How Chip Designers Leave Their Mark

What happens to art majors once they graduate? Designing computer chips seems to be an option. Microscope buff Michael Davidson stumbled onto the practice of etching images on chip surfaces four years ago, when he found hide-and-seek champ Waldo staring back at him from a microprocessor. The arty signatures are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but examples of the hidden graffiti can be viewed at Davidson's Silicon Zoo Web site: micro.magnet.fsu.edu/creatures/.

It's Not Easy to Teach an Old Tie New Tricks

Cambridge university physicists Thomas Fink and Yong Mao expanded the stylistic possibilities for well-dressed men last week, when they unveiled six all-new ways to knot a tie. The researchers praise their favorite for its "elegance and pleasing three-dimensionality," and say that compared with the staid half-Windsor, the new knot is "quite flamboyant." Finally, relativity comes to gentlemen's neckwear. Follow the simple steps below:

New Quake Fears for Southern California

Los Angeles has seen fires, floods and earthquakes, and as is appropriate in a town known for sequels, it will see them all again--and the earthquakes are the most worrisome. Last week in the journal Science, researchers at Harvard and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography described a new fault in L.A., running right under downtown.

The new fault, dubbed Puente Hills, stretches from L.A. proper to Orange County. At 25 miles long and 10 miles wide, it would seem hard to miss, but Puente Hills is a blind-thrust fault--one piece of earth scraping under another, invisible on the surface. It came into view only on seismic data borrowed from oil-company drilling research. But it's no wimp. A rupture on just 10 percent of this fault caused the 1987 Whit-tier Narrows quake, which killed eight people and caused $358 million in damage. If the whole fault blew at once, the quake would be even more powerful.

So when do we rock? Magnitude-6 temblors like Whittier Narrows are due on Puente Hills every 250 to 1,000 years ... but records go back only to about 1850, so no one knows when the clock started. Angelenos may know where the fault lies, but as usual, they can't do much about it.