September 27, 2002

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  When cells refuse to die

Image of cell
Image: NASA

Organisms rid themselves of dangerous cells through apoptosis, programmed cell death. Tumor cells infamously resist death, whether from chemotherapeutic drugs or the body's own immune system. Now researchers have found that the formation of three-dimensional cellular structures confers resistance to apoptosis in both normal and tumor cells.

A microlab to sniff out bioterror

Image of channel analyzer

By building rugged and inexpensive microfluidic analyzers whose channels are filled with novel monolithic porous polymers, researchers have multiplied the efficiency of these "labs on a chip" in detecting extremely dilute concentrations of microorganisms, proteins, and smaller molecules in the air, soil, and water -- including dangerous toxins and biological weapons.

It was a very good year

Wine logo
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, used in the primary fermentation of wine, does not metabolize harsh-tasting malic acid. But a bacterial backup, Oenococcus oeni, makes many wines drinkable by converting malic acid to softer-tasting lactic acid. Although acid and ethanol tolerant, O. oeni grows sluggishly. The pace could pick up now that researchers have sequenced its whole genome.

Image of xenon biosensor

Catch a xenon atom in a cage and you're on your way to building a remarkably bright and versatile new biological sensor.

Red and blue electrons are the secret of the only known superconductor with multiple energy gaps.

A bright ring of excited light points to a new state of matter.

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