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Additional info for [Magazine] Scientific American. 2011. Vol. 304. No 3

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Maybe he had crossed to England seeking a cure or at least relief from pain at the already fabled Stonehenge. Indeed, excavations at many of the tombs buried nearby have turned up remains of individuals who seem to have suffered serious injury. One likely interpretation is that the Amesbury Archer was one of a stream of visitors hoping for relief at Stonehenge. Recent isotope analysis of tooth enamel from a grave found in nearby Boscombe in 2003 suggests that the archer was not the only visitor from afar.

A year later both Yamanaka and Wisconsin’s Thomson separately reported that they had created iPS cells from human tissue [see “Your Inner Healers,” by Konrad Hochedlinger; Scientific American, May 2010]. One of the people sitting in the audience that day in Whistler the stem cells used in these studies should not be confused with embryonic stem cells—the kind derived from early embryos. A dozen years ago James A. Thomson and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin–Madison electrified the world with the news that they had created human embryonic stem cells in a lab for the first time.

To achieve that goal, my group started working with supersonic beams in 2004, together with Uzi Even, a chemist at Tel Aviv University. Our first attempt was to build a rotor with blades moving, at their edges, at half the speed as the supersonic gas beam. We aimed pulses from the beam at the rotor’s receding blades in such a way that the beam’s velocity would precisely cancel out with that of the blades. When the gas atoms bounced off the rotor, the rotor took all the kinetic energy out of them, just as a receding tennis racket can bring a ball to rest.

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