Daily Debriefing

by Compiled by Christine Paquin | 11/21/06 6:00am

The "State of the Arctic" analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted that Arctic sea ice levels from last March were the lowest they have ever been since coverage via satellite began over 30 years ago. However, according to Jaqueline Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., the loss of Arctic ice is now an issue during both the winter and the summer. The Arctic tundra has become greener while the northern forests have lost vegetation at the same time due to drought. Additionally, Arctic glaciers are shrinking and permafrost is warming. All this is a cause for concern, experts said, because the temperature variation between the Arctic and equator determines the global climate.

Mascoma, a Dartmouth start-up that genetically engineers microbes that can convert waste products such as wood chips and leaves into ethanol via fermentation, recently raised $30 million to expand beyond the experimental stage. Mascoma was founded by Dartmouth engineering professor Lee Lynd and Charles Wyman, who currently teaches at the University of California, Riverside. Ethanol, which is made from corn, has been criticized because the corn could be sold for food and because these crops need large amounts of water and energy to grow before they are turned into car fuel. Various scientists and startups, including Mascoma, are attempting to remedy this by producing ethanol from crops and biomass sources with little value as food and using single-celled organisms instead of costly machinery to process it. Mascoma has an engineering team and a lab for demonstration but has not yet moved toward marketable production.

President George W. Bush recently awarded Gregory Rabassa '44, a noted translator of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Cortazar and Vargas Llosa, with the 2006 National Medal in the Arts and Humanities. Alumni of the award include Lorin Maazel, Norah Jones and Felicity Huffman. Rabassa, 84, is best known for his translation of Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. He is credited with bringing a large number of Latin American contemporary fiction works to English speakers and has completed more than 30 translations from Spanish and Portuguese. Rabassa recently published his own full-length book entitled, "If This Be Treason: Translation and its Dyscontents."

"My thesis in this book is that translation is impossible. People expect reproduction, but you can't turn a baby chick into a duckling. The best you can do is get close to it," Rabassa said about his work.