Skip to main content Skip to navigation


Fall 2008

Seeing red (and far-red)

Ask crop scientist Michael Neff about plant growth, and he won’t talk about rainfall or fertilizer. He’ll talk about what the plants see.

“What I’ve been interested in forever is how plants use light as a source of information,” says Neff. “Plants have photoreceptors that are completely independent of photosynthesis and chloroplasts, that read their environment and say, ‘I am in full sunlight, I’m in the shade of another plant, I’ve got plants that are growing too close to me,’” and so on. The photoreceptors then trigger a host of hormonal reactions that influence how tall the plant will grow.

Neff thinks it’s possible to … » More …

Fall 2008

To Err is Human

The older a woman is when she conceives, the more likely it is her eggs will have abnormal chromosomes. But beyond the fact of the biological clock, we often overlook a bigger story. Even with young mothers, chromosome abnormalities are the single most frequent cause of miscarriage and birth defects. Between 25 and 30 percent of all fertilized human eggs have the wrong number of chromosomes, a rate that seems peculiar to humans. » More ...
Fall 2002

Small and smaller

There’s a limit to how small a piece of chocolate chip cookie you can have. At some point, you’ll either have a piece of chocolate or a piece of cookie, but not a piece of chocolate chip cookie.

You run into the same problem if you’re trying to make smaller silicon processor chips, says Kerry W. Hipps, professor of chemistry and materials science. Eventually the chip gets too small to function as a processor.

The processor is the brain in your computer. It makes the decisions about what data should go where, including how to route input like keyboard strokes, and how to route output … » More …