December 15/22, 2004   

   Light clock promises finer time
Today's atomic clocks are so accurate that they would lose a second only after 30 million years. As impressive as this sounds, improving time-based technologies like global positioning systems requires more accurate clocks. Atomic clocks that use lightwaves instead of microwaves could be a thousand times more precise. A prototype based on a single strontium ion is a step toward redefining the second.
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Physics model predicts book sales
It's hard to tell whether the behavior of a complex system like a market is caused by external or internal forces. Using techniques developed for studying epidemics and earthquakes to study online book sales sheds light on the problem.

Silicon ring boosts light chips
Scientists have recently come up with methods of switching a light beam on and off using a second light beam, a critical capability for speeding communications networks. The goal is to make all-optical switches that are fast, small and cheap. A microscopic ring etched into a silicon chip could be the ticket.

Molecule harvests water's hydrogen
An ideal clean fuel is hydrogen extracted from water using sunlight. The key is finding an efficient catalyst that uses light energy to split water molecules. One approach is creating large molecules that both absorb light and collect electrons. A molecule that generates two electrons at a time is a significant step toward practical molecular catalysts.

Virtual ring eases scrolling... DNA makes nanotube transistors... Scheme simplifies quantum chips... Aligned nanotubes accommodate bone... Light writes info into atoms... See-through circuits speed up.

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