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Print edition: April 2003

Features

The cosmic microwave background

The Universe is surprisingly easy to model but difficult to understand

Are the laws of nature changing with time?

The fine-structure constant might not be constant after all

Physics in Action

Making light of a difficult phase

A new technique can produce attosecond light pulses that could be used to control electrons

Astrophysics and air travel

A proportional counter that mimics human tissue can measure cosmic-radiation exposure at high altitudes

Exploding excited electron bubbles

First observations of excited electron bubbles in superfluid helium reveal puzzling features

Photon steam engines

Quantum thermodynamics tackles the second law

When photonic crystals meet Fibonacci

Photonic crystals based on the Fibonacci sequence could be the optical chips of the future

Optical microscopy sets new record

Post-deadline

Tapping in to the brain

Just add water to make a new superconductor

Hydrogen-7 makes its debut in the lab

News & Analysis

Mixed fortunes for Daresbury...

Stage set for Meitner's Swedish debut

Lift-off for SIRTF mission

ALMA gets the all clear

Physicists turn on the charm

US starts up missile defences

Can diamond now be a superconductor?

Run II overcomes obstacles at Fermilab

Particle pioneer takes centre stage

Islamic debate on science

Cosmologist arrested in war protest

Europe suffers brain drain

Literary acclaim for physicist

Ig Nobels prove to be more than a joke

Strings take to the stage

Rutherford embarks on ambitious construction project

Editorial

Physics and industry

Under-investment and a shortage of physics graduates are bad news for physics- based industries

Physics around the world

Forum

Setting new sights for the ICTP

Critical Point

The Newton-Beethoven analogy

Genius and creativity in art and science

Reviews

Four colours and one zero

Why are just four colours needed to fill in a map?

Exploring the potential of superconductivity

A new handbook for superconductivity

Losing individuality in a quantum realm

Shared identitity - quantum objects are always the same

Careers

Adventures of a tough teacher

Lateral Thoughts

Confessions of an eclipse consultant