News Briefs – Nov. 2, 2010

By Stephanie Martin
Sun Star Intern


A ‘trip’ to the E.R.

Synthetic marijuana, known as Spice or K2, and a caffeinated alcoholic beverage called as Four Loko are in the headlines locally and abroad for dangerous effects on consumers.

Spice is a dried herbal blend marketed since 2006. People are now smoking the substance for a high similar to marijuana. The substance is not regulated and “what’s in the package may vary,” UAF police investigator Stephen Goetz said. Users have suffered hallucinations, severe agitation, dangerously high heart rates and blood pressure, even heart attack and seizure.

Caffeinated alcoholic beverages have grown in popularity in recent years. Four Loko, one such drink, contains 12% alcohol along with caffeine, taurine, and guarana. This amount of alcohol is equal to four beers according to an Associated Press report.

Dr. Betty Aldrich at the Health Center says the caffeine in the beverages could combat drowsiness from intoxication. Misjudgment of intoxication could then occur. Nine students at Central Washington University were hospitalized with one student near death after consuming the beverage.


One-of-a-kind Wood Center sale

The University Women’s Association 42nd annual holiday bazaar is Nov. 6 and 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Wood Center. Crafters sell handmade items each year at the bazaar. The money collected from vendors for space at the event goes to the UWA scholarship fund, said Kayt Sunwood, director of the Women’s Center. The fund provides scholarships for women.

From Mittens to Alaska artwork, numerous items will be sold. “It’s a chance to see what you otherwise wouldn’t get to see,” Sunwood said. Prices for the items will vary from inexpensive to costly. Those selling at the event do not have businesses elsewhere.

Aside from raising money for the scholarship fund, the event provides crafts people with an opportunity to sell their items. It is also community building, Sunwood said.

Music will be performed at the bazaar. Admission is free and student volunteers are needed. Interested students should stop by the Women’s Center in Eielson for more information.


The Alcan’s unsung heroes

Bishop Dave Thomas spoke Oct. 27 at the university to raise awareness of the African American Army engineers who built the Alcan Highway during World War II. Thomas gave a lecture on the men’s accomplishments and showed a video about the creation of the highway.

The soldiers labored under segregation and temperatures as low as 79 below with inferior tools and supplies. Yet, the 95th Engineering Unit finished a bridge over the Sikanni Chief River in 72 hours. This feat and construction of the highway brought the soldiers respect and ultimately integration in the Army.

Thomas believes “the time is now to recognize the accomplishments of these men.” Thomas and the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) hope to construct monuments in Delta Junction and at the Sikanni Chief Bridge.

The NJOF is working to pass legislation making Juneteenth and the Oct. 28 National Days of Observance. Oct. 28 would honor the African American engineers who built the Alcan Highway. Additional information can be found at www.juneteenthalaskaalcan.com


The ‘eyes’ have it

Eric Mazur, professor of physics and applied physics at Harvard University, gave a public lecture Oct. 28 in one half of the Pearl Berry Boyd Lecture Hall.

The lecture titled “How the mind tricks us: visualizations and visual illusions” provided listeners with explanation on the physiology and cognitive issues of sight. Mazur then explained how knowledge of vision and cognitive issues is useful in learning.

A slide show explained in detail how the human eye works. Then the audience saw examples of optical illusions created by how the brain processes visual information. The final part of the lecture showed ways science text can be improved. Mazur said textbooks can improve by reducing distractions and accounting for how the brain processes visuals.

Mazur is an internationally recognized scientist and researcher. He supervises one of the largest research groups in the Harvard Physics Department. Part of Mazur’s efforts goes to education research and finding verifiable ways to improve scientific education.

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