3/28/2005:

Intermediate Word:  alcalde (a) covered walkway  (b) museum  (c) governor of a Spanish fortress  (d) Mexican justice of the peace
Difficult Word:
  devoir -  (a) expression of courtesy  (b) shroud placed over a casket en route to burial  (c) path alongside a steep-banked creek  (d) farewell gesture

Resisting Radiation  - BBC  Background radiation in space is composed of high-energy X-rays, gamma rays and cosmic rays, which all can play havoc with the cells in our bodies. Since such ionizing radiation easily penetrates spacecraft walls and spacesuits, astronauts today must limit their time in space. But being in outer space for even a short time greatly increases their odds of developing cancer, cataracts, and other radiation-related health problems. The only organisms known to survive space exposure at least in the short term - are bacteria and lichen. Bacteria need some shielding so they won't get fried by the UV, but lichen have enough biomass to act as a protective spacesuit. The lichen and bacteria hibernate while in space. Upon return to Earth, they exit this dormant state and, if there was damage inflicted, proteins in the cell work to piece together DNA strands that were broken apart by radiation.     
Plastic fantastic: How liquid chemistry could bring better, cheaper gadgets  - BBC  A new plastic that could rival silicon as the material of choice for some electronic devices has been developed. The invention could eventually slash the cost of flat panel screens and bring electronic paper into common use. The working devices are six times faster than any polymer transistors previously reported, and are similar in performance to the silicon used in flat panel screens. However, it is unlikely that the material will ever rival silicon in the manufacture of high-speed computer chips. "We are still orders of magnitude away," Iain McCulloch admits.    

MIT: Detector May Speed Up Interplanetary Communications  - BBC  MIT researchers have developed a tiny light detector that may allow for super-fast broadband communications over interplanetary distances. Currently, even still images from other planets are difficult to retrieve. The new detector improves the detection efficiency to 57 percent at a wavelength of 1,550 nanometers (billionths of a meter), the same wavelength used by optical fibers that carry broadband signals to offices and homes today. That's nearly three times the current detector efficiency of 20 percent. The result will be real-time collection of large amounts of data from space.     




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