Tuesday, January 3, 2012
ORNL in the News

ORNL's computing chief on China: 'They're going to be hard to compete with'

(Knoxville News Sentinel) Jeff Nichols, associate lab director in charge of scientific computing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, visited China for the first time earlier this month and spoke at an Nvidia-sponsored conference in Beijing...The folks at the Beijng conference included representatives from the top scientific computing labs, including those housing the No. 1 (Japan's K Computer) and No. 2 (China's Tianhe-1A system) on the latest list of the world's Top500 supercomputers...Nichols said it's going to be difficult for the United States to gain or reclaim world leadership in supercomputing...12/31

McCarthy Tops Out on Building R&D Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

(ACHRnews.com) McCarthy Building Companies Inc. has topped out on construction (placed the last beam at the top of the structure) of the new Maximum Building Energy Efficiency Research Lab (MAXLAB) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The $11.8 million, 16,600-square-foot facility will be devoted to the research and development of energy-efficient building products, including HVAC and exterior building envelope materials, components, and systems...1/2

Permafrost science heats up in the United States

(Carbon Based Climate Change) The US Department of Energy is embarking on a US$100-million research programme to investigate what will happen to the 1,500 billion tonnes of organic carbon locked up in frozen soils of the far northern permafrost when they thaw in the rapidly warming Arctic climate...“Our ability to model greenhouse gases and vegetation dynamics is inadequate in today’s environment, and when we think out 50 to 100 years, that entire landscape is going to evolve and be much more complex,” says Stan Wullschleger, the principal investigator and a plant ecologist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory...1/2

DOE

Contract change could be big distraction for Y-12 workers

(Knoxville News Sentinel) The management contract at Y-12 is up for bids, and it’s being combined — for the first time — with management of another nuclear weapons facililty, the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas. So there will be continuing reports regarding the various stages of the contract competition, and Y-12 employees will have more than a passing interest in who could become their new employer...1/2

State & Regional

TVA begins year with board vacancies

(Chattanooga Times Free Press) The Tennessee Valley Authority begins the new year with one third of its board seats vacant. When Congress adjourned on Christmas Eve, three of TVA's most senior and active board members left the agency's 9-member board. President Obama has yet to nominate any successors to fill the three vacancies...1/2

Chicago company considering Hardeman County for biofuels plants

(Jackson Sun) As many as two Hardeman County cities could be the first in Tennessee to have industrial plants that turn tires and other solid waste into electricity or other renewable energy sources...12/29

National

Panetta to Offer Strategy for Cutting Military Budget

(NY Times) Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is set this week to reveal his strategy that will guide the Pentagon in cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from its budget, and with it the Obama administration’s vision of the military that the United States needs to meet 21st-century threats, according to senior officials...1/2

East Tennessee

Challenges met -- 2011 was a ‘good year’ for Oak Ridge

(Oak Ridger) The city of Oak Ridge experienced a “good year” in 2011. “We have successfully moved a lot of initiatives forward,” City Manager Mark Watson said about the City Council and city staff. “I think it’s been a good year,” he said...1/1

 

energy & science policy

Congress Will Have to Deal with Much More than Just Elections in 2012

(GEN) 2012 will be a busy one for Congress even when it comes to governing the life sciences industry. Arguably last year’s most important policy and legislative framework was set within the past month, as Congress approved relatively flat fiscal year 2012 budgets for the agencies involved in life sciences. NIH ended up with a 1% increase, to $30.6 billion...1/2

science & technology

Storehouses for Solar Energy Can Step In When the Sun Goes Down

(NY Times) If solar energy is eventually going to matter— that is, generate a significant portion of the nation’s electricity — the industry must overcome a major stumbling block, experts say: finding a way to store it for use when the sun isn’t shining...1/2

Citizen scientists' climate-impact survey wraps up

(Nature News) One of the biggest citizen-science projects ever conducted concludes this monthafter five years of data collection. The wealth of information gathered will help researchers to understand how climate change is affecting forests...12/29

Two New Zealand scientists to travel to Antarctica to measure magnetic South Pole

(Physorg.com) While the rest of the world gets on with meeting the New Year head on, two research scientists from New Zealand are traveling to the Antarctic to take measurements of the magnet South Pole...1/2

Twins Data Reshaping Nature Versus Nurture Debate

(NPR) Almost 150 years ago, English scientist Francis Galton coined the phrase "nature versus nurture" — and proposed that research on twins could resolve the debate...1/2

How fracking caused an Ohio earthquake

(CS Monitor) The 4.0 Ohio earthquake this weekend was a reminder that hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' can cause seismic faults to shift if not disposed of carefully...1/2

Other Stories

In Post-Gadhafi Libya, Islamists Start To Rise

(NPR) Kolo Street in Tripoli is unpaved, potholed and lined with crumbling concrete and mud brick homes. The residents here complain of decades of neglect under Moamar Gadhafi. But now, after Libya's revolution, there's a sudden interest in their plight and it's not coming from the transitional government...1/3