October 26, 2000

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Across the panoply of species spawned by evolution, many of the DNA sequences used in genes to code for proteins or that control gene expression have been conserved.  This has made comparisons of genome sequences between species a powerful means of finding new genes.  Popular genome models for gene hunters include those of the mouse, fruit fly, yeast, and nematode. Now, scientists have launched a new project focusing on the Fugu fish.  With a genome eight times more compact than a human, the Fugu should be a very cost-efficient new model.

As future silicon-based microelectronic systems continue to be reduced in size, ultimately down to nanometer scale, the atoms with which silicon must be doped will eventually begin to move about.  The results will be poor and uneven performances.  Nanoscale sizes should not pose a problem for devices based on single large molecules of carbon because the atoms in these molecules are covalently bonded and firmly locked in place. Now, Berkeley scientists have fashioned the first transistors from a molecule of carbon.

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.

Proteins are the building blocks of living cells. A national project has been launched to identify and create an inventory of all the protein structure families that exist in nature.

Electronic fabrication processes may be on the verge of creating a new generation of high-tech catalysts.

Preventing "flashover" in a half-million volt electron gun

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