Headlines @ U.Va.
THE COLLEGE LIBRARY OF TOMORROW
Last December, Google started on a wildly ambitious and somewhat controversial plan to digitize the collections of some of the world’s largest university and public libraries in an effort to make hard-to-find books accessible by the click of a mouse. But out of the spotlight, a number of universities are already working on bookless, digital libraries that reflect a growing understanding of how today’s tech-savvy students access information. U.Va., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California school system, and the University of Michigan, among others, have also been digitizing their collections, developing new technologies and creating a lasting archive of electronic material. The notion of a library as a physical collection has long ago been altered,” said Michael Keller, university librarian and director of academic information resources at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. “It’s now physical and virtual.” (CNET News.com,
ECHINACEA NO REMEDY FOR COMMON COLD
The common cold wins again. For decades, cold sufferers have sworn by the herb echinacea as one of the few medicinal potions that could stand up to the annoying virus that brings on the winter sniffles, sore throats and hacking coughs. But in a study from the University of Virginia School of Medicine reported in the July 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, echinacea is no better than the equivalent of a sugar pill in either warding off the illness or lessening its symptoms. The study, led by Dr. Ronald Turner, with the help of colleagues from Charleston, S.C., and Graz, Austria, recruited over 400 healthy volunteers willing to be inoculated with rhinovirus, the culprit behind 30 percent to 50 percent of common colds. The volunteers were divided into separate groups to take three different preparations of echinacea extracts or placebo beginning either seven days before exposure to the virus or at the time of inoculation. (U.S. News & World Report, July 29)
COMPACT TECHNOLOGY LETS SCHOLARS REVISIT ANCIENT ROME
Bernard Frischer, a classics professor-turned-computer geek, is striding to class at U.Va. on a rainy May morning. In one hand he holds a green umbrella. In the other, he clutches a bundle of computer cables. Beside him walks Shayne Brandon, a systems administrator, who totes a partially unzipped backpack exposing a keyboard and more cables. In his arms he carries a black cube no bigger than a file box. The cube is the engine driving Frischer’s work. When he started his career 30 years ago, he tried to visualize ancient Rome through books, maps and artifacts. Now he is hooked on virtual reality. The cube — a 13-pound computer called a Shuttle XPC — contains enough processing power to take people on fly-through tours of history, where buildings, walls and cornerstones are rendered according to the best archaeological data available, with geographical precision. ... While scholars have been able to experience virtual reality for more than a decade, they have always had to wrestle with complex, expensive and awkward hardware. Now, with compact computers that can run detailed graphics, these interactive, three-dimensional worlds have become more portable and accessible. (Chronicle of Higher Education, July 19)