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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 1, 2010

New York Times reporter, UI alumnus to discuss deep drilling hazards Sept. 9

Although the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has been discussed around the world, the many hazards involved in drilling several miles below the Earth's surface in search of energy sources are less well-known.

That is the subject of the 42nd annual Kurtz Lecture to be delivered by James Glanz, science writer for The New York Times, at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, in Room 100 of Philips Hall on the University of Iowa campus.

Titled "The Dangers of Drilling Deep," the free, public talk will point out that deep drilling hazards are not limited to oil wells, but include drilling for geothermal energy, which has sometimes caused earthquakes. There are also human components that add to the danger, as Glanz writes in the abstract for his UI talk: "As a journalist with a science background who has reported on these debacles, I have found the common factors to be, first, an unwillingness to step back and assess the true -– and often daunting -– extent of the risks and technical challenges involved; and second, an aversion to communicating those facts to the public before the dragon is loosed upon the world."

Glanz is an alumnus of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. He also holds a doctorate in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University.

Glanz joined The New York Times as a science writer in 1999 and has been a member of the Investigations Desk since January 2009, when he stepped down as Baghdad Bureau Chief after nearly five years in Iraq spent covering, among other topics, Iraq’s oil industry. His other credits include covering the collapse of the twin towers, reporting from Ground Zero for two years and publishing, with colleague Eric Lipton, "City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center." He has also worked as a staff writer for Science magazine.

The Kurtz Lecture is organized each year by the UI College of Engineering Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Funded by an endowment from the Iowa power industry, the lecture is named for the late Edwin B. Kurtz, professor and head of the UI Electrical Engineering Department from 1929 to 1960. Kurtz was the architect of the world's first educational television station, directing experimental station W9xk in Iowa City during the 1930s.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 370, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo,, 319-384-0009