In Print: #ButtScan And Bulletproof Suits
Dec02

In Print: #ButtScan And Bulletproof Suits

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what went on in last week’s issue of C&EN. It's not every day that academics get to take off their pants for a cause. But in this week's Newscripts, C&EN Senior Editor Michael Torrice writes about how one daring humanities job seeker dropped his or her pants and won $100 to boot. Rebecca Schuman, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, challenged the readers of her blog to enclose a photograph of their (clothed) rear ends in an academic job application to prove a point. She advertised the challenge on Twitter using the hashtag #ButtScan and promised $100 to the first person to actually submit a #ButtScan application. Schuman often writes about how absurdly involved applications for humanities positions are and seriously doubts that job committees go through the hundreds of 80-plus-page applications that are sent to them. “What happens is you meticulously and lovingly craft these 85-page dossiers. And then you pay $14 to send them. And then you get a gaping chasm of silence—literally bupkis, nothing—until April when they send you a form rejection letter," Schuman told Michael. Much to her dismay, she crowned a winner just 48 hours after her call to action. She had posed the challenge as a joke but paid up when a reader sent her proof of the submitted application. #winning The second Newscripts item is for a select crowd that has both a dangerous job and a deep pocket. A Toronto tailor is offering bulletproof men's suits for a pretty $20,000 penny. What started as demand from bankers in the oil and mining sectors who feared for their safety at business meetings in dangerous locales has turned into interest among certain (undisclosed) international leaders and country presidents. And it may also turn into a high-end conversation piece, says a company spokesman, who believes customers "want to have interesting bar talk with their pals about their James Bond, Bruce Wayne, or Tony Stark suit.” "I think most men who buy the suits will do so for the protection," Michael says. "$20,000 seems like a lot to shell out for a conversation starter. But then again, I don’t have that kind of cash around to begin with. Maybe people in higher tax brackets can take that kind of hit for bar talk." If it were to attract the wannabe superheroes, Michael is betting on those who want the Batman look. "I think it’s more of a Bruce Wayne thing. Tony Stark has the Iron Man suit. That one makes this suit look like...

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“Dark Knight Rises” Swoops Into Carnegie Mellon Chemistry Building
Aug08

“Dark Knight Rises” Swoops Into Carnegie Mellon Chemistry Building

On August 3, Pittsburgh news outlet WPXI captured this footage of Batman and villain Bane fighting on the steps of Gotham City Hall (aka The Mellon Institute) during the filming of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Pittsburgh. Carnegie Mellon University chemists experienced a taste of showbiz last week, when filming for the hotly-anticipated third installment of the "Batman" movie franchise took over the lobby of their building as well as the surrounding area. The Mellon Institute, the imposing Greek-columned edifice that houses chemistry and biology at Carnegie Mellon, doubled as Gotham City Hall in an action-packed shoot for the movie, to be titled "The Dark Knight Rises", according to local newspaper the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (The Post-Gazette has comprehensive Batman coverage). The multi-day affair saw pyrotechnics, fake snow, and a massive brawl encompass the historic building and the street. The production crew and the university set out to film the movie with as little interruption to research as possible. But when the battle between good and evil is being played out in your backyard, it's hard not to notice things that are a little out of the ordinary. "I turned around the corner coming from my lab, and I see these guys in orange jumpsuits carrying submachine guns," says Stefan Bernhard, an inorganic chemist who studies luminescent materials. "The next day it was police officers-again with a bunch of submachine guns." "This has become the new normal-- people running around with guns." Even though the operation, codenamed "Magnus Rex", was supposed to be shrouded in secrecy, footage has been making its way to YouTube, posted both by local media outlets and Batman fans staked out near the set. Chemists have some of the best vantage points for catching a glimpse of the Caped Crusader. "From our window we can see the scenes that are being shot outside the building," Tomasz Kowalewski, who studies nanostructured materials, told C&EN August 5th. "There are a lot of fight scenes with big crowds of extras, and yesterday they were shooting a scene with Catwoman," he said. According to Kowalewski, a garage across the street from the building, also part of the set, was outfitted with elaborate doors. Huge cranes were employed to light up the building's interior courtyards. "It's a major operation- the whole area around the Mellon Institute is full of trucks, trailers, tents for extras-- it looks very different," Kowalewski says. Reminders were posted throughout the building asking researchers to avoid the lobby, to minimize noise, and to stay away from windows during filming. Gawkers can ruin a shot if cameras are panning through the windows, Kowalewski explains. Carnegie Mellon isn't the...

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