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November 29, 2005

[email protected] Suppositions

Scientific research at a national laboratory like ours ranges from the nanoscale to the cosmos. Remarkably, there's one phenomenon that shows up whatever the scale: sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, things are changing.

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Ghosts of the Gold Rush

Gold Rush miners used mercury by the wagonload to extract treasure from Sierra Nevada sediments. A new study shows that limiting input now, while essential, could take another half century to reduce mercury concentrations in San Francisco Bay. The miners are long gone, but their toxic legacy still finds its way into the streams that feed the Bay.
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Squeezing the Buckyballs

High-temperature superconductivity and spintronics are just two aspects of the age of nanoscience in which the peculiar Jahn-Teller effect plays an important role. Adding a single electron can distort the shape of a molecule and change its electronic behavior. Using a scanning tunneling microscope, the first images of this striking metamorphosis have been made for single molecules, namely flattened buckyballs.
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Reverse Engineering the Ribosome

The blueprints of proteins are encoded in the genomes of every living thing, but translating these plans into structures requires ribosomes, cellular organelles that are remarkably similar in all creatures from single-celled bacteria to multicellular animals like us. The highest-resolution model of the intact ribosome yet achieved provides snapshots of how the ribosomal assembly line translates genetic information into working proteins.
  In Series  
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Discovering the nature of dark energy means better measurements of more supernovae, the brightest standard candles in the sky. The second installment of a series featuring the world's leading experts on Type Ia supernovae focuses on novel research techniques, new computational models, and nearby supernova searches.
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  The Energy Bar  
Waste storage shadows the promise of nuclear energy. Chemical studies at the Advanced Light Source suggest new ways to safely remove the radioactive element neptunium — long-lived, mobile, and hard to separate — from high-level nuclear wastes.
To make informed decisions on energy use, citizens need equal terms for comparing different forms of energy in an intricate network of input, output, and loss. A new chart presents a level-playing-field approach to California's energy balance.
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