University of Vermont

Center for Research on Vermont

Laughing babies, books about Bernie, opium addiction, fall foliage & renewable energy

Laughing babies, opium addiction, Bernie books and more

Vermont professor takes infants’ sense of humor seriously
Everyone loves laughing babies, and Gina Mireault, a Johnson State College professor, has spent seven years studying them. With a sampling of infants age 3 months to 12 months from north central Vermont, Mireault has found that babies starting as early as 5 months old can find a humorous action funny, such as an adult squeezing a red ball against her nose and making a “beep, beep” noise. An infant's discovery of humor may be tied to its development and emotional health. Read Mireault’s latest research here in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

St. Michael’s astrophysicist examines how galaxies form stars
Most of us marvel at the beauty of the twinkling stars in our galaxy. John O’Meara does that, too, but he is also is examining how those galaxies and the stars in them formed. O’Meara, an associate professor of physics at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., wondered where the fuel for stars was coming from. Using the world’s most powerful telescopes – the Keck in Hawaii, the Magellan in Chile and the Hubble in space – O’Meara and colleagues around the globe recently received National Science Foundation funding to measure the gas in the circumgalactic medium surrounding the galaxy, see journal article here.

Opium Eating in Vermont: A deep addiction to opium by many Vermonters at the turn of the 20th Century is the subject of recent research by legal scholar Gary Shattuck. In his article in Vermont History, Shattuck details the depth of the epidemic and the reactions by health officials at the time, citing evidence that Vermonters were ingesting 3,300,000 doses a month – enough to provide “one and one-half doses of the drug to every adult man and woman every day of the year.” Shattuck talks about this research Oct. 20 at the University of Vermont.

Books on Bernie: As the Bernie campaign gathers steam, we take a quick look at some of the books on the man. Hot off the presses, is an edited book of Bernie’s speeches, The Essential Bernie Sanders (2015).  Two books by Bernie include, The Speech (2011) – Bernie’s eight and one-half hour filibuster on the plight of the middle class -- and his early experiences in Congress, Outsider in the House (1998), with UVM professor Huck Gutman. Several authors have examined Bernie’s time as Burlington Mayor, most notably local writer Greg Guma, The People’s Republic (1989). For an academic examination, see The Socialist Mayor (1991), by Dr. Steven Soifer. Harder to find is the inside story of Bernie’s winning 1990 campaign for congress – his first statewide victory, Making History in Vermont (1992).

Vermont fall foliage season late but “spectacular”
Vermont’s fall foliage season is arriving late in 2015, according to a September report by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation. The report, “Insect and Disease Observations,” explains that the frequent sunny days in September will add to the brilliance of fall colors but unseasonably warm temperatures likely delayed their arrival. Now with cooler temps and generally dry weather, which scientists say creates brighter red hues, “a spectacular foliage season should come on quickly,” the report suggests.

Student Research: Renewable Energy in Vermont: The polarizing debate about renewable energy in Vermont is the subject of a recent honors thesis by a UVM student. In his research, Neil Brandt examined the changing “frames” and the people appearing in 477 news articles written between 2003-2013. Findings indicate that certain frames gained traction over time (e.g. human health impacts), while others declined (aesthetics). Similarly, the people quoted changed over time as well; pro-wind organizations were cited less frequently and Vermont citizens cited more frequently as projects moved from planning to completion.

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