Data Points

By Zachary Block '99 / November / December 2003
June 21st, 2007

Real Diamonds Have Curves

Diamonds may be forever, but crystals cannot maintain sharp edges indefinitely. Studying data from experiments on silicon crystals conducted at MIT in the mid-1990s, assistant engineering professor Vivek Shenoy and a colleague at Ohio State University found that the edges of crystals become rounded in a patterned way as the crystals try to reach a kind of stability known as thermal equilibrium. The finding, published in Surface Science in September, could eventually lead to templates for manufacturing tiny electronic parts, including patterns for wires a few nanometers across, or even smaller semiconductors called quantum dots, Shenoy says. “You don’t do anything to manufacture them,” he adds. “If you regulate the temperature, they build themselves. Nature basically builds them for you.”

Waiter, There’s a Fly in My Wine

The life-sustaining power of red wine may be accepted dogma among oenophiles, but scientists have struggled to explain the mechanism behind the phenomenon. Now, Brown assistant professor of biology Marc Tatar, building on work by Harvard researchers, has shown that resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine, may extend the life of fruit flies. Resvera-trol appears to work by activating an enzyme that mirrors the effect of a low-calorie diet, which in turn has been shown to prolong the lives of mice. Tatar cautions that the results, while promising, are preliminary. “Flies are fickle,” he says. “I might repeat the experiment four or five times before I’m happy.” In the meantime, he plans to conduct similar tests on mice.

Generation Gap

Immigrant parents often move to the United States to provide new opportunities for their children. While this focus on achievement may spur on first- and second-generation immigrants to academic success, that zeal for education typically fades among subsequent generations. “Parents of immigrant students express higher expectations for their children than natives of the third (and later) generation,” Brown sociology professor Michael White and former postdoctoral fellow Jennifer Glick, now a professor at Arizona State, write in Social Science Research. In the end, White and Glick say, immigrant and second-generation youth are more likely to attend college than those whose families have been in the United States for more than two generations.

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November / December 2003