May 1999


Lockheed Martin teams with URA

The competition for ORNL’s contract won’t be a one-act show after all. Universities Research Association, the consortium of 90 universities that currently manages Fermilab, has teamed with Lockheed Martin to submit a contract proposal to manage ORNL. That would make the URA–Lockheed Martin and University of Tennessee–Battelle teams the two competitors for the job of managing the Lab. Proposals are due July 12.

Lockheed Martin had announced in February that it would not bid "as prime or lead contractor," a statement that left room for a bid with a partner. At the time, LM said it preferred to concentrate on its defense and national security programs.

A press release by URA issued May 4 said that Lockheed Martin would be the "principal operating subcontractor" on the URA-led team.

Meanwhile, the universities of Virginia and Florida State have joined the UT–Battelle team. Other members include Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Duke, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech and Duke Engineering.

A bug zapper bar none

The tandem in 1979.
This month marks the twentieth anniversary of a record set at ORNL that still stands. In May 1979, during a test of the Lab’s just-installed tandem electrostatic accelerator, the "tandem" generated an electrostatic voltage of 32 million volts. This remains the highest voltage ever produced by a man-made device.

The tandem is part of the current Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility, which has been reconfigured with another existing facility, the Oak Ridge Isochronous Cyclotron, to produce radioactive ion beams for research in nuclear structure and astrophysics. Housed in the tall tower that serves as a familiar landmark and symbol for ORNL, the tandem is designed to operate at 25 million volts.

Jerry Garrett, the HRIBF scientific director, says old-timers tell him the 32 MeV generated in the tandem’s 1979 test made an edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. Meanwhile, the first publication from work with Holifield’s RIBs is expected soon. ORNL astrophysicists Michael Smith, Jeff Blackmon and collaborators from Yale and the University of North Carolina have submitted a paper on experiments using the Holifield’s unique fluorine-17 beam, Garrett says.

April: A planner stuffer

April is normally a busy month for events at ORNL, and April 1999 was no exception. April showers dampened the crowd but not the spirit at the groundbreaking for the National Transportation Research Center. Commerce Secretary Rodney Slater led a host of dignitaries and officials to send off the facility on the Pellissippi Parkway that will make the Oak Ridge–Knoxville area a magnet for transportation research activities.

The Lab presented an exhibit in the Tennessee Legislative Plaza in Nashville April 12–13, giving passing state lawmakers a great opportunity to learn about ORNL.

The Environmental Sciences Division’s Virginia Dale and Jim Loar were among those from ORNL who helped host the opening of the Gateway Regional Visitors Center on Knoxville’s riverfront.

Knoxville’s Gateway Regional Visitors Center had its official rollout April 24. The riverfront attraction enjoys support from ORNL, Energy Systems and DOE and features exhibits and information on the Oak Ridge acilities.

The week of April 26–30 was christened Leadership Week by the Leadership ORNL movement and featured a number of activities and seminars by Lab staff members and outside guests, most notably Perry Smith, a retired general and former military consultant for Cable News Network, who conducted a half-day leadership seminar and managed to squeeze in a brown-bag lunch session.

ORNL’s Values Committee teamed with the Leadership folks to present Values Awareness Day on April 29. The day included the Most Value-Able and World-Class Teamwork awards, a special turkey dinner at the cafeteria and a well-attended employee art and craft show in Wigner auditorium.

The annual Weinberg lecture was presented April 28 by Dr. Arthur Bienenstock, the White House associate science director, who gave a close-up historical account (he was director for nearly 20 years) of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory. Director Emeritus Alvin Weinberg, the lecture’s namesake, was among the attendees.

The ORNL Advocacy Group's Jerry Coker, Dave Reichle, Joe Setaro and Barbara Ashdown establish the Tree.

Finally, the ORNL Advocacy Group, an organization dedicated to promoting good things at the Lab, planted and dedicated a special tree at the Lab’s main entrance shortly before April 22’s Earth Day. Dubbed "Tree of Life" by Associate Director Dave Reichle, the Norway spruce is intended to be illuminated and decorated at festive times of the year. That will be nice for the holidays.

ORNL scores a supercomputer

ORNL’s computing capabilities were ramped up considerably with the recent acquisition of an IBM RS/6000 SP supercomputer. The new machine comes out of the box configured to perform at 100 gigaflops, or 100 billion calculations per second, but plans are to upgrade it to one teraflop, or one trillion calculations per second, by the middle of next year.

"By acquiring this IBM machine, we’re taking a major step toward that goal," says Computer Science and Mathematics Division Director Thomas Zacharia, who noted that kind of power will help meet the demands of researchers’ ever-more-demanding scientific simulations.

"The opportunity came quickly," says the Center for Computational Sciences’ Buddy Bland. "We had to move rapidly to acquire the machine, and the procurement and technical team did an excellent job to make it happen."

DOE’s site manager for the Lab, Ed Cumesty, had the best take on the new acquisition: "The really exciting thing about this machine isn’t just the speed of its calculations, but rather the speed of the researchers rushing to use it."

Collected by Bill Cabage