From the Editor: 81.2 Scales of Science

In one lab, a team of particle physicists investigates the properties of the atom, an infinitesimal structure measuring just 0.1 nanometers. Not far away, a group of astrophysicists observe the characteristics of an enormous galaxy, spanning over 100,000 light years in diameter. Beside both teams are countless scientists studying the behavior and features of the vast world that lies between these extremes. Indeed, just a short walk around Yale campus reveals a broad array of amazing research efforts exploring the tremendous world of science.

Our seemingly limitless ability to study entities as small as atoms and as large as galaxies continually relies on rapid technological advances. Over four hundred years after Janssen’s invention of the microscope, we continue to advance techniques that allow for clear visualization of even the smallest, once invisible, structures. At the other end of the spectrum, increasingly powerful telescopes continue to reach beyond yesterday’s limits into the night sky, with the Hubble Space Telescope itself providing breathtaking images as it speeds around the planet at five miles per second.

In this issue, we highlight a sample of research at Yale that spans both the scales of science and the range of scientific disciplines. One group of researchers aims to utilize microscopic nanoparticles to allow for versatile, efficient drug delivery. At the same time, another group has discovered an unprecedented X-ray binary system outside the Milky Way, in a galaxy that contains an unusually massive small black hole. While a team of cell biologists investigates the properties of small piRNAs and their role in regulating gene expression in individual cells, a paleobotany research effort aims to better understand global changes in entire plant populations over time.

As this broad survey of scientific research marks the final issue produced by the 2007 staff, I would like to wish the best of luck to the incoming 2008 masthead. On behalf of the outgoing masthead, I would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to the production of Yale Scientific over the past year, as well as the many Yale professors who have taken the time to share their fascinating projects and findings through this magazine.