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Science/Technology

  • Israeli wins chemistry Nobel for quasicrystals--video extra

    STOCKHOLM (AP) — Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for a discovery that faced skepticism and mockery, even prompting his expulsion from his research team, before it won widespread acceptance as a fundamental breakthrough.

    While doing research in the U.S. in 1982, Shechtman discovered a new chemical structure — quasicrystals — that researchers previously thought was impossible.

    He was studying a mix of aluminum and manganese in an electron microscope when he found the atoms were arranged in a pattern — similar to one in some traditional Islamic mosaics — that never repeated itself and appeared contrary to the laws of nature.

  • Studies of universe's expansion win physics Nobel--video extra

    STOCKHOLM (AP) — Three U.S.-born scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for overturning a fundamental assumption in their field by showing that the expansion of the universe is constantly accelerating.

    Their discovery created a new portrait of the eventual fate of the universe: a place of super-low temperatures and black skies unbroken by the light of galaxies moving away from each other at incredible speed.

    Physicists had assumed for decades that the expansion of the universe was getting ever-slower, meaning that in billions of years it would resemble today's universe in many important ways.

  • Contact lost with hypersonic glider after launch

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — An unmanned hypersonic glider developed for U.S. defense research into super-fast global strike capability was launched atop a rocket early Thursday but contact was lost after the experimental craft began flying on its own, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said.

    There was no immediate information on how much of the mission's goals were achieved.

    It was the second of two planned flights of a Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2. Contact was also lost during the first mission.

    The small craft is part of a U.S. military initiative to develop technology to respond to threats at 20 times the speed of sound or greater, reaching any part of the globe in an hour.

  • Full face transplant patient makes 1st appearance--video extra

    BOSTON (AP) — The nation's first full face transplant recipient said the first thing his young daughter told him when she saw him after the operation was "Daddy, you're so handsome."

    Dallas Wiens, sporting a goatee and dark sunglasses, joined surgeons Monday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston in his first public appearance since the 15-hour procedure in March.

    "It feels natural," said the 25-year-old Fort Worth, Texas, man, who received a new nose, lips, skin, muscle and nerves from an anonymous donor. The operation was paid for by the U.S. military, which hopes to use findings from the procedure to help soldiers with severe facial wounds.

  • For computer chip builders, only one way to go: Up--video extra

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In the race to build a faster computer chip, there is literally nowhere to go but up. Today's chip surfaces are packed with the tiniest electronic switches the laws of physics allow, but Intel Corp. says it is blowing past those limits with a breakthrough, three-dimensional transistor design it revealed Wednesday.

    Analysts call it one of the most significant developments in silicon transistor design since the integrated circuit was invented in the 1950s. It opens the way for faster smartphones, lighter laptops and a new generation of supercomputers — and possibly for powerful new products engineers have yet to dream up.

  • Germany set to abandon nuclear power for good

    BERLIN (AP) — Germany is determined to show the world how abandoning nuclear energy can be done.

    The world's fourth-largest economy stands alone among leading industrialized nations in its decision to stop using nuclear energy because of its inherent risks. It is betting billions on expanding the use of renewable energy to meet power demands instead.

    The transition was supposed to happen slowly over the next 25 years, but is now being accelerated in the wake of Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant disaster, which Chancellor Angela Merkel has called a "catastrophe of apocalyptic dimensions."

  • Boston hospital performs full face transplant

    BOSTON (AP) — A Texas construction worker badly disfigured in a power line accident two years ago has received the nation's first full face transplant at a Boston hospital.

    More than 30 doctors, nurses and other staff at Brigham and Women's Hospital led by plastic surgeon Dr. Bohdan Pomahac (POE'-ma-hawk) performed the 15-hour operation last week on 25-year-old Dallas Wiens (WEENS), of Fort Worth, Texas. He was listed in good condition at the hospital on Monday.

  • UN nuke chief: revamped emergency responses needed

    VIENNA (AP) — Japan's nuclear crisis has exposed huge weaknesses in how the world deals with such disasters, the U.N. nuclear chief said Monday, urging changes in emergency nuclear responses worldwide.

    Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also told a 35-nation IAEA board meeting that — while the situation at Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear site remains serious — "we are starting to see some positive developments."

  • Scientists lack complete answers on radiation risk

    Thyroid cancer for sure. Leukemia, probably. Too much radiation can raise the risk of developing cancer years down the road, scientists agree, and the young are most vulnerable. But just how much or how long an exposure is risky is not clear.

    Those are among the unknowns scientists are contemplating as the crisis unfolds at Japan's stricken nuclear power plant.

  • Space shuttle Discovery lands, ends flying career

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Discovery ended its career as the world's most flown spaceship Wednesday, returning from orbit for the last time and taking off in a new direction as a museum piece.

    After a flawless trip to the International Space Station, NASA's oldest shuttle swooped through a few wispy clouds on its way to its final touchdown.

    "To the ship that has led the way time and time again, we say, 'Farewell Discovery,'" declared Mission Control commentator Josh Byerly.