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Archive for November, 2014

Historic comet landing highlights Space Law mission

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

The Philae probe’s touchdown Nov. 12 on the surface of a comet more than 300 million miles away gives heightened purpose to the mission of the University of Nebraska’s space law experts.

“It is the first time a space agency has successfully landed on a small asteroid or comet-type of celestial body,” said Frans von der Dunk, an internationally recognized space law expert and faculty member in the University of Nebraska’s Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law program.

With the landing, long-debated questions about the legal status and property rights for celestial bodies move from hypothetical to reality.

After 10 years of travel across the solar system, the 220-pound Philae lander separated from its Rosetta mother ship at about 2:30 a.m. central time to begin a seven-hour descent to Comet 67P. It landed at about 10:05 a.m. central time. The probe is to photograph and test the comet’s surface, measuring its density and thermal properties, as well as identifying any complex organic chemicals that might be present. Other tests will measure the comet’s magnetic field and its interaction with solar wind.

Von der Dunk, who divides his time between his native Netherlands and Lincoln, was to appear Nov. 12 on the Dutch public radio program De Kennis van Nu (Knowledge Now) to discuss the Philae landing.

As an intergovernmental organization, the European Space Agency is a public body. Yet the successful landing on a comet makes it more imperative that the international community resolve how to handle commercial mining of materials found on comets and asteroids, as well as the potential for near-Earth objects to threaten the Earth, he said.

Both questions have been the subject of in-depth study by von der Dunk and other space law experts at UNL. The ASTEROIDS act, a current bill before the U.S. Congress, is a unilateral initiative to address asteroid resource exploration and utilization. In addition, there are largely U.S.-led activities of the Association of Space Explorers to address potential threats by near-Earth objects. The United Nations has become involved in those efforts.

Contact von der Dunk at (402) 472-1240 or fvonderdunk2@unl.edu

For general legal analysis on space property rights and Near Earth Objects, visit:

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/spacelaw/25/

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/spacelaw/15/

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/spacelaw/57/

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/spacelaw/49/

Poker players: American heroes for the 21st Century?

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Nine players players from six countries are to battle over a $28 million pot in the Main Event of the Word Series of Poker beginning Monday Nov. 10 in Las Vegas.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s  Aaron Duncan, a communication studies lecturer and the director of the speech and debate program, can offer insights about why the World Series of Poker resonates so deeply with Americans.  The author of an upcoming book, tentatively titled “Gambling with the Myth of the American Dream,”  Duncan has studied the imagery and mythology of poker and how it fits with the American ideal of the “self-made man.”

He has analyzed in-depth how ESPN’s sports-style coverage of the 2003 World Series of Poker transformed the image of the gambler and poker player to become an heroic figure for the 21st Century.

For a more detailed description of Duncan’s thoughts:

Poker: Gambling with the myth of the American Dream? | UNL Newsroom | University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Duncan is available for interviews at 402-450-7830 or at aduncan3@unl.edu

UNL experts can help media make sense of the 2014 midterms

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

What do the 2014 midterm elections bode for the future? These University of Nebraska-Lincoln experts are available to help reporters analyze the rhetoric, campaign tactics and issues of the 2014 congressional and statehouse races, both in Nebraska and nationally.

John Hibbing, Foundation Regents University Professor of Political Science: Nebraska’s U.S. Senate, House races, statewide campaigns and campaign trail developments.  Hibbing is a nationally known expert in political psychology, biology and politics, political behavior, public opinion and legislative politics. His research has shown how people’s biology can influence their political orientation, an important perspective in a campaign season when Ebola fears came to the forefront. Reach Hibbing at 402-472-3220 or jhibbing1@unl.edu.

-  Kevin B. Smith, professor of political science, department chair: Nebraska’s U.S. Senate, House races, other major races, political messaging. Smith focuses on public policy, public administration, American politics, and biology and politics. He can discuss the dynamics of this year’s U.S. Senate race and other major races. He can analyze broad aspects of these campaigns, including the effectiveness or lack thereof of political advertising. He also can discuss differences between liberals, conservatives and moderates in the context of the 2014 election, and how developments on the campaign trail may be interpreted by these different groups of voters.  Smith, who is available Wednesday morning only, can be reached at 402-472-0779 or ksmith1@unl.edu.

-  Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, Willa Cather Professor of Political Science: Public opinion, political behavior, political psychology. Theiss-Morse researches Americans’ attitudes about numerous aspects of the American political system and about their fellow Americans.  Her research analyzes politicians’ use of heated rhetoric and how it affects the effectiveness of democracy. Reach Theiss-Morse at 402-472-3221 or etheissmorse1@unl.edu.

- Dona-Gene Barton, associate professor of political science: Public opinion, effects of campaign information on voters over time. Mitchell’s expertise is in American political behavior, public opinion and political psychology. She researches and teaches in the areas of how opinions are formed via information, campaigns and time, and the lifespan of information effects. She can discuss the effectiveness over time of campaign messaging on voters or how long unfavorable information may affect politicians and elected officials. Reach Barton at 402-472-5994 or dbarton4@unl.edu.

-  Damien Smith Pfister, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies: Political rhetoric, culture, digital media in politics. Pfister researches the impact of digital media on public deliberation and culture, including how blogging and social networking has challenged traditional patterns of communication during political campaigns and controversies. His new book, “Networked Media, Networked Rhetorics: Attention and Deliberation in the Early Blogosphere,” examines how political battles are fought in the digital world. Reach Pfister at 402-472-0646 or dpfister2@unl.edu.

- Sergio Wals, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Ethnic Studies: Political attitudes and behaviors, immigration and politics, the Latino vote.  Wals’ research agenda is centered on American political behavior, with a focus on topics related to race and ethnicity both in the United States and Latin America. He has paid particular attention to the study of political attitudes and behaviors of Latino immigrants to the U.S. He can comment on how the immigration issue affected the election, as well as on the Latino vote. Wals is best contacted via email, at swals2@unl.edu. His office number is 402-472-5704.

_ Aaron Duncan, Director, Speech & Debate, Lecturer, Communication Studies: Election outcomes and communication strategies in statewide races.  Duncan’s research focuses on popular culture and political communication. Reach Duncan via his cell phone, 402-450-7830, or aduncan3@unl.edu.