Why do we have leap year?


David Kieda

In Denmark, the tradition is that women may propose on the bissextile leap day, February 24, and that refusal must be compensated with 12 pairs of gloves. 

In Finland, the tradition is that if a man refuses a woman’s proposal on leap day, he should buy her the fabrics for a skirt. 

In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky. One in five engaged couples in Greece will plan to avoid getting married in a leap year.

From Wikipedia

FYI News
asked David Kieda, professor of physics and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, to give us some insight on why a leap year has been integrated into our calendar.

FYI News: Why do we have leap year?
David Kieda: The leap year is in place so that common astronomical events occur on the same calendar day every year (or close to it). The important events are the summer and winter solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes. This would be easy if the time for the Earth to complete one orbit was an exact number of days. Unfortunately, it is not; one exact orbit around the sun takes 365 days, five hours, 49 minutes and 12 seconds which is 365.2425 days (incidentally, this can happen; Mercury’s orbital period and rotational period is locked in a 2:3 resonance, meaning it has exactly three days for exactly two orbits around the sun!)

FYI: What effect does that extra time have on Earth?
So the consequence for Earth is that after four orbits (years), 1490.97 days have passed. We account for that extra 0.96 by adding one leap day every four years in order to keep the solstices and equinoxes occurring on the same calendar date each year.

FYI: What would happen if we didn’t add that extra day?
Kieda: If you did not do this, then after 400 years the summer solstice would be occurring about 100 days earlier in the calendar: the calendar would say spring, when in fact it was actually summer outside.

By the way, notice the calendar still isn’t perfect…every four years you are 0.03 days short. After a century (25 leap years) you will be short by 0.75 days. So to make up for this, on the year of the century (years 1700, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200) there is no leap day (I’ll bet you did not know that!).

Every century you are now going forward by 0.25 days. So every 400 years, you need to have an extra day. So there is a century rule: The century years do not have a leap day, unless they are divisible by 400, in which case there is a leap day.

Which explains why there was a leap day in the year 2000…the first one in 400 years!


It’s a party and you’re invited!


The Guest House expansion project is complete and now open. Everyone is invited to check it out on Monday, March 5, from 3-6 p.m. Come for food, tours, giveaways, and more.

Here’s what’s new:

• A dazzling new ballroom—12-foot ceilings, ample space for 350 guests, outdoor patio and fireplace, beautiful views

• 50 comfortable, new guest rooms

• New lobby and fitness room

• New catering kitchen and registration areas

• New hospitality suites

• Hot breakfast—pancakes, sausage, bacon, mini omelets, French toast

 For additional information, contact the Guest House or call 801-587-1000.


FYI poll

Take our FYI News poll

It’s live until Mar. 7 when the next issue of FYI News is published. All responses are anonymous.

February 22 Poll:

Do you think Utah should bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games?

Show Results

Last FYI poll results–based on 98 respondents:


What was your favorite Super Bowl XLVI commercial?

Honda CR-V: Broderick, Broderick? 11 votes (11%)
Acura: The First One 2 votes (2%)
Audi: Killing Time 2 votes (2%)
Chevy: The End of the World 3 votes (3%)
Doritos: You Didn’t See Nuthin’ 21 votes (21%)
Kia: Mr. Sandman 1 vote (1%)
Volkswagen: Working Out Like a Dog 12 votes (12%)
Chrysler: Halftime in America 8 votes (8%)
Toyota: Reinventing Oursleves 0 votes (0%)
Sketchers: Dog Race 2 votes (2%)
Other (please specify in comments field) 2 votes (2%)
I did not see the commercials 34 votes (34%)



V.P. for Research Updates

Research notebook1. Upcoming Research Grant Opportunities

2. Upcoming Classes in the Research Administration Training Series (RATS)

3. Grant Writing Crash Course Update


1. Upcoming research grant opportunities

Intramural Funding Opportunities
Technology Commercialization Project (TCP)
Deadline: Mar. 15, 2012

Limited Submission Opportunities (apply through CIS in the Limited Submission Application link)
Planning a Partnership Model for a Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope
Internal submission deadline: Feb. 23, 2012

Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program (IGERT)
Internal submission deadline: Mar. 1, 2012

NEI Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K12)
Internal submission deadline: Mar. 22, 2012

Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program
Internal submission deadline: Mar. 29, 2012

NEI Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grants (T32) for Statistical Genetics and Genome Informatics
Internal submission deadline: Mar. 29, 2012

Team-Based Design in Biomedical Engineering Education (R25)
Internal submission deadline: Mar. 29, 2012


2. Upcoming classes in the Research Administration Training Series (RATS)

For questions concerning RATS, contact Tony Onofrietti at 801-585-3492, by email, or online.

Preparation for Investigator-Initiated Drug and Device Studies
Tuesday, Feb. 28
2:00-4:00 p.m.
HSEB Rm. 2600

Investigator Training Workshop: Post-Award Session
Wednesday, Feb. 29
3:30-5:30 p.m.
RAB Rm. 117

Institutional Review Board and Human Subject Research
Thursday, Mar. 1
2:00-4:00 p.m.
HSEB Rm. 1750

Research Misconduct & Conflict of Interest
Tuesday, Mar. 6
2:00-4:00 p.m.
HSEB Rm. 1750

Getting Published: Responsible Authorship and Peer Review
Wednesday, Mar. 7
2:00-4:00 p.m.
HSEB Rm. 1750

Project Management: Implementing the Award Process
Thursday, Mar. 8
2:00-4:00 p.m.
HSEB Rm. 1750

Introduction to Community of Science (COS)
Thursday, Mar. 8
2:00-4:00 p.m.
HSEB Lab 3100D


3. Grant writing crash course update

Registration for the Spring 2012 Grant Writing Crash Course is now available.

Jun. 8-10, 2012
The Lodges at Deer Valley Resort
Park City, Utah

Experienced University of Utah faculty will provide individualized instruction in the mechanics of effective grant proposal writing, how to sell your idea to a sponsoring agency, how to develop specific aims and justifications, and the political and social aspects of “grantsmanship.” Participants will work on their grant proposals at the Crash Course, receiving real-time feedback to strengthen their proposals and enhance their likelihood of funding. Attendance is highly limited and we encourage you to approach your department chair to request funding for your participation. Registration fees include two nights lodging at the Deer Valley Resort, use of recreational facilities, and most meals. A spouse and up to two children are welcome to accompany the participant (additional charge if more than two children attend).

Attendance is highly limited and you are encouraged to reserve your place as soon as possible. To register, or for more information, please contact Tony Onofrietti, director of research education ,or call 801-585-3492.

The Grant Writing Crash Course is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and led by Gary C. Schoenwolf, Distinguished Professor of neurobiology and anatomy.


Students to be remembered

A multi-faith memorial service to honor 15 University of Utah students who died in 2011 will be held Thursday, March 1, at 2:00 p.m. in the Fort Douglas Post Chapel. The memorial is hosted by the Office of the Dean of Students and the Interfaith Campus Advisors Council. Parking is available at the Fort Douglas Officer’s Club and the University shuttle has regular drop-off locations in front of the Post Chapel. U students, staff, and faculty are welcome to attend this service. A reception at the Officer’s Club will follow the memorial. We encourage you to join us as we pay our respects to these fine students.

The students being honored include:

  • Astra Waller, University College (Undeclared)
  • Andrew Smith, Film & Media Art
  • Brynn Barton, Nursing BSN
  • Holly Brittsan, University College (Pre-Medicine)
  • Elisse Ossana, University College (Pre-Education)
  • Jonathan Bowers, Health Promotion & Education
  • Joseph (Hance) Henrie, Geography
  • Jeffrey Morrow, Masters (Business)
  • Jeremy Thomas, Physics
  • Kacey Potter, University College (Pre-Education)
  • Nicholas Raitt, University College (Pre-Business)
  • Shyon Moaddeli, University College (Pre-Business)
  • Suneel Sarma, Medical Lab Science
  • Shawn Stamper, University College (Pre-Social Work)
  • Tyler Soelberg, Physics and Film & Media Art


Pac-12 academics

The MUSE Project will host a free conference—The Pac-12 and You: Leveraging Membership for the U’s Academic Mission—to explore the possibilities for academic collaboration with other Pac-12 schools on Friday, Feb. 24, from 7:30-11:00 a.m. in the Union Ballroom. MUSE conference organizers Mimi Locher, a professor in the College of Architecture + Planning and Mark Matheson, a professor of English in the College of Humanities, are looking forward to hearing ideas from those who attend. “We want students, faculty, and staff to learn about the kinds of collaborations that have already started between the University of Utah and the Pac-12 schools and to join us in imagining additional ways we can create engaging academic opportunities,” says Locher.

A breakfast will be offered at 7:30 a.m. with a welcome from Interim President Lorris Betz at 8 a.m. A keynote address on academics and athletics will feature Chris Hill, athletics director and special assistant to the president. Mary Parker, associate vice president for enrollment management, will discuss opportunities for recruitment. A panel discussion, titled Teaching and Learning, will feature Joyce Ogburn, dean, Marriott Library; Greg Owens, associate dean, College of Science; and Donna White, associate dean of the graduate school. A second panel, Student Perspectives, will include Neela Pack, ASUU student body president; Whitney Williams, a graduate student in environmental science; and two student athletes. The conference will culminate with a presentation by William Warren, chief marketing and communication officer, titled Getting the Word Out. For additional information, contact Patrick McShane or call him at 801-587-3177.

For additional conference information and to register, click here.  


Join SPEAK for Love Your Body Week

February 27 to March 2

With a mission to encourage acceptance and celebration of human diversity of all body shapes and sizes, the U’s SPEAK organization (students promoting eating disorder awareness and knowledge) has been working to change cultural ideals that equate thinness with health, beauty, and happiness for more than 10 years. They will sponsor their annual Love Your Body Week on campus February 27 to March 2.

This year’s theme, Love Your Body, Love Your Land, is a reminder of the role that environment plays in our well-being: healthy relationships with food; growing and using fresh produce; and being aware of how our actions can have a positive impact on the world around us. Events include cooking classes; Zumba, yoga, and martial arts classes; a gallery stroll; and a keynote presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 29 at noon in the Olpin Union Ballroom by Christy Greenleaf, associate professor at the University of North Texas. See the complete listing of events here.

Justine Reel, assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Education, and founder and faculty advisor for SPEAK, answered a few questions for FYI.

FYI NEWS: How did SPEAK get started?

JUSTINE REEL: I started the SPEAK group as an eating disorder research team when four students independently approached me about working on my research projects (body image/eating disorders). We had our first meeting in May 2002 and have been meeting monthly, performing outreach service, and engaging in research ever since.

FYI: What is your research interest in this area?

REEL: I contribute to body image/eating disorder research on athletes, and also focus on eating disorder and obesity prevention programs for mothers and their daughters.

FYI: What’s the most surprising change you’ve seen in public attitudes toward eating disorders in the past 10 years?

REEL: Eating disorders are more recognized and accepted. In the 1980s there was very little research or treatment available. The first eating disorder treatment facility opened in 1985.

FYI: What about those suffering from eating disorders?

REEL: Dieting behaviors are starting younger (5 or 6 years of age); eating disorders are present among older individuals in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s; and males are included in the mix. Eating attitudes have not improved given that our society emphasizes the imminent “obesity epidemic.” Obesity and being overweight is seen as a more salient concern for the U.S. without recognition that disordered eating and dysfunctional eating attitudes exist along a continuum.

FYI: What issues in this regard are you most concerned about?

REEL: Weight management programs and other campaigns that focus on weight loss rather than changing one’s mindset related to food and exercise. We have T.V. shows like “The Biggest Loser” that celebrate the largest weight loss in the shortest period of time. There is not time to develop a more accepting view of one’s self and become an intuitive eater and exerciser.

FYI: If you could ask people to do one thing to support a healthy attitude toward their own body image, what would it be?

REEL: Consider that it is important to be more accepting of self and adopt a “health at every size” approach rather than focusing on the numbers on the scale or bodpod. It is easy to get caught up in society’s weight fetish, but we can all benefit from getting natural physical activity, mindfully eating diverse foods, and intuitively listening to our hunger and fullness.


Reel is author, with the U’s Katherine Beals of Hidden Faces of Eating Disorders and Body Image. Reel also recommends The Easting Disorder Sourcebook, by Carolyn Costin.

Do you drive on Sunnyside Ave.?

The city has been examining different potential traffic configurations on Sunnyside Ave. between Guardsman Way and Foothill Drive. A traffic test scheduled to take place in late February or early March has been postponed due to concerns from drivers who use that route and from residents of the area who fear changes will move more traffic into their neighborhoods. You can read more about that in a Feb. 16 Salt Lake Tribune article here. The city had planned to close one of the westbound lanes for the test with future projects closing an eastbound lane as part of its “road diet” philosophy. Funding has been requested to make the necessary changes after the traffic test. The city has encouraged those with opinions to comment online at Open City Hall.

Upcoming on campus


Feb. 17 – Mar. 3
Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre
Young, headstrong Emma Woodhouse believes she has a special talent for matchmaking, but where the affections of others and her own heart are concerned she is exasperatingly but charmingly clueless. Jane Austen’s romantic comedy of small village English life in the 18th century comes to life in this enchanting stage adaptation. Runs. Feb. 17 – Mar. 3. More information is online or contact the Pioneer Theatre Company Box Office at 801-581-6961.



Wednesday, Feb. 22, 1:00 p.m.
George and Dolores Eccles Institute of Human Genetics Auditorium
The Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library sponsors the Priscilla M. Mayden Lecture presented by Bart Ragon, associate director for library technology services and development at the University of Virginia. Ragon’s lecture focuses on “eScience and the Evolution of Library Services.” Not just for librarians, eScience / eResearch potentially impacts access to the data, tools, and resources needed to collaborate, share, and move science forward. Science is changing and changing fast and libraries are adjusting services to meet the needs of highly-networked and technically savvy patron groups. More information is online or contact Jeanne Le Ber at 801-585-6744.



Feb. 22-24
Multiple Locations
The Barbara L. and Norman C. Tanner Center for Nonviolent Human Rights Advocacy presents the 6th annual human rights conference: Global Justice: Economic Globalization, Crisis, and the Common Good. Richard Falk will kick off this event on Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Public Library, downtown with the keynote address: “Can We Fix the Global Crisis? Obstacles and Opportunities.” The conference will continue on Feb. 23 and 24 in the Officer’s Club at Fort Douglas with panels and speakers addressing the topic: Why don’t we find the eradication of poverty morally compelling? Richard Miller will give the keynote address titled “After the American Century: Globalization, Justice and the Global Power Shift” on Feb. 23 at 12:15 p.m., in the S.J. Quinney College of Law Moot Courtroom. More information is online or contact Aleta Tew at 801-581-6751.



Photo by Matthew Loel T. Hepworth

Feb. 24-26 and Mar. 2-5
Intermountain Network and Scientific Computation Center
Another Language Performing Arts Company invites you to Duel•Ality 2.0, a telematic cinema project created and performed by Elizabeth and Jimmy Miklavcic. This original work explores the concepts of relationships and personal duality. Duel•Ality 2.0 takes place in a visualization laboratory, the VisLab Black Box Theater, where the audience will experience 2D and 3D projections throughout the performance. These projections enhance the story by serving as visualizations of Duel and Ality’s thoughts, enhancing the experience of the technological journey. Audience members will wear active stereoscopic glasses during the performance to view the 3D projections. More information is online or contact Elizabeth Miklavcic at 801-585-9335.



Wednesday, Feb. 29, 5:30 p.m.
Keys on Main, 242 South Main Street
Pigeons’ extensive variation in appearance has long fascinated biologists. Darwin studied the birds in On the Origin of Species and used them to demonstrate natural selection. Now, a new study by U biologist Michael Shapiro brings Darwin’s favorite birds into the molecular age. This study collected the feathers and DNA of some 1,500 pigeons from around the world and discovered that pigeons with strikingly different appearances can be quite similar genetically, and vice versa. Join us to learn why “birds of a feather” don’t always stick together. Free and open to the public. Must be 21 or over to attend. More information is online or contact Justin Parnell at 801-581-6958.



Wednesday, Feb. 29, 7:00 p.m.
Kingsbury Hall
Physicist Brian Greene adeptly conveys the concepts behind time and space to reveal the importance of understanding science in his keynote lecture, “Why Science Matters.” More information is online or contact Scott Pettett at 801-585-6927.

Announcements of interest

University Teaching Grants due soon

Awards are made to faculty to undertake projects that will enhance their teaching or the curriculum in which they teach. Tenured, tenure-track, and auxiliary faculty are eligible to propose individual and group grants. Preference will be given to applicants whose primary professional affiliation is as faculty at the University of Utah. Awards are made for amounts up to $3,500 for individuals and $7,000 for groups for items such as equipment, supplies, or travel where appropriate (see our web site for detailed instructions). The next deadline is March 14, 2012. Award nominations and grant applications may be submitted here.

Domestic travel protection 

Domestic field trip insurance is now available at affordable rates for individuals participating in University of Utah sponsored and supervised field trips within the U.S., its territories, and possessions. Please check out the specific details on the Risk & Insurance Management website here under the insurance icon. If you have questions, please call 801-581-5590.

We rely on you! A request from FYI News

We rely on our readers to send us news items and story ideas that might be of interest to the campus community. Send them here. Also, please remember to post your event on the U’s online events calendar as early as possible so people have time to plan ahead, and so we can include it in FYI. Contact Lisa Westlind or call her at  801-581-5819 for assistance.

Study participants wanted

Volunteers are needed for an IRB-approved research study on the effects of physical inactivity (bed rest) and rehabilitation on aging muscle. Researchers in the College of Health’s Department of Physical Therapy need volunteers for a new study on the effect of bed rest and exercise rehabilitation on muscle and function. Participants must be between 18-35, or 60-75 years of age. You may qualify if you are in overall good health and are not pregnant. A benefit of this study is participating in a three-month exercise-training program following bed rest. If either you or your students would like more information, or to find out if you qualify, contact Sierra or call her at 419-217-4692; or call Bryan at 801-243-4301.



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