October 2, 2000

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Recent evidence shows that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.  Furthermore, the data strongly suggest that an unidentified form of energy is the cause of the accelerating expansion.  This "dark energy" has been deemed perhaps "the most fundamentally mysterious thing in basic science."  Light from distant exploding stars carries telltale clues that can resolve this enigma.  Scientists propose to launch a satellite named SNAP on a mission to discover the nature of the dark energy.

With the completion of a "working draft" of the human genome, scientists now are busy identifying the genes within the sequences of those three billion DNA bases. Next, they must determine the purpose of those genes, which means determining the molecular and cellular functions of the proteins for which they code.  Proteins are the building blocks of living cells and control many vital biochemical processes.  Thus, a "Protein Structure Initiative" has been launched with researchers here part of this national project to identify and create an inventory of all the protein structure families that exist in nature.



Designing catalytic systems to be fast-acting, long-lived, and to form only the desired end products remains a major challenge.  Electronic fabrication processes may be on the verge of creating a new generation of high-tech catalysts.

Jefferson Lab's big free-electron laser is kick-started by a 500,000-volt electron gun. Before scientists could fire it at full power, they had to beat the flashover problem.

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