February 28, 2003

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 The bright future of microgrids

The nation's thirst for electricity could grow 400 billion watts in the next quarter century, but microgrids may meet the demand without the need for a thousand new powerplants. Microgrids, clusters of small generators serving office buildings, industrial parks, and homes, could make area-wide blackouts a thing of the past.

A fold-your-own protein kit

The Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction is the Grand Prix of bioinformatics, where competitors start with gene sequences and try to determine the shape of unknown proteins. A new visualization tool called ProteinShop jump-starts the race with mathematical concepts that move chains of amino acids like a robot's very long arm.

Tahiti sunshine means Rocky Mountain snow

When the sea surface heats up or cools off in the tropical Pacific, wind patterns change in middle latitudes. Shifts in the way moist air gets transported in the atmosphere directly affect precipitation and snow accumulation in the Western United States. A new computer model links El Niño to water resources in the West.

Nobel laureates solve a key link in the way bad cholesterol works.

Physicists and teachers fit the history and fate of the entire universe into a handy wall chart.

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