Saturday, June 12, 2010

Plastic antibodies, the new black, Audubon bird report

Plastic antibodies (New Scientist, Science Daily)

Natural antibodies are made of protein. Now, scientists at the University of California have made plastic antibodies for bee venom. Their process forms polymers around bee venom molecules, then dissolves the venom, leaving polymers customized to fit venom, just like natural antibodies.

The new black (New Scientist)

Materials scientists have created a "metamaterial" made of nano-wires of silver embedded in aluminum oxide, which can absorb virtually all the radiation that falls on it, in a range of frequencies depending on the details of construction. This means it could be a much more perfect black than ordinary black objects. More practically, it can be made to absorb radar.

(Cf. "fulligin," the color darker than black, in The Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe.)

Audubon bird report

The NH Audubon Society has issued its statewide bird report here. A third of the species in the state are declining, a third are stable or increasing, and for a third there is insufficient data.