Wednesday, March 23, 2011
ORNL in the News

The Search for a Better, Safer Nuclear Power

(The Atlantic) In the early years of atomic power, as recounted by Alvin Weinberg, head of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in his book The First Nuclear Era, there was intense competition to come up with the cheapest, safest, best nuclear reactor design....3/22

The reactor that saves itself: safe nuclear does exist and China leads the way with thorium

(Sydney Morning Herald) A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima's uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s....3/23

The Chinese are coming: Literally and figuratively

(Knoxville News Sentinel) In 2010 China was the biggest source of foreign visitors to Oak Ridge National Laboratory - accounting for more than 20 percent of the total number of foreign visitors and more than twice as many as any other country....3/23

Bug Creates Butanol Direct from Cellulose

(MIT Technology Review) James Liao, a biomolecular engineer at the University of California, Los Angeles, has developed two routes to liberate butanol from its dependence on food crops. Liao's direct cellulose-to-butanol process, developed in collaboration with researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, promises to simplify things by expanding the capabilities of fermentation microbes....3/22

Campaign to rescue Holifield; scientists urge government to reconsider FY'12 death knell

(Knoxville News Sentinel) Hundreds of scientists have joined in asking the U.S. government not to shut down the national user program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility....3/22


DOE Announces Second RFI on Rare Earth Metals

(DOE Press Release) The Department of Energy today released a Request for Information soliciting information from the public on rare earth metals and other materials used in the energy sector....3/22

U.S. Department of Energy Releases Radiation Monitoring Data from Fukushima Area

(DOE Press Release) Today the U.S. Department of Energy released data recorded from its Aerial Monitoring System as well as ground detectors deployed along with its Consequence Management Response Teams....3/22

East Tennessee

Energy Corridor pushing projects

(Knoxville News Sentinel) Wasted heat from a gas turbine could be boosted by solar power, converted into electricity and sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority on peak demand days....3/23


Allied strikes pummel Libya's air force but do little to stop attacks on civilians

(Washington Post) Libyan military's attacks and mounting civilian deaths call into question whether the internationally imposed no-fly zone can achieve its goal of protecting civilians, let alone help loosen Gaddafi's grip on power....3/23

State & Regional

TN legislators strip 'Shariah' from anti-terror bill

(Tennessean) The sponsors of a bill in the Tennessee legislature aimed at organizations that practice Shariah law are rewriting the measure to remove all references to religion....3/23

energy & science policy

Obama lacks authority to shutter Yucca site, court told

(McClatchy) Washington Assistant Attorney General Andrew Fitz told a federal appellate court that Obama's refusal to fund continued development of the Nevada disposal site violates the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act....3/22

Japan Ignored Warning of Nuclear Vulnerability

(Wall Street Journal) Japanese regulators discussed in recent months the use of new cooling technologies at nuclear plants that could have lessened or prevented the disaster that struck this month when a tsunami wiped out the electricity at the Fukushima plant....3/23

science & technology

Prehistoric reptile skin secrets revealed in new image

(BBC) A unique image, for the first time, has mapped organic compounds that are still surviving in a 50-million-year-old sample of reptile skin. A team of UK scientists say the sample was so well preserved that it was hard to tell the difference between the fossil and the fresh samples....3/23

Tap Water Worries In Tokyo; Smoke Rising At Reactor

(NPR) Radiation levels in tap water more than twice what is considered safe for infants added to food safety woes as rising smoke prompted a new evacuation of workers trying to stabilize Japan's radiation-leaking nuclear plant....3/23

The 'coolest' semiconductor nanowires

(PhysOrg) Semiconductor nanowires are essential materials in the development of cheaper and more efficient solar cells, as well as batteries with higher storage capacity....3/23

Simulating Tomorrow's Accelerators at Near the Speed of Light

(Science Daily) A team of researchers led by Jean-Luc Vay of Berkeley Lab's Accelerator and Fusion Research Division has borrowed a page from Einstein to perfect a revolutionary new method for calculating what happens when a laser pulse plows through a plasma....3/23

Laser Space Telescope Could Test for Vanishing Dimensions

(Wired) The universe may have started out with fewer dimensions than the three we live in, and could still collapse down to one dimension at extremely high energies. The idea could solve some of the thorniest problems in particle physics and can be tested with the next generation of space telescopes, according to a new study in Physical Review Letters.

Other Stories

As health-care law turns 1, supporters using occasion to shape its image

(Washington Post) A year after a titanic partisan battle in Congress yielded a 2,073-page statute, the law exists in what one seasoned health-care lobbyist called "a very weird place. It's like we have two worlds."...3/23