October 31/
November 6, 2006


Speaking antibiotic

Modeling amino acid sequences as a language allows scientists to create new forms of antimicrobial peptides -- small proteins that hinder bacterial growth and reproduction. The artificial antimicrobial peptides promise to foster antibacterial drugs that are less susceptible to bacterial resistance than today's antibiotics. (A Linguistic Model for the Rational Design of Antimicrobial Peptides, Nature, October 19, 2006)

3D mini endoscope

An endoscope made of a single, hair-like optical fiber uses multicolored light to make three-dimensional video scans of areas inside the body. The medical imaging device is smaller and more flexible than today's endoscopes, promising access to smaller and more delicate areas of the body. (Three-Dimensional Miniature Endoscopy, Nature, October 19, 2006)

Hyper MRI

Specially designed molecules that contain xenon atoms promise magnetic resonance imaging 10,000 times more sensitive than today's MRIs. The technique could be used to target specific tissues in the body like heart muscle and to detect individual molecules like proteins that signal heart disease. (Molecular Imaging Using a Targeted Magnetic Resonance Hyperpolarized Biosensor, Science, October 20, 2006)

Nano cure for bad oxygen

Cerium oxide nanoparticles reduced vision loss in rats by disposing of toxic oxygen-based molecules and ions. The nanoparticles promise to prevent cell death in a range of diseases, including macular degeneration, diabetes, Alzheimer's and atherosclerosis. (Rare Earth Nanoparticles Prevent Retinal Degeneration Induced by Intracellular Peroxides, Nature Nanotechnology, November 2006)

Less chilly single photons

Microscopic specks of gallium nitride embedded in aluminum nitride can be triggered to emit single photons at a temperature as high as -73 degrees Celsius. The device could lead to practical sources of single photons, which promise to increase the speed of quantum cryptography communications systems. (A Gallium Nitride Single-Photon Source Operating at 200K, Nature Materials, published online October 22, 2006)

Quantum synchronized swimming

A pair of memory devices emit single photons at the same time, bringing networks that can pass along information stored in individual atoms a step closer. Quantum networks can be used to connect quantum computers, which tap properties of atoms and subatomic particles to compute, and quantum cryptography networks, which use such properties to transfer information securely. (Conditional Control of the Quantum States of Remote Atomic Memories for Quantum Networking, Nature Physics, December 2006)


View from the High Ground: ICL's John Pendry
Physics as machine tool, negative refractive index, metamaterials, shattered wine glasses, higher capacity DVDs, scientific backwaters, risk perception and practice, practice, practice.

How It Works: Quantum computing: qubits
Photons, electrons and atoms, oh my! These particles are the raw materials for qubits, the basic building blocks of quantum computers.

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October 26, 2006
Shockingly alert
The caffeine hit that leaves coffee drinkers wide-eyed and alert isn't the only way to get the brain revved up. It turns out that electrical brain stimulation also boosts cognitive function...

October 19, 2006
Invisibility demo

October 16, 2006
Cyclops camera

October 11, 2006
Nano super liquid Band-Aid


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"Physics is to the rest of science what machine tools are to engineering. A corollary is that science places power in our hands which can be used for good or ill. Technology has been abused in this way throughout the ages from gunpowder to atomic bombs."
- John Pendry, Imperial College London

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