July 27, 2009

News shorts 7/27

FATAL CAR CRASH IN HYDE PARK: A car crash last night at 63rd and Woodlawn left one dead and four injured. Apparently the driver of one of the cars was drunk.

INFINITY AND BEYOND: U of C grad John Grumsfeld (S.M. '84, Ph.D. '88) was profiled by the Chicago Tribune over the weekend. Grumsfeld has taken five trips to space with NASA since 1995. He's not the only space-minded alumnus (alumonaut? cosmolum?): Edwin Hubble (S.B. '10, Ph.D. '17) did some pretty cool things, too. Grumsfeld was also interviewed by the University of Chicago Magazine in 2007, when he (apparently unbidden) shed some light on going #2 in orbit: "You have to set aside about 30 to 40 minutes. You get better at it with time, but for the first week or so, you have to plan ahead. It’s another management problem."

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS IN THE AGE OF KINDLE: There's been a lot of talk over the last couple weeks about the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the country, and its new e-book program. The Press announced that beginning this month, 700 titles would be available for download online, and for far less money than most of these books would cost at, say, Barnes & Noble: "Perpetual ownership at list price, 180-day ownership for about 50% off, and 30-day ownership for just $5.00." Contrary to the aims of the $80 million Mansueto book haven, the actual shift of academic texts is digital, not subterranean: Harvard University Press is now offering 1,000 of its own titles for sale online as well. A coalition of four other university presses - at New York University, Rutgers, Temple, and the University of Pennsylvania - recently received a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to study the feasibility of its own e-book program. The days of paying $400 per quarter for 100 pounds of briefly necessary textbooks are numbered.