In Nature this week

April 5, 2007

  1. Remains of Joan of Arc, or, are they? Apart from spectroscopy, microscopy, and pollen analysis, apparently, two experts of perfume industry were used to show that the materials which were claimed to be the remains of Joan of Arc are probably of Egyptian mummy origin.
  2. Attophysics: Here is a News and Views piece about a new technique which can be used probe electron dynamics (which involve very short time–10^{-18} second (attosecond)–laser pulses). The abstract of the paper in question reads wonderful too:

    Atoms exposed to intense light lose one or more electrons and become ions. In strong fields, the process is predicted to occur via tunnelling through the binding potential that is suppressed by the light field near the peaks of its oscillations. Here we report the real-time observation of this most elementary step in strong-field interactions: light-induced electron tunnelling. The process is found to deplete atomic bound states in sharp steps lasting several hundred attoseconds. This suggests a new technique, attosecond tunnelling, for probing short-lived, transient states of atoms or molecules with high temporal resolution. The utility of attosecond tunnelling is demonstrated by capturing multi-electron excitation (shake-up) and relaxation (cascaded Auger decay) processes with subfemtosecond resolution.

  3. Obituary — Frank Albert Cotton: Cotton’s book on group theory is something that has been strongly recommended to me (though, I never managed to read it). Stephen J Lippard pays his tributes to the chemist, educator and quadruple bond discoverer.

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