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Rochester Quotes

The New York Times

"There's an elephant in the room and nobody's talking about it because they don't want to deal with the darker side of illness"--Internist Timothy Quill '77M (MD), '79M (Res), professor of medicine, speaking up on the assisted-suicide debate.

For him, assisted suicide is part of a patient's treatment from birth to death, an option that brings reassurance but hardly ever needs to be used. According to the Times, Quill is "somewhat abashed" to be the standard bearer in a national debate. (He was one of the central figures in a landmark case brought before the Supreme Court in January.) "What is important is the individual," he says, "listening to them and helping them make the best choices when they don't have the choices they want."

Los Angeles Times

"By some authoritative calculations, world peace is scheduled to break out tomorrow morning"--John Mueller, professor of political science, in a tongue-in-cheek op-ed piece on the predictions of 17th-century religious writer Emeric Cruce. In a book published in Paris in 1623, Cruce observed, "The ancient theologians promised that after 6,000 years have lapsed the world will live happily and at peace." Mueller comments that "we have, perhaps, something to look forward to." After studying the Bible and the writings of a variety of religious thinkers, he concluded in an article, published in October, that world peace would break out on Friday, November 1, 1996, at 7 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.


"It's a foot in the door toward understanding where you are going in space"--Charles Duffy, assistant professor of neurology, commenting on the work of scientists who have found neurons that may be the ones that help us navigate. Studying monkeys, researchers from Berkeley and Caltech have shown that certain neurons located in the brain's visual system can combine visual information with additional information about eye movements--all to help the monkey calculate where it's heading. "The exciting thing about it," adds Duffy, who has produced similar results in his own research, "is that these messages are being combined in single neurons to resolve complicated sensory-information-processing issues."

Reuters Health eLine (on the Web)

"Think about what it sounds like to listen to a foreign language. That is what it is like to a baby"--Elissa Newport, George Eastman Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Discussing research she's done with graduate student Jenny Saffran '96 (Mas) and Professor Richard Aslin, Newport notes that in hearing a foreign language, "you don't have any clues to the beginning and ends of words." But, she says, "babies are capable of doing much more than we thought about keeping track of rather complicated quantitative information involved in learning language." For example, in the English phrase "pretty baby," there is no aural boundary between the two words. To make a distinction, infants listen and compute how often the syllables "pre-" and "-tty" occur together, says Newport. "If you keep track of these things--which is reasonably hard to do--and compute these things constantly, '-tty' and 'ba-' occur in that order very seldom. That would tell you that there is a word boundary between '-tty' and 'ba-.'"

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"You can imagine the psychological impact the invading Roman army would have had on people who had been reading Scriptures with an apocalyptic angle"--Matthew Stanley '97, who took part last summer in a University-sponsored archeological dig at the ancient Israeli city of Yodefat. This was the first Jewish city to fall to Vespasian's legions during the revolt against the Romans in 67 A.D.--a futile struggle that culminated three years later in the destruction of Jerusalem. Says Stanley, "I think that the Jews would have submitted to Roman rule if it had been purely political and not an effort to enforce a Roman cultural and religious vision. Yodefat shows how intensely Jews felt about their religious piety--even though they were in fact accorded more religious autonomy than other areas under Roman rule."

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