08/04/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
It may be surprising that a laser beam, when shot to the moon and returned by one of the mirrors the Apollo astronauts left behind, is a couple of miles in diameter at the end of its half-million-mile round trip. This spread is mostly due to atmospheric distortions, but it nonetheless underscores the problems posed to those who wish to keep laser beams from diverging or focusing to a point as light travels through a medium.
 
08/04/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
When it comes to tiny motors, the flagella used by bacteria to get around their microscopic worlds are hard to beat. Composed of several tens of different types of protein, a flagellum (that's the singular) rotates about in much the same way that a rope would spin if mounted in the chuck of an electric drill, but at much higher speeds-about 300 revolutions per second.
 
06/29/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
Although the magnitude 8.7 Nias-Simeulue earthquake of March 28, 2005, was technically an aftershock, the temblor nevertheless killed more than 2,000 people in an area that had been devastated just three months earlier by the December 2004, magnitude 9.1 earthquake. Now, data returned from instruments in the field provide constraints on the behavior of dangerous faults in subduction zones, fueling a new understanding of basic mechanics controlling slip on faults, and in turn, improved estimates of regional seismic risk.
 
06/12/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
Scientists at the California Institute of Technology have created a new method of detecting heavy water that is 30 times more sensitive than any other existing method. The detection method could be helpful in the fight against international nuclear proliferation.
 
05/12/2006 07:00:00

Astronomers have recently been enjoying front-row seats to a spectacular cometary show. Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 is in the act of splitting apart as it passes close to Earth. The breakup is providing a firsthand look at the death of a comet.

 
05/10/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
There's a time soon after conception when the stem cells in a tiny area of the embryo called the neural crest are working overtime to build such structures as the dorsal root ganglia, various neurons of the nervous system, and the bones and cartilage of the skull. If things go wrong at this stage, deformities such as cleft palates can occur.
 
05/04/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
An engineer comparing the human adult heart and the embryo heart might never guess that the former developed from the latter. While the adult heart is a fist-shaped organ with chambers and valves, the embryo heart looks more like tube attached to smaller tubes. Physicians and researchers have assumed for years, in fact, that the embryonic heart pumps through peristaltic movements, much as material flows through the digestive system.
 
04/24/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
If a tree falls in the forest and a caveman sees it lying next to a standing tree, what does he do? New evidence suggests that he may proceed to invent the letter "L."
 
04/10/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
An ongoing challenge in biochemistry is getting a handle on protein folding-that is, the way that DNA sequences determine the unique structure and functions of proteins, which then act as "biology's workhorses." Gaining mastery over the construction of proteins will someday lead to breakthroughs in medicine and pharmaceuticals.
 
04/10/2006 07:00:00
Robert Tindol
Building on years of research on the way that blood flows through the heart valves, researchers from the California Institute of Technology and Oregon Health Science University have devised a new index for cardiac health based on a simple ultrasound test. The index is now ready for use, and provides a new diagnostic tool for cardiologists in searching for the very early signs of certain heart diseases.
 

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