Subject: PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE #153, 29 Nov 93
From: Ad absurdum per aspera <JTCHEW -at- LBL -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1993 17:01:43 GMT

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A digest of physics news items prepared by Phillip F. Schewe, AIP
Public Information
Number 153 November 29, 1993

distortion of quasar light by compact substellar objects lying along the
line of sight between Earth and the quasars, may explain the long-
term luminosity variations of many quasars. M.R.S. Hawkins of the
Royal Observatory at Edinburgh, UK has analyzed 17 years' of data
from a large-scale quasar monitoring program and reports that most
of the 300 quasars in the sample have luminosities which vary semi-
sinusoidally with a maximum-to-minimum timescale of about five
years. The timescales do not seem to vary with redshift. Hawkins
asserts that this variability pattern is inconsistent with any known
mechanism intrinsic to quasars themselves and is much more likely
to be associated with microlensing. (Nature, 18 Nov. 1993.) Only
a few months ago, two teams of astronomers attributed the variability
of several stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud to the microlensing
influence of presumed massive compact halo object (MACHOS) in
our galaxy. (Update 145.)

INDIUM-BASED FULLERENES, nested cage molecules made from
indium (and sodium) atoms instead of carbon atoms, have been
synthesized by scientists at Iowa State University. One typical
molecule in this new class has a formula of Na96-In97-Z2, where Z
can be nickel, palladium, or platinum; architecturally, it consists of
an In74 cage surrounding a sodium cage, which in turn encloses In10-
Z units. Such metallic endohedrons (polyhedrons of atoms enclosing
other atoms) will facilitate a much more diverse chemistry than has
been possible so far with carbon endohedrons, such as buckyballs
with lanthanum inside. (Slavi Sevov and John Corbett, Science, 5
Nov. 1993.)

ELECTRONIC JOURNALS, delivering information in the form of
binary bits to your computer instead of pounds of paper to your shelf,
are slowly conquering problems in a variety of areas: transmitting
graphics, refereeing, non-uniformity of languages, copyright
conventions, shortfall of submitted articles, etc. One example:
Britain's Institute of Physics is collaborating with other publishers in
creating SuperJournal, a demonstration project consisting of a
smorgasbord of existing print journals which can be accessed to
varying degrees over the new SuperJANET high-speed computer
network. At a speed of 100 megabits of data per second, the network
can transmit a page of text in about 0.25 msec. (Physics World,
Nov. 1993.) The circulation of preprints, particularly in particle
physics, has been widespread for several years, but fully electronic
physics journals, with electronic submissions and an exclusively
electronic format including figures, are in their infancy and are
learning to crawl before they run. For instance, the Journal of
Chemical physics puts up some of its articles (with figures) prior to
publication in print form. The bi-monthly publication Computers in
Physics hopes to shift from print to electronic form piecemeal,
starting in early 1994, with a regularly updated summary of physics-
related information available worldwide over Internet. The sub-editor
for this online service is Glenn Ricart of the University of Maryland
(301-405-7700, glenn_ricart -at- umail -dot- umd -dot- edu)

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