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Watch the video, Introduction to Virtual NanoLab as GUI for VASP

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Print edition: January 2009


Breaking new ground

The ability to predict earthquakes could save thousands of lives every year. But for most scientists, knowing in advance when and where such events will happen is little more than a pipe dream. Jon Cartwright tells the story of one physicist who believes that such warnings could soon be possible.

Shock and awe

Artificial and natural shock waves can cause incredible damage and havoc, so a better understanding of the physics could save lives — or even the entire planet. Neil Bourne describes the common thread connecting antiterrorism measures, desk toys and the extinction of the dinosaurs

Castles in the air

For decades physicists have sought ways to harness and control the most pervasive force in nature. Sidney Perkowitz recounts the quest for antigravity


Hold the front page

And the survey says...

Strictly no dancing

Lost baggage

Extreme climate change


Invisibility to cover entire spectrum

Dark matter in the ATIC

Cosmologists puzzle over mystery in the cosmos

Droplets get third lobe

Fishing for energy

News & Analysis

Rare-isotope facility goes to Michigan

Carbon-capture and gamma-ray labs top Euro wish list

Europe and US seek collaboration on missions to Mars

European synchotron secures €177m for upgrade

Top physics departments tumble in new RAE review

New UK centres extend training for PhD students

Asia joins forces in radio astronomy

Europe unveils 20-year road map

Elsevier challenged over journal operations

Physicist appeals against security revoke

New initiative links scientists and entertainers

CERN releases damage assessment

Obama chooses Chu as energy boss

Atlantic observatory starts up

Let the global astronomy celebrations begin

The International Year of Astronomy marks the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei. As the 2009 celebrations kick off, Edwin Cartlidge explains how one of Galileo’s telescopes is being rebuilt by researchers in Italy, while Michael Banks looks at some of the events taking place this year


Reasons to be cheerful

The economy may be in a nosedive but there is plenty to look forward to in science this year

Read your thoughts

Letters becomes Feedback and now includes comments made to our online stories


Checklists, rules and creativity

Critical Point

Science toys

Tim Rowett is an avid collector of science-related toys. Robert P Crease and son drop in to play with them


Debating open access and arXiv

Nobel for one, not all

Rough Diamond

Memories that stick

Salam's independence

Oil pipes and arteries

Shiftier constants


Atomic arias

Oppenheimer takes centre stage, reports Robert P Crease

Web life: The Periodic Table of Videos

A periodic table with links to videos on all 118 chemical elements

Lord Kelvin, revolutionary scientist

Last tango at Fermilab

When Eddington met Einstein

Science is not always a BLAST


A fresh look at nuclear

A new industry-wide graduate scheme aims to get the next generation of nuclear scientists thinking about community and environmental issues from the outset. Susie Hay and Michael Kelk describe the “nucleargraduates” programme

Once a physicist: Christine Rice

How a physics degree at Oxford led to a career in opera

Careers and people

Lateral Thoughts

What's your favourite planet?