8/31/2004:

Intermediate Word: 
eclat
  (a) conspicuous success  (b) cream-filled pastry  (c) type of French stirrup  (d) printed invitation to a party
Difficult Word: - lacunar   (a) riddled with gaps  (b) ceiling with recessed panels   (c) pertaining to the Turkish crescent  (d) intermittent

Milky Way's Age Narrowed Down - Space.com  A new estimate of the age of our Milky Way Galaxy suggests it was an original member of the universe, having been born just about as early on as was possible. The overall universe is about 13.7 billion years old. That figure, after decades of wildly varying estimates, was pinned down last year to within 200 million years of accuracy. Scientists used space-based observations of a microwave background radiation that had been unleashed as a dense fog cleared, shortly after the universe's formation. 
Stem Cells: Promise, in Search of Results  - NY Times  Left:  In the beginning there are the stem cells: They stand ready to grow into what the body requires, and one day scientists may be able to design them to cure diseases or disability. Above, in a lab dish, cells derived from an embryo are developing into two different types of brain cells, neurons (red) and glia (green). One idea, the focus of about half the nation's stem cell research, involves studying stem cells that are naturally present in adults. Researchers have found such cells in a variety of tissues and organs and say they seem to be a part of the body's normal repair mechanism. There are no ethical issues in studying these cells, but the problem is in putting them to work to treat diseases. So far, no one has succeeded. The other line of research, with stem cells from embryos, has a different obstacle. Although, in theory, the cells could be coaxed into developing into any of the body's specialized cells, so far scientists are still working on ways to direct their growth in the laboratory and they have not yet effectively cured diseases, even in animals. 

Nanotubes may have no 'temperature'  - Nature  Physicists have made a bizarre discovery: the concept of temperature is meaningless in some tiny objects. Although the concept of temperature is known to break down on the scale of individual atoms, research now suggests that it may also fail to apply in rather larger entities, such as carbon nanotubes. Ortwin Hess from the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK and colleagues say that if you took the temperature at one end of a 10-micrometre nanotube, it would not necessarily have the same temperature as the other end, no matter how long it was left to reach a thermal equilibrium. Such a nanotube is about as long as a sheet of paper is thick. "If you're down to a scale where temperature is not relevant, the fluctuations in physical properties of that system could be unpredictable, and that is potentially bad for any device," says Peter Atkins, a physical chemist at University of Oxford, UK. At this size limit, hot spots can sit next to cooler spots, without any energy flowing between the two. Moreover, the temperature of one compartment may fluctuate unpredictably over time. "It all boils down to the quantum uncertainty principle," says Hess.





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