Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Introducing Episode 1 of the Green HPC Podcast Series

In the inaugural episode of the Green HPC podcast series we will examine the issues that datacenter managers and system designers are facing with high performance computing systems of all sizes today. In this episode we hear from Wu-chun Feng of the Green500, Wilf Pinfold of Intel, Horst Simon of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and Dan Reed of Microsoft Research. We’ll hear from these leaders in HPC and technology how the conversation about energy in HPC has evolved. More>

Sulfate particles enhance climate warming properties of atmospheric soot

A new study has found that particles of sulfate, thought to be holding climate change in check by reflecting sunlight, instead enhances warming when combined with airborne soot.Recent atmospheric models have ranked soot, also called black carbon, second only to carbon dioxide in potential for atmospheric warming. For the study, Kimberley Prather and Ryan Moffet, a former graduate student at UC San Diego who is now at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, measured atmospheric aerosols over Riverside, California and Mexico City. More>

Monday, June 29, 2009

Town Sees Riches in Abandoned Gold Mine

Eight years after the Homestake gold mine here was shut down, this town is fashioning an unlikely economic-stimulus plan from the warren of tunnels the miners left behind. This past week, the mine was rechristened the Sanford Underground Laboratory at Homestake. The event celebrated the first steps toward transforming the mine into a place for scientists to hunt for fundamental particles difficult to find on the earth's surface. After working in underground labs in Canada and Japan, Berkeley Lab physicist Kevin Lesko saw Homestake as a way to make the U.S. the center of the underground physics world. More>

Microsoft to bring energy savings Hohm

Microsoft is moving into the energy use-recording business, with a new application designed to tell consumers how much electricity they are using. Microsoft Hohm uses technology licensed from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy. The free online application, which has not yet been made officially available, will take data from consumers where available and use it to help them assess their energy use. More>

Stories on this topic were also posted on TMCnet, Mother Nature Network, AZoBuild, and Marketing Vox News.

East Bay Green Corridor Partnership Attracts $76M in Funds

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums says that the science and technology are ready and available to develop our cities into green communities. Speaking at the second annual East Bay Green Corridor Partnership Summit in Oakland, the Mayor spoke to a host of local mayors, educators and economic development specialists about different ways to develop the East Bay’s regional green economy.Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums says that the science and technology are ready and available to develop our cities into green communities. Berkeley Lab is a member of the Corridor partnership. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Pandemic Passenger Screening For Airports

Four major US national laboratories, including Berkeley Lab, have worked together to develop a computer model to help airport authorities screen passengers for pandemic influenza. The tool can help estimate false negatives, people with influenza who slip through the screening process, and so assess the risk of infected passengers unknowingly spreading disease across the nation. More>

The First Secretary of Climate Change

Turning Berkeley Lab into a mecca for climate-change research might have been overreaching, but former director Steve Chu had a lot to offer the scientists he sought to attract, including the facilities of one of the nation's largest research labs and freedom from the academic infighting often found in smaller university physics departments. At Lawrence Berkeley, Chu succeeded in starting many of the blue-sky programs he hopes will lead to genuine breakthroughs. One Lawrence Berkeley team is working on automated demand response, a feature of a new, "smart" electric grid that will help lower energy use at peak hours. Another wants to genetically alter plant species like switchgrass and miscanthus for use as biofuels. Yet another is bioengineering synthetic microbes to break down cellulose in wild grasses or poplar trees, to make a gasoline substitute that's greener than corn-based ethanols. More>

JU, Berkeley to work on arsenic pollution

The Global Change Programme at Jadavpur University (JU) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have joined hands to evolve a practical and cost-effective solution to arsenic contamination in ground water. Arsenic Task Force chairman K J Nath has given the project a go-ahead. "Bottled water sells for Rs 10-12 and piped water is cheaper. We are proposing a technology developed at Berkeley University and currently in use in Cambodia and Bangladesh," said Berkeley Lab's Ashok Gadgil. More>

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Protesters Demonstrate Against Demolition of Lab's Bevatron

A number of residents held a press conference in Downtown Berkeley Tuesday evening to protest the demolition of a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory building known to contain radioactive materials. Concrete shielding blocks in the Bevatron, the lab's 180-foot particle accelerator, became mildly radioactive during the past 40 years of use. Residents voiced concerns in front of Old City Hall that transporting these materials may affect the health of Berkeley residents and cause damage to roads. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in the Berkeley Daily Planet.

'Transition' movement sees a graceful evolution back to the Stone Age

"Peak oil" describes a theoretical yet already unfurling scenario in which the easy days of oil-based society have reached an end. According to the peak oil theory, the time is approaching when the effort and cost of extraction will no longer be worth the oil itself, leaving humanity without the fuel to power our transportation, factories, farms--society. One of the leading experts in the peak oil discussion is David Fridley, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a fellow of the Post Carbon Institute in Sebastopol. Fridley, who says that too many Americans believe in solutions to all problems, explains that peak oil is a terrible anomaly among crises because there is no solution that technology can supply. He doesn't even see any hope in solar, wind, water and other renewable energy sources. More>

Calif. to receive millions in stimulus funds for energy programs

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary STEVEN CHU announced today that California will receive more than $90 million in federal stimulus funds to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the state. Chu was instrumental in bringing to the Bay Area the [UC BERKELEY-AFFILIATED] JOINT BIOENERGY INSTITUTE, a $135 million bio-energy research center funded by the Department of Energy and operated by a multi-institutional partnership under the leadership of Berkeley Lab. More>

East Bay green group draws $76 million to region

Coming into its second year, the East Bay Green Corridor Partnership continues to grow and estimates it has drawn $76 million to the region in investments for sustainable programs and projects. The group, which holds its second annual summit Friday, formed at the end of 2007 to attract green jobs and businesses to the East Bay. The original partners include the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and Emeryville along with U.C. BERKELEY and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in the Tri Valley Herald and Bizjournals.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Faster data transfer

GridFTP, a protocol developed by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, has been used to transfer unprecedented amounts of data over the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet). 'High-performance networking has become critical to science due to the size of the data sets and the wide scope of the collaboration characteristics of today's large science projects such as climate research and high-energy physics,' said Eli Dart, a network engineer for ESnet, which is managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Microsoft to help local residents track electricity use

Microsoft Hohm will be a free online application that provides energy-saving recommendations by analyzing how people use their electricity and how much they use. Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy are two of the first four utilities to partner with Microsoft on Hohm, along with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Xcel Energy. Microsoft licensed analytics from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, to build parts of Hohm that crunch data and spit out energy-saving recommendations. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in Windows 7 News, Information Week, Switched, eWeek, the Guardian, International Business Times, Cleantech Group, Earth2Tech, PC Magazine, Greentech Media, and CNet, SustainableBusiness.com, Environmental Leader, Product Reviews, TopNews, Energy Efficiency News, ITProPortal, TechNewsWorld, Pocket-lint.com, Environmental Expert, AFP, Jetson Green, engadget, Ars Technica, Mediapost.com.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oakland Green Job Corps grads get to work

More than 40 hammer-swinging, lumber-toting, drywall-nailing young people broke out the apple cider in Oakland on Monday to celebrate their graduation from one of the nation's first green-collar job training programs.Oakland is not alone in pushing green jobs. Richmond and Berkeley also have started green job training programs as part of the East Bay Green Corridor, a 2007 effort by Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to attract green businesses to the area. More>
Bill Heisinger and Alvin Burns will soon be mining again in the old Homestake Mine. This time, they will be mining for science. Indeed, while miners blast rock so scientists can do more experiments at the 4850, other scientists are racing to finish sophisticated engineering plans for the lab. Those plans are key to getting about $550 million from the National Science Foundation to build the deep underground lab, said Kevin Lesko, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and principal investigator of the DUSEL Collaboration, a nationwide team of scientists. More>

How Do I Make My Aquarium Eco-Friendly?

Energy usage for aquariums can vary widely, depending on the kind of setup you have. According to a 1997 report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a small freshwater aquarium—say, 10 gallons in size—might use as little as 90 to 120 kilowatt-hours a year to run its lights, filters, and aerators. That's about as much as a typical coffeemaker uses in a year—hardly a major energy suck in the grand scheme of things. More>

This story also appeared in the Washington Post.

Global warming costs IIlinois farmers millions

Global warming could cost corn growers in Illinois $243 million a year, according to a new report by Environment Illinois. Illinois ranks second in the nation for projected corn losses due to global warming. Nationwide, the estimated damage to America’s #1 crop totals more than $1.4 billion annually. Despite conventional wisdom that global warming is good for agriculture in the United States, scientists expect that temperature increases due to global warming will hurt corn production. In fact, research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Carnegie Institution shows that temperature changes associated with global warming are already harming corn production worldwide. More>

IBM, Cray Stay Atop Top500 Supercomputer List

Luck and planning help Berkeley's budget grow

The state budget has fallen into an abyss, cities around the state are slashing their services, but Berkeley is, somehow, staying afloat. When the City Council approves its $148 million general fund budget tonight, there will be no layoffs, all the fire stations will be kept open and no union contracts will be singled out by council members as an albatross. Instead, Berkeley's budget will actually grow, albeit by less than 1 percent. For one thing, it helps to have several large employers who've been stable in the recession, from pharmaceutical giant Bayer (roughly 1,500 employees), to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (3,735 employees) and, mostly, UC Berkeley (22,600 employees, including nearly 10,000 students). More>

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sacramento's mild June a mixed blessing

So far this June the average high temperature in Sacramento has clocked in at a paltry 80 degrees, a full six degrees below a normal June. "Weather is basically highly variable – it's the noise component of what we call climate," noted Michael Wehner, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Wehner, and Davis Easterling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, wrote a recent paper published in Geophysical Research Letters looking at shorter-term climate trends within larger trends. More>

Berkeley Memory Could Out-Last Egyptians

A memory technology to beat all memory technologies has been developed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley. "The shuttle memory has information density as high as one trillion bits per square inch and thermodynamic stability in excess of one billion years," says project leader Alex Zettl. More>

Berkeley's GradLink-on-the-Web wins Sautter Award

Last week the University of California recognized UC Berkeley's GradLink-on-the-Web (GLOW) and its developers with the Larry L. Sautter Award for Innovation in Information Technology, which honors top technology projects from the 10 UC campuses. UC Davis Health System's Computerized Provider Order Entry and UCLA's iTunes U also received Sautter gold awards. Recently GLOW automated an error-prone, time-consuming process at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), which hires Berkeley grad students and is required to pay fee remissions for qualifying appointments. More>

The road to energy efficient electronics

Designing energy efficient electronics will require architectural changes at every level from post-CMOS circuits to smart building networks, according to speakers at a symposium on the topic hosted by the University of California at Berkeley. Electronics consume about 290 TeraWatt hours of electricity a year in
the US, a small slice of the nation's estimated total annual consumption of about 3,700 TWh. Buildings draw the lion's share of the power, about 2,700 TWh a year, said Bruce Nordman, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in an opening talk. More>

Friday, June 19, 2009

Printing artificial cells

In a step towards cell mimics, an inkjet printer is being used to make lipid-coated balls containing proteins. Daniel Fletcher, with Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division, and coworkers from the US and France, developed the method to make single-lipid vesicles - fluid spheres encased in a lipid bilayer. Fletcher explains that the work's significance is in allowing them to load complex biomolecular mixtures into cell-like particles. More>

Energy Chief Says Green Homes Need White Roofs

American Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently spoke to a group of Nobel laureate scientists. He told them that people could slow global warming by changing the color of the rooftops of buildings. Mister Chu said researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California estimated the effects that white roofs could have on the planet. Their study considers painting sixty-three percent of rooftops white in one hundred large cities in warm areas around the world. The scientists estimate this would have the same climate effect as taking all cars in the world off the road for ten years. More>

The Environmentally Friendly Data Center

Virtualization, optimization, and consolidation are the heavy hitters when it comes to reducing power and cooling needs in the data center. “On average, servers only use about 15% of their total computing capacity,” points out Dr. Jonathan Koomey, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (www.lbl.gov) studying energy consumption within data centers. Although the majority of Koomey’s research focuses on energy consumption, he adds that underutilizing assets such as servers is economically a poor business practice. “There is all this capital sitting around and not being utilized, yet [it is] consuming energy.” More>

Lab Could Help GM With Accelerated Battery Testing For Chevy Volt

Although General Motors (GM) might prefer to test its Chevy Volt batteries over a ten-year period, the giant automaker says it’s ready and able to do the next best thing. Its newly-opened battery lab, said to be “the largest and most technologically advanced battery lab in the United States,” could enable GM to do the kind of accelerated testing that it will need to get the Volt out the door for its planned 2010 rollout. “People try to take the results of accelerated testing and extrapolate them to a much longer lifetime under normal use,” said Elton Cairns, the head of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Electrochemical Technology Group, in an interview with Design News earlier in 2009. “But unless the failure mechanisms are the same in both kinds of testing, you don’t really know how to extrapolate those results to real-world time. More>

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Not Forgotten: How to Store Data for a Billion Years

Few human records survive long. One notable exception is the cave art in Lascaux, France. These Paleolithic paintings of wild horses have survived more than 16,000 years. Yet later artworks have been lost, and digital records are often the most vulnerable to decay. But in a recent issue of Nano Letters a team of researchers led by Alex Zettl of Berkeley Lab describe a method that will, they reckon, let people store information electronically for a billion years. More>

Berkeley stakes science claim at Homestake gold mine

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds paid a visit to UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab last Friday (June 12) to get a feel for the type of research operation the campus and the lab plan to build at his state's famed Homestake gold mine. Rounds has strongly supported efforts to turn the mine, founded in 1877 by mining magnate and California Sen. George Hearst and taken out of operation in 2002, into the world's premier underground research laboratory, and the only one capable of answering critical questions about the nature of the elusive neutrino, a nearly massless sub-atomic particle that rarely interacts with matter. The DUSEL facility will host experiments in a range of fields, including physics, earth sciences, biology and engineering, as well as a major education and outreach program. More>

Argonne Technology Enables High-Speed Data Transfer

GridFTP, a protocol developed by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, has been used to transfer unprecedented amounts of data over the Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), which provides a reliable, high-performance communications infrastructure to facilitate large-scale, collaborative science endeavors. It will enable research groups at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). ESnet and NERSC are located at Berkeley Lab. More>

Bevatron Demolition Underway

The unique igloo-domed Bevatron building at UC Berkeley is coming down, the closing chapter in a political battle between city activists and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The structure, formally known as Building 51, once housed the 180-foot-diameter particle accelerator known as the Bevatron. More>

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

News flash: Run, Forrest, run

You, too, can run, cycle or walk across the U.S., much as actor Tom Hanks did in “Forrest Gump.” Or, rather, you can do it on your computer. The Wall Street Journal reports that researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a Web site and tool that allow you to log your daily mileage at home or in the gym, and track your progress on a virtual trip from Yorktown, Va., to Florence, Ore. The site – by means of photos – shows you exactly what you would see if you were actually making the trek. See exercise.lbl.gov. More>

The Battle Over Biofuels

When Chris Somerville arrived at UC Berkeley in early 2007 to run a new biofuels center, the program was embroiled in controversy. It was to be a wide-ranging scientific quest to help solve the global warming crisis. Nonetheless, he and his fellow researchers are convinced that biofuels need not displace farmland or cause deforestation, and they're committed to developing more efficient, nonfood crops. He also defends the university's partnership with BP, arguing that it's naive to think that Big Oil won't play a critical role in developing the fuels of the future. More>

Extreme Makeover Chemistry Style

In revisiting a chemical reaction that’s been in the literature for several decades and adding a new wrinkle of their own, researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have discovered a mild and relatively inexpensive procedure for removing oxygen from biomass. This procedure, if it can be effectively industrialized, could allow many of today’s petrochemical products, including plastics, to instead be made from biomass. More>

This story was also posted on Science Daily.

Climate Change Already Having Impact On U.S., Expected To Worsen

Two researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Evan Mills and Michael Wehner, contributed to the analysis of the effects of climate change on all regions of the United States, described in a major report released June 16 by the multi-agency U.S. Global Change Research Program. More>

This story was also posted on NewsGuide.us, Science Daily, and redOrbit.

Nanocrystals Reveal Activity Within Cells

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created bright, stable and bio-friendly nanocrystals that act as individual investigators of activity within a cell. These ideal light emitting probes represent a significant step in scrutinizing the behaviors of proteins and other components in complex systems such as a living cell. More>

This story was also posted on innovations report, Softpedia, Azom.com

Unleash your inner geek without spending a cent

Think technology and it's not hard to see dollar signs. But California and the West have many free and geeky places worth visiting; you just have to know where to look. The new book, "The Geek Atlas" details 128 places around the world where geeks go wild. The list includes the Joint Genome Institute, which offers a free tour by reservation. More>

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

10 Geekiest Elements Ever Created in a Lab

Last week the official tally of elements on the periodic table reached 112 when the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the guardians of the table, after 13 years of discussion, welcomed element 112 into the fold. Among the 10 coolest DIY elements ever created are Californium and Seborgium, both discovered by legenedary Berkeley Lab researcher Glenn Seaborg. More>

Web game boosts girls' interest in science

An East Bay school has become an inter-stellar testing ground for an innovative new idea to boost young girls' interest in science and technology."Our main goal is to get them interested in careers in science and technology, build their own self confidence, see that there's a trajectory for them," said Carl Pennypacker, a guest with Berkeley Lab's Physics Division. More>

Bilayer Graphene Gets a Bandgap

Graphene is the two-dimensional crystalline form of carbon, whose extraordinary electron mobility and other unique features hold great promise for nanoscale electronics and photonics. But there's a catch: graphene has no bandgap. "Having no bandgap greatly limits graphene's uses in electronics," says Feng Wang of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he is a member of the Materials Sciences Division. "For one thing, you can build field-effect transistors with graphene, but if there's no bandgap you can't turn them off! If you could achieve a graphene bandgap, however, you should be able to make very good transistors." More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Laser Focus World, Newspost Online, EE Times, and Chemical & Engineering News.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How white roofs could have a green impact

Could climate change be staved off by making the United States look like the set of "Mamma Mia!"? That was suggested in a recent talk by Energy Secretary Steven Chu. In his talk, Chu cited new research from his former laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which imagined the result of painting about 63 percent of the roofs white in 100 large cities in tropical and temperate areas worldwide. It estimated that would provide about the same climate benefits as taking all the world's cars off the road for 10 years. More>

PG&E blackouts last longer than elsewhere

Despite billions spent upgrading its grid, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. still suffers more blackouts than California's other big utilities, state records show. Take away the major storms, and the typical PG&E customer spent 2.8 hours without power last year. While that's still worse than the state's other large utilities, it appears to be on par with the national average. A study last year from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that among utilities that track blackouts lasting longer than five minutes - the standard used by PG&E - the average was 2.8 hours. More>

Unique sky survey brings new objects into focus

An innovative sky survey has begun returning images that will be used to detect unprecedented numbers of powerful cosmic explosions–called supernovae–in distant galaxies, and variable brightness stars in our own Milky Way. The survey also may soon reveal new classes of astronomical objects. The Palomar Transient Factory is a collaboration of scientists and engineers from institutions around the world, including the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

This release was also posted on insciences organisation.

New Ultradense Memory Chip Lasts a Billion Years

Your blog might be popular today, but how will you preserve it for future generations? Enter memory chips that can last for over a billion years. "There are several components to a memory storage system, but the heart of the system, where the bits are actually stored, should be as robust and long-lived as possible," said Zettl, a physicist at the at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in MacVideo.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New 'Electronic Glue' Promises Less Expensive Semiconductors

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed an "electronic glue" that could accelerate advances in semiconductor-based technologies, including solar cells and thermoelectric devices that convert sun light and waste heat, respectively, into useful electrical energy. More>

The Empire State Building: Case Study of a Profitable Energy Efficiency Retrofit

In April, an audacious plan to reduce the energy use of the Empire State Building by 38 percent, and save $4.4 million annually in the process was announced. The plan was the result of a 12-month study, which included intensive building measurements, energy and financial modeling, and tenant engagement. The Empire State Building project proved that a high level of energy savings can be captured cost effectively. Many other analyses, including work from McKinsey & Company, RMI, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, also find the existing stock of commercial buildings ripe with cost-effective energy-saving opportunities. More>

My Boss Told Me to Shut Off My Computer at Lunch

But will the juice required to power down and reboot offset the energy savings? You'll save some energy turning your computer off for an hour, but those modest energy gains might come at the expense of your computer's longevity. Bruce Nordman, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says that even though turning a computer off will never actually waste power, he notes that" ‘off' is a very 20th-century idea. More>

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Biofuels Use May Provide Positive Health Impact

A grant from the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) has produced a novel and comprehensive "Life Cycle Impact Assessment" to measure the benefits on human health that might result from a switch to biofuels. Although a number of uncertainties must be addressed for a more accurate picture, these early results show that a biofuel eliminating even 10-percent of current gasoline pollutant emissions would have a substantial impact on human health in this country, especially in urban areas. Lead author was Tom McKone, with Berkeley Lab. More>

This story was also posted on UPI and Checkbiotech.org.

MSU to dedicate new NSCL expansion

A series of events this week will help Michigan State University dedicate a major expansion of its National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and celebrate the coming of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. At a ceremony held at NSCL from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. on Friday, June 12, officials from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and MSU will give brief remarks and T. James Symons, director of the Nuclear Science Division for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will give a keynote address on rare isotope research. More>

This story was also posted in the Fresno Bee.