Emory Report
March 16, 2009
Volume 61, Number 23



Emory Report homepage  

March 16
, 2009

Energy debate turns a new leaf
“We’ve been down this road before,” said Daniel Nocera of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, keynote for the recent Emerson Center symposium on the search for renewable and sustainable energy.

Animal fat was a major source of fuel until 1857, when a clean-burning kerosene lamp was invented, signaling the switch to cheaper, more efficient fossil fuels. MIT and Emory are among the institutions now trying to solve the chemistry and physics challenges of moving into an environmentally sound era of clean, affordable energy.

Artificial photosynthesis could turn every home into an artificial leaf, said Nocera, a renowned energy expert. “I’m trying to get us off the grid.” —Carol Clark

Getting a goddess back in shape
How a Venus got her head back was the subject of a Carlos Museum teachers’ workshop. Curator Jasper Gaunt told of Aphrodite’s “marbleous” origins as a statue and wide-ranging historical influence. Conservator Renee Stein described how this copy of an original was restored and reunited after the Carlos purchased the body from an auction house and the head from a private collector.

The original, commissioned in the 4th century B.C., “perished but it spawned a huge number of nude and semi-nude Aphrodites,” the most famous being the Venus de Milo in the Louvre, Gaunt said.

Stein went through some of the restoration issues, including the head re-attachment and Aphrodite’s trip to Delta Air Lines for X-rays.

“In addition to having her head off,” Stein said, “she was incredibly dirty.” —Leslie King

Colonials painted in shades of gray
Some historians contend that colonizers of other nations fall into two categories: those who are unaware that they are cruelly subjugating people, and those who believe that such behavior is acceptable.

“Ignorance versus acceptance fails to capture the ambiguities,” said Ann Stoler, an expert in colonial cultures at the New School of Social Research. She gave a recent talk for the anthropology department, titled “Imperial Dispositions of Disregard.”

Rather than study colonialism in a good or evil context, Stoler is more interested in “the messier space that spans knowing, not knowing and self-acceptance,” she said. “They are much more akin to some of the spaces in which we live our lives today.” —Carol Clark