World and Nation

Shorts (left)

Disney Will Buy Marvel for $4B

The Walt Disney Co.’s surprise deal to acquire Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion redraws the architecture of Hollywood and spotlights how the media giant has become more aggressive than its peers about growth.

Disney said on Monday that it would pay cash and stock to acquire Marvel, the comic book publisher and movie studio whose library of 5,000 characters includes some of the world’s best-known superheroes: Spider-Man, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four.

The deal was valued at about $50 a share, a 29 percent premium.

“Marvel’s brand and its treasure trove of content will now benefit from our extraordinary reach,” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said in an interview. “We paid a price that reflects the value they’ve created and the value we can create as one company. It’s a full price, but a fair price.”

Montana Court to Weigh Claim of Right to Doctor’s Aid in Dying

Last year, even as lymphocytic leukemia was killing him, Robert Baxter, a 76-year-old retired truck driver from Billings, Mont., fought on. But by then he was struggling not for life, but for the right to die with help from his doctor.

“He yearned for death,” said his daughter, Roberta King, in a court affidavit describing her father’s final agonized months of life.

Now, in death, Baxter is at the center of a right-to-die debate that could make Montana the first state in the country to declare that medical aid in dying is a protected right under a state constitution.

The state’s highest court on Wednesday will take up Baxter’s claim that a doctor’s refusal to help him die violated his rights under Montana’s Constitution — and lawyers on both sides say the chances are good that his case will prevail.

After the Transistor, A Leap into the Microcosm

Gaze into the electron microscope display in Frances Ross’ laboratory here and it is possible to persuade yourself that Ross, a 21st-century materials scientist, is actually a farmer in some Lilliputian silicon world.

Ross, an IBM researcher, is growing a crop of mushroom-shaped silicon nanowires that may one day become a basic building block for a new kind of electronics. Nanowires are just one example, although one of the most promising, of a transformation now taking place in the material sciences as researchers push to create the next generation of switching devices smaller, faster and more powerful than today’s transistors.

The reason that many computer scientists are pursuing this goal is that the shrinking of the transistor has approached fundamental physical limits. Sooner or later, new materials and new manufacturing processes will be necessary to keep making computer technology cheaper.

In the long term, new switches might be based on magnetic, quantum or even nanomechanical switching principles. One possibility would be to use changes in the spin of an individual electron to represent a 1 or a 0.

“If you look out into the future, there is a branching tree and there are many possible paths we might take,” said Michael C. Mayberry, an Intel Corp. vice president and the director of the company’s component research program.