The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Crystal Ball

Largest telescope

The world’s largest telescope is now under construction at the world’s only spinning glassmaking furnace at the Steward Observatory mirror lab in Tucson, US. The Giant Magellan Telescope’s (GMT) seven 8.4-metre mirrors will have 10 times the resolving power of the Hubble Space Telescope. The new telescope will arrange its multiple large mirrors into a single ‘super dish’ ' with one mirror at the centre and the other six curved around it like petals. The single-surface mirrors covering a huge area can get a sharper image by grabbing more light. The design makes GMT’s vision keener than it would have been if all seven mirrors remained separate.

Clearest vision

Electron microscopy, atomic-force microscopes ' they’re all good, but they can’t give you identification of chemical elements and compounds. A new laser-based method for creating optical devices with nanoscale accuracy (1 nanometer= 0.0000000001 metre) has allowed researchers to achieve an extraordinary x-ray resolution of better than 15 nanometers, reports Nature. XM-1, the soft x-ray microscopy developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Center for X-Ray Optics (CXRO), promises even higher resolution in the near future.

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