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In The News 2014

Diana Boxer: WJCT News

UF Linguistics Expert Discusses The Evolution Of 'Thug'
February 26, 2014

It's a word that entered the American lexicon around the early twentieth century. Over the years, "thug" has often been associated with images of criminals, gangsters and mobsters.

But lately, it's come under particular scrutiny since NFL player Richard Sherman designated it as the "accepted way of calling somebody the N-Word."

The controversy over the word hit closer to home with the highly-publicized murder trial of Michael Dunn during in which "thugs" and "thug music" were frequently referenced. Even more recently the word was back in the spotlight when Republican Party of Duval County Chairman Rick Hartley referred to some of Mayor Alvin Brown's recent actions as "thuggish."

WJCT's Rhema Thompson spoke with Diana Boxer, a professor and distinguished teaching scholar in the department of linguistics at the University of Florida.

Boxer has authored several books on the subject of sociolinguistics, including The Lost Art of the Good Schmooze: Building Rapport and Defusing Conflict in Everyday Talk.

Listen to her discuss the word "thug," its genesis, evolution and ongoing controversy.

Thomas Bianchi: Gainesville Sun

UF researchers find residue from BP spill
June 2014

The presence of Deepwater Horizon oil "ghost signatures" in the Gulf of Mexico was reported in the Gainesville Sun on September 23, 2014. The work was done by a team of researchers led by Professor Thomas Bianchi, who holds the Jon and Beverly Thompson Endowed Chair of Geological Sciences at UF. The team analyzed water samples collected from the deep ocean where the 2010 spill occurred. They detected a residual "ghost signature" of oil remaining two years later although other researchers have found no discernible trace of hydrocarbons in the Gulf.

The findings were published in the August issue of Environmental Science and Technology. Additional analysis will be done to determine whether the residue poses a danger to the environment and to Gulf wildlife, Bianchi said.

Articles about this research were also published in the Apalachicola Times, the Independent Florida Alligator and on several online sites.

Michael Perfit: Physics Today

Researchers get back to the deep
September 23, 2014

Geological Sciences Professor Michael Perfit was quoted in Physics Today about his undersea volcano research using Alvin. This mini-submarine used for sea floor research was recently returned to service after a three-year, $41 million upgrade. Now 18 percent larger, the improved Alvin still has only a 2 meter inside diameter where a pilot and two scientists co-exist during 8- to 10-hour dives. Two new windows have been added for a total of five. Cameras, lighting, and cargo capacity have also been improved. Before this upgrade, the sub had made 4664 dives to study biology, geology and geophysics, and chemistry.

Perfit, who made 36 dives in the earlier version of Alvin, recalled several dives he made in 1991 to a mid-ocean ridge section southwest of Mexico. What he discovered during these dives was that features previously mapped with a deep-sea camera towed from the sea surface could not be found. He told Physics Today fresh black glassy basalt had covered everything along with white bacterial floc that looked like snow coming out of cracks and holes in the sea floor. Dating of lava samples using short-lived radiogenic isotopes later confirmed that a volcanic eruption had indeed occurred while they were diving. It had been thought such eruptions only took place every few hundred or thousand of years, rather than the surprising decadal time scale this research indicated.

Peter Adams and John Jaeger: CBS News

Erosion threatens Florida launchpad infrastructure
December 6, 2014

Geological Sciences Assistant Professor Peter Adams and Associate Professor John Jaeger were interviewed by CBS News about their study of coastal erosion at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. In a joint project with NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, since 2009 the professors and their graduate students have been measuring monthly and storm-related beach changes near the launchpads used for human spaceflight at Kennedy Space Center. They found there has been significant damage to the dunes, particularly after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The researchers told CBS News they think this was caused by a combination of sea level rise and changes in wave conditions, both related to global climate change. 

Although the launchpads have not been used since the Space Shuttle program ended, they will be needed in future. Artificial dunes have been constructed by NASA in an attempt to prevent saltwater intrusion at the launchpad. Should these dunes fail, relocating the launchpads and related infrastructure would be costly. Stories on this topic also appeared in Science Daily, Reuters and the Independent Florida Alligator.

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