by Michael Anastasio
in the Superblock
Research with TEM
in the News
scientists revoke status of space object
A space object found near
the Big Dipper, formerly thought to be a galaxy, was stripped of
its status as the "most distant object known" by Laboratory astrophysicists
Wil Van Breugel and Wim De Vries and colleagues from several universities
and observatories. They published their findings in the November
30, 2000, issue of Science, showing that the initial distance
estimate for the object, also known as STIS 123627+621755, was not
correct. In fact, Van Breugel says that "It is even optimistic
to say it is a galaxy—it could be a star in our own galaxy."
A group at the State University
of New York at Stony Brook earlier had reported observations of
this object using the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's
Hubble Space Telescope. Based on the extremely red colors of the
object and a single emission line in its spectrum, thought to be
hydrogen, they had deduced the object was a galaxy approximately
12.5 billion light years away. If it were a very distant galaxy,
it should essentially be invisible in the optical wavelengths and
relatively bright at the near-infrared.
Contrary images were obtained
by the Laboratory astrophysicists and their collaborators. Using
the Keck telescopes in Hawaii to take their own images of deep space,
they detected the object in optical light at a level 100 times brighter
than expected and did not find it visible in the infrared. These
results meant that the emission line, thought to be based on hydrogen
gas, is more likely to be based on oxygen. Accordingly, the object's
distance should be revised to a much closer 9.8 billion light years,
and its classification to that of a small dwarf galaxy, similar
to Earth's neighboring Magellanic Clouds visible from the Southern
With STIS 123627+621755 no longer
the most distant object, the title apparently belongs to a quasar,
an active black hole that is 12.4 billion light years away. And
the most distant galaxy would be one first observed by Livermore
researchers in December 1998, designated as TN J0924-2201.
Contact: Willem Van Breugel (925) 422-7195 (email@example.com).
technology may be used for urban transit
Livermore senior scientist
Richard Post is working with a General Atomics-led team investigating
the use of magnetically levitated (maglev) trains in urban settings.
Post's Inductrack technology is one of the levitation techniques
being evaluated for such trains. Inductrack is based on a system
of magnets called the Halbach array, which produces a magnetic field
underneath the train to induce strong currents in circuits on the
track. Those currents repel the magnets, thereby creating a levitation
effect (see S&TR, June
1998, "A New Approach for Magnetically Levitating Trains—and Rockets").
The transit project is a
comprehensive study of propulsion and levitation technologies for
low-speed, maglev systems. It is being performed under a contract
from the Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration.
On the team, besides Lawrence Livermore, are Carnegie Mellon University
and Booz Allen & Hamilton, Inc., among others.
The information gathered
in the study is to assist in technology choices and decisions for
siting urban maglev systems anywhere in the U.S. A pilot program
is being proposed for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which, with its
challenging terrain and established infrastructure, is a good place
to prove the workability of such a system. The proposed Pittsburgh
Airborne Shuttle System, or PASS, would run 10 miles through the
city to connect Carnegie Mellon University, hospitals, shopping
centers, and the downtown area.
Contact: Richard F. Post (925) 422-9853 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
detects breast tumors instantly
At selected sites in northern
California this spring, human studies will begin on a device that
promises to provide early and accurate detection of breast cancer.
A collaboration of Lawrence Livermore and San Jose–based BioLuminate,
Inc., has developed the Smart Probe, a tool that can detect malignancies
in a minimally invasive way and approach the accuracy of surgical
biopsies. It provides several specific measurements of known cancer
indicators in real time, thereby improving diagnosis and treatment.
The Smart Probe device is smaller than a needle used in routine
blood tests. It is inserted into breast tissue after an initial
screening indicates a suspicious area. Sensors at its tip measure
optical, electrical, and chemical properties that are known to differ
between healthy and cancerous tissue. The probe can detect multiple
(five to seven) known indicators of breast cancer.
From the moment the probe is inserted into tissue, the sensors begin
gathering information that a computer program then compares against
known, archived parameters that indicate the presence or absence
of cancer. The results are instantly displayed on the computer screen.
"The key technology
and experience that Lawrence Livermore has to offer will allow the
Smart Probe to be much smaller than first conceived and acquire
data more accurately," said Luiz Da Silva, Livermore's associate
program leader for Medical Technology and primary investigator for
Contact: Luiz Da Silva (925) 423-9867 (email@example.com).
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