TRIAL BALLOONS: Frank Ludwig, a consulting professor in civil and environmental engineering, and Bob Street, the William Alden and Martha Campbell Professor in the School of Engineering, are analyzing data collected from hundreds of balloons that were launched over Salt Lake Valley in October. The two researchers are building computer models to better predict air quality and weather as part of a four-year study funded by the Department of Energy.

DISTANT ERUPTIONS: Using data from specially designed satellites that bounce radar waves off the surface of islands from 500 miles in space, a team of Stanford geophysicists has discovered that seven volcanoes clustered in the Galápagos Islands are rising simultaneously--an indication that they could erupt sometime in the future. "Our dream is to monitor all 500 to 1,000 active volcanoes on Earth using satellite radar," says Paul Segall, professor of geophysics.

CRITICAL PLUMBING: Cardiovascular surgeon D. Craig Miller is mapping the plumbing problems that cause murmurs and valve leakage in the human heart. Miller and his colleagues believe the map will allow heart surgeons to perform more precise operations to correct ischemic mitral regurgitation (IMR), a condition that affects between 1 and 2 million people in the United States and is particularly difficult to treat.

CREATIVE WIRING: A new procedure being studied in a trial with 100 patients at Stanford Medical Center may provide the next generation of treatment for coronary artery disease. The Galileo Inhibit Study uses a small wire coated with a source of radiation and placed in the bloodstream for two to five minutes to treat patients with blocked arteries.