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March 24, 2004
Look! Up in the Sky! It's ... Botulism!

The likes of botulism and anthrax in the air aren't necessarily cause for alarm. The first nationwide census of airborne bacteria aims to differentiate between natural and suspicious fluctuations in airborne pathogens by cataloging the thousands of species that constantly drift and swirl aloft.
  Feature Stories  
Reading the seismic signature of shear stress on rock fractures could help gauge the precursors of earthquakes.
Laser bursts lasting just one-quadrillionth of a second can determine the chemical composition of all kinds of solids with unprecedented accuracy.
To mimic their big brothers, nanoscale semiconductors will have to be doped one atom at a time. It's just been done with buckyballs.
Busting Malaria With Designer Bugs

The most promising and potent antimalarial drug is the plant extract artemisinin. It's also the scarcest and most expensive. The fledgling field of synthetic biology may provide a much less expensive means of making this vital drug available where it is needed most — by engineering bacteria to make it.
Just One Junction Grabs All the Light

Efficiency is the fundamental issue for solar cells: how much of the light that falls on them can they convert to electricity? Most photovoltaics respond to only a narrow range of the sun's many colors, but with a newly discovered material, a single-layered cell responds to sunlight's entire spectrum.