Thursday, May 13, 2010
ORNL in the News

Sodium shields to be cleanup option

(Knoxville News Sentinel) Disposing of dozens of sodium shields once used in reactor experiments at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is currently listed as an optional part of the upcoming EM contract. DOE spokesman John Shewairy said the disposition of the sodium and D&D of the storage facility, K-1313-F, is under option 7 (Contract Line Item No. 9)...5/12

Band Excitation Technique provides Insight into Unique Properties of Materials

(The A to Z of Materials) The revolutionary new Band Excitation (BE) technique, co-developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Asylum Research, has provided clues to the origins of unique properties of materials including spin and cluster glasses, phase-separated oxides, polycrystalline ferroelectrics, and ferromagnets, that are rooted in their highly disordered structures...5/13

Groundwater contaminant sensors for field use

(TCE Today) RESEARCHERS at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the US have developed an accurate, one-step device which tests for water contaminants in the field, rather than the laboratory. Membrane-extraction ion mobility spectrometry (ME-IMS) was developed by a team led by chemical sciences researcher Jun Xu...5/12

Supercomputers Put Charge into Battery Research

(HPC) The idea of using lithium-air batteries to power electric cars has been around since the 1990s, but the last few years has seen a big upsurge in interest for this technology. Oil supply concerns, global climate change, and a general discontent with the internal combustion engine are driving the search for more robust batteries, and lithium-air is at the top of the list...(scroll) a DOE INCITE award has allocated 24 million hours of elite supercomputing time to support lithium-air battery design. Argonne National Lab's half petaflop Blue Gene/P machine will supply 12 million of those hours, with the other 12 million coming from Oak Ridge National Laboratory's 1.7 petaflop "Jaguar" Cray XT...5/12

DOE

DOE Congratulates Under Secretary Johnson for Technology Leadership Award

(DOE Press Release) U.S. Department of Energy Under Secretary Kristina M. Johnson has been selected to receive the 2010 Women of Vision Leadership Award from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI). ABI honors women making significant contributions to technology in the categories of leadership, innovation and social impact. The Women of Vision Awards ceremony will take place Wednesday, May 12th at the Mission City Ballroom in Santa Clara, CA...5/12

Secretaries Chu and Salazar Lead Administration Team Offering Federal Scientific and Technological Support to BP Engineers

(DOE Press Release) At the request of the President, Secretary Chu and Secretary Salazar traveled to Houston today to participate in meetings with DOE and national lab staff, industry officials and other engineers and scientists involved in finding solutions to cap the flow of oil and contain the spill. Secretary Salazar and Secretary Chu conferred at the BP Command Center in Houston with teams of federal and industry scientists and engineers who are using cutting-edge technological resources and innovative ideas to find solutions to containing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and protecting Gulf Coast communities...5/12

Chemical remains of 150-mn-year-old ‘dino-bird’ isolated

(ThaiIndian) The sensational discovery by an international team of palaeontologists, geochemists and physicists was made after carrying out state-of-the-art analysis of one of the world’s most important fossils - the half-dinosaur/half-bird species called Archaeopteryx. The discovery could revolutionise the field of palaeontology says the team led by scientists at the University of Manchester and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Lab in the US...5/11

State & Regional

Immigration policy issues grip Tennessee

(WBIR) For nearly 10 years, state-level immigration policy has been a growth industry. In the first three months of 2010 alone, lawmakers in 45 states introduced 1,180 bills related to immigration, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of the bills attempt to restrict the lives of illegal immigrants or discourage illegal immigration altogether...5/12

Gas may be well below $3 this summer

(Tennessean) Gas prices are poised to fall as Memorial Day approaches, a welcome change for motorists who have gotten used to seeing increases cut into their summer vacation money. Experts who had been predicting a national average of more than $3 per gallon by Memorial Day now say prices probably have peaked just beneath that threshold. Rising supplies and concerns about the global economy have helped send wholesale gasoline prices plummeting by 22 cents a gallon since last week...5/13

National

Stupak: Oil well's blowout preventer had leaks, dead battery, design flaws

Interactive Map(Washington Post) [Registration Required] A senior House Democrat said that the blowout preventer that failed to stop an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico had a dead battery in its control pod, leaks in its hydraulic system, a "useless" test version of one of the devices that was supposed to close the flow of oil and a cutting tool that wasn't strong enough to shear through joints that made up 10 percent of the drill pipe...5/12

Health-care overhaul is up against long campaign across U.S.

(Washington Post) [Registration Required] Efforts to block a key provision of the new health-care overhaul law are underway in 33 states, as a growing roster of mostly Republican officials have mounted legal and legislative challenges to an eventual requirement that virtually all Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty tax...5/12

Senate Gets a Climate and Energy Bill, Modified by a Gulf Spill That Still Grows

(New York Times) The long delayed and much amended Senate plan to deal with global warming and energy was unveiled on Wednesday to considerable fanfare but uncertain prospects...5/12

East Tennessee

First veteran graduates in America's Veterans to Tennessee Engineers program

(WBIR) Not all of the UT College of Engineering graduates, gathered in Thompson Boling Arena, waited the standard four years for the moment they shared Wednesday. "It took me seven years, from the start of my degree until today," said SSgt. Peter Ditmer, who joined the US Army Reserves when he was 18-years-old...5/12

Duncan, Wamp say public has right to agency's information

(Knoxville News Sentinel) The Tennessee Valley Authority is refusing to make public the salaries of its top-paid employees, information the agency has divulged in the past. The decision, in response to a News Sentinel Freedom of Information Act request, has drawn fire from members of Congress and advocacy groups that promote openness in government...5/13

Search for UT chief to be set

(Knoxville News Sentinel) A University of Tennessee board of trustees committee will select a presidential search firm to assist in the hunt for the university system's next leader at a meeting today in Nashville...5/13

energy & science policy

Science Committee Hearing Spotlights Shortage in Critical Isotope

(AIP) "It is astonishing that DOE did not see this coming,” said Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Committee on Science and Technology, at last month’s aptly titled hearing, “Caught by Surprise: Causes and Consequences of the Helium-3 Supply Crisis.” Severe shortages of helium-3 are impacting the production of radiation detection devices, physics and medical imaging research, and oil and gas exploration. This shortage has resulted in a tenfold increase in the cost of this isotope, with users reporting that some suppliers are no longer able to fill orders. This FYI largely focuses on the impacts of this shortage on scientific users...5/12

Astronauts Attack Obama’s NASA Plan

(New York Times) Neil A. Armstrong, the most famous man in the history of NASA and the first man to walk on the moon, on Wednesday sharply criticized President Obama’s plan to cancel the space agency’s program to send astronauts back to the moon...5/12

Inside Energy Extra

5/13 A daily report on U.S. energy policy
[ORNL users only]
-Blowout preventer said deficient
-Obama seeks higher spill liability
-Kerry claims oil-drilling compromise
-Grants prompt wind-power gains: lab

science & technology

Apple Building Facebook Into iPhone OS

(Forbes) Apple is building Facebook features into the latest version of its iPhone software, we're told by a plugged-in source in the mobile industry. These features could be announced during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on June 7, when Apple is expected to unveil a new iPhone...5/13

Other Stories

Rare Bees Make Flower-Mud "Sandwiches"

(National Geographic) What appears to be part of a spring wedding bouquet is actually a nest for a rare species of solitary bee, a new study says. Called a "flower sandwich," the three-tiered arrangement consists of a thin layer of petals on the outside, then a layer of mud, and finally another layer of petals lining the inside of the chamber, according to study leader Jerome Rozen, a curator of invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York...5/10

Hole in Space Found by Orbiting Telescope

(National Geographic) An orbiting European telescope looking for young stars recently found an unexpected surprise: a truly empty hole in space. The hole lies in a nebula called NGC 1999, a bright cloud of dust and gas in the constellation Orion. The nebula glows with light from a nearby star. The Hubble Space Telescope first snapped a picture of the nebula in December 1999. Astronomers assumed that an inky spot in the cloud was a blob of cooler gas and dust that's so dense it blocks visible light from passing through. (See a Hubble picture that shows dark globs in another nebula.)...5/12

Microsoft Office 2010 for Windows

(Wired) Microsoft's Newest Version of Office Dogpiles New Features, Fails to Rock Worlds. Three years have passed since the last version of Office was released, so naturally it's time for Microsoft to convince you that you need a new one. Office 2010 arrives, heralding more than 100 new and improved features. The suite on the whole is compelling but, in typical Office fashion, has more software than any sane person could possibly need. It also boasts integration with Microsoft's much-ballyhooed Web Apps, a potential Google Docs competitor that lets you create and edit documents using a free web-based interface...5/12