Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gene 'Map' of Ovarian Cancer Yields New Clues to Treatment

In the largest such study of any tumor type to date, scientists say they've gleaned an in-depth look at genes that may help drive aggressive ovarian cancer. The achievement, which could lead to a better understanding of this "silent killer" and ways to treat it, comes as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network. That project was launched in 2006 by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute. "We have now a map that is telling the cancer research community where to look and what to work on in the future," explained study lead author Paul T. Spellman, who conducted his research while a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. More>

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

E.coli seen spawning biofuel in five years

The bacteria behind food poisoning worldwide, the mighty E.coli, could be turned into a commercially available biofuel in five years, a U.S. scientist told technology industry and government leaders on Tuesday. Several companies are working on the technology, which has been proven in laboratories but is not yet yielding enough fuel to be commercially viable, scientist Jay Keasling told the Aspen Ideas Festival on Tuesday. Keasling, chief executive officer of the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute, has pioneered research in biofuels based on substances ranging from yeast to E.coli and expects E.coli fuel production to improve. More>

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Matter melts — if it's 125,000 times hotter than sun

By creating a soup of subatomic particles similar to what the Big Bang produced, scientists have discovered the temperature boundary where ordinary matter dissolves. "Normal matter like we are, nuclear matter, is called hadronic matter. If you excite the system to a very high temperature, normal matter will transform into a different type of matter called quark-gluon plasma," said physicist Nu Xu of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. More>

Rob Bonta: Show Your Support For Bringing Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory To Alameda

As most of you know, on May 9, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory announced that Alameda Point was a finalist for location of LBNL's second campus. Over the next few weeks, Alameda will "roll out the red carpet" in welcoming LBNL, and I hope that all of you will join many other Alamedans in personally participating in this process. More>

City of Richmond Gains Momentum as a Top Finalist for Lawrence Berkeley National Lab's (LBNL) New Research Institute

Anticipation is growing in the City of Richmond as the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) continues to move forward with the site selection process for its second campus. The University of California, Berkeley-owned Richmond Field Station, one of LBNL's remaining candidate sites, is being recognized as a shoreline campus location that would inspire researchers to continue to develop innovative energy solutions for the 21st century and beyond. More>

Atop TV Sets, a Power Drain That Runs Nonstop

Those little boxes that usher cable signals and digital recording capacity into televisions have become the single largest electricity drain in many American homes, with some typical home entertainment configurations eating more power than a new refrigerator and even some central air-conditioning systems. But energy efficiency experts say that technical fixes could eliminate or minimize the waiting time and inconvenience, some at little expense. Low-energy European systems reboot from deep sleep in one to two minutes. Alan Meier, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said of the industry in the United States, “I don’t want to use the word ‘lazy,’ but they have had different priorities, and saving energy is not one of them.” More>

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Routine Weather Costs U.S. $485 billion

Forget about the price tags for tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, heat-waves and other extremes -- just the routine variations of daily weather cost the U.S. economy some $485 billion a year, a new study says. This "initial estimate" -- 3.4 percent of the nation's gross domestic product -- is the first study of its kind to apply hard-number economic analysis to the weather sensitivity of the U.S. economy as a whole. Earlier estimates apply only to one economic sector or another. "It's clear the economy isn't weatherproof," economist Jeffrey Lazo, at the National Center For Atmospheric Research said in a statement issued by the Boulder-based facility. The study, by Lazo and colleagues at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, is being published in this month's issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. More>

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Medical photo sharing app could change the world

Meanwhile, a photo sharing service of an altogether different sort is emerging from the labs at UC Berkeley. A team led by Bioengineering Professor Daniel Fletcher has developed a small, inexpensive microscope called CellScope that attaches to mobile phone cameras to snap magnified pictures of blood and phlegm slides. The images can then be "shared" as texts or e-mails with modern medical facilities miles or continents away, which can accurately identify diseases and even spot early warning signs of pandemics. "There are doctors who can diagnose this, they just aren't where the patients are," said Fletcher, also a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Put simply: CellScope can erase the distance and delays that cost lives. More>

Thursday, June 9, 2011

CERN Group Traps Antihydrogen

Trapping antihydrogen atoms at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has become so routine that physicists are confident that they can soon begin experiments on this rare antimatter equivalent of the hydrogen atom, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. “We’ve trapped antihydrogen atoms for as long as 1,000 seconds, which is forever” in the world of high-energy particle physics, said Joel Fajans, UC Berkeley professor of physics, faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a member of the ALPHA (Antihydrogen Laser PHysics Apparatus) experiment at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. More>

Breakthrough could skyrocket Internet speeds

A team from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory led by Chinese-American professor Zhang Xiang has developed a broadband technology so fast it would enable the download of an entire 3D movie in only a few seconds. The breakthrough, which could be available to consumers in three to five years, was made possible by the team's invention of a graphene-based optical modulator. With one-atom-thick sheets of carbon densely packed in a honeycomb crystal lattice, the modulator is 100 times faster than conventional optical devices in use today. More>

Monday, June 6, 2011

The problem with anti-matter

The problem with anti-matter, put simply, is that it doesn't hang about. As soon as an anti-matter particle comes into contact with a particle of matter, both annihilate in a burst of energy. How then do we explain the existence of so much matter? Everywhere we look in the universe (and as far back in time as we can go by looking out across the lightyears of deep space), we see only matter. Scientists working on the Alpha project at Cern are trying to find out by isolating and studying particles of anti-hydrogen. They managed to trap 38 anti-atoms for just 172 milliseconds. Now, by leaving their trap running, the same team report they have managed to hold on to 19 antihydrogen atoms for 1,000 seconds. The length of time antimatter atoms hang around is important because it gives scientists the opportunity to study them in greater detail. "A thousand seconds is more than enough time to perform measurements on a confined anti-atom" says Berkeley Lab's Joel Fajans. "It's enough time for the anti-atoms to interact with laser beams or microwaves. It's even enough time to go for coffee." More>

New Dean for Natural Sciences Appointed at UC Merced

Juan C. Meza has been appointed the new dean of the UC Merced School of Natural Sciences. Meza will take over for Mike Colvin, who has served as interim dean since February. Colvin replaced founding Dean Maria Pallavicini, who resigned to become provost at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. Meza studied at Rice University -- earning bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in computational and applied mathematics -- and now works at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as head of the High Performance Computing Research Department and acting director of the Computational Research Division, where he manages a staff of 272 employees and a $50 million budget. More>

California Renewable Energy: Can The Golden State Retake Its Lead?

When it comes to wind power, California lags behind some unlikely competitors: Texas and Iowa. Both of those states, despite their less "green friendly" images, use more megawatts of wind power to generate electricity. That could soon change, however, with California's new renewables portfolio standard (RPS), signed into law on April 12 by Governor Jerry Brown. The Golden State's goal is possible, according to Ryan Wiser, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. But it's ambitious. "It's definitely a tough target," Wiser told HuffPost. All the same, Wiser said, "I'm quite confident that we'll make very good progress towards the 33 percent standard, and we may even achieve it." More>

Biofuels Future That U.S. Covets Takes Shape — in Brazil

Oil is one of the world's cheapest commodities. Even if diesel biofuels are more efficiently created, they will be pressed to compete on an even playing field, given the costs of agriculture, said Harvey Blanch, the chief scientific officer at the Energy Department's Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). The institute, which shares a building with Amyris in Emeryville, is a leader in biofuel research. "When you come down to look at all of the economics of this, of course, then you realize where the issues really are," Blanch said. "Basically, it's the price of the sugar. Nothing else matters. The science, whatever -- doesn't matter." More>

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Astronomer shares $500,000 prize for dark matter work

A UC BERKELEY ASTRONOMER will split a $500,000 prize with three other astronomers for research that eliminated doubt over the existence of "dark matter," a foundation announced Wednesday. Most of the research that won the 2010 Cosmology Prize of the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation was conducted at UC Berkeley, in the lab of Marc Davis, professor and astronomy and physics and guest in Berkeley Lab's Physics Division. The astronomers' findings "galvanized support for 'cold dark matter' as the dominant form of matter in the universe," the foundation said in a statement. More>

Parallel bars

Have computers stopped getting faster? If you looked only at the clock speeds of microprocessor chips, you might well think so. ... Instead, extra oomph has been added in recent years by packaging multiple processing engines, or “cores”, inside a single chip. Modern PCs and laptops typically have dual-core processors (such as the Intel Core i3) and some have quad-core or even six-core chips. You might expect a six-core machine to be six times faster than a machine with a single-core microprocessor. Yet for most tasks it is not. That is because nearly all software is still designed to run on a single-core chip; in other words, it is designed to do only one thing at a time. “We’re not going to have faster processors,” says Katherine Yelick, a computer scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Instead, making software run faster in the future will mean using parallel-programming techniques. More>