September 24/
October 1, 2003   

   Radio tags give guidance
Radio frequency identification tags promise to revolutionize commerce by making real-time inventory tracking cost-effective. Nailing the tags in place opens up another possibility -- location-specific information.
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Laser made from single atom
The simplest possible laser -- a single atom -- has been on the drawing board for decades. Researchers have finally achieved the extremely precise control needed to make a laser from just one atom. The first demonstration of a single-atom laser showed that it's a different animal -- it produces quantum light.

Web searches tap databases
The mountains of data stored in relational databases is largely inaccessible to the Web. A search tool that allows free-text queries of databases could change things. The key is mapping the data in databases as though it were a series of links Web pages.

Heated plastic holds proteins
One important task for biochips is sorting proteins, but it's tricky business getting protein molecules to be where you want them and stay away from where you don't. A tiny, plastic-coated hot plate allows scientists to trap and release proteins on command.

News briefs
Reflective dust IDs substances... Rapid process shapes aluminum... 3D display goes deeper... Artificial DNA stacks metal atoms... Teamed lasers make smaller spots... Glow shows individual DNA.

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