May 28/June 4, 2007


Cell logic

A prototype molecular computer uses the logic of ordinary computers to detect proteins and other molecules inside human kidney cells. The biomolecular device could lead to diagnostics and treatments for cancer and other diseases. (A Universal RNAi-based Logic Evaluator That Operates in Mammalian Cells, Nature Biotechnology, published online May 21, 2007)

One electron at a time

Zap an electrode attached to an infinitesimal speck of semiconductor material that's capable of trapping one or a few electrons and the device spits out a single electron. The single-electron source could be used to generate quantum bits for quantum computers. (An On-Demand Coherent Single-Electron Source, Science, May 25, 2007)

Super fantastic thermal plastic

A prototype electronic display made from a mix of metal nanoparticles and plastic uses embedded wires to heat the material, which reversibly generates colors. The bendable, paper-like display could be used for signs and portable electronic devices. (Paperlike Thermochromic Display, Applied Physics Letters, May 21, 2007)

Virus memory

Individual viruses attached to tiny specks of semiconductor material can serve as nonvolatile memory elements. The hybrid material could lead to inexpensive methods of manufacturing memory chips for digital cameras and other electronic devices. (Microscale Memory Characteristics of Virus-Quantum Dot Hybrids, Applied Physics Letters, May 21, 2007)

Blowing bubbles

Blowing bubbles from solutions of nanowires or nanotubes turns out to be a simple and inexpensive way to produce thin films with aligned and evenly distributed arrays of nanowires or nanotubes. The technique could be used to make flexible displays and other electronic devices. (Large-Area Blown Bubble Films of Aligned Nanowires and Carbon Nanotubes, Nature Nanotechnology, published online May 27, 2007)

Stretchy silicon

A method of printing ultrathin ribbons of high-quality silicon on plastic surfaces yields simple integrated circuits that can stretch and bend without breaking. The method could eventually lead to high-performance flexible electronic devices. (Bendable Integrated Circuits on Plastic Substrates by Use of Printed Ribbons of Single-Crystalline Silicon, Applied Physics Letters, May 21, 2007)


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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May 4, 2007
Fast melt
The Arctic could be ice-free in summer as soon as 2020. A study of Arctic ice measurements from 1953 to 2006 predicts ice-free summers...

April 24, 2007
Subliminal carrots

March 1, 2007
Time does tell

January 23, 2007
Collectively simpleminded


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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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