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Discover magazine cites Berkeley research among 2007's top stories

| 16 January 2008

Two Berkeley research discoveries - one on a hyperlens with a unique way of altering light and the other on the body-positioning of dinosaurs in the throes of death - were honored as two of last year's top 100 science stories by Discover magazine.


The Top 100 list appears in the magazine's January issue, "The Year in Science," now available on newsstands.

In recognizing the hyperlens developed by Xiang Zhang, professor of mechanical engineering and faculty scientist at the Materials Science Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and his research team, the magazine noted the quest to "peek at the molecular machinery of living cells." Because the hyperlens, made of silver and aluminum oxide, is able to capture, preserve, and magnify the incredibly minute details contained in evanescent light waves, researchers are one major step closer to the goal of nanoscale optical imaging.

And while Zhang focused on ways of viewing life, Kevin Padian, professor of integrative biology and curator in the campus's Museum of Paleontology, looked at death. Padian and colleague Cynthia Marshall Faux of Montana's Museum of the Rockies analyzed the distinctive pose of fossilized dinosaurs. Using observations from modern-day birds and mammals in the process of dying, the researchers concluded that the gaping mouths, thrown-back heads, and curved tails of the fossils were likely the effects of brain damage and asphyxiation, leading to the agonized death pose seen in so many fossilized remains.

"We chose these 100 stories not only because of their news value but because they focus on breakthroughs that change the way we view the world," said Corey Powell, executive editor of Discover. "This issue is an opportunity to reflect on the scientific advancements that made an impact on everyday life this past year, and which will undeniably have an impact going forward."