Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Asphalt Going Green With 'Cool Pavement' in Phoenix

Phoenicians will return from the Memorial Day weekend to witness installation of the first "Cool Pavement" parking lot in central downtown Phoenix. This 90,000-square-foot temporary parking lot located between First, Second, Taylor and Polk Streets will now help cool the city this summer. The 100 Cities "Cool Pavement" Initiative was developed by Emerald Cities™ working in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under a signed agreement dated January 2011, incorporating the DOE-LBNL "Cool Communities" Seminar Series with EC "Cool Pavement" demonstrations. More>

U.S. Coal Companies See Huge Market In China

David Fridley of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division was interviewed for this story.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

State's energy system will need major overhaul

California can meet its mandate to slash greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels within the next 40 years - but only with a virtual revolution in energy production and use, said a report released Tuesday. Fossil fuel use must drop dramatically in California, and reliance on renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power will have to rise significantly, according to the report by the independent California Council on Science and Technology. "The grid as it currently stands is entirely unsustainable," said Jeffery Greenblatt, an energy analyst at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, one of the report's authors. "We're going to see a very different grid in 2050 than we have now." More>

Gamma-ray burst is most distant yet seen

A record has been set for the most distant gamma-ray burst, astronomers announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston today. The result pushes back the time by which stars and galaxies must have formed to just 500 million years after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago. “This tells us there was already huge star formation activity going on,” says astronomer Antonio Cucchiara of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, who is first author on a paper about the result that is due to be posted on the arxiv preprint archive later today. More>

3-D Space Map

Scientists have created the most extensive map yet made of the distant universe, ten billion light years away. They’ve done so by measuring the shadows left by quasars, the brightest objects in the universe, according to astrophysicist David Schlegel of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He says that after the universe formed about 13.7 billion years ago, it started expanding. The force of gravity pulled galaxies together, which slowed it down. But 6 or 7 billion years ago, the expansion started accellerating again, possibly due to dark energy. More>

This research was also featured on the Department of Energy website.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bay Area Recruiters Say Job Seekers Often Overlook Opportunities

Job seekers who restrict the hunt to a particular industry often overlook organizations that could use their skills, according to recruiters at several large companies. “We don’t just hire scientists and engineers,” said Jeff Todd, a senior recruiter at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, one of 50 companies with the help wanted sign out at Laney College on Friday. Airlines, telecommunications companies and scientific research organizations rely on a full range of support staff to carry out their missions. Todd said the biofuel and cancer research at the lab run by the University of California is no different. “We’re an organization about science,” Todd said, but the 200 openings include positions in finance, human resources, employee health and safety and facilities management. “We hire all across the lab,” he said, particularly as they expand to a second campus. More>

Friday, May 20, 2011

State Clean Energy Mandates Have Little Effect on Electricity Rates So Far

While there's room for more study, the estimated impact on electricity rates is a fraction of a percent in most cases and just over 1 percent in two states. One of the larger reviews of renewable portfolio standards was a 2008 report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The study looked at data on a dozen state renewable policies enacted before 2007. The estimated impact on electricity rates varied by state, but it was a fraction of a percent in most cases and just over 1 percent in two states, Connecticut and Massachusetts. "There is little evidence of a sizable impact on average retail electricity rates so far," the report concluded. One of the report's co-authors, Galen Barbose, said in an interview that they are collecting data for an updated version of the report. So far he said he hasn't seen any new information to suggest their conclusion about rate impacts will change significantly in the next edition. More>

Why Your Smartphone Battery Sucks

If you're hoping your next smartphone will run faster, shine brighter, connect at 4G speed and last longer on one battery charge, you may be in for a rude surprise. The thirst for battery power in new smartphones and tablets is far outpacing new advancements in battery technology. Venkat Srinivasan, a battery technology researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, notes that, “the physics that dictates evolution in batteries is different from the physics that dictates evolution in smartphone electronics.” It seems that batteries are doomed to drag along behind the wagon train until a Eureka moment happens occurs with a better material. More>

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Maurice Goldhaber, Brother of Berkeley Lab's Gerson Goldhaber, Is Dead at 100

Maurice Goldhaber, a physicist who delved into the intricacies of atoms and headed the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island for more than a decade, died last Wednesday at his home in East Setauket, N.Y. He was 100. Physics runs through the Goldhaber lineage. His younger brother, Gerson, who died last year, was part of a team at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California that confirmed the antiproton discovery. More>

Chinchilla promotes Costa Rica investment during tour of U.S.

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla wrapped up the first half of her week-long U.S. tour by promoting Costa Rica as a foreign direct investment destination for U.S. companies. On Tuesday, Chinchilla began the third day of her trip to the United States by visiting to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. She attended the prestigious school in northern California to emphasize Costa Rica’s commitment to the development of renewable energies. More>

Chu Calls NSF's Decision to Abandon DUSEL 'Disappointing'

Energy Secretary Steven Chu says that he's "very disappointed" with the National Science Foundation (NSF) for pulling out of a planned $875-million underground science lab in South Dakota. In his most extensive public comments since NSF's oversight body decided in December to walk away from the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) project, Chu told a congressional spending panel yesterday that the decision was especially hard to fathom "since [NSF] started it." Chu said he feels "personally" the anguish of the DUSEL team, led by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the DOE lab that Chu directed before coming to DOE in January 2009. More>

Bringing clean water to the world’s poorest people

What Ashok Gadgil learnt when working on a low-cost water purification device is that successful innovation is about more than science and technology — particularly when designing products for some of the world’s poorest people. “It requires going outside your comfort zone and area of expertise, and takes a lot of collaboration,” says Mr Gadgil, director of the environmental energy technologies division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California. More>

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hole in Reactor May Be Cause of Water Level Drop, Officials Say

A hole in reactor one of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant may be behind a dramatic drop in water levels inside the pressure vessel, operator Tokyo Electric Power Company said Thursday. TEPCO officials said the amount of water inside the vessel was much lower than previously thought, fully exposing the fuel rods and melting them. The pressure and temperature inside held steady, an indication that the fuel rods were now being cooled in water at the bottom of the vessel, TEPCO said. "The important point is that this is news that TEPCO has found that a measurement they have been making for several weeks was incorrect," said Per Peterson of Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. "It does not mean that anything new is happening in the unit one reactor now." Peterson said that steady pressure and temperatures indicated the fuel was being adequately cooled in its current configuration. More>

A Sea of Magma Feeds Hundreds of Volcanoes on Jupiter's Moon

New data confirms that an ocean of magma under the surface of Jupiter's moon, Io, feeds the moon's many active volcanoes. The finding is not surprising given the number of volcanoes and the amount of volcanic activity on Io, said UC Berkeley professor and Berkeley Lab earth scientist Michael Manga. "It would be a great shock and surprise if there wasn't a magma ocean on Io," he said. "But confirming things that you suspect to be true is not a bad thing to do." More>

East Bay cities vie for Lawrence Lab expansion

Six East Bay cities are finalists for a sprawling new campus of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which potentially could transform its host city into a hub of energy research and innovation. The six sites, all along the waterfront and within a short drive of the lab's main campus in the Berkeley hills, are the UC Field Station in Richmond, Golden Gate Fields on the Berkeley-Albany border, Aquatic Park in Berkeley, an industrial site bisected by Berkeley and Emeryville, the former Naval Air Station in Alameda and Brooklyn Basin along Oakland Estuary. More>

Lawrence Berkeley Lab scientists tinker with microbes to battle climate change

Microbes will take center stage next week as the unusual protagonists in a free talk with local scientists tackling climate change. The one-celled creatures are now part of a major research initiative at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory to explore ways to recapture more of the 6 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide human activities generate annually. The researchers, who will speak Monday evening at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, are working with the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, a federal facility for genetic sequencing of microbes and other life-forms. More>

Monday, May 9, 2011

Three Berkeley sites on Berkeley Lab's shortlist for second campus

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has selected six sites in six East Bay cities as the possible location of a second campus, Berkeleyside has learned. Three of the six sites are either in Berkeley or partly in Berkeley, according to knowledgeable sources who asked not to be named.

They are:

--The Richmond Field Station. The University of California already owns this land, and it is presumed to be the front runner for the second campus.

--Golden Gate Fields -- This 30-acre parcel sits mainly in Albany, although a section also sits in Berkeley.

--The Goldin brothers/Jones family parcel off of Bolivar Drive near Aquatic Park in Berkeley. This 12.5 acre parcel is the site of the old American Soils property.

--A 64 acre parcel known as the Brooklyn Basin along Oakland's waterfront.

--A portion of the old Alameda Naval Air Station in Alameda. The city has offered this land for free to the lab as a way to quick-start development of the old base.

--Wareham Development's sites straddling Berkeley and Emeryville.

Since crash, nothing flashy

A year ago Friday, Wall Street endured one of the most turbulent trading days in history, with the Dow Jones industrial average plummeting nearly 1,000 points, close to a tenth of its value, in about 20 minutes. The Dow regained all but a third of the loss before the market closed, but the so-called flash crash spooked investors, who were already beset with worries that debt troubles in Europe would undermine the slow economic recovery in the United States. A measure of the inadequacy of regulatory technology is how long it took for the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to issue their final report on the May 6 trading debacle, according to David Leinweber, head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Computational Research Division's Center for Innovative Financial Technology. "Taking nearly five months to analyze the wildest-ever five minutes of market data is unacceptable," Leinweber wrote in an editorial this spring for the Journal of Portfolio Management, a trade journal of institutional money managers. More>

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Largest 3-D Map Ever Opens Window to the Ancient Universe

The largest-ever three-dimensional map of the distant universe has been created using the light of the brightest objects in the cosmos. Since this distant light took eons to reach Earth, the map is essentially a window back in time, providing an unprecedented view of what the universe looked like 11 billion years ago. Normally, researchers make maps of the universe by looking at galaxies. By the time BOSS ends, "we will be able to measure how fast the universe was expanding 11 billion years ago with an accuracy of a couple of percent," said researcher Patrick McDonald of Lawrence Berkeley and Brookhaven National Laboratories, who pioneered techniques for measuring the universe with the Lyman-alpha forest and helped design the BOSS quasar survey. More>