String Theory!
Nuke Cancer! Arthritis & Pot,
Pinhead Angel, Top Quark!
The Quantum Well & More!
String Theory!
University of California News Release

Santa Barbara June 11, 2004 - According to string theory, all the different particles that constitute physical reality are made of the same thing--tiny looped strings whose different vibrations give rise to the different fundamental particles that make up everything we know.

Whether this theory correctly portrays fundamental reality is one of the biggest questions facing physicists.

In the June on-line Journal of High Energy Physics (JHEP), three theoretical physicists propose the most viable test to date for determining whether string theory is on the right track. The effect that they describe and that could be discovered by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), a facility for detecting gravitational waves that is just becoming operational, could provide support for string theory within two years. 

When physicists look at fundamental particles--electrons, quarks, and photons--with the best magnifiers available (huge particle accelerators such as those at Fermi Lab in Illinois or CERN in Switzerland), the particles' structures appear point-like.

In order to see directly whether that point-like structure is really a looped string, physicists would have to figure out how to magnify particles 15 orders of magnitude more than the 13 orders of magnitude afforded by today's best magnifying techniques--a feat unlikely to occur ever.

In their paper "Cosmic F and D Strings," the three physicists propose looking instead for the gravitational signature of strings left over from the creation of the universe.

The physicists are Joseph Polchinski of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), Edmund Copeland of Sussex University in England, and Robert Myers of the Perimeter Institute and Waterloo University in Canada.

The international collaboration took place at a semester-long program on "Superstring Cosmology" held last fall at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). Located on the UCSB campus and supported principally by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Kavli Institute brings together physicists worldwide to collaborate on deep scientific questions. According to Polchinski, who is a string theorist, the KITP program that produced the test for string theory was the first sustained effort ever to bring cosmologists and string theorists together to advance the newly emerging field of string cosmology. Two-thirds of the roughly 100 participants were string theorists; and the other third, astrophysicists.

In the mid 1980s Edward Witten, now at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, asked whether miniscule strings produced in the early universe would grow with the universe to a size that would make them visible today. Witten answered his own question negatively by raising three objections to the idea. Because of subsequent developments, all three objections have in turn now been answered, according to Polchinski and his collaborators, who dispelled the last objection and then proposed a way of detecting those strings.

The first objection depends on a property of strings called "tension," which is the mass of a string per unit length.

"One way to characterize that number," said Polchinski, "involves the gravitational effect of the string. If you look at a string end on while a couple of light rays go past it on either side, the light rays will bend towards the string. So light rays that started out parallel to each other will now meet at some angle. The heavier the string, the more those light rays will bend, and the bigger the angle."

When Witten first worked on the problem, string theorists thought that angle had to be one degree. If it were one degree, the satellite COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) would have detected that imprint in the microwave background radiation, which pervades the universe and which was released when the early universe cooled enough for matter and energy to decouple some 300,000 years after the hot birth of the universe. The maps of the early universe that COBE produced show no such imprint and, furthermore, put an upper limit on that angle of no more than one hundredth of a degree. The satellite WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) has now reduced it to one thousandth of a degree.

In the mid-1990s string theory underwent profound developments. One of the consequences of those developments was the realization that the tension of the string and therefore its gravitational effect could be much less than had been thought when Witten made his initial calculation of the angle of separation between light rays affected gravitationally by a string.

Henry Tye of Cornell and his collaborators showed that in some string theory models the angle of separation would be between a thousandth of a degree and a billionth of a degree--far too small for COBE to have detected.

Tye and collaborators also demolished the second objection to cosmic strings having to do with "Inflation," which can be thought of as an intensification of the explosion and rapid expansion of the early universe following rapidly on the heels of the universe's genesis in the "Big Bang." Witten back in the '80s had argued that the strings produced by the Big Bang would be both heavy enough and produced so early that Inflation would have diluted them beyond visibility. 

String theory presupposes nine or 10 spatial dimensions, that is six or seven more spatial dimensions than have heretofore been assumed to exist in addition to the one dimension of time. Some of the "extra" dimensions are thought to be curled up or compactified and therefore exceedingly small; and some, to be larger, perhaps infinite.

In his attempts to understand Inflation in terms of string theory, Tye and collaborators envisioned our reality as contained in a three-dimensional "brane" sitting in higher dimensional space.

Branes, a key conceptual breakthrough discovered by Polchinski in 1995, are essential structures in string theory in addition to strings.

Instead of being only one-dimensional like strings, branes can have any dimensionality, including one. One-dimensional branes are called "D1 branes or D strings."

So there are essentially two types of strings-- the heterotic string or "F" (for "fundamental") string, which physicists knew about prior to 1995, and the "D string," or one-dimensional brane.

Tye and collaborators explained Inflation in terms of a brane and an anti-brane separating from each other and then attracting back together and annihilating.

So a brane and an anti-brane existing in the extra dimensions would thereby provide the energy responsible for Inflation. Everything existing afterwards--our universe--is the product of their annihilation.

And, according to the Tye models, at the end of Inflation, when brane and anti-brane annihilate, not only does their annihilation produce heat and light, but also long closed strings that could grow with the expansion of the universe.

At the outset of the KITP program in fall 2003, the only remaining objection to cosmic strings was what Polchinski calls summarily "the stability argument," first made by Witten back in the '80s.

If, on the one hand, the post-Inflation strings were charged, then they would pull back together and collapse before they could grow to any great size. If the strings weren't charged, then they would tend to break into pieces. Either way--collapsing or breaking--the strings couldn't survive until today.

Copeland, one of the JHEP paper's authors, went to a talk at the KITP by Stanford string theorist Eva Silverstein, who was interested in networking F and D strings--hooking them together to form something analogous to a wire mesh or screen. After the talk, Copeland wondered aloud to Polchinski whether Silverstein (who was thinking string theory mathematics, not cosmology) was inadvertently describing a mechanism for the dark matter--that as yet unidentified, non-radiating component of the universe which must exist in much greater abundance than all the ordinary "baryonic" matter of which we are aware.

Polchinski and Copeland worked out why Silverstein's scenario could not pertain to dark matter, but the engagement with that question got Polchinski to thinking about the old instability argument against the existence of cosmic strings in terms of Tye's brane-antibrane Inflation, particularly as worked out in detail by six physicists in a 2003 paper, "Towards Inflation in String Theory." 

Using that model, Polchinski, Copeland, and Myers calculated the decay rates for cosmic strings and discovered how slow the rates could be--so slow in fact that the strings would survive to the present day. By "survive" they mean not just detecting the gravitational footprint left long ago in the cosmic microwave background and "seen" by looking back in time, but actually seeing the gravitational effects of cosmic strings existing if not now, then billions of years after the genesis of the universe. 

Polchinski said their calculations showed that both F and D cosmic strings could exist and that the JHEP article explains how to distinguish the signature of one from the other. He also pointed out that Gia Dvali (New York University) and Alexander Vilenkin (Tufts University) have independently made the same point about cosmic D strings in March in another on-line publication, the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (JCAP).

Finally and most importantly, the JHEP authors show, said Polchinski, "how we can see cosmic strings. They are dark, but because they are massive and moving pretty fast, they tend to emit a lot of gravitational waves."

During the "Superstring Cosmology" program at the KITP, Alessandra Buonanno (Institut d'Astrolophysique de Paris) provided an overview of the possible gravitational wave signatures from the early universe. "When she gave the talk," said Polchinski, "I didn't pay careful attention because I wasn't thinking about that, but later I went back to her talk in the KITP online series and started clicking through and got to where she talked about gravitational waves from cosmic strings. She had these curves which were quite amazing."

The large-scale, long-term experiment to detect gravitational waves has three stages, LIGO I and II and the satellite LISA, with each successive stage affording a markedly higher degree of sensitivity. Most of the gravitational signatures of cosmic events are so weak that they will probably only be visible in the later stages of the experiment. But, according to Polchinski, "the gravitational signatures from cosmic strings are remarkable because they are potentially visible even from the early stages of LIGO! That means 'potentially visible' over the next year or two."

Gravitational waves have yet to be directly detected, which is the mission of the LIGO and LISA experiments. So in addition to the possibility of confirming string theory, the JHEP paper offers a better target for initial LIGO detection of gravitational waves than any other from cosmic events. 

Identifying the gravitational signature of cosmic strings is the work of Vilenkin and Thibault Damour (Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques, France). They figured out that when cosmic strings oscillate, every once in a while, they crack like a whip. "It's surprising," said Polchinski, "but when you write out the equations for an oscillating string, a little piece of the string snaps and moves very fast. Basically, the tip will move at the speed of light. When a string cracks like this, it emits a cone of gravitational waves, which is a remarkably intense and distinctive signal, which LIGO can detect."

Polchinski said that the biggest question mark in the whole argument has to do with the stability of the strings over billions of years. But, he added, "There has been a fair amount of discussion about the signature of string theory in cosmology, this is by far the most likely. What excites me most is how much we could learn about string theory if LIGO were to detect the signal from cosmic strings." 

University of California, Santa Barbara - Engineering -

The Official String Theory Web Site -

Nuke Cancer - NPRI Calls for Bush Nuclear Reassessment
Nuclear Policy Research Institute News Release

WASHINGTON June 11, 2004 – The Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI) today called on the Bush administration to reassess its commitment to the expansion of nuclear power; based on new study reported in the June edition of the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The study documents a dramatic increase in thyroid cancers following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. 

According to the study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, rates of thyroid cancers among women in Belarus have increased 12-fold in the years since the April 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. 

The authors noted that "the magnitude of increases observed is remarkable given the relatively limited time interval since Chernobyl." 

Additionally, the study points out that children two years and younger at the time of the accident were even more vulnerable, and that their cancers tended to be more invasive and expanded beyond the thyroid gland.

A number of nuclear power plants in the United States have recently faced public safety problems that were unexpected by industry officials. These problems could have had catastrophic effect for the American people.

Inspectors at Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant, located 21 miles southeast of Toledo, Ohio, identified a six-inch deep football-sized hole in the reactor vessel.

This hole was initially missed by years of inspections, and would have resulted in a meltdown had it not been identified.

At the time the hole was found, 95% of the steel protecting the reactor from meltdown had been eaten away by acid. In 2003 cracks were found in the instrumentation tubes which measure the operations of the South Texas Project nuclear reactors, 90 miles southwest of Houston, Texas, allowing the reactor to leak.

Had these leaks not been identified by routine inspection, they could also have eventually resulted in a meltdown.

"Given the disastrous consequences of a major nuclear accident as demonstrated by this new study, we call on the Bush administration to halt its push for funds to subsidize the nuclear power industry, and shift those funds into safe and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind," said Charles Sheehan-Miles, executive director of Nuclear Policy Research Institute. 

Pointing out the risk of terrorist attack against one of the 103 operating nuclear plants in the United States, NPRI President Dr. Helen Caldicott said, "Terrorists don’t need nuclear weapons. Thanks to the nuclear power industry, they are already deployed all over America, and even terrorists with limited knowledge could cause a meltdown at one of these plants."

The Nuclear Policy Research Institute will host a symposium, Nuclear Power and Children’s Health, in Chicago, Illinois October 15-16, 2004.

More details are available at
Cassini Spacecraft Passes Phoebe
Associated Press Writer 

LOS ANGELES June 12, 2004 (AP) - The internationally built Cassini spacecraft completed a flyby of Saturn's largest outer moon as it prepared to enter a four-year orbit to study the ringed planet, NASA officials said Saturday.

The plutonium-powered spacecraft, which is carrying 12 science instruments and a probe, came within about 1,285 miles of the dark moon Phoebe on Friday, officials at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said. 

The $3.3 billion spacecraft pointed its instruments at the moon, then turned to point its antenna toward Earth. Its data reached NASA's Deep Space Network on Saturday morning. 

Officials said the spacecraft was operating normally and was in excellent condition. 

"Although this is the first flyby in the Saturn tour, it is the only opportunity to see Phoebe," said Dennis Watson, project scientist for the mission. "This flyby is key to knowing more about the mysterious oddball, which has been the object of interest of many scientists."

A crisp black-and-white photo of Phoebe released Saturday looked somewhat like a skull with its overlapping shadows and craters. Higher-resolution photos of the moon, which is just 137 miles across, were to be released later. 

The spacecraft also transmitted data that scientists will examine to answer questions about Phoebe's mass and composition, said Torrence Johnson, a member of Cassini's science team. 

"This is an extremely battered, old surface we're looking at," Johnson said about early images from the spacecraft. "There are deep craters from other space debris that over eons have pockmarked the surface. It's roughly round, but it's really chipped away." 

Scientist believe Phoebe originated in the outer reaches of the solar system but later hurtled toward Saturn, where it was captured by the planet's gravity. 

With the flyby of Phoebe behind it, Cassini's next key maneuver is a trajectory correction scheduled for Wednesday to position the spacecraft to become a satellite. 

The U.S.-European spacecraft is expected to enter Saturn's orbit on June 30 after it dashes through a gap in Saturn's rings. 

Cassini will study Saturn, its rings and 31 known moons during its four-year orbit. Its two cameras could take as many as 500,000 pictures. 

Other probes have flown by the planet, but none have entered Saturn's orbit. 

Cassini also carries the Huygens probe, which is supplied by the European Space Agency and carries six instruments. The probe, set to be released in December, is expected to land on Titan, Saturn's largest moon. 

NASA's Cassini-Huygens site:
Arthritis & Pot
London June 9, 2004 (BBC) - A drug made from an extract of cannabis has helped to reduce the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. The drug, Sativex, has been developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, which is assessing the medical benefits of cannabis under a UK government license. 

Tests of a spray form of the drug on 58 arthritis patients showed it helped reduce pain, and improve quality of sleep. 

Few people showed signs of side effects, the company said. 

GW Pharmaceuticals has previously carried out trials showing that Sativex can reduce the pain associated with multiple sclerosis.

"These results are particularly exciting because this is the first ever controlled clinical trial of a cannabis-based medicine in the treatment of arthritis," said Dr Philip Robson, director of GW's Cannabinoid Research Institute.

"To date, GW's research has concentrated on multiple sclerosis and neuropathic pain and it is therefore very encouraging to see these positive effects of Sativex on pain and other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. This exploratory trial provides further strong support to our belief that cannabis-based medicines may offer therapeutic potential across a range of medical conditions." 

The research will now focus on the most effective dose to give patients. The study was welcomed by the Arthritis Research Campaign. 

A spokeswoman said: "It's not going to cure the disease, but it will do a lot to alleviate the pain and suffering of people with rheumatoid arthritis. Cannabis is probably less harmful than other available painkillers. This idea that people with rheumatoid arthritis will be sitting around smoking joints and getting high is quite wrong; cannabis-based pain killers should be taken very seriously." 

Arthritis Research Campaign scientists have previously carried out studies which showed that cannabidiol - a natural constituent of cannabis that has no mind-altering effects in its purified form - can ease the effects of collagen-induced arthritis in mice. 

GW cultivates some 40,000 cannabis plants a year at a secret location in the English countryside. 

The government has already said it would grant permission for the use of cannabis-based medications if trials produced positive results.

GW Pharmaceuticals -

Meteorite Hits The Living Room Couch!
AUCKLAND June 12, 2004 (AFP) - A 1.3 kilogram (2.8 pound) meteorite has crashed through an Auckland city home, hitting the couch and ending up under a computer.

It hit Phil and Brenda Archer's suburban Ellerslie home Saturday morning and while they now have a large hole in their roof, they have been told the book-sized rock could be worth around 10,000 NZ dollars (6,000 US) to collectors, according to the report in the Sunday Star Times. 

"I was in the kitchen doing breakfast and there was this almighty explosion," Brenda said. "It was like a bomb had gone off. I couldn't see anything, there was just dust." She thought something had exploded in the ceiling but her husband saw a stone under the computer and it was hot to touch. 

The rock hit her leather couch and bounced backup to the ceiling before rolling under the computer. The Archer's one-year-old grandson Luca was playing nearby but was unhurt. 

"He must have a guardian angel," Brenda said. 

Auckland University meteorite expert Joel Schiff told the Sunday Star Times said the rock was "a national treasure" but said international collectors would offer big money for it. 

He said the chondrite type meteor -- meaning it was chipped off an asteroid -- had probably hit the atmosphere the size of a basketball at 15 kilometers (nine miles) per second before slowing to around 100-200 meters (330-660 feet) a second at impact.
Pinhead Angel
University of Newcastle upon Tyne News Release

June 11, 2004 - Two major UK landmarks now count among the world's smallest objects. Scientists & engineers based at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne specializing in miniaturization technology have recreated North East England's Tyne Bridge and the Angel of the North sculpture so they are smaller than a pinhead and invisible to the naked eye. 

The team used a combination of chemistry, physics and mechanical engineering techniques to create the tiny structures. Both are created out of silicon, the material used to make microchips. They are around 400 microns wide and their details can only be seen through a microscope. 

The technology used to develop the bridge and the angel could be used to make miniaturized antennae for next-generation mobile phones. These so-called chip antennae will significantly reduce the power consumption and cost of production of mobile communication devices. 

The fact that these structures can be made in silicon is an important feature as this allows the integration of moving mechanical parts and smart materials with standard components used in the microelectronics and semiconductor industries. 

The scientists, who are based at INEX (Innovation in Nanotechnology Exploitation), the engineering and commercialization arm of the Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, undertook the project to showcase their expertise in an emerging technological field, micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS), in an interesting way. 

The techniques are now being used by INEX to develop a number of applications on behalf of industry. 

The applications range from accelerometer devices used in the automobile and medical markets; biosensors for rapid & cheap point-of-care diagnostics that are finding novel application in the healthcare sector; through to making grooves and channels 1/10th the width of a human hair to transfer picoliter (which is 0.0000000000001 liters) volumes of chemicals and biological materials for lab-on-a- chip applications that is enabling the generation of new and better drugs at a much faster pace than previously possible. 

The business director of INEX, Richard Carter, said: 

"Newcastle is already known for creating some of the UK's largest structures - and now the region is building a global reputation for making some of the smallest.

"These are not just gimmicks. The work was performed as part of a technology development program looking at new ways to make very small structures and devices. 

"The North East is a UK leader for this type of advanced technology and we are working hard to make sure that we remain on top of the market, which should ultimately boost the region's economy and create more jobs."

Pictures of the miniature structures can be downloaded from Newcastle University website. See the links below. 

Angel of the North:

Tyne-y Bridge:

Newcastle University - 

Suspected Killer Alcoholic Elephant Escapes Death Sentence!
JAMSHEDPUR India June 11, 2004 (AFP) - A rogue elephant which was blamed for the deaths of more than 20 people and was to have been put down, won a reprieve as proof of its guilt was insufficient, an Indian wildlife official revealed.

Villagers in the hills near Jameshedpur town, 120 kilometers (74 miles) from Ranchi, capital of the eastern state of Jharkhand, said the elephant had trampled to death at least 20 people in the past five months. But forest officials said Friday that they could not kill the animal based on a public complaints. 

"The death penalty on the basis of hearsay will be unkind towards the animal," said chief wildlife warden U.R. Biswas. 

Forest officials will, however, film the suspect elephant's movements, Biswas said. 

The forest department has asked a group of "tracers" to investigate whether it was indeed the elephant which killed the 20 people. Officials said there were at least 18 elephants of similar size and age in the area and it would be difficult for villagers to identify the rogue animal. 

The forest department has also ordered fencing to segregate the human settlement from the elephants' habitat. 

Officials say the elephants are drawn to villages by the smell of a local brew made from wild fruit. They say the elephants attack the liquor stalls, get drunk and trample anyone who gets in their way. 

Human settlements have been encroaching on forest areas in many parts of India, including Jharkhand.
Top Quark!
University of Rochester News Release

June 9, 2004 - Researchers from the University of Rochester have helped measure the elusive top quark with unparalleled precision, and the surprising results affect everything from the Higgs boson, nicknamed the "God particle," to the makeup of the dark matter that comprises 90 percent of the universe.

The scientists developed a new method to analyze data from particle accelerator collisions at Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory, which is far more accurate than previous methods and has the potential to change the dynamics of the Standard Model of particle physics. Details of the research are in today's issue of the journal Nature.

"This is a remarkable achievement in the measurement of the top quark," says Thomas Ferbel, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, and a principal author of the paper.

"The improvement has caused quite a stir because it has changed the accepted mass of the top quark in such a way that the Higgs boson is now in an energy range we have yet to explore. It's as if we've been digging a hole for the Higgs, and suddenly we realize we read the map wrong and it's really somewhere else."

The masses of the top quark and Higgs boson are critical to understanding how the quantum world works, including answering one of science's great conundrums--what gives mass, mass?

The revision of the top quark mass started as a thesis project for one of Ferbel's doctoral students, Juan Estrada. He decided to see if there were a better way to calculate the mass of the top quark from the measurements already collected at Fermilab's particle accelerator.

Ferbel was initially skeptical since scientists figured they'd wrung every bit of information from the data collected since the top quark's discovery in 1995. But Estrada, along with Fermilab scientist Gaston Gutierrez, developed a method based on probabilities that seemed to give a dramatic increase in precision.

Ferbel brought in a third student, Florencia Canelli, to help extend the method to calculate the top quark's spin properties as well as its mass.

When the real-world data was parsed, the method yielded a nearly 40 percent increase in precision; less than predicted, but still a tremendous boon to physicists. The improved method allows researchers to glean as much information from the available data as would have been possible from a sample two and a half times as large, which is invaluable when collecting data from each collision is such an delicate and arduous task.

The second major fallout from the new measurements is that the Higgs boson--the particle that is theorized to give rise to mass itself--apparently exists at higher energy levels than where scientists have been searching.

Since all subatomic particles are related to each other, changes in the characteristics of one ripples through other particles, and since the top quark is especially massive, changes to it result in the largest changes in other particles--especially the Higgs. 

Based on the old accepted value of the top quark mass, physicists expected to find the Higgs boson at around 96 GeV/c2 (gigaelectron-volts), but have been able to rule out that it actually exists there. That threw the whole Standard Model into a quandary.

The new measurement for the top quark mass, however, now places the Higgs at about 117 GeV/c2, which is a range accelerators haven't yet searched, putting the elusive Higgs back into play.

"No matter how hard we try to break the Standard Model, it always seems to flex and still work," says Ferbel. "It's puzzling because we know in the long run the model isn't quite right, but it won't be beaten down. Every time we put stress on it, it shows it's still alive and breathing." 

The new technique took a probabilistic approach to the measurements gleaned from the Fermilab collider. When the accelerator smashes a quark and an anti-quark together, a top quark and an anti-top quark are occasionally created. These quickly decay into other particle types, which themselves decay into yet more particles before the Fermilab detectors can begin to study them.

This means the researchers have to work backward, looking at the third generation particles and inferring how they were made back in time, much like looking at a scattering of pool balls and deducing where they were three moves ago.

Traditionally, researchers would assign a mass to the initial top and anti-top quarks and figure out what the decayed results should look like, then compare those results with what the detectors actually saw. The new technique works similarly, but assigns probabilities to a range of initial masses, giving more importance to the most accurate readings.

The result, when played out over many collisions, is a measurement that's much more precise.

"Effectively increasing the data by two and a half times makes an impossible cause possible, if you're on the edge of discovering something like the Higgs," says Ferbel.

University of Rochester -

China Finds Pterosaur Fossil
LONDON June 9, 2004 (Reuters) - Scientists in China have discovered a 121 million-year-old fossil containing an embryo of a flying reptile that lived alongside the dinosaurs.

It is the only known fossil of an embryo of a pterosaur, a winged lizard that evolved powered flight. 

"Dinosaur embryos have been discovered all over the world, but so far no pterosaur embryos have been reported," Xiaolin Wang and Zhonghe Zhou, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said in a report in the science journal Nature on Wednesday. 

The embryo is preserved in an almost complete egg and was found in the sediment of a lake in Liaoning in northeastern China that is known for its fossil riches. 

Parts of its skull and skeleton are preserved and the lower jaw shows two slender and slightly curved teeth, according to the scientists. 

It is bigger than fossils of hatched pterosaurs, which suggests it probably would have hatched soon. 

"The Liaoning embryo has a wingspan of 10.6 inches, indicating that the embryo would have grown up into a medium-to-large pterosaur," the scientists added. 

The earliest pterosaurs, the first known flying vertebrates, lived about 230 million years ago. They died out about 65 million years ago..
Pumping the Quantum Well
Los Alamos National Laboratory Press Release

LOS ALAMOS June 10, 2004 - University of California scientists working at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a colleague from Sandia National Laboratories have developed a new method for exciting light emission from nanocrystal quantum dots.

The discovery provides a way to supply energy to quantum dots without wires, and paves the way for a potentially wider use of tunable nanocrystalline materials in a variety of novel light-emitting technologies ranging from electronic displays to solid-state lighting and electrically pumped nanoscale lasers.

In a paper published in the today's issue of the scientific journal Nature, Los Alamos Chemistry Division scientist Victor Klimov and his colleagues describe their method for using non-contact, non-radiative energy transfer from a quantum well to produce light from an adjacent layer of nanocrystals.

A quantum well is a semiconductor structure in which an electron is sandwiched between two barriers so that its motion is confined to two dimensions. In a real-life device, the quantum well would be pumped electrically in the same way a common quantum-well light-emitting diode is pumped.

According to Klimov, "The transfer of energy is fast enough to compete with exciton recombination in the quantum well, and that allows us to "move" more than 50 percent of the excitons to adjacent quantum dots. The recombination of these transferred excitons leads to emission of light with color that can be controlled by quantum dot size.

"The high efficiency of energy transfer in combination with the exceptional luminescent properties of nanocrystal quantum dots make hybrid quantum-well/nanocrystal devices feasible as efficient sources of any color light -- or even white light."

In addition to Klimov, project scientists include Marc Achermann, Melissa Petruska, Simon Kos and Darryl Smith from Los Alamos, along with Daniel Koleske from Sandia National Laboratories.

Quantum dot research at Los Alamos has led to a number of innovations over the past several years, including news ways to observe and manipulate nanodots and methods for making semiconductor nanocrystals respond to photons by producing multiple electrons as a result of impact ionization.

That innovation has potential applications in a new generation of solar cells that would produce as much as 35 percent more electrical output than current solar cells.

The nanocrystal quantum dot research is funded by DOE's Office of Basics Energy Sciences and by the Los Alamos Laboratory-Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program. LDRD funds basic and applied research and development focusing on employee-initiated creative proposals selected at the discretion of the Laboratory director.

Additional information on Los Alamos quantum dot research is available at


Genre News: The Dead Zone, King Kong, SG-1, 21 Jump Street, Reno 911 & Ray Charles
Dead Zone Rocks the Future!
By FLAtRich

Dead Zone Executive Producer Lloyd Segan promises Johnny Smith's third season will surprise us, touch us, terrify us and generally shake up the universe.

If the opening volley is any indication, Mr. Segan may just be modest.

In "Finding Rachel, Part One" of The Dead Zone premiere, director James Head delivered our hero Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) into custody as a murder suspect and nobody - not even Johnny - is entirely sure he's innocent.

The second part of the opener will be history by the time you read this, but Karl Schaefer's script for Finding Rachel certainly takes The Dead Zone to new realms.

Capitalizing on a device introduced in Joe Menosky's first season "Shaman", Johnny now straddles two worlds - his own and the post-apocalyptic future of Christopher Wey (AKA "Future Man" and played by Frank Whaley) - and is trying to find the bad guys in both.

Dead Rachel's sister Rebecca Caldwell (Sarah Wynter) has complicated his relationships with previous seasons' regulars Nicole deBoer (Sarah Bannerman), John L. Adams (Bruce), Chris Bruno (Sheriff Walt Bannerman) and David Ogden Stiers (Reverend Gene Purdy). Kristen Dalton (Dana Bright) is the only familiar face who seems to be missing in season three (not permanently, we hope!)

Sean Patrick Flanery is also back as evil politician Greg Stillson, one of the original Stephen King Dead Zone characters.

So forget all that brag from Fox and those other wannabes with "summer seasons." (They used to be called summer replacement shows.)

In his online DZ blog, producer Segan (who has taken over fan chatter duties from Executive Producer Michael Piller) promises Dead Zone fans that guest stars Richard Lewis, Robert Iler, Judge Reinhold, Greg Grunberg and Francoise Yip will show up in what is undoubtedly the summer's most anticipated genre show.

The Dead Zone has set the pace for quality, syndicated drama for two years, serving up some of the best genre writing since the golden days of Star Trek and The X-Files. Its success has spawned a score of basic cable dramas, including USA's Touch of Evil, airing its first season finale next week. USA, Sci Fi, FX and TNT all have new series currently waiting in the wings.

Luckily for intelligent "unreality" viewers, The Dead Zone shares the sunshine with good company this year. Mr. Monk returns to USA June 18th, Nip/Tuck to FX, and Stargate SG-1 begins its new season on Sci Fi Channel July 9th, followed closely by a Stargate spin-off to Atlantis the same month. Sci Fi kicked off the summer last week with the excellent mini-series 5 Days to Midnight starring Tim Hutton and Kari Matchett. (DZ's deBoer co-starred.)

Oh, and Dead Zone's Mr. Sagan wants us deadheads to remember that the second season Dead Zone DVD box set is now available.

The Season Two DVDs can be purchased directly on the DZ website along with The Dead Zone: Music from Season One CD.

The Dead Zone airs weekly at 10 PM Sundays on USA Network. Can't wait to see what Johnny sees!

The Dead Zone Official -

Gollum as King Kong
By Borys Kit

Hollywood June 11, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - Andy Serkis, the man behind the popular Gollum character from the "Lord of the Rings" films, is reuniting with the trilogy's Peter Jackson to become the man behind the monster in Universal Pictures' "King Kong," the director's retelling of the 1933 classic.

Like he did for Gollum, Serkis will provide motion capture reference for the character of Kong, who will eventually be realized as a completely CGI creature. 

Serkis also has been cast as Lumpy the cook, a member of the crew of the Venture, the tramp steamer that sails to Skull Island. 

"I expect this time round will be a very different experience for both Andy and myself as we'll actually get to shoot extended drama sequences together," Jackson said in a statement. "It will be a little weird seeing Andy out of his Gollum gimp suit -- and I hope we can both make the adjustment!"

Commenting on Kong himself, Jackson said: "While Andy will provide very valuable onset reference, this doesn't mean we will be softening Kong by attempting to humanize him. The power of the story lies in the fact that this is a savage beast from a hostile environment, and we don't intend to compromise that."

Serkis joins Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody in the cast. Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are writing, with Jackson and Walsh also producing. 

Mary Parent, Universal's vice chairman of worldwide production, is overseeing.

Serkis, who is repped by the Gersh Agency and Lou Coulson in the United Kingdom, was most recently seen in "13 Going on 30."

Smallville Dad Former Duke

LOS ANGELES June 11, 2004 (AP) - John Schneider is still a good ol' boy at heart, but the former troublemaking off-road driver from "The Dukes of Hazzard" is now more known as young Superman's responsible, tough-talking father from the WB network's "Smallville."

He said both TV shows are about teaching values to the main characters. 

"It's a remarkable testimony to television's ability to affect people's families. And it's a good feeling," the 44-year-old actor told The Associated Press recently.

"(On both shows) we have the good guys who are good not because they're lily-white, but they're good because they make the right choices even when they don't want to."  The first season of "The Dukes of Hazzard" debuted on DVD for the first time last week. 

Schneider said those episodes from 1979 show the Duke cousins learning right from wrong, and when to trust authority and when to rebel, by getting lectures from wise, snowy-bearded Uncle Jesse, who was played by Denver Pyle. 

As the adoptive parents of super-kid Clark Kent on "Smallville," Schneider and co-star Annette O'Toole are doing the same thing for a younger generation. 

"There's a belief in the reality of Jonathan and Martha Kent and the reality of the family that they bring to young Clark — as Uncle Jesse did in a way," he said.

Smallville Official -,7353,||126,00.html

O'Neill Will Return to SG-1 

Vancouver June 9, 2004 (Sci Fi Wire) - Richard Dean Anderson, the star and an executive producer of SCI FI Channel's original series Stargate SG-1, told SCI FI Wire that he has reduced his shooting schedule in the upcoming eighth season, but not necessarily his appearances in the show's episodes.

Speaking in an interview on the show's Vancouver, B.C., set, Anderson (Jack O'Neill) said that he has reduced the number of days he shoots in Canada to allow him to spend more time at his home in Southern California, where he cares for a 5-year-old daughter.

"We worked out a schedule that has me working essentially three weeks out of the month and then having a week off," Anderson said. "And even, like, three or four days per week that I'm working, and then that one week off. So I have weekends with my daughter, and then I'll have some time in midweek. ... So it became very workable and acceptable."

Anderson added that he appreciated that the show's cast and crew have accommodated his schedule "by creating nothing but hardship for themselves, primarily." Among other things, producers schedule scenes featuring Anderson's character from several episodes on the days when he's in Vancouver and work around him on other days.

That allows O'Neill to appear in almost all of the episodes.

Anderson also discussed a few spoilers for the upcoming two-hour season premiere. By the episode's end, O'Neill wins a promotion and a new job.

"The cliché that I reference in talking about the character now in his current position is that of a fish out of water," Anderson said. "O'Neill, on paper, really doesn't belong in [that] position. ... But he's, you know, embraced it as much as he can. ... [But] in so many ways [he] would rather be on the front lines.

"He'd rather be a man of action than a man of great thought or great organization. ... But ... we've made the adjustment, I think, and accommodated the character quirks that I've developed over the years, and to a great degree I think that it's been successful. People are pretty happy.

"The writers were having a ball in the beginning, because they all know me well enough to know that I'd be putting a certain twist to it. But I still wanted to be respectful to the Air Force."

Stargate SG-1 returns to Sci Fi Channel with a two-hour episode at 9 PM ET/PT July 9th.

Stargate Official -

21 Jump Street and American Hero Go DVD
By Scott Hettrick

Hollywood June 8, 2004 (Variety) - Stephen J. Cannell has struck an exclusive long-term distribution deal with Anchor Bay Entertainment to release some of his series on DVD. 

Anchor Bay will be issuing four to six DVD series sets at once, beginning with "21 Jump Street" in mid-September and "Silk Stalkings" in early October.

Two additional sets from among "Hunter," "The Commish," "Renegade" and "The Greatest American Hero" are tentatively slated for the fourth quarter and the other two in early 2005. 

Cannell is one of the few TV producers who owns most of his programs. (Universal owns Cannell's "The A-Team" and will be releasing it on DVD soon.) 

Anchor Bay, acquired last year by telco IDT's entertainment division, has become aggressive in acquisitions and distribution deals in recent months. Last month it acquired London-based anime producer-distributor Manga Entertainment. CEO Ted Green said the Cannell library will provide a good jumpstart to the company's expanding release slate since it includes both high-profile and high-volume product. 

As the deal has been on the table and nearly consummated for months, Anchor Bay has already been busy producing bonus features for DVD sets, which will include an extensive array of cast and crew interviews and audio commentaries as well as making-of featurettes. 

Cannell, who has theatrical film productions in development on many of the series, has been actively involved in the creation of the bonus materials. 

Green said Cannell's production company kept the tapes of the series in such good shape that they were able to prepare them for DVD much more quickly than is often the case for some older series. 

Cannell created or co-created more than 40 shows, including "The Rockford Files." Stephen J. Cannell Prods. owns the worldwide distribution rights to more than 1,000 hours of the classic '70s skein starring James Garner.

Duck Turns 70

PARIS June 10, 2004 (AP) - Donald Duck, the cantankerous yet lovable Disney character, celebrated his 70th birthday by dancing onstage under a shower of confetti as hundreds of fans sang "Happy Birthday to You" at Disneyland Paris.

A parade down the theme park's Main Street marked the occasion Wednesday, with Mickey and Minnie Mouse leading the way. Daisy Duck and friends trailed behind carrying a giant pink cake with 70 candles. 

Donald made his acting debut on June 9, 1934, in the cartoon "The Wise Little Hen." Since then, the fussy fowl has appeared in hundreds of films. 

For the festivities, Karl Lagerfeld drew a portrait of the birthday duck sporting the fashion designer's signature eyeglasses and cardigan. T-shirts with the image will be sold as collector's items. 

"Oh-la-la, what energy — you're always so young!" yelled the master of ceremonies as the septuagenarian bird waved to the crowd, kissed Daisy and buoyantly danced away.

Reno 911 Cops Bust 2 Million

Hollywood June 9, 2004 (Variety) - The second season of Comedy Central's "Reno 911!" got off to a strong start Wednesday, delivering nearly 2 million viewers to the channel at 10:30 p.m. 

That number is on par with the 2.1 million it drew for the series premiere last July. 

"Cops" spoof notched a solid 1.8 rating/6 share in the cabler's key men 18-34 demo. Half-hour also posted a 1.2/4 in men 18-49 and a 1.0/3 in 18-49 overall. 

Jersey Television produces "Reno" in association with Comedy Central. Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney star. 

A DVD of the series' first season will be released on June 22. 

Reno 911 airs Wednesdays at 10:30 PM on Comedy Central.

Ray Charles Dead at 73
By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES June 11, 2004 (Reuters) - As one of the greatest musical innovators of the 20th century, Ray Charles was certainly deserving of the "genius" tag bestowed on him by peers, fans and critics.

As with many innovations, Charles' concept seems reasonably simple. He was among the first artists to combine gospel with rhythm and blues, helping to create soul music.

Both forms were steeped in the blues, but there had been very little crossover.

Church people were horrified by the sensuality of R&B.

When gospel hero Sam Cooke went secular in 1956, he might as well have joined a satanic cult. It was no coincidence that Charles performed at Cooke's funeral eight years later. 

Charles was unfazed by his accomplishments. 

"I personally feel that it was not a question of mixing gospel with the blues. It was a question of singing the only way I knew how to sing," he modestly told Rolling Stone writer Ben Fong-Torres in 1972.

"Gospel and the blues are really, if you break it down, almost the same thing. It's just a question of whether you're talkin' about a woman or God." 

Throughout his career, Charles ventured past soul and into country, pop, standards, jazz, swing and even hip-hop. He could make a Pepsi soft drink commercial sound soulful. 

"He didn't give a damn about the genres," Charles' biographer, David Ritz told Reuters. "He broke down the barriers and said, 'When I was a kid I listened to the Grand Ole Opry, and I like country and I like George Gershwin."'


Charles was "fearless" with his choice of material, Ritz said, but also put his uncompromising personal imprint on the songs he performed, leaving listeners no doubt that they were now his songs. 

"The only thing he didn't like was bad music ... music that was played incorrectly," Charles' manager, Joe Adams, said at a news conference on Thursday. Charles' personal favorites included the Beatles, Johnny Cash and B.B. King, Adams said. 

Charles' early professional career, which kicked off in 1947 after he moved to Seattle from Florida, owed much to crooners like Nat "King" Cole and Charles Brown. 

He started to develop his own voice with "Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand," a Top 10 R&B hit. Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun told Reuters he was "transported" when he heard the song, and bought Charles' contract from Swingtime Records for about $3,000, a hefty sum given that Atlantic had recently been formed with a $10,000 investment. 

Charles scored his first national hit in 1955 with "I've Got A Woman," which peaked at No. 2 on the R&B charts thanks to his vociferous delivery. In 1959, he released his first million-seller, "What'd I Say," which reached No. 6 on the pop charts. 

In the early 1960s, freed from Atlantic and with unprecedented creative control, he ventured into mainstream pop with two chart-toppers now considered to be his best-known songs, "Georgia On My Mind" and "Hit the Road, Jack."

In 1962, he ventured into the territory trod by boyhood heroes such as Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl by recording what many consider to be his greatest album, "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music." His version of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" topped both the pop and R&B charts. 

The album spawned a sequel later that year, and Charles kept returning to country throughout his career. In 1970, he appeared on Cash's popular ABC television variety how, the same year he covered the Cash hit "Ring of Fire." 

Charles made a rare foray into protest songs with the 1972 album "A Message from the People," in which he took stands on poverty and civil rights. 

He described the song "I Gotta Do Wrong," a regretful commentary on the need to attract attention by any means necessary in order to have wrongs redressed, as the story of his life. 

His 1993 album, "My World," featured hip-hop beats, though Charles claimed at the time not to know what hip-hop was. At the time of his death, he was putting the finishing touches on his first album of duets, on which he recorded with the likes of Elton John (news), Norah Jones and Willie Nelson. It is slated for release on Aug. 31 via jazz label Concord Records. 

"I think his legacy will be up there with Louis Armstrong as one of the great interpreters of the American artistic condition," Ritz said. "He was a great American voice and that voice touched everybody. It was a voice that was deeply and idiosyncratically ethnic. Yet his ethnicity had universal appeal."

Click here for last week's Genre News!

Paperback books by Rich La Bonté - Free e-previews!