News briefs

By Jenette Sturges

University physics professor to be featured in National Geographic

Red Sox fan and physics professor Alan Nathan’s official area of research is experimental medium energy physics. But National Geographic is more interested in his other interest – the physics of baseball.

On July 6 Nathan will be explaining his findings to viewers of National Geographic’s new series, “Science of Summer.”

“I’ve been interviewed quite a few times, but the National Geographic interview was very different,” Nathan said. His research on baseball’s physics has also spawned several papers and a Web site, The Physics of Baseball, Last summer, he was interviewed by ESPN on the effects of steroids on hitting.

His studies include the vibration analyses of various types of bats, as well as swing speed. From data he has collected, Nathan has developed elaborate equations to capture the instant when the ball strikes the bat, an event that causes the bat to vibrate in complex patterns like a violin string. This work has led to a deeper understanding of a variety of issues important to the game, such as the nature of the “sweet spot” and the performance differences between wood and aluminum bats.

“Science of Summer” will air locally on July 6. For TV listings, visit

Bush names University Provost Katehi to national science committee

Provost Linda Katehi will serve on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science, the White House announced this week.

The committee of 12 scientists and engineers evaluates nominees for the National Medal of Science. The committee members, which are appointed by the president, have awarded 425 medals since 1959.

Katehi, a native of Greece, earned her degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens in 1977, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from UCLA in 1981 and 1984, respectively.

Cable competition bill awaiting governor’s approval

Illinois residents may soon have more choices when it comes to cable providers.

Senate Bill 678, the Cable and Video Competition Act of 2007, unanimously passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Blagojevich.

The bill crated a single, statewide cable franchise, which would allow video companies to enter new markets more easily. Currently, franchises vary from city to city.

“Over the last 12 years the average monthly cable bill is up 93 percent, and in my district, like most, there is only one cable television provider,” State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson said.

Forever 21 coming to Marketplace Mall

Forever 21, a national clothing retailer marketing to teens and twentysomethings will be coming soon to Marketplace Mall. The store, which sells both men’s and women’s clothes, is listed as one of the top three teen shopping brands nationwide.

Forever 21 currently has shops in Chicagoland and Indiana.

For more information, visit the Marketplace Mall Web site,

Compile by Jenette Sturges