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Life, Earth and Space

Ultrafast optical shutter is switched entirely by laser light

Dec. 6, 2007—It‘s a rare case of all light and no heat: A new study reports that a laser can be used to switch a film of vanadium dioxide back and forth between reflective and transparent states without heating or cooling it.

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Bioclocks work by controlling chromosome coiling

Nov. 21, 2007—There is a new twist on the question of how biological clocks work. In recent years, scientists have discovered that biological clocks help organize a dizzying array of biochemical processes in the body. Despite a number of hypotheses, exactly how the microscopic pacemakers in every cell in the body exert such a widespread influence has remained a mystery.

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Noted science writer will discuss reporting on nuclear power, defense technology, physics, geology

Nov. 2, 2007—Vanderbilt‘s Writing Studio will host a public lecture by Sally Adee, a science writer who lives in Baltimore, Md., and specializes in reporting on geology, solid-state physics, nuclear energy and defense technology.

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Two Vanderbilt faculty members are elected AAAS fellows

Oct. 31, 2007—Two Vanderbilt faculty members √± Peter T. Cummings and Ellen H. Fanning √± have been elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an honor bestowed upon them by their peers.

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New insights into how lasers cut flesh

Oct. 25, 2007—Lasers are at the cutting edge of surgery. From cosmetic to brain surgery, intense beams of coherent light are gradually replacing the steel scalpel for many procedures.

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Developing a modular, nanoparticle drug delivery system

Oct. 5, 2007—There are two aspects to creating an effective drug: finding a chemical compound that has the desired biological effect and minimal side-effects and then delivering it to the right place in the body for it to do its job.

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Cockroaches are morons in the morning and geniuses in the evening

Sep. 27, 2007—Dramatic daily variations in the cockroach's learning ability were discovered by a new study performed by Vanderbilt University biologists and published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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When proteins, antibodies and other biological molecules kiss, a new kind of biosensor can tell

Sep. 20, 2007—When biological molecules kiss, a new kind of biosensor can tell. A new and deceptively simple technique has been developed by chemists at Vanderbilt University that can measure the interactions between free-floating, unlabeled biological molecules including proteins, sugars, antibodies, DNA and RNA.

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Student study bolsters case for adding a rare sunflower to the endangered species list

Sep. 11, 2007—For several months last spring, the Vanderbilt greenhouse held more members of a rare species of native sunflower than are known to exist in the wild.

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Advance in effort to fight malaria by tricking the mosquito’s sense of smell

Aug. 30, 2007—By mapping a specialized sensory organ that the malaria mosquito uses to zero in on its human prey, an international team of researchers has taken an important step toward developing new and improved repellants and attractants that can be used to reduce the threat of malaria, generally considered the most prevalent life-threatening disease in the world.

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Research brightens prospects for using the world’s smallest candles in medical applications

Jun. 7, 2007—In a way, nanotubes are nature's smallest candles. These tiny tubes are constructed from carbon atoms and they are so small that it takes about 100,000 laid side-by-side to span the width of a single human hair.

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Award-winning essay predicts dark energy will be the death of cosmology

May. 24, 2007—Fast forward to a civilization about three trillion years in the future. Astronomers at that time equipped with instruments equal to those of today would likely come to a much different conclusion about the basic nature of the universe, one that harks back to static models that were popular at the turn of the century.

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