Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bruce Alberts to Receive National Science Board's Vannevar Bush Award

Bruce M. Alberts was named the recipient of the 2010 Vannevar Bush Award, presented by the National Science Board (NSB), in recognition of his lifetime contributions to the United States in science and technology. Widely recognized for his work in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology, Alberts has earned many honors and awards, including 16 honorary degrees. He currently serves on the advisory boards of more than 25 non-profit institutions, including the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Conference on Tape Storage Discards the Myths

The conference theme, Into Tomorrow with Tape Storage, was an affirmation that tape technology persists as a dynamic, useful IT resource for large and small data centers alike. Jason Hick at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories joined Sims to point out that tape archives are important to efficient science. LBL made use of Tape Environment Analysis (a service that Fujifilm and Crossroads offers), which verifies readability of the entire archive and reports quarterly on operational performance. The analysis identified error-producing drives and pointed to under-utilized drives in the lab’s tape libraries. The team re-balanced the flow of data for greater efficiencies and fewer errors. More>

New York will spend $100 million to help trim data center energy waste

New York State’s Industrial and Process Efficiency program will provide over $100 million over the next two years to help data centers and manufacturers control energy costs and improve competitiveness, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced this week. New York has the nation’s second largest concentration of data centers. Recent studies conducted by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that New York data centers spend nearly $600 million per year on energy costs and projected that their energy consumption could double in three to five years. More>

Home energy management can save you money

If you're trying to cut your monthly utility bill but aren't sure which appliances are hogging all the juice, help is in sight. Home energy management systems -- coming to many markets over the next 18 months -- can help you identify the amount of energy that different devices use in your home and how much the cost to run them varies throughout the day. The use of these systems may become more widespread as more utilities introduce "time of use" rates to consumers, who would be asked to pay more for energy use in peak periods, says Alan Meier, senior scientist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

New path to solar energy via solid-state photovoltaics

A newly discovered path for the conversion of sunlight to electricity could brighten the future for photovoltaic technology. Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have found a new mechanism by which the photovoltaic effect can take place in semiconductor thin-films. More>

Hadron Collider Gets Off to a Smashing Start

After two false starts Tuesday, the Large Hadron Collider—a $10 billion particle accelerator near Geneva—smashed together its proton beams for the first time, marking a new era in physics with a clash of subatomic "cymbals." "My reaction is a great sigh of relief—and excitement," said senior scientist Ian Hinchliffe at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, who has been working on the collider's particle detectors since 1996. "It is finally really working, and we can move to a phase where we can get real physics out of it." More>

Large Hadron Collider coughs into life

Michael Barnett, at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is a real veteran of the supercolliding business and he’s clearly happy to see this one start up again. Barnett said he had worked on an experiment for the Superconducting Supercollider for a decade until it was cancelled (ouch!) and now he’s put in 16 years on an experiment at the CERN collider. Barnett said, “We are on this planet and in this universe a short time. The dreams of a lifetime are waiting, and hopefully not much longer.” More>

Human genome at ten: Life is complicated

The genome promised to lay bare the blueprint of human biology. That hasn't happened, of course, at least not yet. "It seems like we're climbing a mountain that keeps getting higher and higher," says Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist at Berkeley Lab. "The more we know, the more we realize there is to know." "It's people who complicate things," says Randy Schekman, a cell and molecular biologist at Berkeley Lab. "I've seen enough scientists to know that some people are simplifiers and others are dividers." Mina Bissell, a cancer researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, says that during the Human Genome Project, she was driven to despair by predictions that all the mysteries would be solved. "Famous people would get up and say, 'We will understand everything after this'," she says. "Biology is complex, and that is part of its beauty." More>

Lawrence Berkeley Lab gets $18M for biofuels research center

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will build a biofuels development facility using an $18 million stimulus grant from the Department of Energy. The DOE gave the grant through its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The new center, named the Advanced Biofuels Process Development Unit, will work on industry-scale tests of biofuel production. More>

An article on this topic also appeared in Article Ant and FavStocks.

Large Hadron Collider Finally Smashing Properly

After 16 years and $10 billion and a long morning of electrical groaning and sweating there was joy in the meadows and tunnels of the Swiss-French countryside Tuesday: the world's biggest physics machine, the Large Hadron Collider, finally began to collide subatomic particles. The first modern accelerator was the cyclotron, BUILT BY ERNEST LAWRENCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, IN 1932. It was a foot in diameter and boosted protons to energies of 1.25 million electron volts, the unit of choice for mass and energy in physics. By comparison, an electron, the lightest well-known particle, is about half a million electron volts, and a proton about a billion. More>

Monday, March 29, 2010

How Broadband Can Be the Backbone for a Green Economy

As most of us know by now, adding digital intelligence to the power grid can make the grid much more energy efficient, and it’s becoming a booming industry. The world’s utilities spent $25 billion on both traditional IT and smart grid technology last year. The report also points to how home and business broadband connections can reduce the number of miles people travel (cutting emissions in the process) via teleconferencing and web-based health services (using the Internet, video conferencing and email to replace doctors visits). At Green:Net we’re having a panel that will focus on dematerialization — replacing atoms with bits — and will look at video conferencing with a discussion from Saul Griffith founder of Squid Lab, Jonathan Koomey, Scientist for Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Stanford, Molly Webb, Analyst with The Climate Group and Casey Harrell, IT Analyst for Greenpeace International. More>

City may serve as a model for its use of hot-rock power

Pumping water into the ground to open numerous tiny fractures in the rock for a reservoir makes the earth move — what scientists call induced seismicity. Earthquakes stopped an EGS project in the middle of Basel, Switzerland, last year, and an international protocol has been developed for monitoring and mitigating earthquake problems. As long as the wells are not close to major earthquake faults, "it is not damaging but very upsetting to the community that lives literally on top of it," said Ernie Majer, a seismologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and lead author on the protocol. More>

Designer Nanomaterials On-Demand

Composites are combinations of materials that produce properties inaccessible in any one material. A classic example of a composite is fiberglass - plastic fibers woven with glass to add strength to hockey sticks or the hull of a boat. Unlike the well-established techniques for producing fiberglass and other macroscale composites, however, there aren't general schemes available for making nanoscale composites. Now, researchers at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry, in collaboration with researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown how nanocomposites with desired properties can be designed and fabricated by first assembling nanocrystals and nanorods coated with short organic molecules, called ligands. More>

Local entrepreneurs tout present, future benefits of solar power systems

Take away the rebates and credits, however, and the economics of solar power get cloudy quickly. The rebates spur investment in solar technology, which drives down prices and, eventually, makes further rebates unnecessary, said Mona Newton, central regional representative for the Governor’s Energy Office. That strategy has had some success. A 2009 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that installed costs of solar power have fallen by more than $3 a watt in the past 10 years, dropping from $10.80 per watt in 1998 to $7.50 per watt in 2008, before any rebates are taken into account. In Germany and Japan, which have very generous rebate programs, the average cost is less than $7 a watt, the study found. More>

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The skinny on indoor ozone Oils break it down, but the resulting byproducts may be worse than the starting lung irritant

Smog's ozone isn't just a problem outdoors. This respiratory irritant seeps into homes and other buildings. Indoor concentrations tend to be far lower than those outside, largely because much gets destroyed as the gas molecules collide with surfaces and undergo transformative chemical reactions. New research identifies a hitherto ignored surface that apparently plays a major role in quashing indoor ozone: It's human skin or, more precisely, the oils in it. Charles Weschler of the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey, in Piscataway, described stumbling onto skin's newfound role in driving the chemistry of indoor air while working on the Indoor Environment and Children's Health Study in Denmark. What's really new in the work Weschler just presented is showing how important human occupants are in reacting with ozone," says Berkeley Lab's William Nazaroff. More>

LS9: Genetically Modified E. Coli that Secrete Drop-in Diesel

Just came back from a trip to LS9's pilot facility in south San Francisco. Fascinating company.
If all goes according to plan, within a few years the company will turn E. coli into a "drop-in" renewable diesel fuel. The company already produces a diesel that meets the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for road use in the U.S....Add one more factor in LS9's favor: one of its founders is Berkeley Lab's Chris Somerville and one of the major scientific figures in biofuel. He's also close to Energy Secretary Steve Chu and Steve Koonin, the head scientist at the DOE. The three were behind BP's $500 million donation to Berkeley and the University of Illinois to study biofuels. If the company's technology and facilities prove to be commercially scalable and the financing is in place -- both big ifs -- LS9 could be producing 10-12 million gallons of renewable diesel fuel by 2012. More>

'Rosenfeld' may become unit of energy efficiency

Scientists have long named units of measurement for the pioneers who brought to light aspects of the invisible world. A curie of radioactivity memorializes French physicists Marie and Pierre Curie. The tesla, a magnetic field measurement, honors Serbian Nikola Tesla. The volt for Alessandro Volta, the ampere for Andre Marie Ampere. So the ever more conservation-conscious world may be ready for the Rosenfeld, a unit of electricity savings that some San Francisco Bay Area scientists would like to see carry the name of 83-year-old Berkeley physicist Arthur Rosenfeld, the godfather of energy efficiency. Scientists have long named units of measurement for the pioneers who brought to light aspects of the invisible world. More>

Scientists come a step closer in controlling how matter behaves

A team of scientists has used laser light to control x-ray beams, which is a step toward controlling how matter behaves, shaping x-rays with other x-rays, and eventually directing the paths chemical reactions can take. Working at the Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source's femtosecond beamline 6.0.2, the team of scientists shows how it can be done. More>

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A 40,000-year-old child's pinky bone found in a Siberian cave likely belonged to a previously unknown human species, living near modern humans of the era, says a gene study out today. "I think this is really cool. They have done a rigorous job showing this is real, and it is highly likely they have found a human species distinct from humans or Neanderthals," says genome expert Edward Rubin of the Energy Department's Lawrence Berkeley (Calif.) National Laboratory, who was not part of the study. More>

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Berkeley Lab nabs $13.5M for breast cancer work

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will receive about $13.5 million over five years from the National Cancer Institute to develop computational models that predict breast cancer responses to therapeutic agents. More>

The art of energy efficiency: California’s 30-year track record

Whatever Arthur H. Rosenfeld decides to do with his time now that he has stepped down from the California Energy Commission, you can bet none of it will be wasted. As the godfather of energy efficiency, Art has dedicated himself to driving energy efficiency into the mainstream. Art led Luis Alvarez’s Nobel Prize-winning particle physics group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and, from 1974 to 1994, formed and directed the Center for Building Science focusing on the new field of energy efficiency. The Center developed electronic ballasts for fluorescent lamps, which led to today's compact fluorescent technology that delivers substantial savings in the lighting of commercial and public spaces and at homes across the country. More>

The Top Fifty Green Start-ups

At Greentech Media, we put our energy reporters and analysts to the task of picking fifty VC startups in greentech that have at least a fighting chance of succeeding as VC-funded startups and making an impact on our energy-intensive lives.

Amyris: Spun out of UC BERKELEY, Amyris has genetically modified microbes that eat sugar and secrete medicine that could be used to fight malaria. Tweak the genes a bit and it secretes fuel. It has a deal to start making ethanol in Brazil. LS9: The company's scientists have engineered a strain of e coli with a genome that can convert sugars into a fatty acid methyl ester which is chemically equivalent to California Clean diesel. It's a completely unnatural act but could lead to $45 a barrel biodiesel. It is working with Procter and Gamble on green chemicals and Chevron on fuel. Another highlight: one of the founders is noted Berkeley Lab scientist Chris Somerville. More>

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lab, JBEI Gets Eco Honor From Diablo Magazine

National Labs Wins for tackling the most important environmental issues of our time.
The East Bay’s national laboratories are on the forefront of the quest for alternative renewable energy sources. Here's the latest from the labs.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: This lab's brand-new Carbon Cycle 2.0 initiative brings its cutting-edge research in areas such as biofuels, solar energy, and carbon capture under one umbrella—to help meet the nation’s ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions.

Joint BioEnergy Institute: This Department of Energy–funded lab in Emeryville came out with an enormous clean-energy bombshell earlier this year, when researchers announced they had successfully engineered a microbe that could convert biomass (material as basic as grass, straw, or wood chips) into clean-burning biofuel. The discovery was hailed as a potential game changer in the efforts to produce affordable and renewable transportation fuels. More>

A Rising Green-Tech Tide Will Lift All Boats

M-M: You’ve written about the success of U.S.-Chinese partnerships in various sectors. Could you give us an example of where you’ve seen this working to the benefit of both countries?

CL: Sure. In 2006, China launched a program to improve the energy efficiency of its top 1,000 energy-consuming enterprises. China’s economic ministry set the targets and then it turned to Lawrence Berkeley National Labs in California for assistance in designing aspects of program implementation, including the energy reporting system. So far, most of those companies seem on track to meet their targets. What’s significant here is that although both the Chinese and American labs are government affiliated, the heart of this partnership was an exchange between scientists and experts. More>

Godfather of energy efficiency may measure up for real

Scientists have long named units of measurement for the pioneers who brought to light aspects of the invisible world. A curie of radioactivity memorializes French physicists Marie and Pierre Curie. The tesla, a magnetic-field measurement, honors Serbian Nikola Tesla. The volt for Alessandro Volta, the ampere for André-Marie Ampère. So the ever more conservation-conscious world may be ready for the rosenfeld, a unit of electricity savings that some scientists would like to see carry the name of Berkeley physicist Arthur Rosenfeld, 83, the godfather of energy efficiency. More>

Ore. town uses geothermal energy to stay warm

Pumping water into the ground to open numerous tiny fractures in the rock for a reservoir makes the earth move -- what scientists call induced seismicity. Earthquakes stopped an EGS project in the middle of Basel, Switzerland, last year, and an international protocol has been developed for monitoring and mitigating earthquake problems. As long as the wells are not close to major earthquake faults, "it is not damaging, but very upsetting to the community that lives literally on top of it," said Ernie Majer, a seismologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, and lead author on the protocol. More>

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part II: Hydrogen and Vehicle Electrification

There are many proposed solutions to the liquid fuels scarcity caused by stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies. Some will be good investments, others won't. Here is where I'm putting my money, and why. This second part looks at hydrogen and electrification strategies for replacing oil. You can find another take on the economics of PHEVs and EVs direct from a Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory battery researcher here and here. He reaches the same conclusions as John, but includes interesting technical discussions of the technological barriers to making batteries small and cheap enough for widespread adoption of PHEVs and EVs. More>

Designer nanomaterials on-demand

Composites are combinations of materials that produce properties inaccessible in any one material. A classic example of a composite is fibreglass - plastic fibres woven with glass to add strength to hockey sticks or the hull of a boat. Unlike the well-established techniques for producing fiberglass and other macroscale composites, however, there aren't general schemes available for making nanoscale composites.Now, researchers at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry, in collaboration with researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown how nanocomposites with desired properties can be designed and fabricated by first assembling nanocrystals and nanorods coated with short organic molecules, called ligands. More>

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

African villages enjoy clean power

Where nightfall once meant only darkness in the tiny Tanzanian island of Tumbatu, now there are 200 points of light. These solar panels are the product of a second career’s worth of vision and sweat by Mr Robert Lange,a retired Brandeis University physics professor who helps people put science to use in one of the poorest countries in southern Africa.Prof Lange is quick to point out that the idea wasn’t his own, but that of his friend and colleague of nearly 30 years, Mr Robert van Buskirk, another Harvard-trained physicist who pioneered the solar panels-for-stoves programme in Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. Mr Van Buskirk, an energy-efficiency specialist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and now at the US Department of Energy, met Prof Lange in Cambridge, where he went to study physics at Harvard. More>

Helium rain on Jupiter explains lack of neon in atmosphere

On Earth, helium is a gas used to float balloons, as in the movie "Up." In the interior of Jupiter, however, conditions are so strange that, according to predictions by University of California, Berkeley, scientists, helium condenses into droplets and falls like rain. The work was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation, with supercomputers provided by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Clean Jobs, Energy Independence Hinge on National RES Passage

Still, wind is one of the most cost-competitive energy resources. The cost of electricity from the wind has dropped to near 4 cents per kilowatt hour in 2008 from 25 cents in 1981, the Energy Department reports. And analysis by the department’s Lawrence Berkeley Lab found that wind prices have been competitive with wholesale power since 2003. More>

California’s Smart Meter Battle: Google vs. Utilities

Just how those standards will emerge remains to be seen. ZigBee, the wireless technology that’s taken a lead in smart meter-HAN connectivity, is working on a second iteration of its Smart Energy Profile specification for energy data that will include some pricing information, Reguly said. For commercial and industrial customers, open demand response technologies like Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s OpenADR or EnerNOC’s PowerTalk, are expected to embed price signals as part of an automated system to turn down devices to help utilities reduce peak loads. More>

Trapping Sunlight With Silicon Nanowires

So far, the promise of silicon solar cells becoming a central player in renewable energy has far exceeded the reality. Although there are silicon photovoltaics available that can convert sunlight into electricity at impressive 20% efficiencies, the cost is still prohibitive for large-scale use. Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) are developing a better way to trap sunlight through an approach that uses nanowires, which could substantially reduce these costs. More>

First parasitic nematodes reported in biofuel crops

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) at the University of Illinois have discovered widespread occurrence of plant-parasitic nematodes in the first reported nematode survey of Miscanthus and switchgrass plants used for biofuels. Lead researcher Tesfamariam Mekete, a U of I post-doctoral research associate, said the team's first step was to identify potential pathogenic nematodes of these top two energy-yielding cellulosic-ethanol feedstock plants. The EBI is the world's largest public/private consortium dedicated to the development of bioenergy and the holistic assessment of a future biofuels industry. It is a partnership of three public institutions and a corporate sponsor: the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and the international energy company BP. More>

AT&T masks true energy sucker with Zero Phone Charger

AT&T is enjoying an eco publicity boost for its innovations in energy saving, zero "vampire power" chargers that will supposedly be compatible with just about any smartphone, including the iPhone. The plugged in charger is capable of detecting an unplugged phone and completely cutting off the electrical charge drawn from the wall socket, reducing leaked electricity. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory claims the average amount of energy consumption of a phone charger when actually charging the battery is 3.68 Watts and 2.24 Watts when the phone is completely charged and the charger is in standby. More>

DOE Joint Genome Institute 5th Annual Meeting on March 24-26, 2010

Researchers from all over the world will be at the Marriott in Walnut Creek for the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute 5th Annual Genomics of Energy and Environment Meeting, which will feature genomics research in the fields of clean energy generation and the environment. Keynote speeches will be delivered by Jay Keasling, CEO of the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute, Steve Pennell of Ceres Inc. on genomics-based gene selection for energy crop improvement and former National Science Foundation director Rita Colwell of the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University on "solving problems with sequences." More>

Berkeley scientists find new way to get physical in fight against cancer news

A team of researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley has shown that the biochemical activity of a cellular protein system, which plays a key role in cancer metastasis, can be altered by the application of a direct physical force. This discovery sheds important new light on how the protein signaling complex known as EphA2/ephrin-A1 contributes to the initiation, growth and progression of cancerous cells, and also suggests how the activity of cancer cells can be affected by surrounding tissue. More>

Godfather of energy efficiency may have measurement named after him

Scientists have long named units of measurement for the pioneers who brought to light aspects of the invisible world. A curie of radioactivity memorializes French physicists Marie and Pierre Curie. The tesla, a magnetic field measurement, honors Serbian Nikola Tesla. The volt for Alessandro Volta, the ampere for Andre Marie Ampere. More>

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Worst of all, the economic downturn brought on by the EPA's regulations would do nothing to reduce CO2 emissions because fast-growing economic competitors such as China and India, not hampered by U.S. energy restrictions, will continue to generate huge growth in their emissions. Indeed, China alone emits more CO2 than the United States and Canada combined. And research by physicist Richard A. Muller at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory shows every 10 percent reduction in emissions in the United States is negated by one year's growth in China's emissions. More>
Data centers are required for virtually every aspect of the economy. Recent studies conducted by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that New York data centers spend nearly $600 million per year on energy costs and projected that their energy consumption could double in three to five years. More>

Microsoft Puts Its Weight Behind IT's Energy-Saving Potential

Hohm was introduced last June. Using analytical tools licensed from the the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, the online application enables consumers to understand their energy costs, save money and reduce pollution. The software is easy to use in the sense that it's intuitive. It's time-consuming, though, most people have to enter their energy bills manually, and answer nearly 200 (!) questions that, if you're like me, require some research. More>

Monday, March 15, 2010

In Pursuit of the Briefest Beat

This isn’t Big Physics, but it’s not cheap either. The one-room laboratory of theoretical chemist Stephen Leone in the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory cost perhaps $5 million, including roughly $750,000 for the laser. “Each of those chirped mirror compressors is maybe $10,000,” said Phillip Nagel, a University of California, Berkeley graduate student working in Leone’s lab, as he pointed at an array that would look fine in a pinball machine. Leone and his students have been trying for several years to put a stopwatch on a molecule of sulfur hexafluoride as it falls apart after being smacked by an attosecond-class pulse. More>

On Pi Day, one number 'reeks of mystery'

That also means, mathematicians theorize, that any string of numbers you can imagine is somewhere in pi -- for instance, look for your birthday. Coincidentally, "360," the number of degrees in a circle, occurs at digits 358 to 360. On the other hand, the true "randomness" of pi's digits has never been proven, which is frustrating, said David Bailey, a technologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who is still working on this question. "For all we know, just out beyond where we calculated, there are no more 5s," he said. More>
It costs money to keep telescopes relevant, but some modifications are already under way on the mountain's two biggest telescopes. The WIYN 3.5-meter, owned by NOAO in a partnership with the University of Wisconsin and Indiana and Yale universities, is being readied for installation of an $11 million "one-degree imager" that will give it a wide and clear view of objects in our own galaxy. Kitt Peak's largest scope, the 4-meter Mayall, has received a proposal for a longtime wide-field study of dark energy from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that would mean a $71 million upgrade. More>

China's Green Leap Forward

The China Energy Group at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California has advised China on how to use energy more efficiently for more than 20 years. Lynn Price, a staff scientist with the Berkeley Lab, tells me that many new factories - in the steel sector, for example - are world leaders in energy efficiency. Yet China still has thousands of inefficient local steel mills and cement kilns, some dating from the ill-fated Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s. And because China has limited domestic natural gas resources, much of its industry and power sector rely on abundant but polluting coal. More>

Galaxy study validates general relativity on cosmic scale, existence of dark matter

An analysis of more than 70,000 galaxies by University of California, Berkeley, University of Zurich and Princeton University physicists demonstrates that the universe - at least up to a distance of 3.5 billion light years from Earth - plays by the rules set out 95 years ago by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity. 'The nice thing about going to the cosmological scale is that we can test any full, alternative theory of gravity, because it should predict the things we observe,' said co-author Uros Seljak, a professor of physics and of astronomy at UC Berkeley, a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a professor of physics at the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Zurich. 'Those alternative theories that do not require dark matter fail these tests.' More>

Florida Company Builds a Safer C.F.L. Bulb, but Does it Matter?

“It is unclear what the exact health risks are from exposure to low levels of elemental mercury, especially for sensitive populations,” the report states, “so advising for the careful handling and thoughtful placement of C.F.L.’s may be important.” Providing yet another view on the matter, lighting scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory wrote an essay, “Dangerous Mercury in C.F.L.’s? One Big Fish Story.” In it, they said “the most extreme C.F.L. breakage scenario” measured in the Maine study “only equaled the approximate exposure from a single meal of fish.” More>

Algae Promises Biofuel Solutions


While a theoretical maximum value is not yet known for the lipid content of microalgae, some researchers have estimated it to be as high as 85% of their dry cell weight. Higher lipid values in microalgae are, however, also associated with lower growth rates; therefore a biofuel application would not try to maximize lipid content but attempt to develop maximum productivity. “Making biofuels from algae is all about the economics,” says Nigel Quinn, a water resources engineer at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. “In order to cultivate and convert algae into a biofuel, you need huge systems. Right now, algae biofuel can probably be made for a very non-competitive $9 or $10 per gallon.” More>

Electricity Savings Unit Named for Arthur Rosenfeld

Pioneering French physicists Marie and Pierre Curie have the curie, a unit of radioactivity, named after them. Renowned inventor Nikola Tesla is honored with the tesla, which measures a magnetic field. And now, the Rosenfeld, proposed as a unit for electricity savings, will be named after the man seen by many people as the godfather of energy efficiency, Arthur Rosenfeld. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in the Contra Costa Times and earth2tech.

ArmorLite CFL Keeps Mercury Inside Protective Coating if Bulb Breaks

By now just, about everybody knows that compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) contain some mercury (about 5 milligrams). It's still less mercury than would be emitted by a coal plant if you used energy-guzzling incandescent bulbs instead, and scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory say that "the most extreme C.F.L. breakage scenario" measured in a Maine study "only equaled the approximate exposure from a single meal of fish." But no unnecessary mercury exposure should still be the goal, and a new bulb called ArmorLite CFL could help do just that. More>