Friday, January 27, 2012
ORNL in the News

USEC layoffs in Oak Ridge

(Knoxville News Sentinel) USEC today announced layoffs in Oak Ridge. According to Paul Jacobson, vice president, all of the layoffs are associated with the American Centrifuge Technology program (not the centrifuge manufacturing program)..."We don't know the exact number of people affected at ORNL or with our contractors as this work load is spread across multiple employees," Jacobson said by email. ORNL spokesman Bill Cabage said the impact on lab employees is not yet known...1/26

‘Dozing’ security guard resigns

(Knoxville News Sentinel) The government's Oak Ridge security contractor confirmed that a security supervisor resigned Thursday after confessing to violations of company rules — including “dozing off” on the job and using a personal cellphone while on duty. Lee Brooks, senior vice president and general manager of WSI-Oak Ridge, the Department of Energy's security contractor, said the security officer — a lieutenant on the protective force at Oak Ridge National Laboratory — came forward and acknowledged the violations...1/27

DOE

Hanford Construction Extra scrutiny urged on design of Hanford nuke-waste plant

(USA Today) A federal oversight panel is raising new concerns to the Department of Energy about potentially serious flaws in the design of a first-of-its-kind, $12 billion waste treatment plant that is being built for the nation's largest radioactive cleanup...1/26

Ener1, Parent of U.S. Subsidized Battery Unit, Seeks Bankruptcy

(Bloomberg) Ener1 Inc., which owns a company that received a $118 million U.S. Energy Department grant to make electric-car batteries, filed for bankruptcy protection after defaulting on bond debt amid Asian competition...1/27

State & Regional

Lawmakers promote camping ban on public property

(Knoxville News Sentinel) Lawmakers concerned about the Occupy Nashville encampment next to the state Capitol are promoting a bill that would criminalize camping on public property across the state...1/26

NRC tells TVA to do more than sand baskets at East Tennessee dams

(WATE) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has told the Tennessee Valley Authority that sand baskets installed at four TVA dams to protect downstream nuclear facilities are acceptable temporarily, but not as a long-term solution...1/26

National

Pentagon budget set to shrink next year

(Washington Post) The Pentagon budget will actually shrink next year, for the first time since 1998, under a proposal released by the Obama administration that will cut the size of the Army and Marine Corps, trim the number of fighter aircraft and ships, and seek congressional approval for another round of military base closures...1/26

Obama College Aid Proposal Puts a Focus on Affordability

(New York Times) President Obama is proposing a financial aid overhaul that for the first time would tie colleges’ eligibility for campus-based aid programs — Perkins loans, work-study jobs and supplemental grants for low-income students — to the institutions’ success in improving affordability and value for students, administration officials said...1/27

East Tennessee

Knox County unemployment lowest in three years

(WBIR) For the first time in more than three years, Knox County's unemployment rate is below 6%. State officials released the new county-by-county jobless numbers Thursday. December data for Knox County showed unemployment at 5.9%, down from 6.3% in November 2011...1/26

science & technology

Kepler announces 11 planetary systems hosting 26 planets

(PhysOrg) NASA's Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems hosting 26 confirmed planets. These discoveries nearly double the number of verified Kepler planets and triple the number of stars known to have more than one planet that transits, or passes in front of, its host star. Such systems will help astronomers better understand how planets form...1/26

Blue Hole in BahamasLife Beyond Earth? Underwater Caves in Bahamas Could Give Clues

(Science Daily) Discoveries made in some underwater caves by Texas &M University at Galveston researchers in the Bahamas could provide clues about how ocean life formed on Earth millions of years ago, and perhaps give hints of what types of marine life could be found on distant planets and moons...1/26

Hand AxesModern Humans Reached Arabia Earlier Than Thought

(Science) Artifacts unearthed in the United Arab Emirates date back 100,000 years and imply that modern humans first left Africa much earlier than researchers had expected, a new study reports...1/26

Other Stories

Old mortgages rise from the dead, haunt homeowners

(Reuters) So called phantom mortgages, thought to be dead and buried, are springing back to life. And now it's becoming clear just how dysfunctional and, according to several state attorneys general, fraudulent the whole system was...1/26

Out there

Pitch-drop experimentHow Long-Running Is the Longest-Running Lab Experiment?

(Popular Science) Eighty-five years so far. The pitch-drop experiment—really more of a demonstration—began in 1927 when Thomas Parnell, a physics professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, set out to show his students that tar pitch, a derivative of coal so brittle that it can be smashed to pieces with a hammer, is in fact a highly viscous fluid...1/24