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Quantum Dots!
Real Pirates, Radio Under Fire,
Artbots, Sitcom Sex, Gas Galaxies
SMART-1 to the Moon
& More!
Quantum Dots!

Sandia National Laboratories (DOE) Press Release

ALBUQUERQUE July 14, 2003 - In a different approach to creating white light several researchers at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Sandia National Laboratories have developed the first solid-state white light-emitting device using quantum dots. In the future, the use of quantum dots as light-emitting phosphors may represent a major application of nanotechnology.

"Understanding the physics of luminescence at the nanoscale and applying this knowledge to develop quantum dot-based light sources is the focus of this work," says Lauren Rohwer, principal investigator. "Highly efficient, low-cost quantum dot-based lighting would represent a revolution in lighting technology through nanoscience."

The approach is based on encapsulating semiconductor quantum dots - nanoparticles approximately one billionth of a meter in size -- and engineering their surfaces so they efficiently emit visible light when excited by near-ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
The quantum dots strongly absorb light in the near UV range and re-emit visible light that has its color determined by both their size and surface chemistry.

This nanophosphor-based device is quite different from an alternative approach based upon growth of blue, green, and red emitting semiconductor materials that requires careful mixing of the those primary colors to produce white illumination.

Efficiently extracting all three colors in such a device requires costly chip designs, which likely cannot compete with conventional fluorescent lighting but can be attractive for more specialized lighting applications.

Rohwer and the quantum dot team -- Jess Wilcoxon, Stephen Woessner, Billie Abrams, Steven Thoma, and Arturo Sanchez -- started on the project two-and-a-half years ago. Subsequently, their research has advanced significantly, including recently reaching a major milestone of creating white and blue lighting devices using encapsulated quantum dots.

"This accomplishment brings quantum dot technology from the laboratory demonstration phase to a packaged component," Rohwer says.

LEDs for solid-state lighting typically emit in the near UV to the blue part of the spectrum, around 380-420 nanometers. Conventional phosphors used in fluorescent lighting are not ideal for solid state lighting because they have poor absorption for these energies. So researchers worldwide have been investigating other chemical compounds for their suitability as phosphors for solid state lighting.

Quantum dots represent a new approach. The nanometer-size quantum dots are synthesized in a solvent containing soap-like molecules called surfactants as stabilizers. The small size of the quantum dots - much smaller than the wavelength of visible light - eliminates all light scattering and the associated optical losses. Optical backscattering losses using larger conventional phosphors reduce the package efficiency by as much as 50 percent.

Nanophosphors based upon quantum dots have two significant advantages over the use of conventional bulk phosphor powders. First, while the optical properties of conventional bulk phosphor powders are determined solely by the phosphor's chemical composition, in quantum dots the optical properties such as light absorbance are determined by the size of the dot. Changing the size produces dramatic changes in color. The small dot size also means that, typically, over 70 percent of the atoms are at surface sites so that chemical changes at these sites allow tuning of the light-emitting properties of the dots, permitting the emission of multiple colors from a single size dot.

"This provides two additional ways to tune the optical properties in addition to chemical composition of the quantum dot material itself," Wilcoxon says.

For the quantum dots to be used for lighting, they need to be encapsulated, usually in epoxy or silicone.

"Doing this we had to take care not to alter the surface chemistry of the quantum dots in transition from solvent to encapsulant," says Thoma, who worked on the encapsulation portion of the project.

Quantum dot phosphors are integrated with a commercial LED chip that emits in the near ultraviolet at 400 nanometers by encapsulating the chip with a dot-filled epoxy, creating a dome. The quantum dots in the dome absorb the invisible 400 nanometer light from the LED and reemit it in the visible region - a principle similar to that used in fluorescent lighting.

However, a key technical issue in the encapsulation process had to be solved first. When altering the environment of the dots from a solvent to an encapsulant, the quantum dots would "clump up" or agglomerate, causing them to lose their light-emitting properties. By attaching the quantum dots to the "backbone" of the encapsulating polymer they are close, but not touching. This allows for an increase in efficiency from 10-20 percent to an amazing 60 percent, Thoma says.

The team notes that other people working in the field of quantum dots have reported conversion efficiencies of nearly 50 percent in dilute solutions. However, to their knowledge, Sandia's team is the first to make an encapsulated quantum dot device with such high efficiencies.

To date, the Sandia's quantum dot devices have largely been composed of the semiconductor material cadmium sulfide. Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal similar to lead so alternative nanophosphor materials are desired. Fortunately, quantum dot phosphors can also be made from other types of materials, including nontoxic nanosize silicon or germanium semiconductors with light-emitting ions like mangenese on the quantum dot surface.

"Silicon, which is abundant, cheap, and non-toxic, would be an ideal material," says Woessner. "The scientific insights gained through the team's success with cadmium sulfide quantum dots will enable this next step in nanophosphor development."

In the next year the researchers will increase the concentration of the quantum dots in the encapsulant to obtain further increases in light output while extending the understanding of quantum dot electronic interactions at high concentrations.

While the researchers investigate the use of quantum dots as phosphors as part of an internally funded research project, they also have a grant from the DOE Office of Building Technologies for a collaborative project with Lumileds Lighting, a joint venture between Agilent Technologies and Philips Lighting. In this project they are helping Lumileds measure quantum efficiency of light emission from various types of dots.

Jerry Simmons, who with James Gee, heads up the Sandia's Solid State Lighting grand challenge, says the quantum dot research is an integral part of the work at Sandia.

"We are very proud of these accomplishments," Simmons says. "The team has come a long way in a short time."

Sandia National Laboratories -

Real Pirates of The Caribbean

By Stefan Lovgren
National Geographic News

Seven Seas July 11, 2003 (National Geographic) - Pirates have been figures of fascination and fear for centuries. The most famous buccaneers have been shrouded in legend and folklore for so long that it's almost impossible to distinguish between myth and reality.

Hollywood movies—filled with buried treasures, eye patches, and the Jolly Roger—depict pirate life as a swashbuckling adventure.

In the latest flick, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which sails into theaters today, the pirate hero, played by Johnny Depp, is a lovable rogue.

But what was life really like for an early 18th-century pirate? The answer: pretty grim.

It was a world of staggering violence and poverty, constant danger, and almost inevitable death. The life of a pirate was never as glorious and exciting as depicted in the movies, said David Moore, curator of nautical archaeology at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. "Life at sea was hard and dangerous, and interspersed with life-threatening storms or battles. There was no air conditioning, ice for cocktails, or clean sheets aboard the typical pirate ship."

While the period from the late 1600s to the early 1700s is usually referred to as the "Golden Age of Piracy," the practice existed long before Blackbeard and other famous pirates struck terror in the hearts of merchant seamen along the Eastern Seaboard and Caribbean.

And it exists today, primarily in the South China Sea and along the African coast.

Valuable Loot

One of the earliest and most high profile incidents of piracy occurred when a band of pirates captured Julius Caesar, the Roman emperor-to-be, in the Greek islands. Instead of throwing him overboard, as they did with most victims, the pirates held Caesar for ransom for 38 days.

When the money finally arrived, Caesar was let go. When he returned to port, Caesar immediately fitted a squadron of ships and set sail in pursuit of the pirates. The criminals were quickly caught and brought back to the mainland, where they were hanged.

It's no coincidence that piracy came to flourish in the Caribbean and along America's Eastern Seaboard during piracy's heyday. Traffic was busy and merchant ships were easy pickings.

Although pirates would search the ship's cabins for gold and silver, the main loot consisted of cargo such as grain, molasses, and kegs of rum. Sometimes pirates stole the ships as well as the cargo.

Neither Long John Silver nor Captain Hook actually existed, but the era produced many other infamous pirates, including William Kidd, Charles Vane, Sam Bellamy, and two female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

The worst and perhaps cruelest pirate of them all was Captain Edward Teach or Thatch, better known as "Blackbeard." Born in Britain before 1690, he first served on a British privateer based in Jamaica. Privateers were privately owned, armed ships hired by the British government to attack and plunder French and Spanish ships during the war.

After the war, Blackbeard simply continued the job. He soon became captain of one of the ships he had stolen, Queen Anne's Revenge, and set up base in North Carolina, then a British colony, from where he preyed on ships traveling the American coast.

Tales of his cruelty are legendary. Women who didn't relinquish their diamond rings simply had their fingers hacked off. Blackbeard even shot one of his lieutenants so that "he wouldn't forget who he was."

Still, the local townspeople tolerated Blackbeard because they liked to buy the goods he stole, which were cheaper than imported English goods. The colony's ruling officials turned a blind eye to Blackbeard's violent business.

It wasn't until Alexander Spotswood, governor of neighboring Virginia, sent one of his navy commanders to kill Blackbeard that his reign finally came to an end in 1718.

True or False

The most famous pirates may not have been the most successful. "The reason many of them became famous was because they were captured and tried before an Admiralty court," said Moore. "Many of these court proceedings were published, and these pirates' exploits became legendary. But it's the ones who did not get caught who were the most successful in my book."

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, may be the most famous pirate story. But the most important real-life account of pirate life is probably a 1724 book called A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, by Captain Charles Johnson.

The tome depicts in gruesome detail the lives and exploits of the most famous pirates of that time. Much of it reads as a first-hand account by someone who sailed with the pirates, and many experts believe Johnson was actually Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe, which was published in 1719.

What is not in doubt is the book's commercial success at the time and the influence it had on generations of writers and filmmakers who adopted elements of his stories in creating the familiar pirate image.

So what part of the movie pirate is true and what is merely Hollywood fiction?

What about, for example, the common practice of forcing victims to "walk the plank"?

"Not true," said Cori Convertito, assistant curator of education at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida, which is putting on a piracy exhibit this October called "Reefs, Wrecks and Rascals." (The pirates' favorite form of punishment was to tie their victims to the boat with a length of rope, toss them overboard, and drag them behind the ship, a practice known as "keel hauling.")

Sadly, buried treasures—and the ubiquitous treasure maps—are also largely a myth.

"Pirates took their loot to notorious pirate hang-outs in Port Royal and Tortuga," said Convertito. "Pirates didn't bury their money. They blew it as soon they could on women and booze."

Eye Patches, Peg Legs, and Parrots

On the other hand, pirate flags, commonly referred to as the Jolly Roger, were indeed present during the Golden Age. And victims were often marooned on small islands by pirates. Eye patches and peg legs were also undoubtedly worn by pirates, and some kept parrots as pets.

Some pirates even wore earrings, not as a fashion statement, but because they believed they prevented sea sickness by applying pressure on the earlobes.

In the new movie Pirates of the Caribbean, prisoners facing execution can invoke a special code, which stipulates that the pirate cannot kill him or her without first consulting the pirate captain.

Indeed pirates did follow codes. These varied from ship to ship, often laying out how plundered loot should be divided or what punishment should be meted out for bad behavior.

But Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp's hero, probably wouldn't have lasted very long among real pirates. In the movie, he will do anything possible to avoid a fight, something real-life pirates rarely did.

The endless sword duels, a big part of all pirate movies, probably happened on occasion. But real-life encounters were often far more bloody and brutal, with men hacking at each other with axes and cutlasses.

In one legendary account, a notorious pirate, trying to find out where a village had hidden its gold, tied two villagers to trees, facing each other, and then cut out one person's heart and fed it to the other.

As Captain Johnson wrote in his book:

In the commonwealth of pirates, he who goes the greatest length or wickedness is looked upon with a kind of envy amongst them, as a person of a more extraordinary gallantry, and is thereby entitled to be distinguished by some post, and if such a one has but courage, he must certainly be a great man.

Lighten Up on Pot

Economic & Social Research Council (UK) Press Release

July 15, 2003 - People are becoming more tolerant of the use of cannabis, but there are still clear limits to what is acceptable in the area of illegal drug-taking, according to new research funded by the ESRC.

Views about cannabis have shifted considerably over the past two decades, with 41 per cent of Britons now supporting its legalization - up from just 12 per cent in 1983. However, very few (eight per cent) endorse the view that adults should be free to take any drugs they wish, says the report into a study led by Nina Stratford of the National Centre for Social Research.

The opinions of some 1,000 people in England and Wales and 1600 in Scotland were surveyed. Attitudes towards heroin remain very negative with nine in ten believing it should stay illegal – the same proportion as in 1993.

Ecstasy is seen in a similar light, with again nine in 10 wanting it to remain illegal. Only seven per cent agree that ecstasy is not as damaging as some people think, and three-quarters believe that its legalization would lead to an increase in addiction. The view that ecstasy is a 'soft' drug similar to cannabis has little public support.

Most people (86 per cent) support allowing cannabis to be prescribed by doctors for medical purposes. As observed in 1995 research, the young, more educated, professionals and Londoners are more liberal in their attitudes towards the drug.

Nina Stratford points out, however, that the increase in liberal attitudes is not confined to those groups. She said: "It is a society-wide phenomenon affecting all ages and social backgrounds."

Fewer people now think that cannabis is harmful or addictive or that it causes crime and violence. When asked which drugs are the most harmful to regular users, heroin, cocaine, tobacco and alcohol were top of the list.

By contrast, perception of the damage caused by heroin does not change. In fact, today more people link it with crime and violence than a decade ago.

Nina Stratford's research supports the notion that cannabis use is becoming accepted alongside drinking or smoking, particularly among young people, whether or not they partake themselves.

Two-thirds of 18-34 year-olds have a friend or family member who has used illegal drugs, half have tried cannabis themselves, and only a third think that cannabis should remain illegal. More than half (55 per cent) accept that using illegal drugs is a normal part of some people's lives – up from 41 per cent in 1995 – and even those young people who have never used cannabis are more liberal about its legalization.

Attitudes to cannabis may have become more tolerant, but the research uncovered clear limits to peoples' tolerance. Researchers found that the idea of giving users clean needles was backed by nearly two-thirds of adults. Giving harm-reduction information to young people is also accepted by 55 per cent in Britain as a whole and 47 per cent in Scotland.

However, when it comes to prescribing drugs, people's attitudes are very restrictive. Nina Stratford said: "We found that very few people support allowing doctors to prescribe drugs for addicts – something which has been an established part of medical practice for almost a century."

Economic & Social Research Council -

Radio Under Fire Over Free-Speech Clampdown

By Bill Holland

WASHINGTON July 11, 2003 (Billboard) - Natalie Maines' controversial comments about President Bush are echoing ever louder in Congress and starting to rattle windows in the radio industry.

Cumulus Broadcasting -- which banned Maines' group, the Dixie Chicks, from all 50 of its country stations after her remarks at a London concert in March -- was the latest to feel the sting of a mounting backlash against media consolidation.

In congressional hearings held July 8, Dixie Chicks manager Simon Renshaw led the charge against Cumulus and the radio business. He revealed his office had had death threats during the ban and he had uncovered evidence that the effort was "orchestrated" in part by "right-wing political" groups.

"What happened to my clients is perhaps the most compelling evidence that radio ownership consolidation has a direct negative impact on diversity of programming and political discourse over the public airwaves," he charged.

Executives in the corporate offices of Cumulus decided to take the group off the air following a well-publicized remark Maines made that the band was "ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas."

"It's an incredible, incredible act," said John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, at the volatile oversight hearing.

Lewis W. Dickey Jr., chairman/CEO of Atlanta-based Cumulus -- which owns about 275 stations -- took all of the heat regarding the Chicks episode. The company lifted the ban in May, but not before disciplining DJs at two stations for defying the edict.

McCain repeatedly grilled Dickey: "Did you not order those stations to take the Dixie Chicks off the air?"

Dickey finally said yes.

McCain then asked: "Would you do that to me?"

Dickey replied, "No."

"Then why do it to a group of entertainers?" McCain asked.

Dickey replied that the ban was a "business decision. Our stations turned to us for guidance. There was a groundswell, a hue and cry from listeners."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., countered: "I keep hearing you say 'a hue and cry.' Well, that happens all the time in this country. There's a hue and cry every time I speak out about women's choice. That's what happens when you have a diversity of views, discourse. A hue and cry is a beautiful sound. It's the sound of freedom."

Dickey acknowledged that his local station managers "fell in line" with the corporate decision.

"I don't think you know what you've done," Boxer told Dickey. "You've motivated us to look closely at consolidation. When you said earlier that your local staff 'fell in line,' that was a dead giveaway."

McCain said he was not concerned about free-speech violations at local stations that had initiated their own boycotts. "But this came from corporate headquarters. That's a strong argument that First Amendment erosion is in progress."

Sen. John E. Sununu, R-N.H., said, "Radio programmers should not be in the business of political censorship. They should be in the business of promoting political discourse."


Renshaw testified that during the episode, he received an e-mail from a Clear Channel PD whom he had never met that he found disturbing. He said that Jay Michaels, the PD at Clear Channel country station WTXT Tuscaloosa, Ala., sent him an e-mail relating to Bruce Springsteen's statement of support for the Chicks on his Web site.

According to Renshaw, Michaels wrote: "Maybe Bruce didn't read what said. Let him say it and watch what happens."

A Clear Channel spokesman later told Billboard that Michael's e-mail was "misinterpreted, only speculation and certainly did not mean that our stations would be involved in any action toward Springsteen."

Renshaw said that despite criticism from other quarters that Clear Channel bullies artists, he has good relations with company and station staff and he felt the company acted responsibly during the imbroglio. However, he said that because of Clear Channel's dominance in the marketplace, there is always a tendency for artists and managers to go along with the company's suggestions for interviews and appearances -- "a you-scratch-my-back, I'll-scratch-yours" mentality.

The hearing was the second called by McCain to examine consolidation in the radio industry. The first focused on Clear Channel, the nation's largest radio broadcaster.

"We're going to keep going on this," McCain tells Billboard. "Look, I'm a proud deregulator. But the fact is, this is an aspect of media concentration that should give everyone pause. It's very disturbing."

McCain said of Renshaw's testimony: "I admired his courage. It will be interesting to see if there's any reaction to it."

The Federal Communications Commission eased decades-old restrictions on ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in a controversial vote June 2. Several Congressional efforts are under way to roll back most of the provisions in that ruling. But the FCC also responded to criticism by tightening some radio ownership rules.

An amendment sponsored by McCain would expand those new radio regulations so that they apply to stations a company already owns. If enacted, the change could force companies like Clear Channel to sell stations in markets where they exceed ownership limits.

First Black Bear Attack in 30 Years
DENVER July 15, 2003 (Reuters) — For the first time in more than 30 years, a black bear has attacked people in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park, where it ripped through tents and bit or scratched two campers, the park said Monday.

Attacks on people by black bears are very unusual and in this case the campers had properly stored their food to hide the smell, the park said in a statement.

The last incident in which a bear attacked a human in the park led to one fatality in 1971.

On Sunday morning, the bear bit through a tent and attacked a 22-year-old man from Boulder, Colorado, biting him in the forehead and scalp.

The man screamed and the bear let go, walking over to another tent nearby where he scratched an Illinois man. Three people in another tent nearby were not approached by the bear. The five campers were all in the back country.

The park said the two men suffered serious lacerations.


New York July 15, 2003 (Nature) - They may look like mindless scrawls. But the portraits sketched by a robotic arm in New York's Eyebeam gallery are actually the creation of brain cells - growing more than 1,300 kilometers away.

The cultured culture - entitled MEART - is staring in ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show in Manhattan's Chelsea art district. The exhibition showcases artists' increasing use of electronic and mechanical robotic technology.

Such a display of robot creativity "is a counter-example" to the number-crunching, warring drones often portrayed in films and books, explains the exhibition's curator Douglas Repetto. He plans to make Artbots an annual event.

MEART is the product of a collaboration between SymbioticA, an art-science group led by Guy Ben-Ary of the University of Western Australia in Perth, and Steven Potter's neuroscience lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Its spider-like hinged arm is connected via the Internet to a dish of embryonic rat brain cells growing in Potter's Atlanta lab. The cells live on a grid of 64 electrodes called a multi-electrode array (MEA) that fires electrical signals into the cells - or detects those that shoot naturally along them.

Visitors to the gallery are invited to pose for MEART. A digital image of MEART's initial doodles is subtracted from a digital photo of them. The difference between the images is converted into a grid of 64 pixels; a high-value pixel represents a spot that is dark on the original but remains blank on the paper.

Every second, the 64 pixel values are beamed to the growing brain cells, converted into electrical signals and zapped into them via the corresponding 64 electrodes. After a pause, each electrode then measures the electrical signals generated by the nerve cells' in response to the stimulation, and shoots this information back to the robotic arm.

High electrical activity in one region of cells sends the robotic arm towards the corresponding area of the canvas to scrawl with one of three pens. "They are scribbles," concedes Ben-Ary, "but aesthetically they're beautiful."

MEART's sketchy efforts "are definitely furthering the science", says Atlanta lab member Douglas Bakkum. The team is trying to figure out how groups of nerve cells communicate and learn like a fully formed brain.

Using data collected throughout the show, Bakkum hopes to work out whether, for example, cells that are stimulated the most also respond more and hence direct the pen to an empty spot. These patterns are hard to tease out because of impulses that travel between the interconnected nerve cells.

Science aside, MEART's portraits are already winning fans in the art world. They will go on display at another New York gallery, The Tank, on 17 July. And the project is a strong contender for the robotic equivalent of the Turner prize - ArtBots visitors and artists are voting for their favorite machine.

Artbots -


Amazon Mystery Fish is New Species

SAO PAULO, Brazil July 4, 2003 (Reuters) — Scientists in Brazil's Amazon say they have discovered a new fish, something that has not happened for more than a century. They hope to categorize the small eel-like creature by the end of the year.

"It's a new species, which will require us to create a new genus and a whole new family to accommodate it," said Jansen Zuanon, head aquatic biology researcher at Brazil's National Amazon Research Institute (Inpa).

Swiss Inpa researcher Ilse Walker came across the fish in 1999 while carrying out research on shrimp in flood plains near Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state. Since then a team of four researchers have studied several specimens.

"It still doesn't have a name," Zuanon said. "We have been calling it the mystery fish because it didn't fit into any group.... It's long-bodied with a mixture of characteristics which are quite different from any other Amazon fish group. A new family of fish hasn't been categorized in probably the last 150 years," the biologist said, adding that the discovery of new species was quite common.

The finding is the latest example of the diversity of the Amazon, an area of tropical forest larger than Western Europe that is home to up to 30 percent of the planet's animal and plant species.

The fish has a long thin body like an eel but also has a full set of fins, Zuanon said. Although the carnivore only measures about 6 inches, it has a tail like the Pirarucu, one of the world's largest freshwater fish.

Curiously it also has up to 10 air chambers, compared to the usual two or three that fish use to hold their position underwater, leading the scientists to believe it can breathe at the surface, Zuanon said.

"As far as we know, it eats small shrimp and aquatic insects, it reproduces at the start of the rains, and it has this extra breathing ability ... and it doesn't just depend on oxygen that has been dissolved in the water," he said.

National Amazon Research Institute (INPA) -

Sitcom Sex Called Gender Harassment

Pennsylvania State University Press Release

July 14, 2003 - Sexual jokes, suggestive glances, and other forms of gender and sexual harassment may be funny to writers, producers and viewers of workplace-based situation comedies, but Penn State researcher Beth Montemurro says they are far from a laughing matter.

Montemurro, assistant professor of sociology, studied five such programs on the NBC television network – Veronica's Closet, News Radio, Working, Just Shoot Me and Suddenly Susan – during 1997 and 1998 to see just how prevalent gender and sexual harassment were on these programs, and how these incidences were treated.

She is a faculty member at Penn State's Abington Campus outside of Philadelphia.

What she found was a high rate of gender harassment – defined as jokes, glances, etc. which contributes to a hostile work environment – and a lower but still troubling rate of sexual harassment – which involves touching, requests for dates, and other activities that imply sex for favors.

While not linking these shows directly with sexual harassment in the workplace, she thinks the wrong message is being transmitted to viewers via television.

"The images presented on situation comedies suggest that it is appropriate to make jokes based on women's appearance and sexuality," she said, noting that television sitcoms today still seem all too willing to make light of sexual harassment. "As long as we continue to make jokes about harassment, suggest that women should put up with sexual teasing, and treat it as humorous, the impact and seriousness of sexual harassment will continue to be minimized in society. Furthermore, when our televised workplaces contain these images, acceptance of harassment is promoted both implicitly and explicitly."

Montemurro studied a total of 56 episodes of the five sitcoms for her study, titled, "Sexual Harassment as 'Material' on Workplace-Based Situation Comedies." The research was published in the May issue of the journal, Sex Roles.

Three things about these incidences of harassment were especially troubling for the Penn State sociologist. In instances where laugh tracks were employed, they often encouraged audience members to laugh at jokes based around gender/sexual harassment; in scenes where bosses were present, they often turned the other cheek or participated in the harassment along with their employees; and it was practically unheard of for the words "sexual harassment" to be broached on the programs, because that may call too much attention to the seriousness of the incident.

Perhaps the only positive note for the sitcoms is that they rarely displayed and laughed about the most serious forms of sexual harassment, as defined by Montemurro above. The sitcoms generated an average of roughly four incidences of gender/sexual harassment per episode, with more than 90 percent being in the gender harassment category. But even that's damning with faint praise. When the writers did convey images of sexual harassment, they tended to reverse roles so that a female character was making an obvious advance on a male character, typically in an attempt at humor, the sociologist said.

Gas Galaxies

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Science Editor

Sydney July 15, 2003 (BBC) - The Universe may be teeming with starless galaxies inhabiting its most isolated regions, says an Australian scientist. Graduate researcher Brad Warren, of the Australian National University, has identified galaxies in our local region of space that are mostly gas with very few stars.

"If you look for gas with a radio telescope you see an enormous blob of gas. If you look for stars through an optical telescope you only see a small smudge of stars on the sky," he told BBC News Online.

For some reason these galaxies have failed to form stars out of their hydrogen gas. The search is on to find out why. In research presented to the meeting of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Sydney, Brad Warren outlined his discovery of twenty gassy galaxies, which have very few stars. He used optical and radio telescopes to follow up a survey of hydrogen clouds in the southern sky. Some of the clouds were galaxies that were almost starless.

"When you look for gas in these galaxies the signal just booms in," Mr. Warren told BBC News Online. "But when you look for stars, all you see is a barely recognizable smudge."

Galaxies made mostly of gas that contain very few stars have been seen before. This new study shows that they are more common, and stranger, than had been thought. They are found in the great intergalactic voids - vast spaces between groupings of normal galaxies. Few objects inhabit these regions, where lonely stars, torn from their parent galaxies, live isolated lives before they fade and die alone.

The galaxies are vast discs of hydrogen, tens of thousands of light years across - somewhat smaller than our own Milky Way galaxy. Although they weigh more than a billion suns, they have only a tiny number of barely visible stars in their center. For some unknown reason, they have not transformed their hydrogen gas into stars.

According to Brad Warren, the reason they are stillborn may be their remoteness: "These galaxies are isolated. They haven't had any stimulation from other galaxies that may trigger star formation," he told us. "Alternatively, there may be something within the galaxies themselves that is holding back star formation by keeping their gas spread out. We don't know. We're looking into that."

Understanding why these galaxies failed to form stars may also help explain why most galaxies do.

"Discovering why will give us important insights into how, when and why galaxies, such as our own, formed," says Mr. Warren.

The next step in his research is to investigate the few stars inside the galaxies to see if they are peculiar in any way.

SMART-1 to the Moon!

Derived from European Space Agency Press Release and ESA press materials

July 15, 2003 (eXoNews) - After the completion of all mechanical and electrical verifications, ESA's SMART-1 passed its flight readiness review successfully on Tuesday, 8 July 2003. SMART-1 is the first mission in ESA's Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology (SMART) program.

These are missions designed to test key technologies, in preparation for their later use on major scientific missions.

SMART-1, Europe's first mission to the moon, will be sent to the ESA launch site at Kourou in French Guiana at the beginning of next week.

The last electrical checks and fuelling will take place here before the spacecraft is mated with its Ariane 5 launcher.

SMART-1 will be a co-passenger together with two other satellites on board this launcher. The launch is currently scheduled for 28 August 2003 (Kourou time).

It's not very big, just a box a meter wide with folded solar panels attached. Six strong men could lift it. It weighs less than 370 kilos, compared with thousands of kilos for Ariane's usual satellites.

So it should pose no problems as an auxiliary passenger.

SMART-1's main purpose is to let engineers evaluate a new way of propelling spacecraft on far-ranging space missions. It is the first ESA mission to test solar-electric propulsion as a main propulsion system.

Power from SMART-1's solar panels will drive an electric propulsion system.

This is a form of continuous low-thrust engine that uses electricity derived from solar panels to produce a beam of charged particles.

This beam can be expelled from the spacecraft, so pushing it forward. Such engines are commonly called ion engines.

The demonstration task is to overcome the Earth's gravity and put the spacecraft into orbit around the Moon.

SMART-1 will also test advanced miniaturization technology which will pave the way for future planetary missions.

SMART-1 is the first European mission to the Moon. Despite a concerted effort by the Americans during the 1960s and early 1970s, which culminated in six successful manned landings, and the more recent Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions, the Moon remains a place of mystery and scientific intrigue.

Giuseppe Racca, ESA's SMART-1 Project Manager, said:

"Everything has gone as expected. We're proud of the work done and we are looking forward to sending SMART-1 to the Moon."

SMART-1 site -

Genre News: Tarzan, Fearless, Hulk's Willy, The Blob, Robert Wagner, David Duchovny, Johnny Depp, and More!
Me Tarzan, No Jane

LOS ANGELES July 13, 2003 ( - In a case of art imitating shorthand, The WB has abbreviated the title of its new series "Tarzan and Jane" to simply "Tarzan."

Jordan Levin, the network's president of entertainment, told reporters Sunday (July 13) at the TV Critics Association press tour that the change, while it makes the title shorter, actually reflects a broadening in the scope of the show.

"Tarzan" is a 21st-century retelling of the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs tale, in which the title character (Travis Fimmel), who survived in the African jungle after his parents died in a plane crash, is brought to New York by his uncle (Mitch Pileggi, "The X-Files"), now the head of powerful Greystoke Industries. Jane (Sarah Wayne Callies) is a detective investigating why the uncle is keeping Tarzan locked away.

"The original pitch ... catered to a big romantic saga," Levin says. "It had those beauty-and-the-beast elements that really appealed to us." Indeed, Levin initially told reporters that the show would focus more on Jane than on Tarzan.

As the development process wore on, however, the network and the show's producers realized they had something more than a romance on their hands.

"We felt [the original title] was a little misleading, because it implies that they get together immediately, which they don't, executive producer Laura Ziskin ("Spider-Man") says.

On a more prosaic level, she adds, "As we talked about the show, people called it 'Tarzan' anyway."

Levin believes the show has potential as a "big action-adventure franchise" that also includes the romance between Tarzan and Jane. He also hopes the series delves into the struggle for control of Greystoke in a way similar to the exploration of the Luthor family dynamics on "Smallville."

For her part, Callies says having her character's name removed from the title doesn't bother her.

"I think it makes a lot of sense, actually," she says. "I think there's a lot they can do with it."

Tarzan's Official WB site -,11116,113270||,00.html

Fearless Pushed Back to Midseason
By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES July 11, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - The WB Network's new fall drama "Fearless" has been pushed to midseason, while the one-hour "One Tree Hill," originally scheduled for a midseason launch, will now premiere in the fall in "Fearless"' Tuesday 9 p.m. slot behind "Gilmore Girls."

"Fearless" stars Rachael Leigh Cook ("She's All That") as a young Special Investigation Unit agent named Gaia who genetically lacks the basic instinct of fear.

Production was scheduled to begin production next week, but sources said the show's producers, Warner Bros. TV and Bruckheimer TV, are still working on fine-tuning the right voice for the show. Additionally a key role, one of Gaia's two partners, is being recast with no replacement found yet.

"After careful and thorough consideration, we have recommended to the WB that to best ensure the highest quality and attention for 'Fearless' that we launch the series at midseason," executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer and WBTV president Peter Roth said in a statement.

"One Tree Hill" centers on two half brothers (Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty) in a small town who become teammates on the high school basketball squad and fall in love with the same girl.

Because of "One Tree Hill's" relatively early production start for a midseason series, Aug. 12, WB entertainment president Jordan Levin said no acceleration of production will be needed to launch the series in the fall.

Official Fearless site -,11116,112858||,00.html

The Hulk's Willy
Showbiz Reporter

London July 13, 2003 (Sun UK) - Shocked six-year-old Leah Lowland checked out a mystery bulge on her Incredible Hulk doll — and uncovered a giant green willy.

Curious Leah noticed a lump after winning the monster, catchphrase "You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry," at a seaside fair.

And when she peeled off the green comic-book character’s ripped purple shorts, she found the two-inch manhood beneath them.

Horrified Leah immediately ran to mum Kim and reported the find. And last night Kim called for a ban on the saucy toy. She said:

"A hulk with a bulk like this just shouldn’t be allowed. Considering the doll is only 12-inches tall it’s amazing how big his willy is.

"And it’s definitely not an extra piece of material left on by mistake."

Kim, of Biggin Hill, Kent, said the toy was one of several prizes she could choose after Leah knocked down cans with bean bags at the fair on Brighton Pier. Kim chose the doll because she thought Leah would like it amid publicity about the new Hulk movie, to be released in the UK on July 18.

But she said: "Later when she was playing with it, she discovered it had a lump under its shorts. Being curious she took them off, then ran up to me asking why her doll had a willy. I find it very odd as none of her other dolls have anything like this. Ever since, she’s been telling her friends that her hulk has a willy. It sounds funny, but kids should not be exposed to this kind of thing. It should be taken off the shelves."

The toy’s Spanish makers Play by Play — based in Valencia — claimed on their packaging that it was merchandise to coincide with the release of the film. Bosses were unavailable for comment last night.

The movie, which has already proved a hit in the US, tells how a botched experiment transforms scientist Bruce Banner into the raging Hulk whenever he becomes angry.

The Hulk Official site -

Marvel -

Town Celebrates Cult Classic 'The Blob'

PHOENIXVILLE PA July 13, 2003 (AP) - The town where "The Blob" first made horror history is celebrating the movie monster that made it a star.

Several hundred people kicked off the Fourth Annual BlobFest weekend in the former steel town outside Philadelphia.

Scores of screaming horror buffs burst from the Colonial Theatre late Friday in a re-enactment of the famous escape scene from the 1958 cult classic that starred Steve McQueen.

"Every year this event has taken on a life of its own," said Mary Foote, executive director of the Association for the Colonial Theatre. "I'm glad so many people came out for it."

People arrived for the re-enactment dressed in a variety of outfits, from 1950s garb to gorilla suits. BlobFest weekend includes screenings of the movie, and a street festival with vintage cars, music, food, and entertainment. A piece of the original Blob also was on display.

BlobFest site -

Woodward and Newman in Empire Falls
By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES July 14, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - In what would be her first screen role in 10 years, Oscar-winning actress Joanne Woodward is expected to co-star opposite husband Paul Newman in HBO's adaptation of the best-selling novel "Empire Falls."

The project, a comedic look at blue-collar life in the depressed Maine mill town of Empire Falls, centers on Miles Roby, a fortysomething decent guy stuck running Empire Grill, the town's most popular eatery, for 20 years.

Woodward would play Francine Whiting, a controlling and manipulative widow who owns Empire Grill as well as almost everything else in the dead-end town. Newman, who will also serve as an executive producer, has already been attached to play Roby's ne'er-do-well father in the film, which author Richard Russo adapted from his novel.

Fred Schepisi ("The In-Laws") is attached to direct.

Woodward's last onscreen performance was in the 1994 CBS telefilm "Breathing Lessons," which earned her Golden Globe and SAG awards, as well as an Emmy nomination.

Woodward won an Oscar for her role in the 1957 feature "The Three Faces of Eve."

Woodward and Newman have appeared together in more than a dozen films, most recently the 1990 feature "Mr. & Mrs. Bridge," which landed Woodward Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.

Last year, Newman starred in the play "Our Town" at the Westport (Conn.) Country Playhouse, where Woodward is artistic director.

Very nice Unofficial Joanne Woodward site -

Newman's Own -

Robert Wagner Sues Charlie

LOS ANGELES July 11, 2003 (AP) - Robert Wagner is suing Sony Pictures Entertainment for half the profits from the "Charlie's Angels" movies, saying he played a role in the development deal for the 1970s TV show that inspired them.

In the Superior Court lawsuit filed Tuesday, Wagner says that he and his wife, Natalie Wood (who died in 1981), made a deal with Spelling-Goldberg Productions in 1973 to develop five television shows. One eventually became "Charlie's Angels."

The production company later was bought by Sony-owned Columbia Pictures, the studio behind the 2000 film "Charlie's Angels" and this year's sequel, "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle."

A call seeking comment from Sony wasn't immediately returned Thursday.

The action-adventure films, starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu, have grossed $125 million and $67 million at the box office, respectively.

The lawsuit contends that Columbia refused to pay Wagner's rightful share of those earnings under the original contract and asks for half of the net profits from both the films and related merchandising.

It accuses Sony Entertainment, Columbia Pictures Industries and several related businesses of breach of contract, unfair dealing and unjust enrichment.

"Our view is that the `Charlie's Angels' movies are an exploitation of the television series," said Sam Pryor, an attorney for the 73-year-old actor.

The TV series "Charlie's Angels" aired from 1976-1981. Original cast members included Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson.

Official Robert Wagner site -

Charlie's Angels Official site -

Duchovny Does Sex Files
By Josh Grossberg

Hollywood July 11, 2003 (E!) - Sex is out there, and it's up to David Duchovny to find it.

In a conspiracy hatched by the producers of Sex and the City, the former X-Files G-man will be investigating mysteries of the female kind on HBO's hit comedy.

"Yes, he will guest star. You'll see him in the August episode," Sex and the City publicist Angela Tarantino confirmed Thursday.

Duchovny will heat things up as a potential suitor to Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw during SATC's final batch of episodes airing in January 2004.

Though the rep wouldn't elaborate how many episodes Duchovny will appear in, it's likely he'll give Carrie's old boyfriend, the currently San Francisco-based Mr. Big (Chris Noth), a run for his money once her romance with latest hottie Jack Burger (Ron Livingston) flames out.

Executive producer Michael Patrick King says Duchovny's presence will keep Carrie's love life interesting.

"Why would we bring in a major name if [Big] was already [the clear winner]?" King tells TV Guide Online.

Duchovny becomes the second high-profile thespian this week to be wooed by Sex, following former L.A. Law star Blair Underwood, who signed on for a fling with one of the show's four leading ladies beginning at the end of the summer.

SATC will also be joined this season by former child star and Oscar winner Tatum O'Neal, who was tapped to play Carrie's photographer in the August 17 episode. Legally Blonde star Jennifer Coolidge turned up in last week's episode throwing a handbag party.

Having had enough of aliens, ghosts and monsters by swearing off the role of FBI Special Agent Fox "Spooky" Mulder (at least until he's abducted to reprise the part for a planned X-Files feature), Duchovny, 41, has been busy making movies and raising four-year-old daughter Madelaine West and one-year-old son Kid with actress-wife Téa Leoni.

His most recent credits include Return to Me, Zoolander, Evolution and Steven Soderbergh's little-seen 2002 indie drama, Full Frontal.

Having written and directed several episodes of The X-Files, Duchovny is getting behind the camera again and will make his feature helming debut with House of D, a New York-based drama that he wrote about a man coming to terms with his life by confronting his present relationships with friends. Robin Williams, Tyler Hoechlin (Road to Perdition) and Leoni will star alongside Duchovny.

He next turns up on the big screen in the Universal comedy Connie and Carla opposite Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette, due out later this year.

Nice Unofficial site for DD -

Depp Flies To Neverland

Hollywood July 9, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - Johnny Depp — who stars in the upcoming biographical film J.M. Barrie's Neverland — told SCI FI Wire that the film depicts the real-life experiences that inspired the beloved children's story Peter Pan.

"I play J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan," Depp said in an interview while promoting his latest film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. "It's the story of how J.M. Barrie came up with the idea to write Peter Pan, how he was inspired by the boys of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, and their relationship."

Depp said that the film will continue his current trend of family-friendly projects, a direction that was inspired by his 4-year-old daughter, Lily-Rose.

"I haven't seen it, but I think it's kind of a family-oriented film," Depp said.

"There's some fairly sad stuff that goes on in there, but it's kind of family-oriented.

"It was a nice story. A really nice story."

The film, based on a play by Allan Knee, will be directed by Marc Forster (Monster's Ball).

Kate Winslet and Dustin Hoffman also star.

No official site for Neverland yet, but here's the Pirates site -

Sci Fi Beams to Germany
By Steve Brennan

New York July 11, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - Boasting a heady menu of blockbuster science fiction movie titles and classic TV programming, Universal Studios' Sci Fi Channel is set to greatly expand its European presence with a launch of the service in Germany in September, it was announced Thursday.

The pending launch in Germany, Europe's biggest TV market, combined with Universal's success in the United States and United Kingdom represents an important milestone in the company's intent to distribute the brand globally, Universal Studios Networks president Patrick Vien said in announcing the launch.

Sci Fi Channel -

Indiana Town Holds Mayberry Festival

NEW CASTLE IN July 11, 2003 (AP) -- If Deputy Barney Fife were here this weekend, he might say that traffic in this town is out of control as hundreds of visitors flock in for the second "Mayberry In the Midwest" festival.

This year's event is expected to draw people from 19 states to the city of 17,000 about 40 miles east of Indianapolis, said Christine Mallette, director of tourism and marketing for the Henry County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The festival pays homage to the small-town setting of the 1960s sitcom, "The Andy Griffith Show."

Two of the main events _ Friday's charity auction and dinner at the Henry County Arts Park with some of the cast, and Saturday's cast reunion at Bundy Auditorium _ are sold out.

Fans who want to catch a glimpse of Goober or one of the other characters from the show, however, will have other opportunities, including autograph sessions Saturday at four locations around the county.

Scheduled to appear are George Lindsey, who played Goober; Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou); The Dillards (the Darling Boys); Maggie Peterson (Charlene Darling); Jean Carson (fun girl Daphne); James Best (guitarist Jim Lindsey), better known as Rosco P. Coltrane on the "Dukes of Hazard" Elinor Donahue (Ellie Walker); Bernard Fox (Malcolm Merriwether); and Margaret Kerry (Christmas episode characters Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey).

There also will be impersonators of the characters Barney Fife, Ernest T. Bass, Otis, Floyd the barber, Howard Sprague, Opie Taylor and Goober.

Autograph sessions will be held at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Henry County Art Center, Wilbur Wright Birthplace/Museum and the old high school gym in Knightstown, which was used in the film "Hoosiers."

Since January of this year, the festival's Web site at  has logged more than 127,000 hits for an event that can seat only about 1,700.

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