Invisible Pink Unicorn writes: "The National Science Foundation is reporting that the number of published U.S. science and engineering articles plateaued in the 1990s, despite continued increases in funding and personnel for research and development. This came after two decades of continued growth. Since then, flattening has occurred in nearly all U.S. research disciplines and types of institutions. In contrast, Asian and EU research had significant increases in this period. They do point to one positive for the US, however: article quality. According to one of the researchers, 'the more often an article is cited by other publications, the higher quality it's believed to have. While citation is not a perfect indicator, U.S. publications are more highly cited than those from other countries.'"
TheCybernator writes: "Researchers at IBM's Almaden Research Center have developed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to visualize nanoscale objects. The new techniques are a major milestone in the quest to build a microscope that could "see" individual atoms in three dimensions.
Using Magnetic Resonance Force Microscopy (MRFM), IBM researchers have captured two-dimensional images of objects as small as 90 nanometers. (A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers in diameter.)
"Our ultimate goal is to perform three-dimensional imaging of complex structures such as molecules with atomic resolution," said Dan Rugar, manager, Nanoscale Studies, IBM Research. "This would allow scientists to study the atomic structures of molecules — such as proteins — which would represent a huge breakthrough in structural molecular biology."
MRFM offers imaging 60,000 times more sensitive than current MRI technology. MRFM uses what is known as force detection to extend the limits of conventional MRI and view structures that would otherwise be too small to be detected.
The imaging breakthrough could eventually have major impact on the study of materials ranging from proteins and pharmaceuticals to integrated circuits — that required detailed understanding of the atomic structure. Knowing the exact location of specific atoms within tiny nanoelectronic structures, for example, would improve designers' insight into manufacture and performance. The ability to directly image the detailed atomic structure of proteins would aid the development of new drugs."