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Molecules/Matter & Energy

A first look at the roots of sight, plus fading blues, steady birds and more in this week’s news

9:31am, June 19, 2011

Seeing rods in the eye
Rods in healthy human eyes have been imaged for the first time, thanks to technology borrowed from telescopes. These tiny light-sensitive cells are difficult to spot because the human eye distorts light, much as the Earth’s atmosphere does. But adaptive optics — laser beams like those that help astronomers measure and compensate for these distortions — cleared things up for a team led by Alfredo Dubra Suarez of the University of Rochester. Being able to routinely monitor rods could help doctors better understand night blindness, retinitis pigmentosa and other degenerative diseases, the researchers report in the July 1 Biomedical Optics Express.Devin Powell

Secret to birds’ steady gaze
Some birds may keep their gaze steady while hovering by rotating their bodies around their eyes. When a Japanese white-eye pushes its wings downward, the forces created

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