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Are bald men really more susceptible to heart attacks? Does oat bran lower blood cholesterol?

With an increasing array of health warnings and advisories confronting Americans, MIT's Dr. Jeffrey E. Harris has combined his roles as economist and physician to offer a strategy for dealing with them.

In Deadly Choices: Coping With Health Risks in Everyday Life, published in October by Basic Books, Dr. Harris argues that it is impossible to adhere to every guideline and warning.

Because perfect medical consumers do not exist, he writes, people make choices by weighing benefits against costs, taking risks and sometimes making mistakes. His book, the publisher explains, is intended to relieve the stress and confusion that often comes with being health conscious by "offering the ordinary consumer guidance for decoding reports and advisories, and. using medical information in everyday life."

Dr. Harris is an associate professor of economics at MIT and practices primary care internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.


Also on this fall's publication list-along with an interesting inducement for MIT students-is a new textbook by Dr. Howard Brenner, Willard Henry Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Dr. David Edwards, a former student who is now a research associate in the laboratory of Professor Robert S. Langer.

Copies of Macrotransport Processes, published by Butterworth-Heinemann, are available at The Coop. And MIT students who purchase the book will receive a $10 cash rebate (representing the authors' royalty), as well as an autographed dedication.

Ultimately, the book will be used as a text in an advanced topics graduate course.


Dr. Pauline Maier, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of American History and acting head of the history faculty, is among the contributors to In Search of Early America: The William and Mary Quarterly, 1943-1993, a collection of essays recently published by the Institute of Early American History and Cultures. The book comprises the 11 most significant articles published in the Quarterly since 1943 as voted by subscribers to the journal, the leading publication in the field of early American history. Professor Maier's "Popular Uprisings and Civil Authority in Eighteenth-Century America," originally published in 1970, is followed by a postscript written by the author.


The October 1992 Technology Review cover story, "The Importance of Being Nurses," by journalist Suzanne Gordon, has won two awards recently.

The article, depicting the unsung but pivotal role of nurses in high-tech medicine, received a 1993 Award of Excellence from the New England chapter of the American Medical Writers Association and the annual Print Media Award from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

Technology Review, MIT's magazine of technology and its social implications, has a national circulation of nearly 100,000.

Clips and Quotes

"To a large extent, macroeconomists haven't tried to improve macro forecasts or macro models... I don't see many signs of change. I wish I saw them, but I don't."-Dr. Olivier J. Blanchard, professor of economics, in a Business Week article describing how macroeconomics has been ignored by the Nobel prize committee for the past six years.

"What will happen over the next few years is that there will be these two things, one called a television set and one called a computer, and within a very short period they'll be the same. And the only thing that will be different is which room they're in." - Dr. Nicholas P. Negroponte, Wiesner Professor of Media Technology and director of the Media Laboratory, in a New York Times interview.

"We're still staggering from it. The most exciting part was realizing how fast `fast' is. It's pretty amazing."- Dr. Samuel A. Bowring, associate professor of geology, in a New York Times article describing how a team of scientists, including Professor Bowring, had established that an explosive radiation of life forms 500 million years ago-biology's `big bang'-had occurred in the short time span, in evolutionary measurement, of 20 to 30 million years.

"It's a wonderful thing. Europe has been liberated. It means that Europe is freer for interest-rate cuts, which will turn '94 into recovery rather than deeper recession. It won't make us rich, but it'll help."-Dr. Rudiger Dornbusch, Ford International Professor of Economics, in a Wall Street Journal article on Europe's near-abandonment of its system of fixed currencies.

"He's a very cautious individual. He requires of himself a much higher standard of evidence than many people in the intelligence community." -Dr. Stephen M. Meyer, professor of political science, about Bruce G. Blair, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, in a New York Times story reporting Blair's belief that Russia has a computerized system that can automatically fire its nuclear arsenal.

"This is the best survey of the best work in the best fields of combinatorics written by the best people. It will make the best reading by the best students interested in the best mathematics that is now going on." -Dr. Gian-Carlo Rota, professor of applied mathematics and philosophy, in a review of a book by Dr. John H. Conway of Princeton and Dr. Neil Sloane of Bell Labs on sphere packing, which involves calculating the best way to pack spheres into a given space, as reported in The New York Times.

"The tie between transportation efficiency and national productivity and the ability of the United States to respond to the international economic challenge it faces is increasingly strong. The end of the Cold War and the need to convert much of our technological capability to nondefense applications can have a profound impact on our transportation system deployment over the next several decades." -Dr. Joseph M. Sussman, JR East Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in a guest editorial appearing in Battelle's Transportation Newsletter.

"People are perceiving they need more skills, that their jobs are less secure, and that if they are going to keep their jobs they need more training." -Dr. Paul Osterman, professor of management, in a Patriot-Ledger (Quincy, MA) story on the increasing number of mid-career adults attending colleges to gain new skills in an economy that is demanding more from those who have or are seeking jobs.

A version of this article appeared in the November 17, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 14).

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