May 21, 2008
More popular science news with a spectroscopic bent from the desk of David Bradley, this week: Heavy metal and Alzheimer’s – While the protein-like plaques that form in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and in other tissues in a wide range of different disorders are well known, what is less well known is that fairly high concentrations of transition metal elements, including copper, iron, and zinc, are also present. Do these metals have a role to play in plaque formation or are they a side-effect. New research using X-ray and NMR spectroscopy could shed light on the issue and perhaps one day lead to new approaches to therapy based on controlling these metals.
Forgetful quanta – Researchers have, for the first time, monitored oscillations in a vanadium-based molecular magnet. These so-called Rabi oscillations are characteristic of the disturbances that have so far prevented scientists developing a viable quantum bit, or qubit, for use in the next generation of probabilistic computers and encryption devices. According to one independent commentator, the research represents the passing of a milestone on the road to quantum computers. Now that scientists understand the cause of this problem they might be able to address it by swapping atoms with spin for isotopes with zero spin and so cut down on the noise.
More spec news from DB and others on spectroscopynow.com