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News: May 2001

Optical clocks look up

Visible radiation from metal ions is used to create the word's most accurate clock

New superconductor gets ready for applications

Magnesium diboride gears up for the real world following a rash of technical breakthroughs

Spintronics turns a corner

Devices that use the spin on electrons move a step closer

Lively proteins move and shake

Biophysicists find that proteins are much more dynamic than previously thought

Nitrogen tally tests the nebula

Nitrogen in Jupiter's atmosphere provide clues to the make-up of the pre-planetary nebula

Comet collapse opens a window on the past

The surprise break-up of a comet give astronomers a bonus insight into how planets form

Baby star blows a bubble

A mysterious sphere inflating in a 'star nursery' confounds astronomers

Elastic laser spans the spectrum

Fibre optics could benefit from a stretchy laser that changes colour

The magnetic mysteries of atom clusters

Small groups of atoms can add unusual magnetic effects to their peculiar thermal properties

Carbon clock could show the wrong time

Ancient stalagmites suggest that carbon dating could be inaccurate

Cannibal star ate planet

Lithium in the atmosphere of a distant star suggests that it may have engulfed a huge planet

Novel nitrogen is a semiconductor

Compressed nitrogen could be the fuel of the future

Into the Antiworld

Dirac's earth-shattering realisation that antimatter exists is played out in a dramatic stage show

Wonder wire puts up no resistance

A wire made from a perfect crystal can transmit electricity with no resistance

Particle beams that bend like light

A delicate layer of gas can deflect an electron beam that is strong enough to pierce steel

Early universe comes into focus

New tests of cosmic microwaves support the Big Bang theory