Friday, May 29, 2009

The Man Who Smells Forests

Standing almost 20 meters above the forest floor on a scaffolding tower in the Sierra Nevada, Allen Goldstein, with Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, looks over the spiky tops of a young ponderosa pine forest. He inhales deeply before explaining the forest’s daily chemical rhythm. At sunrise, the trees start pumping out a complex mix of volatile organic compounds, such as pine-scented terpenes. More>

Ocean Carbon: A Dent in the Iron Hypothesis

Oceanographers Jim Bishop and Todd Wood of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have measured the fate of carbon particles originating in plankton blooms in the Southern Ocean, using data that deep-diving Carbon Explorer floats collected around the clock for well over a year. Their study reveals that most of the carbon from lush plankton blooms never reaches the deep ocean. More>

America's On-Again, Off-Again Light Bulb Affair

Never before has there been such a flowering of practical energy-saving products. Yet they cost far more to buy than the less-efficient technologies they seek to replace -- a big hurdle in places like the U.S., where electricity is such a small component of most household budgets that it rarely plays a role in shopping decisions. "If energy is dirt cheap, it gets treated like dirt," says Arthur Rosenfeld, a physicist who headed a team of scientists at the federal government's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in California, that did some of the early development work on compact-fluorescent bulbs. "That's been the problem." More>

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reducing Gasoline Emissions Will Benefit Human Health

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 there are a number of uncertainties that 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. EBI is a partnership between UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab, the University of Illinois and BP. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Physorg.com.

Gray’s Cancer Grant Featured in KTVU Blog

KTVU’s chief science correspondent John Fowler included a post in his “Side Effects” blog on the work of Berkeley Lab life scientist and associate Lab Director Joe Gray, who recently received a $16.5 million grant for breast cancer research. “He is a quick-smiling bear of a man who started his professional life as a nuclear physicist. It was the death of his father from lung cancer that set him on the path to uncovering the mysteries of cancer cells,” writes Fowler. Go here to read the full post. More>

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Berkeley Lab scientist co-leads breast cancer 'dream team'

An $18 million, three-year grant to develop new and more effective therapies to fight breast cancer was awarded today to a multi-institutional "Dream Team" of scientists and clinicians that is co-led by Joe Gray, a renowned cancer researcher with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in PR Newswire and eMaxHealth.com.

Alkenes Made Simple From Biomass Polyols

A hot topic in synthetic organic chemistry these days is creating reactions that more efficiently convert biomass-derived carbohydrates into feedstock chemicals and fuels. One of the latest developments on this front comes from Robert G. Bergman, Jonathan A. Ellman, and coworkers at Berkeley Lab who have devised a new deoxygenation method to convert polyhydroxyl compounds such as glycerol and erythritol into olefins. More>

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Steven Chu: paint the world white to fight global warming

The Nobel prize-winning physicist appointed by President Obama as US Energy Secretary wants to change the colour of roofs, roads and pavements so they reflect more of the Sun’s light and heat to combat global warming, he said. Chu said his thinking on the issue had been strongly influenced by Art Rosenfeld, a member of the California Energy Commission and physicist at Berkeley Lab. He and two colleagues from the lab, Hashem Akbari and Surabi Menon, calculated that changing surface colours in 100 of the world’s largest cities could save the equivalent of 44 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun, Construction Week online, Fox News, RushLimbaugh.com, Seed Magazine, WorldNetDaily and the SF Examiner.

A better way to size up distant galaxies

In a paper set to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, members of a consortium known as the Nearby Supernova Factory present a new way to ascertain type Ia supernovae's relative distance quickly and accurately, thereby increasing their usefulness as markers. Their uniformity derives from unusual birth circumstances: they are believed to arise from white dwarfs that have swollen to 1.4 times the mass of the sun by drawing material from a nearby companion star. At that point, says study co-author Greg Aldering, a cosmologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in insciences organisation.

Fix Recurring Hot Spots

Hot spots threaten the availability and reliability of critical data center applications. If a hot spot goes unnoticed or uncorrected, it can damage IT equipment due to air intake temperatures exceeding recommended maximums. This means that servers and other hardware can experience immediate outages, gradual slowdowns, or even damage that may not cause a failure until weeks down the road. LBNL (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory, conducts testing and makes best-practice recommendations for managing data centers. To manage airflow, LBNL recommends using hot aisle/cold aisle arrangements, rigid enclosures to separate hot air exhaust from the cool air intakes, flexible strip curtains to block the open space above racks or cabinets, and blanking panels to block unused rack positions. More>

The Top 6 Ways to Convert Poop Into Electricity

An increasing number of cities have begun to explore an alternative way to dispose of human waste sludge: advanced poop-to-power plants. By one estimate, a single American's daily sludge output can generate enough electricity to light a 60-watt bulb for more than nine hours. Some 50 waste plants in 20 countries have installed large open-air ponds that primarily rely on anaerobic digestion and photosynthesis to break down sludge and convert it into a fertilizer or animal feed of nitrogen-rich algae. The algae in turn can be used as a feedstock for biofuels. Rich Brown, an environmental scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, sees an obstacle in the ponds' huge footprint: "For rural areas it’s great," he says. "For San Francisco it wouldn’t work so well." More>

Multiferroics - making a switch the electric way

Multiferroics are materials in which unique combinations of electric and magnetic properties can simultaneously coexist. They are potential cornerstones in future magnetic data storage and spintronic devices provided a simple and fast way can be found to turn their electric and magnetic properties on and off. In a promising new development, researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) working with a prototypical multiferroic have successfully demonstrated just such a switch - electric fields. More>

Supernova Data Increase Knowledge on Dark Energy

Some years ago, the explosion of Type 1 supernovas led astronomers and astrophysicists to inferring that dark energy existed. Since then, analyzing these massive celestial events has been the only way of predicting the properties and traits of the mysterious form of energy. Due to the fact that the relative distance between Earth and the supernovas could only be assessed with a 10 percent degree of uncertainty, all models on dark energy could only be devised with a substantial degree of error-proneness built in. Now, through a collaboration between the Yale University, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), as well as a group of French institutes, researchers can better estimate the distances at which Type 1 supernovas are burning. More>

Friday, May 22, 2009

Multiferroics – Making a Switch the Electric Way

Multiferroics are materials in which unique combinations of electric and magnetic properties can simultaneously coexist. They are potential cornerstones in future magnetic data storage and spintronic devices provided a simple and fast way can be found to turn their electric and magnetic properties on and off. In a promising new development, researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) working with a prototypical multiferroic have successfully demonstrated just such a switch — electric fields. More>

Quick-Fix Molecular Machines

A sprinkle of this, a dash of that, sit back and let chemistry do its magic. Smells like a cooking analogy, but Berkeley Lab researchers have used just such a simple recipe to whip up ‘cage-like’ container structures to create complex molecular machines that can be programmed to rotate, switch and perform mechanical work. More>

Still hope for Kalakaua recording

Bishop Museum hopes that the long-lost voice of King David Kalakaua — recorded on a wax cylinder as he lay on his deathbed 118 years ago — might be heard again through modern technology. Attempts to retrieve Kalakaua's voice in 1989 failed. But new techniques developed at Berkeley Lab. Physicists there have applied the same technology used to study subatomic particles to re-create old recordings. More>

A story on this topic also appeared on KITV (ABC).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is the Earth's Climate Warming or Cooling?

As Congress scrutinizes new energy and climate legislation, many seem to be asking: Is it getting cooler or warmer? The answer, according to a new study co-authored by Berkeley Lab’s Michael Wehner, is that we need to concentrate on the long-term trend, which points to an overall warming tendency over these past hundred years. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in the American Institute of Physic's Inside Science.

What Happens If the Universal Constants Aren’t Constant?

As it happens, there’s some evidence—though it’s highly disputed—that the constants of physics have been changing over time, albeit very slowly. In 2001, physicist John Webb of the University of New South Wales in Australia argued that evidence from surveys of distant quasars suggested that certain physical constants have changed over the course of billions of years. Specifically, the change was one part in 100,000 for every 12 billion years. Since then, scientists have been trying to add evidence to this idea, with mixed success. In 2004, Jeff Newman from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, wasn’t able to show evidence of the change. More>

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Refined Hubble Constant Narrows Explanations for Dark Energy

Whatever dark energy is, explanations for it have less wiggle room following a Hubble Space Telescope observation that has refined the measurement of the universe's present expansion rate to a precision where the error is smaller than 5 percent.Though the cosmological constant was conceived of long ago, observational evidence for dark energy didn't come along until 11 years ago, when two studies, one led by Riess and Brian Schmidt of Mount Stromlo Observatory, and the other by Saul Perlmutter of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, discovered dark energy independently, in part with Hubble observations. Since then, astronomers have been pursuing observations to better characterize dark energy. More>

FERC Study Will Use Frequency Response To Assess Integration

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has commissioned a new study that will use frequency response to assess reliable integration of wind and other renewable energy resources. FERC will use the results of the study, which will be conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to validate an approach to assess the reliability impacts of integrating renewables into the grid. More>

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trees boost air pollution--and cool temperatures--in U.S.Southeast

Why is the southeastern U.S. getting cooler while the rest of the globe is warming? Thank the trees, say some researchers. On sweltering summer days, trees and other plants emit volatile organic compounds, such as isoprene, which combine with manmade soot and other aerosols in the atmosphere to produce a cooling haze, says UC Berkeley environmental scientist Allen Goldstein, who is also works in Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division. Inez Fung, with the Lab's Earth Sciences Division, is co-author of the study. More>

A simple new method standardizes the brightness of Type Ia supernovae

Members of the international Nearby Supernova Factory (SNfactory), a collaboration among the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a consortium of French laboratories, and Yale University, have found a new technique that establishes the intrinsic brightness of Type Ia supernovae more accurately than ever before. These exploding stars are the best standard candles for measuring cosmic distances, the tools that made the discovery of dark energy possible. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Photonics Online and Inscience Organisation.

Integrated microbial genomes expert review goes primetime

After a genome is sequenced and automatically annotated, researchers often manually review the predicted genes and their functions in order to improve accuracy and coverage across the vast genetic code of the particular target organism or community of organisms. These annotations drive the publication of high-profile science relevant to advancing bioenergy research and our understanding of biogeochemistry, the biological, chemical, physical, and geological processes that regulate our environment. Scientists at the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Biological Data Management and Technology Center (BDMTC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have launched the Expert Review (ER) version of the Integrated Microbial Genomes (IMG) system. More>

GE Global Research to house a DOE EFRC Energy Frontier Research Center

GE Global Research, the technology development arm for the General Electric Company, announced today that it has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of 46 new multi-million-dollar Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) being established across the country. The focus of GE's EFRC will be on advanced energy storage technologies and the pursuit of a zero carbon emissions solution for both transportation and stationary power applications. GE's EFRC includes planned collaborations with scientists at Yale University, Stanford University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in the Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY), Stockhouse, and the Albany Times Union.

A Renewable Energy Standard: The Proof Is in the States

At the state level, renewable energy standards, have become increasingly popular. Today, 28 states and the District of Columbia have an RES on the books, and another five states have renewable energy goals that are not mandatory. All but one of these measures has been approved in the last seven years. To date, not a single state has repealed an RES, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study, and “early-year renewable energy targets in the majority of state [RES] policies have been fully or almost-fully achieved.” In a separate 2007 study, Lawrence Berkeley found that seventy percent of the analyses projected retail electric rate increases of 1 percent or less, and six of them projected cost savings. The median electric bill impact was just 38 cents per month. More>

Pandemic passenger screening

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>

A story on this topic also appeared in SciScoop and Official Wire.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Google takes to the high seas

IMAGINE IT. Every time you click on a Google search, your request is answered by huge banks of internet computers floating around Scotland's coast, powered by the sea. It may sound like science fiction, but the internet giant, Google, has already filed a patent for boats packed full of mainframe servers, driven by electricity from wave power machines under development in Scotland. According to Jonathan Koomey from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, 152 billion kilowatt hours of electricity were consumed by data centres in 2005. More>

A story on this item also appeared in Sci-Tech Today.

Last lull before the storm?

Only the most determined climate change denier would seize on just a couple of years of stasis to claim global warming has ended. But that still leaves the question of how long is long enough? Is the current decade-long pause just another blip, or the sign of something more significant? So who is right? If the complexity argument has any merit, computer models of the supposed link between greenhouse gases and global temperatures should be able to reproduce the bizarre variability seen in the real-life data. Now Dr David Easterling, of the US National Climatic Data Center, North Carolina, and Dr Michael Wehner, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California, have put this to the test. More>
Nationally recognized scientist and research leader Charles V. Shank has joined the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority. The state agency is overseeing development of the underground science and engineering laboratory at the former Homestake Mine in Lead. Gov. Mike Rounds announced the appointment Friday. Shank, the retired director of the University of California-managed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is also known for pioneering contributions while at the AT&T Bell Labs. More>


Modernizing TLC

THIN-LAYER CHROMATOGRAPHY (TLC) has long been a staple of the organic laboratory, and its silica-on-glass plates are familiar even to undergraduate chemistry majors. Now, new planar chromatography instrumentation and stationary phases and improvements in MS are opening up TLC to applications that go far beyond a mere quick check on the progress of a chemical reaction. Rania Bakry, a professor of analytical and radiochemistry at the University of Innsbruck, in Austria, and Frantisek Svec, director of the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, are using photopolymerization to generate new stationary phases for planar separations of biomolecules. More>

Friday, May 15, 2009

Virus-Surveillance technology can cut H1N1 flu diagnosis time

A $20 chip can cut the time it takes to distinguish swine flu from days to hours, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today. The technology — InDevR, Inc.'s FluChip — includes normal lab slides featuring a pencil-eraser sized patch of tiny dots containing pieces of influenza's genome. The FluChip is similar in concept to the PhyloChip DNA array developed by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Merced. The credit card-sized PhyloChip, however, has been used to rapidly identify microbes and bacteria (such as those that plague coral reefs) as opposed to virus types and subtypes. More>

It turns out humans can undo the savings of green buildings

Designers have found ways to make cooling and heating systems more efficient than ever, mainly by using cutting-edge technology and old-school techniques such as natural ventilation. But some of the greenest buildings in the world are undermined by human behavior and the traditions of engineers who design structures, build them and leave them for fallible humans to figure out later. Technology alone won't get most new buildings to "net zero" energy use anytime soon, says Stephen Selkowitz, head of the Building Technologies Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Cal chancellor seeks corporate boost

With Cal’s budget under pressure, the university’s top executive is copying a survival strategy from corporate America: layoffs, slowing expansion plans and budgeting for lean times. The university might land federal stimulus money and is attracting increasing attention from corporations to lead scientific research efforts. Cal also is well positioned to get more deals like the one announced in 2007 with BP PLC, the world’s third-largest oil company. Under that deal, Cal, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois lead a $500 million alternative energy research effort. That agreement brings in about $35 million per year to Cal. More>

A Framework for the U.S. Energy Challenge

As the featured speaker for the prestigious Compton Lecture Series at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on May 12, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu gave a broad outline of the challenge that lies ahead for America’s energy future. Photovoltaic development—the technology for capturing the energy of the sun by solar cells—may become competitive in 20–25 years. Some developments in this field today include distributed junction nanosolar cells and reel-to-reel printable plastic solar cells. He mentioned that the Helios project at Berkeley Lab is working with artificial photosynthesis. More>

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Critical milestone' reached at Sanford underground lab

Officials at the Sanford underground laboratory at Homestake moved a big step closer to actual underground science experiments in Lead on Wednesday when crews cleared water from the 4,850-foot level. Kevin Lesko, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley, is leading a team of scientists and engineers designing the even deeper national laboratory. He called regaining access to the 4,850 a "critical milestone." More>

Can the Grid Handle Renewables?

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission launched a six-month study today to determine how much renewable energy the electric grid can accommodate. FERC will work with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the $500,000 study to validate the preliminary frequency-response tool developed by the commission to gauge the grid's reliability if large quantities of renewable energy are sent to the system. The frequency response tool could serve as a reliable test of how much renewable energy generation the grid could handle. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Bay Net.com

Europe's Race to Meet New Cosmetic Testing Regulations

Cosmetics companies and their ingredient suppliers are exploring new ways to test the safety of their products, looking for the best ways to assure the public their products can do no harm. Many ingredient makers have turned to in vitro testing methods that substitute petri dishes with cell cultures for live animals. Others — like Douglas Clark, with Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division — developed two biochips that together reveal the potential toxicity of chemical and drug candidates on various organs in the human body and whether, when metabolized, those compounds could become toxic. More>

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Three CFL Myths Busted

The benefits associated with using compact fluorescent bulbs are hardly a secret. Each CFL uses about 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, lasts longer, and saves about $30 over the course of its lifetime. For every benefit, though, it seems there is a compelling reason to avoid CFLs. In most circumstances, it's simply a case of mispercentions. Francis Rubinstein, with Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Divisions, helps uncover the facts behind three common myths. More>

DOE Names Caltech Professor as Director of EFRC Focusing on Light-Material Interactions

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science has announced that it will fund the creation of 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) over the next five years, including one that will be housed at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).Caltech's EFRC, "Light Material Interactions in Energy Conversion," will include collaborations with scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois, and some of the work will be done at the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

The Internet Saves/Sucks Energy, Round 3: Google Defends Power Use

The debate over whether the Internet is a power hog or a tool that can deliver energy savings (for example, e-commerce reduces car trips to the store) rages on. Not even experts who crunch the numbers on these issues, like Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory project scientist Jonathan Koomey, can say for sure if the Internet is carbon neutral or not — it’s really complicated, Koomey explained. More>

Monday, May 11, 2009

Some 'Star Trek' gadgets no longer futuristic

Warp factor 3, Mr. Sulu? No can do. Engage cloaking device? We're working on it. Communicators? Definitely. Forty years after the original "Star Trek" series was canceled, warp drives and transporter beams remain more science fiction than fact. But some of Star Trek's 23rd century gadgets, such as handheld medical scanners, language translators and high-tech weaponry are becoming a reality in the 21st century. Meanwhile, researchers are working on their own versions of a "cloaking device," including Berkeley Lab materials scientist Xiang Zhang. More>

New Steps Towards A Real Invisibility Cloak

Ouch, Harry Potter. Your new movie doesn't premiere for two months, yet real scientists are already one-upping you. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Cornell University both said last week they've designed invisibility cloaks that work in the visible-light spectrum. OK, so they're not big enough to cover a budding young wizard sneaking around at night, but hey, it's a step. More>

Plankton carbon doesn't reach deep ocean

U.S. government oceanographers say they've determined plankton carbon particles in the Southern Ocean never reached the deep ocean. Jim Bishop and Todd Wood of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory studied the fate of carbon particles originating in plankton blooms using data deep-diving Carbon Explorer floats collected around the clock for more than a year. More>

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hammering Out Smart Grid Standards

When President Obama signed the stimulus package, which included more than $4 billion for the buildout of the smart grid, he set a fledgling industry into motion. But imagine a standards-making process that's 10 times more complex than that of the computing industry, with a deadline of mere months. Among the dozens of groups that will be submitting information and looking to play a role in the process is Berkeley Lab’s Demand Response Research Center, which is developing standards for demand response for buildings. More>

Alternative and Future Technologies

Prior to the mid-1980s, the only major forms of pure carbon known to us were graphite and diamond. In 1985, however, a third form consisting of spheres formed from 60 carbon atoms (C60) was discovered. In 2000, scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley reported that they had managed to fashion a transistor from a single buckyball. More>

Climate Experts Warn that Short-Term Snapshots of Temperature Data Can Be Misleading: Focus Instead on the Bigger Picture

As our legions of dedicated USA TODAY commenters enjoy pointing out, every year since 1998 — when the Earth's temperature peaked at a record high — has been cooler than that year. 2008, for example, was the planet's coolest year since 2000. Could this be evidence against global warming? No, say two scientists in this week's issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The scientists, David Easterling of the National Climatic Data Center and Michael Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, say that up-and-down temperatures year-to-year don't undermine the overwhelming evidence for global warming. More>

This story also appeared in UPI, The Money Times, and insciences organisation.

Angels, demons, and antihydrogen: The real science of anti-atoms

In Angels and Demons, the new Tom Hanks movie based on the novel by Dan Brown, the race is on to discover a time bomb made of antimatter–what Brown describes as “the ultimate energy source”–before it blows up the Vatican. But manufacturing antimatter is a voracious energy sink. So much energy would be needed to gather enough antihydrogen to fuel a rocket or make a bomb that, with current or even foreseeable technology, the undertaking is utterly implausible. As Joel Fajans of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory puts it, “The Vatican need not fear.” More>

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Refined Hubble Constant Narrows Possible Explanations for Dark Energy

Whatever dark energy is, explanations for it have less wiggle room following a Hubble Space Telescope observation that has refined the measurement of the universe's present expansion rate to a precision where the error is smaller than five percent. The new value for the expansion rate, known as the Hubble constant is 74.2 kilometers per second per megaparsec. Though the cosmological constant was conceived of long ago, observational evidence for dark energy didn't come along until 11 years ago, when two studies, one led by Riess and Brian Schmidt of Mount Stromlo Observatory, and the other by Saul Perlmutter of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, discovered dark energy independently, in part with Hubble observations. More>

Expect Insurance Rates to Get Hot, Hot, Hot

What does it mean for state homeowners if the West is entering-or has entered-a new era of wildfire danger, fueled by global warming? Evan Mills, an energy and environmental systems analyst who works for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, answered unambiguously. "With the patterns of extreme weather events becoming more intense and more variable (due to climate change), the actuarial challenge will grow, and this will, in turn, put pressure on prices. It's a simple fact: As losses rise, so too will premiums." More>

Was Mars’ Magnetic Field Blasted Away?

Mars early magnetic field was likely driven by a dynamo formed from the convection of material in the core as molten iron rises, cools and sinks, much like the Earth core works today. In a new study, UC Berkeley's Robert Lillis and Berkeley Lab earth scientist Michael Manga along with James Roberts of John Hopkins University Applied Physics lab suggest that energy released by massive collisions upset the heat flow in Mars’ iron core that produced the magnetic field. More>