About half the size of a football field and 21 stories tall, the largest optical telescope ever constructed will use almost 1,000 mirrors to hunt for exoplanets--and maybe even
unlock the secrets of spacetime.
By Bjorn CareyPosted 12.17.2007 at 2:00 am 1 Comment
Follow the Light
The PRIMARY MIRROR collects starlight and reflects it onto MIRROR A, which sends it through the hole in MIRROR C onto MIRROR B. The light then bounces onto the surface of MIRROR C, onto MIRROR D and into the DETECTOR.
The orange "piston" is opened and closed by light, causing the red arms on the other side of the blue joint to twist, operating the yellow pedals. Courtesy NewScientist.com and Kazushi Kinbara
A working pair of scissors doesnt sound interesting, but it is when those scissors are too small to see.Nanoscientists in Tokyo have just created the first working molecular machine that can act like a tool to alter another molecule. As reported in Nature, their nanoscale scissors grip and twist an even smaller molecule. When light hits a photosensitive chemical on the scissors, their iron-based hinge pivots. That flips two molecular paddles at the bottom of the scissors that hold the target object—in this case, a structure of nitrogen atoms—which obligingly changes its shape. That simple twist is the first step on the way to more useful nanoscale machines. Think cars, conveyor belts that deliver drugs, or anything else that depends on gears and levers prodding other pieces into action. —Lauren Aaronson