career began, Ferris discovered her interest in food when she inherited her grandmother’s recipe box. Looking through the recipes, she says, is like seeing her grandmother’s “culinary journey from Russia to New York to Arkansas.” Ferris says, “It was fascinating to see the

drawl From sweet potato kugel to Sabbath fried chicken, cooks mixed two cultures. by Lynn Thomasson connections between women in her life, both Jewish and Gentile. She moved between concentric circles of community and we ate in all those worlds.” Ferris uses food as a way to explain the Southern Jewish experience. “The most tangible way to understand Jewish history and culture in the South is at the dinner table,” she writes. Southern Jews defined their regional and religious identities by mixing local flavors and spices with traditional foods. In the recipes scattered throughout the book, matzoh balls are spiced with Creole flavors and served with chicken gumbo, while matzoh crackers are blended into a Passover-time apple pudding. But, Ferris adds, “Often Jewish cooks in the

South modified traditional dishes so they wouldn’t appear too Jewish or too ethnic.” From Memphis to Mississippi, regional differences have shaped Southern food. Ferris faced a challenge when deciding on a gumbo recipe for the book. Recipes usually call for shrimp, crab, sausage, or ham, but Ferris says, “I wanted a gumbo that all Jews could enjoy, even the most observant.” She consulted with a variety of cooks from different places and ascribing to different styles and faiths—Creole and Cajun, Catholic and Jewish, Louisiana and Mississippi—before choosing Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. Ferris writes, “If you keep kosher, make the gumbo with kosher smoked beef sausage or knockwurst.” Woven into stories of Southern Jews are stories of the Gentile friends and neighbors who swapped recipes and cooked with Jewish women. “Southern women pride themselves on being good bakers,” Ferris says. “There’s love that goes into making a cake.” Ferris’ favorite recipe, Rosh Hashanah Jam Cake, is a recipe from her mother’s Methodist friend, Julia Haralson, who always made the cake during the Christmas season. Ferris’ mother, Huddy Cohen, adopted the rich, deeply colored cake for Rosh Hashanah. Working as domestic workers and cooks in Jewish households, African American women left an indelible mark on Jewish cooking. They introduced local spices and

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum; Atlanta; Georgia; CZB 160.4

“The most tangible way to understand Jewish history and culture in the South is at the dinner table,” Ferris writes. Right: Bar mitzvah celebration of Charles Borochoff at the home of Tobias Borochoff, Atlanta, Ga.,1934.

28 endeavors


traditional Southern foods such as biscuits, grits, and corn bread to Jewish families. Even if the black housekeepers did most of the cooking, Ferris notes that Jewish community cookbooks from the South rarely mentioned their work—a sign of the era’s racial attitudes. But, Ferris says, Jewish and African American women often bonded and exchanged recipes while cooking meals. “Since colonial times, they’ve shared an unlikely alliance as outsiders—Jews due to their religion and blacks due to their race,” she says. Recipes that combined both Southern and Jewish cooking styles—sweet potato kugel, barbecue brisket, and Sabbath fried chicken—came out of the close interaction among Jews and African American women cooking in the kitchen. Ferris writes, “Relationships were embedded in the shared recipes and food that traveled between Jewish and African American homes.” Marcie Cohen Ferris is also the associate director for the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies.

a new spin on teaching The Joy of Teaching: A Practical Guide for New College Instructors. By Peter Filene. The University of North Carolina Press, 160 pages, $17.95.

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eter Filene says going to class should be less like playing baseball and more like tossing a Frisbee. Instead of swinging a bat and hitting the right answers or striking out miserably, students might catch ideas and pass them on, maybe with a different spin. In The Joy of Teaching, Filene doesn’t give all the answers, but he does offer useful rules. If you’re new to the podium, he writes, make your classroom choices based on your own personality and values. Getting to know yourself as a teacher and understanding your students are the first steps toward building a syllabus, giving lectures, and passing out grades, he says. Peter Filene is professor of history at Carolina.

ROSH HASHANAH JAM CAKE Julia Haralson and Huddy Horowitz Cohen, Blytheville, Arkansas. From Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South, by Marcie Cohen Ferris. Copyright © 2005 by Marcie Cohen Ferris. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press. www.uncpress.unc.edu Julia Haralson, my mother’s dear friend from Blytheville, Arkansas, was the source of this recipe. Julia made the cake at Christmas time. My mother bakes this cake for Rosh Hashanah, when it is traditional to eat sweet treats to toast a sweet New Year. The preserves give the cake a rich, purple color, which is lovely for the fall. Dense and moist, this cake improves upon keeping. Jam cake is especially nice served with a glass of port for late afternoon holiday drop‑ins. Slice cake into strips and top with cream cheese.

3 cups all‑purpose flour 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon each ground cloves and allspice ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup buttermilk 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened 2 cups granulated sugar 4 large eggs, at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 jar (18 ounces) blackberry preserves, preferably seedless (about 1½ cups) 1 cup finely chopped pecans Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously grease and flour a 10 x 4 inch tube pan. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and salt. Pour the buttermilk into a 2-cup glass measure. Stir in the baking soda and set aside; it will foam slightly. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape the bowl. With mixer at low speed, gradually beat in the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, just until blended. Beat in the preserves and pecans, finishing the mixing by hand with a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the cake is springy to the touch, shrinks from the sides, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour and 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in the pan. To remove from the pan, run a knife or thin metal spatula around the edges of the pan and center tube. Turn the cake onto a plate and lift off the pan. If your pan has a separate base, loosen the cake from the base and lift it off. If you like, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar before serving. Makes 16 servings.

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EDWARD DRINKER COPE was the kind of hotheaded savant that science just doesn’t make room for anymore: he was wealthy, self-taught, and a product of the Victorian era’s craze for science, natural history, and fossils—when paleontologists might as well have been prospectors, and when making a reputation as a bone hound often meant beating the other guy to the dig. He was as stormy and wide open as the western plains where he made his name. Cope never had much formal education, but he dug science from the get-go. At age eight, on a visit to Philadelphia’s Museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences, he carefully measured, sketched, and described several beasts, including a fossil Ichthyosaurus: “two of the sclerotic plates,” he wrote, referring to a bone in the animal’s eye socket. “Look at the eye, thee will see these in it.” Years later, Cope plunged into an epic, career-long feud with a rival paleontologist: theft, bribery, espionage, sabotage, and dynamite all figured in what came to be known as the Bone Wars. But that’s a story for a different day. By the time he died in 1897, Cope had funneled his intensity—and a good deal of his family fortune—into becoming one of the most prolific scientists in America. He named at least one thousand new species and published more than twelve hundred scientific papers. And somehow, between all the digging and writing and caterwauling, Cope found time to leave us with a seemingly innocent 30 endeavors

little theory about how organisms evolve. Cope’s rule, as it’s now called, states that animal and plant lineages tend to increase in body size over geological time. Cope based his theory on what he saw in the fossil record: for a given vertebrate group, it looked as though the oldest fossils were also the smallest. Over eons, members of that group looked as though they got bigger. The earliest ancestor of the modern-day horse, for example, was a dog-sized critter called Hyracotherium. Between Hyracotherium and, say, Mr. Ed, there have been several “horse” species, each larger than the one before. Cope’s rule went over fairly well at the time. But by the 1970s, biologists had a few bones to pick with it. Some of them said Cope was just seeing things. After all, it’s easier to find fossils that are bigger, and large fossils might preserve better than small fossils. Stephen Jay Gould, who was something of a titan among paleontologists, called Cope’s rule a “psychological artifact,” saying that we humans tend to “focus on extremes that intrigue us”—that we singled out lineages that did get bigger instead of studying all lineages for which we had good data over long periods. Even scientists who concur with Cope’s rule haven’t been sure what could actually cause it. Many of them—including Carolina biology professors Joel Kingsolver and David Pfennig—suspect that maybe Cope’s rule works because things that are larger tend to have higher fitness. In other words, larger

individuals survive better, mate more successfully, and produce more offspring than do smaller individuals in the same population. “To be successful, you have to survive, you have to mate, and you have to produce offspring,” Joel Kingsolver says. “The basic idea is that, from one generation to the next, individuals that are larger have higher fitness, and are favored, so the next generation gets a little larger, and the next a little larger, and so forth.” KINGSOLVER IS BIG on bugs—he studies natural selection in butterflies. “I was doing my own work within my own system,” he says, “and I kept getting this really simple result that, in the butterflies I study, faster growth and larger size were consistently associated with higher fitness.” David Pfennig, on the other hand, leans more toward spadefoot toads and cannibalistic tiger salamanders. He studies the factors that produce new traits and new species and examines how evolutionary interactions at the genetic and cellular level might influence how organisms develop. Both Kingsolver and Pfennig work on whether and how microevolution—smallscale changes from one generation to the next—might influence macroevolution, the large-scale changes that Cope and others have seen in the fossil record. “A long-standing issue in evolutionary biology is whether the evolutionary forces that generate microevolution are sufficient to account for macroevolutionary patterns,”


Pfennig says. “Evolutionary biologists have been especially interested in explaining the grand trends in the history of life, such as Cope’s rule.” “I think of what we do as evolutionary mechanics,” Kingsolver explains. “We can study the nuts and bolts of evolution, from one generation to the next, experimentally and in lots of detail, and learn how it works and what it does. But you like to understand how that might generalize to larger-scale patterns.” As part of a seminar a few years ago, Kingsolver and his graduate students created a database. They rounded up every published scientific study that examined, in any kind of organism, the strength of natural selection—the survival and perpetuation of one kind of organism over others that die or fail to produce offspring. They ended up with

Above, Cope, E.D. 1878. A new species of Amphicoelias. American Naturalist, 12: 563-564. Right, Edward Drinker Cope.

sixty-three microevolutionary studies on all kinds of living organisms—everything from plants to birds to lizards to insects. Then, last year, Kingsolver and Pfennig decided to put Edward Drinker Cope to the test. They figured that by digging through all the studies in Kingsolver’s database, they might be able to uncover a mechanism for Cope’s rule. Many of the studies had to do with morphology—the form and structure of organisms—and, in particular, the strength of natural selection on traits such as shape, color, and size. Generally, when biologists look at morphology, they find either positive selection for a particular trait, meaning increases in that trait are favored, or negative selection, meaning that decreases in the trait are favored. Darwin’s finches sometimes show positive selection for beak width: birds with wider beaks have higher rates of survival and reproduction. But sometimes, Darwin’s finches show negative selection: birds with narrower beaks have higher survival and reproduction rates. If you look at lots of different traits, Kingsolver says, selection usually has no consistent direction, and the numbers tend to center nicely around zero: sometimes selection is positive; sometimes it’s negative. Just what you’d expect. But not when it comes to size. When Kingsolver and Pfennig dug into Kingsolver’s database, they found that, in 80 percent of the studies, there was consistent selection favoring larger size. In other words, eight times out of ten, larger individuals tend to have higher fitness and are selectively favored. They dug a little deeper. “We said, ‘Well, do you see this pattern if you look at plants versus animals, or vertebrates versus insects?’” Kingsolver says. “And the answer is that it holds for all those different groups.” Then Kingsolver and Pfennig started thinking about the three components of fitness. They wanted to know if being larger was associated with being able to survive better, or with being more successful in mating, or with having more offspring. “It turns out that being bigger is better for all of those different aspects of

fitness,” Kingsolver says. “So, on average, bigger individuals survive better; they produce more offspring; they’re more successful at mating.” THAT WAS BIG NEWS to Kingsolver and Pfennig, but it didn’t tell them enough to figure out whether Edward Drinker Cope was really on to something. First, they had to make sure that positive selection for size was strong enough to account for Cope’s rule—could it, over hundreds of thousands of years, create the size increases that Cope saw in his fossils? It turned out to be more than strong enough. “It could account for the kinds of patterns that you see of size increases in dinosaurs and mammals and many other groups,” Kingsolver says. “In fact, it’s much stronger than you would need.” Second, they had to consider whether any other phenomena might be muddying the waters, or flat-out working against Cope’s rule. Even though positive selection for size is strong, could other factors still be preventing evolution for size? Kingsolver and Pfennig delved into the requirements for evolution. There are three: first, you need selection. Second, you have to have variation—a difference or deviation from an organism’s normal or recognized form, function, or structure. Third, the vari-

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ation has to be inherited so it can be passed on to the next generation. “We knew there was selection and variation,” Kingsolver says. Turns out there was plenty of inherited variability, too. “If you look at studies that examine whether there’s inherited variation for body size, nearly every population has some inherited variability,” he says. Then Kingsolver and Pfennig tested whether being big might come with its own disadvantages that would counterbalance Cope’s rule. For example, the bigger you are, the longer it takes you to reach fertility. If you’re smaller and can develop faster, you can have more generations per unit of time. So maybe the advantages of being large are, in the big picture, cancelled out by the advantages of developing rapidly. “We were able to look at that,” Kingsolver says, “and we discovered that yes, there is selection favoring developing more rapidly—but it still doesn’t cancel out the net effect of bigger being better.” So why aren’t we all gigantic? And why have studies shown that, in some organisms such as fish, there have been no long-term increases in size? For one, certain kinds of organisms come with their own physical limitations. Being an insect means having an exoskeleton. “You can’t just scale up an insect to the size of a dinosaur, or even a human, for that matter,” Kingsolver says. “An insect’s exoskeleton simply won’t support that kind of weight.” There are also upper limits to the sizes that other kinds of organisms can reach. Terrestrial mammals have an internal 32 endeavors

skeleton, but again, that skeleton can only support so much weight. Scientists think that certain of the largest species of dinosaur spent almost all their time in the water to help support their body mass. And water’s buoyancy allows whales to become much larger than any terrestrial mammal. “Those kinds of things set absolute upper size limits,” Kingsolver says. But most species are nowhere near as large as these limits, so the limits are really not a very good explanation for body-size evolution in general. “One thing that’s interesting,” Kingsolver says, “is that this can’t continue forever. If our result is true, and Cope’s rule is true, then everything ought to be the size of the universe—or at least pretty big. Everything ought to be bigger than dinosaurs. And, obviously, they’re not. So there need to be other things that are resetting the system.” KINGSOLVER AND Pfennig couldn’t find anything at the short-term, microevolutionary level that might be able to do that. But they suspect that several long-term evolutionary forces could cause an overall trend toward smaller species. One is extinction. In addition to their longer generation times, large species have smaller populations—fifty square miles is only going to support so many grizzly bears—so those species are more likely to go extinct. Fossils tend to bear this out. The canid family includes several groups: dogs, wolves, jackals, and a few more that are now extinct. Each of those groups has shown evolutionary size increases within the group, but the larger species within the groups have been more likely to become extinct. “That resets the group as a whole to having smaller body sizes,” Kingsolver says. “That’s happening at ten- to forty-million-year time scales.” But Kingsolver says that mass extinction events, such as the one that may have wiped out most of the dinosaurs, probably play an even bigger role. “That event reset everything: it wiped out all the dinosaurs, and left all the tiny mammals around—and we took over the world,” he says. Historically, there have been several cycles of large mammals evolving only to go extinct—think of North America’s woolly mammoth and sabertoothed cat. Those cycles of extinction may

have repeatedly counteracted Cope’s rule. So where does that leave Edward Drinker Cope? Was the old bone hound on the right trail? Or was he barking up the wrong tree? “As with almost any question dealing with history, you can’t say with certainty what has caused a historical pattern,” Pfennig says. Proving Cope’s rule experimentally would be no picnic. In theory, Pfennig says, you might be able to do it using an organism that had really short generation times—some kind of microbe, for instance. Kingsolver and Pfennig can say that their data show that bigger is generally fitter. They suggest that selection could explain the pattern described by Cope’s rule. And how strong is that “could”? “I would say that it’s a pretty strong ‘could’ until someone provides data refuting our hypothesis,” Pfennig says, “or until someone provides an alternative hypothesis that is better supported.” And if Cope’s rule still makes for a bone of contention among biologists, so be it. Edward Drinker Cope would be proud. e

Cope’s rule in ceratopsian dinosaurs, based on Raup, D. M. and Stanley, S. M., Principles of Paleontology, 1971, W. H. Freeman, San Francisco


endview Peter Filene

Peter Filene

P

eter Filene was walking through Central Park one spring morning when he saw a boy with his mother throwing a Frisbee to their dog. He snapped their picture. Without advancing the film in his camera, Filene walked up Fifth Avenue toward the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He wanted to create a double exposure—two images shot onto the same frame of film. Maybe, he thought, he’d find a painting or sculpture inside the Met that would overlay nicely onto the park scene he’d just shot. “I have to play intention against chance,” Filene explains. “After the initial shot, I prowl the streets or museums searching for another one to complement it, trying to hold in my mind’s eye the subject, shapes, and colors of the image that waits behind the shutter. I plan and yet I also trust to luck.” Outside the Met, Filene found a street vendor selling his paintings. Filene was drawn to one that portrayed Central Park ice skaters in the winter. He shot it. “Jumping in Central Park,” Filene says, became something he hadn’t anticipated—a picture within a picture, with a dog jumping above tiny skaters, in two seasons at once. “Between ‘grabbing the moment’ and luck,” he says, “all the components fell into place.” “I never know when they will. So I keep walking through cities and museums, keep shooting twice, and keep hoping.” For “Self With Man,” Filene shot Josef Albers’ selfportrait in Washington, D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum, then aimed the camera at himself. Peter Filene is professor of history at Carolina.

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