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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY

Technology: A New Computing Speed Record

A computing milestone was reached last week when an American military supercomputer nicknamed Roadrunner processed more than 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second. The new $133 million supercomputer, more than twice as fast as its closest rival, was built by engineers and scientists at IBM and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

British researchers at Lancaster University say they have designed a carbon nanotube that spins in a current of electrons like a wind turbine. They say this simple motor could be used to shrink optical communications components or to devise new forms of computer memory.

Biomaterials pioneer Robert Langer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week won the Millennium Technology Prize, often called the unofficial Nobel Prize for technology. His work has involved finding a way to gradually release drug molecules into a patient's body.

Meanwhile, the most advanced bionic hand yet devised won the U.K.'s top engineering prize, the MacRobert Award. The prosthetic device has five individually powered digits and has been fitted to more than 200 people.

And as the price of gasoline soars, many students are now taking field trips on the Internet, according to the Christian Science Monitor. As of last month, more than 1.1 million students had participated in virtual field trips organized through the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration in Indianapolis.


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PODCASTS: Expanding With the Cosmos

Using the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ATC), a 6.5-meter microwave collector in Chile, cosmologists are piecing together the early history of the known universe. In an exclusive American Scientist interview, Arthur Kosowsky—a member of the ATC team and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh—discusses how he is using ATC to reach back in time billions of years to search for gravitational waves that could verify inflation and reveal unprecedented details about how the cosmos was born.

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