Monday, August 31, 2009

World's smallest semiconductor laser heralds new milestone in laser physics

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have reached a new milestone in laser physics by creating the world's smallest semiconductor laser, capable of generating visible light in a space smaller than a single protein molecule. This breakthrough, described in an advanced online publication of the journal Nature on Sunday, Aug. 30, breaks new ground in the field of optics. The UC Berkeley team not only successfully squeezed light into such a tight space, but found a novel way to keep that light energy from dissipating as it moved along, thereby achieving laser action. "This work shatters traditional notions of laser limits, and makes a major advance toward applications in the biomedical, communications and computing fields," said Xiang Zhang, professor of mechanical engineering and materials scientist at Berkeley Lab. More>

A story on this topic also appeared on NPR and in Science, Science Centric and Laser Focus World.

IBM, OASIS Advance Smart Grid Initiatives

Smart-grid initiatives are taking the form of many different partnerships including product improvements, standards development and demonstration projects that are designed to improve reliability and efficiency, and ease the integration of network capabilities into smart-grid networks. The OASIS Energy Interoperation Technical Committee will base its work on the Open Automated Demand Response Communication Standards (OpenADR), donated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Demand Response Research Center (DRRC). More>

Digital Music Downloads Serve As Eco Solution

A new study completed by research teams from Carnegie Mellon University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University verifies that downloading music cuts energy consumption and CO2 emissions in comparison to shopping at your local music store. The study shows that purchasing digital music downloads results in a 40-80 percent reduction in energy use and carbon emissions compared to distributing CDs. More>

Alivisatos Featured in Inside Energy

Berkeley Lab interim-Director Paul Alivisatos is featured in the new issue (August 31) of Platts Inside Energy, a widely read and influential weekly newsletter that reports on energy policy developments in the U.S. government. This is the fifth in a series of interviews with directors of DOE national labs, which Energy Secretary Steve Chu has said will play prominent roles in the Obama administration. In his interview, Alivisatos argued that in addition to being incubators of scientific and technological innovation, national laboratories should also “be open to finding new ways to get those technologies from the workbench to the marketplace.” While he believes the labs have had a good track record in the past, they can probably do “ten times better if we all put our minds to it.” (Link not available, subscription only).

Battery Startup Seeo Raises $8.6M, With Khosla Back for More

Vinod Khosla, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest cleantech backers and the founder of Sun Microsystems, may be keeping an eye on the hype about lithium-ion batteries, but the venture capitalist is still excited about one of his earlier lithium battery plays: Seeo. The stealthy startup, which is developing a nano-structured lithium-polymer battery, has raised more than $8.6 million in new funding, according to regulatory filings picked up by peHUB this morning, and investors in the round include Khosla’s firm, Khosla Ventures. Seeo, based in Berkeley, Calif., has now raised a total of more than $10.6 million for its solid-state battery, which is based on a solid polymer electrolyte that the founders developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. More>

Friday, August 28, 2009

Microbe Metabolism Harnessed to Produce Fuel

Microbes such as the yeast we commonly use in baking bread and fermenting beer are now being engineered to produce the next generation of biofuels. JAY KEASLING, A PROFESSOR OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, is leading a team of scientists in an effort to manipulate the chemistry within bacteria so they will produce fuel from sugar. At the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), one of three research centers set up by the Department of Energy for the research and development of biofuels, Keasling is utilizing synthetic biology techniques involving chemistry, genetic engineering and molecular biology. More>

Unions Voice Dissent Against Yudof

Union leaders at UC Berkeley began collecting ballots yesterday for a no-confidence vote on UC President Mark Yudof as part of a six-day long political demonstration at the UC campuses. Three voting locations near campus were manned for several hours by union members on their work breaks, in addition to locations at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University Village. AFSCME provided all the materials, such as ballots, flyers and posters. More>

Microscopes zoom in on molecules at last

Thanks to specialised microscopes, we have long been able to see the beauty of single atoms. But strange though it might seem, imaging larger molecules at the same level of detail has not been possible – atoms are robust enough to withstand existing tools, but the structures of molecules are not. Now researchers at IBM have come up with a way to do it. The earliest pictures of individual atoms were captured in the 1970s by blasting a target – typically a chunk of metal – with a beam of electrons, a technique known as transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Later refinements of this technique, such as the TEAM project at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California achieved resolutions of less than the radius of a single hydrogen atom. More>

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What’s Next in Lithium Batteries?

Current lithium-ion batteries are like democracy: They are the worst option, except for all of the other ones. But next-generation technologies like lithium-sulfur and lithium-air batteries still have a long way to go before they're ready for laptops and cars, as researchers speaking Wednesday at IBM's annual Almaden Institute at its Almaden labs near San Jose, Calif. made clear. So for now, lithium-ion is the chemistry of choice for automakers going hybrid and electric, from Toyota, which will use it in its next generation Prius hybrid, to General Motors, which has settled on it for its upcoming Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. Elton Cairns, with Berkeley Lab, said that lithium-sulfur batteries could offer a next step forward. Lithium-sulfur cells have a theoretical potential to deliver about 2,600 watt-hours per kilogram, versus lithium-ion's potential of 585 watt-hours per kilogram, he said. More>

Digital Music Can Save the Planet

Not to go against Elvis Costello, but it turns out that digital music, not radio, is a sound salvation, at least when it comes to fighting climate change. A new study conducted by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University confirms what we already assumed: downloading music cuts energy consumption and CO2 emissions compared to shopping at your local record store. Digitizing wins again. More>

Smashing the Trillion Zone Barrier

When DOE established the Visualization and Analytics Center for Enabling Technologies (VACET) in 2006, the center joined the VisIt development effort, making further extensions for use on the large, complex datasets emerging from DOE’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program. VACET is part of the SciDAC program and includes researchers from three national laboratories and two universities, including Berkeley Lab. The VACET team conducted the recent capability experiments in response to its mission to provide production-quality, parallel-capable visual data analysis software. These tests were a significant milestone for DOE’s visualization efforts, providing an important new capability for the larger scientific research communities. More>

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Breakthrough Doubles Efficiency of Algae-to-Oil Production

Aurora Biofuels said that it has succeeded in optimizing its base algae strains to more than double CO2 consumption and fuel production. The company has proven these results in an outdoor open system over the last several months. Using tools developed in the fields of molecular biology and biochemistry, Aurora Biofuels scientists have developed a proprietary process which allows for the selection and breeding of non-transgenic algae. "This is a major breakthrough showing that one can take algae with improved productivity from the research lab to the field. What Aurora scientists have achieved is an impressive milestone on the path to large-scale commercial algae production," said Kris Niyogi, a member of the company's scientific advisory board and a physical bioscientist at Berkeley Lab. More>

Google's Data Center Efficiency Tips

Efficiency gurus from Amazon Web Services, Google, the Uptime Institute, eBay, Green Grid and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab share best practices in videotaped sessions from the Google Data Center Efficiency Summit. This video features a best practices presentation by Amazon Web Services Vice President James Hamilton, a tour of a Google data center and a Q&A panel discussion with Hamilton, Uptime Institute Executive Director Kenneth G. Brill, Olivier Sanche, senior director of data center services for eBay, William Tschudi of the applications team in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Luiz Barroso of Google, who served as moderator. More>

OASIS Announces Committee to Define Transaction Standards for Smart Grid

The international open standards consortium, OASIS, has formed a new group to enable the collaborative and transactive use of energy. The new OASIS Energy Interoperation Technical Committee will develop Web services-based information and communication models for exchanging dynamic pricing, reliability, and emergency signals. The group's work will also extend to information on energy market participation (such as bids), load predictability, and generation. The new OASIS Committee will base its work on the Open Automated Demand Response Communication Standards (OpenADR), donated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Demand Response Research Center (DRRC). More>

A story story also appeared in Environmental Protection.

New Model of Quantum Gravity Proposed

When physicist Albert Einstein first developed his famous Theory of General Relativity (TGR), early in the 20th century, the physics world progressed considerably. For instance, after TGR was developed, astronomers and physicists had the opportunity to test the idea to the limit, until it was scientifically proven over and over again that Einstein was right. This is very difficult to do with quantum physics, as scientific investigations in this field are naturally prone to uncertainties. Recently, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) expert Petr Horava proposed a new model for quantum gravity, which had the advantage of being testable. More>

Heat waves getting worse

Climate experts have warned that the sort of serious heat wave that is now possible given current climate conditions, but which has not struck yet, could kill thousands of U.S. residents. As heat waves worsen, more energy is used to run air conditioners. If the electricity is generated using fossil fuels, this could also mean even more emissions of heat-trapping gases that cause climate change, scientists wrote in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology last year. “Electricity demand for industrial and home cooling increases near linearly with temperature,” said the leader of that study, Norman Miller, an earth scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

This story also appeared in Tehran Times.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Biggest Solar Panels Still Not Big Enough

Considering that the world’s largest solar project (in Germany) covers about 210 football fields with approximately 560,000 thin-film First Solar panels – projected to top out at 700,000 – and still produces a mere 53 megawatts, or enough to power 15,000 households, it’s clear that solar efficiencies are the underlying problem when it comes to solar’s thin share of the electricity generation marketplace. Recent discoveries out of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, suggesting that indium/gallium/nitrogen alloys may be able to convert the entire spectrum of sunlight, still face a 70-percent ceiling. This, if commercially viable, is a 40 percent improvement over the most efficient multi-junction solar cell created, which is still rated at 30 percent. More>

Monday, August 24, 2009

Intel-sponsored research says Moore's Law makes IT green

Downloading music can be more than twice as eco-friendly as buying the CD in a store and the information technology industry is halving the consumption of energy per computation every 1.6 years, according to research sponsored by Intel and Microsoft. Intel and Microsoft have funded three pieces of research by Jonathan Koomey, Project Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Consulting Professor at Stanford University and visiting professor at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, which explored the historical trends of energy consumptions and carbon emissions by information technology equipment. More>

United States becomes world leader in wind power

Aggressive investments in 2008 helped the United States surpass Germany to become the world's leader in wind power, according to a report recently released by the U.S. Department of Energy. And for the fourth consecutive year, the United States is home to the fastest-growing wind power market in the world. The report, prepared by Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, provides an overview of trends in the U.S. wind power market in 2008. While the $16.4 billion figure is impressive - total investment in wind was about $9 billion in 2007 and about $4 billion in 2006 - investments are expected to drop this year, Bolinger said in an interview. More>

Friday, August 21, 2009

At Singularity U., big brains meet the future

Sitting in a classroom, listening to students explain their approach to an assignment to develop an initiative to impact the lives of a billion people over ten years, one could be forgiven for taking it all with a grain of salt. After all, student projects like this are usually peppered with holes, naive assumptions, and unrealistic goals. But here at Singularity University, things are a little different. This group project, which aims to flip the car sharing movement on its head and bring affordable transportation to the masses, started less than two weeks ago but has already won a prize and attracted venture capital interest. Those chosen for the program are truly the cream of the crop. After all, they have regular access to superstar teachers like Berkeley Lab physicist George Smoot. More>

Through Difficulty, Cecilia Aragon Soars to the Stars

That Cecilia Aragon is a brilliant, creative pioneer in computer science is now widely recognized, perhaps almost routine. As a staff scientist at Berkeley Lab, her most recent honor was a 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Separate from her research exploits, she also is considered one of the nation’s top aerobatic pilots. But what makes Aragon’s scientific and personal achievements even more remarkable is when one considers the obstacles she overcame to get where she is today. More>

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Leaping the Efficiency Gap

Thirty-five years ago in Berkeley, California, two young physicists named Steven Chu and John Holdren were present at the birth of a campaign to curb Americans' appetite for energy. They saw their colleague Arthur Rosenfeld abandon a successful career in particle physics and set up a new research division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) devoted to energy efficiency. Then-Governor Jerry Brown and state regulatory agencies adopted Rosenfeld's ideas with astonishing speed. California canceled planned nuclear power plants, passed pathbreaking efficiency standards for refrigerators and buildings, and ordered electric utilities to spend money persuading their customers to use less power. More>

IT Buyers Need to Look at the Total Cost of Data Centers

In data centers, all costs related to the purchase of electricity and almost all facility costs are directly related to the power use of IT equipment, according to a new white paper released by Intel and Microsoft. This means power used per thousand dollars of server acquisition cost is the most important driver of power and cooling costs in data centers. The research was co-authored by Dr. Jonathan Koomey, Project Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Consulting Professor at Stanford University and visiting professor at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. More>

New images capture cell's ribosomes at work

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have for the first time captured elusive nanoscale movements of ribosomes at work, shedding light on how these cellular factories take in genetic instructions and amino acids to churn out proteins. Ribosomes, which number in the millions in a single human cell, have long been considered the "black boxes" in molecular biology. "We know what goes in and what comes out of ribosomes, but we're only beginning to learn about what is going on in between," said the study's principal investigator, Jamie Cate, UC Berkeley associate professor in chemistry and molecular and cell biology, and a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Energy Savers Try to Rebuild Their 'Brands' With Government Contracts

Gilligan is the president of NAESCO, the National Association of Energy Service Companies. Its members, known as ESCOs, are firms that assess how a building can save energy, then write a contract guaranteeing the savings and retrofit the building. In 2007, he and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory issued a report on the state of the industry. In the 1990s, they found, the ESCO business grew by 20 percent every year. But growth tumbled to 3 percent from 2001 to 2004, responding in large part to Enron's fall. Since then, ESCOs have rebounded. Gilligan estimates that the industry raked in $5.5 billion in revenues last year, almost double what it was at mid-decade. More>

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Technology Review magazine names Berkeley scientists to elite group of young innovators

Three researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are among an elite group of young scientists to watch, according to the national magazine Technology Review's just-released 2009 list of Top Young Innovators Under 35. The group includes Berkeley Lab materials scientists Ali Javey and Cyrus Wadia. They were among 35 researchers selected worldwide as top innovators under the age of 35. They were chosen from more than 300 nominees in research fields spanning medicine, computing, communications, nanotechnology and more. More>

Recovery Act funds speed up high-speed ethernet

ESnet will build the world’s fastest supercomputing network and test subnetwork for future technology using $62 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. ESnet, which is based at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, described their plans for the network in an announcement on the 10 August. Dubbed the Advanced Networking Initiative, it will serve as a pilot for 100 gigabit per second ethernet technology. More>

UC computer research center plan delayed

The University of California will have to shelve plans for a $113 million computer research center in the hills above the Berkeley campus until a federal agency studies possible damage to Strawberry Canyon, a federal judge has ruled. On Monday, Alsup said the project would be funded and controlled by the federal government and therefore is covered by federal law, which requires a government study of potential environmental harm before construction. Although the federal government has not committed to paying for the computer center, Alsup said UC expects it to do so. He also said the Energy Department paid the salaries of employees at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory - including its then-director, Steven Chu, now the U.S. energy secretary - who influenced the project's scope and budget. More>

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Energy-Aware Internet Routing Could Save Big Bucks

It's no secret that access to endless energy is the lifeblood of data centers. At the same time, energy costs vary widely depending on location. What if data centers could use that price variability to their advantage? That's the question asked by researchers at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and networking company Akamai. According to the researchers, Internet businesses that swallow up energy (think Google and Microsoft) could save millions of dollars by using an Internet-routing algorithm that moves data to wherever electricity costs are lowest at a particular time. as Jonathan Koomey, a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist, explains "The trick is to be able to control these systems well enough and to create controls that are cheap enough to be able to take advantage of the arbitrage opportunity available from differential electricity prices, without affecting reliability or latency." More>

Monday, August 17, 2009

How Digital Music Can Fight Climate Change

Anecdotally we knew it was true: Digital music downloaded to our computers eliminates all that energy required to produce and ship CDs. But a group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University, including longtime IT energy researcher Jonathan Koomey (who spoke at our Green:Net ‘09 conference earlier this year), have concluded that yep, in general buying digital music reduces the energy and CO2 emissions of delivering the music by between 40 and 80 percent compared with traditional CD distribution methods. That’s despite the additional energy used to download the music via the Internet, and thus the group concludes that “[O]nline delivery is clearly superior from an energy and CO2 perspective.” More>

A story on this topic also appeared in P2Pnet, and Environmental Leader.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Berkeley engineers invent a cell-phone microscope

What the world needs now, besides love, of course, is a new technology for diagnosing infectious disease that's inexpensive and portable yet highly effective. Fortunately, a group of engineers at UC Berkeley — including Berkeley Lab physical bioscientist Daniel Fletcher — may have come up with the very thing, a device they call the CellScope, a simple attachment that clips onto the back of an ordinary camera phone and turns it into a portable and easy-to-use microscope capable of visualizing single-celled pathogens like malaria parasites or tuberculosis bacteria, no laboratory required. More>

The Perils of False Economy, Energy Inefficiency and Greenbashing

One hundred and thirty billion is a big number but, as real energy efficiency pros know, $130 billion is all the waste you can eliminate without engaging your brain. Heck, Art Rosenfeld, now a California Energy commissioner and a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory when I knew him, said we were wasting $100 billion a year, almost 30 years ago when a buck was still worth something. Anyway, I'm always nervous that people will continue with their brain stuck in neutral, cream-skim the $130 billion and effectively render the next $150 billion of cost-effective savings un-economic because they need to be packaged with the cheap stuff to get over most folks' hurdle rates. More>

Energy hires signal arrival of a new generation of leaders in Washington

Of particular significance for the innovation community is that contained in this group of new national leaders is a cadre of scientists that have been brought into the fold across the administration. One of the most visible of these is Stephen Chu, the Nobel laureate who now heads the Department of Energy. Having just returned from Berkeley Lab, I can attest to the impressive science occurring there, and the enthusiasm with which the various research programs are greeting the myriad problems they are working on, and especially the increased funding flowing their way. From carbon capture to energy efficiency initiatives, from novel nanomaterial characterizations to de novo organic chemistry structures, and from crusty old researchers to young post-docs, the scientific vanguard is being moved forward — invention by invention, test by test. More>

Reduce your home energy use— and your bills

Summer is the peak season for the power grid, a time when air conditioners push up the energy demand — and cost — on the system and its users. Energy experts say you can lower your costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting back on everything from hot water to lighting and appliances. And don't forget so-called "vampire" or "phantom" loads — the standby electrical power that televisions, microwaves, computers and other appliances draw while plugged in unless fully switched off. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the typical American home has 40 products constantly drawing power, and those products — when not in use — represent 10 percent of residential energy consumption. More>

Recovery Act pushes high-field magnet development forward

A collaboration of national laboratories, universities, and industry may soon begin testing a new material that could help to revolutionize the superconducting magnet field. The U.S. Department of Energy is providing $2 million in Recovery Act funds to the Very High Field Superconducting Magnet Collaboration to test BSCCO2212, a bismuth-based material that may allow scientists to create high-field superconducting magnets that could achieve more than twice the strength of existing magnets. Collaboration member institutions include: Brookhaven National Laboratory, Fermilab, Florida State University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology and Texas A&M University. More>

Lawrence Lab Developing 100-Gbit Ethernet

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is receiving $62 million to develop what it is calling the world's fastest Ethernet network, one that could signal future commercial network design, according to Lab Manager. The lab will use the prototype 100Gbps network to connect Department of Energy supercomputer centers at speeds 10 times faster than current networks. There is no word yet on which hardware and software vendors will participate. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Fast Company, Reuters, The Register and One Stop Click.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cooling the Planet for Free

"Why do we tune up our cars but not our far more complex buildings?" asks Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He's talking about "commissioning," a basket of techniques for increasing the energy efficiency of buildings. In other words, this is a way of reducing greenhouse emissions significantly — and it's not just free, it saves money. It's a no-brainer, and it's the kind of thing that will become more widespread if the Waxman-Markey climate bill passes. More>

CPSC Reports Defective Chinese Drywall in Homes in 24 States

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received about new 270 reports of defective Chinese drywall problems, bringing the total number of reports to at least 877 homes from 24 different states across the country. In July, the CPSC reported that it started testing at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to isolate specific emissions, and began air sampling in 50 homes. The CPSC also announced that testing for radioactive phosphogypsum has completed and will be available in a few days. More>

New LED lights have a bright future for communication

Imagine a world where bright, energy sipping, cheap, durable LEDs light the world. A world where if you have enough light to see, you are connected. The University of California, Riverside will lead a multi-campus effort — including Berkeley Lab — that could reshape the way we communicate and navigate in homes, offices, airports and especially in hospitals, airports and other places where radio frequency communication is prohibited. More>

Microsoft Hohm Ready for the Energy Efficient Home of the Future

Microsoft is ready to tackle the requirements imposed by consumers for the smart homes of the future today. The Redmond company pointed to its Hohm Cloud application as the solution capable to be the perfect “accessory” for increasingly energy efficient homes. With Hohm, the software giant is enabling end users to reduce energy consumption while saving money and of course going green by reducing their carbon footprint. Currently the service is addressing consumers in the US, leveraging algorithms and data from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, but it does have the potential to go international. More>

A story on this also appeared in Imperial Valley News.

Traffic, Noise and Air Quality Impacts Seen in West Berkeley Zoning Changes

Zoning changes proposed for West Berkeley could have significant impacts on area noise, air quality and traffic, according to an environmental initial study (EIS) released by city staff. The proposed zoning changes, which would ease development rules on larger parcels and allow constructions of taller, more massive buildings than currently allowed, have generated considerable controversy, with the main challenge coming from members of West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies (WEBAIC). The City Council has called for easing development rules, with the goal of attracting new companies created to market patented technology developed by scientists at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

How Superfast Ethernet Can Help Tackle Climate Change

Blazing fast ethernet holds a lot of potential for Department of Energy scientists — at least $62 million worth. That’s how much the agency has awarded to the Berkeley National Lab to develop a prototype Ethernet network connecting DOE supercomputers and transferring data at 100 gigabits per second, or 10 times faster than the existing network, insideHPC reports. Most of the funds, awarded to the Berkeley Lab’s ESnet team under the stimulus package, will end up going toward new equipment and infrastructure support services (read: boon for selected hardware vendors), but ultimately the project could help accelerate work around computing to fight climate change. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in onestopclick, Lab Manager magazine, and

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Taking the Barnyard Out of Your Wine

The only thing worse than that first whiff of barnyard smell coming from your glass of wine is the realization that the whole case is contaminated. Brettanomyces, aka brett, can be a winemaker's worst enemy. A yeast species that contaminates wine and corrupts the entire fermentation process, brettanomyces can lead to flavors best described as sweaty horse, manure, Band-Aid and burnt plastic. At lower levels, some find it pleasantly spicy, with cedar and earth undertones. But higher concentrations ruin a wine completely. Now, scientists from the Joint Genome Institute have begun a project to decode and sequence the brettanomyces genome. More>

DOE Stimulus Bucks to Buy Sequencing, Informatics Tools

The US Department of Energy will fund new genomics, bioinformatics, and molecular biology research into biofuels and biomass using some of the money from a $327 million funding blast from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that is tabbed for new research equipment purchases. DOE said last week that it will use the stimulus funding to support the acquisition of research equipment upgrades, including $13.1 million for the Joint Genome Institute at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, $4 million for new tools at the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute, and $3.2 million for the DOE BioEnergy Research Center at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. More>

US leads the world in wind power

The US has the fastest-growing wind power market in the world for the fourth consecutive year, according to a research report. The US Department of Energy revealed the nation's grid-connected wind power capacity increased by 60 percent in 2008, reflecting investments totalling £9.75 billion in new wind projects. And so far this year, the US wind has installed a further 4,000MW of wind power, up on the 2,900MW connected to the grid by the same time last year. According to report author Ryan Wiser, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, wind power now provides almost two percent of North America's electricity supply. More>

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ESnet receives US$62m to develop World’s fastest computer network

As scientists in a wide variety of disciplines increasingly rely on supercomputers and collaboration with colleagues around the world to advance their research, managing and sharing the mountain of data generated by their investigations will soon become a choking point. In order to facilitate such data-intensive research, ESnet, the Department of Energy’s high-performance networking facility managed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is receiving $62 million to develop what will be the world’s fastest computer network, designed specifically to support science. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Network World, Good Gear Guide, and ZDNet.

Scientists observe nanocrystal growth

U.S. scientists report the first real-time, direct observation of single nanocrystal growth in solution revealed "much of what we thought we knew is wrong." The researchers, led by Berkeley National Laboratory Director Paul Alivisatos and Ulrich Dahmen, director of the lab's National Center for Electron Microscopy, said their study showed that while some crystals in solution grow steadily in size via classical nucleation and aggregation, others grow via "coalescence events," in which small crystals randomly collide and fuse together into larger crystals. More>

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nuclei Cooperate to Produce Single Particle

When an energetic photon smashes into matter, it can create a massive particle, the rho meson, when it strikes an atomic nucleus. A report in the 7 August Physical Review Letters shows that such a photon can also produce the particle in an interaction that involves many nuclei simultaneously. Researchers include Berkeley Lab's Elsa Couderc and Spencer Klein. More>

Strong Effect Of The Weak Interaction: Exploring The Standard Model Of Physics Without The High-energy Collider

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US, have performed sophisticated laser measurements to detect the subtle effects of one of nature's most elusive forces - the "weak interaction". Their work, which reveals the largest effect of the weak interaction ever observed in an atom, is reported in Physical Review Letters and highlighted in the August 10th issue of APS's on-line journal Physics. More>

Federal Stimulus Money Going To Bay Area Labs

The U.S. Department of Energy announced a new round of federal stimulus funding this week for scientific research, including boosts for two Bay Area research facilities. The $327 million of designated funds include $37.8 million forBerkeley's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and $21.8 million for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) inMenlo Park, according to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Before joining President Obama's cabinet,Chuserved as director of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory inLivermorealso received $810,000 for fusion energy research, according to the DOE. More>