UW News

July 7, 2005

Of bees, land bequests and nanotechnology

CAROLINA NORTH: Horace Williams, who founded the Philosophy Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, bequeathed 979 acres of land to the University about a half century ago. Plans are now under way to develop the land and make it “the University’s next frontier for a new century,” according to the University Gazette, UNC’s campus newspaper.

Located two miles north of the UNC, the property — called Carolina North — is now mostly undeveloped woodlands. The “conceptual plan” for the area involves developing about one-quarter of the land over the next 50 to 70 years for classrooms, labs, housing and retail spaces. In remarks to trustees before their historic decision, UNC’s Chancellor James Moeser said Carolina North will be “the most important new endeavor this University undertakes in our lifetimes.”

ADVANCING BEES: African honeybees have entered and taken hold in Florida, say researchers at the University of Florida, and the bees may eventually spread through the state and beyond.

The bees have been found at several Florida locations over the last 10 years or so, according to the university’s online newspaper, UF News. Glenn Hall, an associate professor of entomology at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said the arrival of the African bees could spell trouble for other Florida concerns.

“If African honeybees become established in large numbers over the next few years, they will affect the beekeeping industry and the pollination of many crops,” Hall said. “Public safety, recreation and tourism may also be affected, leading to liability problems.”

The African bees, whose coming was widely heralded in media reports of recent years, more aggressively defend their nests than European bees, and tend to sting in larger numbers. Hall said, “Large populations of European honeybees managed by beekeepers are probably our best defense against African bees. The European honeybees compete with African bees for food sources. When they interbreed with the African bees, defensively stinging behavior in their offspring is reduced.”

NANO NEWS: The University of Michigan will be looking for good things in the smallest of packages when it opens its new Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and the Biological Sciences, a project approved by the institution’s Board of Regents this spring.

The center will develop and market nanotechnology applications for the environment, biological sciences and medicine, according to the U-M’s newspaper, The Record.

The U-M, like the UW, is a member of the 13-university Nanotechnolgy Infrastructure Network, created in 2004 with a $70 million National Science Foundation grant. The UW has had its own Center for Nanotechnology since 1997, and was the first university to offer a doctoral program in nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is the science of the ultra-small, of course. A nanometer equals a billionth of a meter, the Record notes, and it would take 100,000 of them side-by-side to equal the width of a human hair.

CLASSIC SCI-FI: With a single $75,000 purchase earlier this year, the University of Iowa increased its status in the growing world of collecting pieces of American pop culture. The university purchased a 250,000-title collection of science fiction “fanzines” from the last 50 years or so. The collector, an Oregon man, was motivated to sell his collection when he lost his lease on the old warehouse where the publications were stored, and his local fire department threatened to use the building for a practice blaze.

The collection includes early work by many well-known science fiction writers, according to the UI’s news service, including Robert A. Heinlein and Robert Silverberg.