-- Machine tools and related advanced manufacturing technologies have contributed nearly $1 trillion to the U.S. economy in the past five years, according to a new study by the Association of Manufacturing Technology. In addition to fueling a good portion of America's economic expansion in the past 10 years, advances in manufacturing technology have helped reduce the peaks and valleys of the U.S. business cycle. The study indicates that better machine tools have shortened process times and aided just-in-time inventory management procedures, thus smoothing out those bumpy inventory fluctuations.

-- The North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, an intergovernmental organization set up by Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, blames U.S. copper smelting plants, waste incinerators, and cement kilns for dioxins in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. Inuit in the area have more than twice the normal level of dioxins in their blood. The report found that 35% of the dioxins came from 10 sources, 9 of them in the U.S.

-- Another nanoscopic step forward for advanced materials: Scientists at Drexel University and elsewhere have discovered a previously unknown type of carbon crystal called graphite polyhedral crystals (GPC). They're exquisitely small: Thousands would fit in the width of a human hair. The crystals have nanotube cores and outer surfaces that form perfect needles, pyramids, rods, and rings. They show promise for a variety of uses, ranging from rotors for nano-size electric motors to probes for atomic force microscopes.