University of Pennsylvania
A history of important accomplishments in neutrino physics, going back to the 1970s and culminating with the award of the Nobel Prize to Raymond Davis, Jr. (Physics & Astronomy) last year (2002). The work for which the prize was awarded included a radio-chemical experiment that detected, using a large tank of cleaning fluid placed in a gold mine in South Dakota, the ‘deficit’ of solar neutrinos that led to the fundamental discovery that some of the neutrinos emitted by the Sun fundamentally change their character during their brief journey to Earth. Other highlights of the program involved the first detection of neutrinos from an exploding star (supernova) in 1987 using a detector in Japan. Penn faculty who have been involved in this experimental program include Alfred Mann, Eugene Beier, and Kenneth Lande, all of the Department of Physics & Astronomy.
Important work involving conducting polymers by Professor of Chemistry. Alan MacDiarmid and (then) Professor of Physics Alan Heeger in the 1970s; this work was recognized by the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2000. This work raises the possibilities of making electronic circuits out of cheap bits of plastic.
The work of Daniel Janzen (Biology) on tropical biodiversity has involved important work in ecology, microbiology, botany, biochemistry, and has provided fundamental insights into how tropical rainforests work. In addition to achieving new fundamental insights into the interactions between plants and animals in these complex systems, Janzen has also contributed profoundly to the practical aspects of supporting biodiversity in Costa Rica, with activities ranging from raising the level of public awareness in the developed world to involving a wide range of industrial entrepreneurs in preserving essential species for the sake of both present and future practical applications. Janzen’s work has been recognized by the award of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Crafoord Prize in Biosciences (given by the Swedish Royal Academy in fields not covered by the Nobel Prizes), as well as the Kyoto Prize.
The comparison of relative standards of living in (very) different types of societies has a long and vexing history, complicated by fluctuations in currency exchange rates, different price structures for consumer and capital goods, and so on. The first serious and systematic attempt to attack this problem was the work of Irving Kravis, Robert Summers, and Alan Heston of Penn’s Department of Economics, who over many years developed a methodology with the ambitious goal of comparing real products and incomes embracing all the countries of the world. An important result of their work was the finding that nominal exchange rates significantly under-estimate the GDP of less developed countries (up to a factor of two or so for most African countries). The per capita income series is being continuously updated and has become the gold standard for income comparisons both in academic circles and international agencies such as the United Nations. In 1999 Professors Heston and Summers were named as Distinguished Fellows of the American Economics Association for this work (Kravis had been similarly honored before); only two such fellows are named each year.
The discipline of musicology until fairly recently studied music laregly as a self-contained, self-referential system. Members of the Penn Music department have played decisive roles in reshaping the discipline in ways that open it to research in the natural and social sciences as well as in other humanities disciplines. Of particular note is the research of Eugene Narmour, whose perception-based approach to music theory is grounded in and contributes to recent and ongoing advances in the fields of psychology, linguistics, and cognitive science; and that of former MacArthur Fellow Gary Tomlinson, who is generally considered one of the founders of the “New Musicology” for his success in recasting music history as a record not of the development of musical forms, but as cultural analysis in the largest sense, capable of illuminating historical phenomena such as the prevalence of magical practices and beliefs among Renaissance humanists and theories of colonization at the point of contact between Old and New World peoples.
The first multipurpose, digital computer, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), was built at the Moore School of Engineering in 1945. It consisted of over 18,000 vacuum tubes, which were cooled through the use of 80 air blowers. It measured 8 feet high, 3 feet wide and almost 100 feet long, filled a 30-by50 foot room, and weighed 30 tons. The ENIAC is on display at the Moore School today.
ENIAC was the first such machine and has changed all our lives.
Some Research Highlights at PENN Medicine (Provided by Glen Gaulton)
1951 Penn medical student William Inouye devised a dialysis machine out of a pressure cooker. His device later was adopted for worldwide use.
1954 Robert E. Forster II, M.D. ’43D, working with Ward Fowler and D. V. Bates, devised a rapid and clinically useful single-breath technique for measuring pulmonary diffusion capacity. It became the world standard for the clinical evaluation of this important parameter of lung function.
1960 Peter C. Nowell, M.D. ’52, in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, collaborated with David Hungerford, Ph.D., of the Institute for Cancer Research in Fox Chase, to produce the first evidence that abnormal chromosomes can cause cancer. They observed that patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia have an abnormally small chromosome – dubbed the “Philadelphia chromosome” – in all their cancerous white blood cells. The discovery shattered the widespread belief that cancer had no genetic basis. (Today, Nowell is the Gaylord P. and Mary Louise Harnwell Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.)
Early 1960s Aaron T. Beck, M.D., of the Department of Psychiatry, designed a revolutionary form of psychotherapy, called “cognitive therapy,” as a short-term (12 to 16 sessions) method of correcting depressive patients’ erroneous thinking and helping them to perceive their situations more realistically and positively. He later created the Center for Cognitive Therapy at Penn.