Wednesday, September 22, 2010
ORNL in the News

Neutrons helping ORNL researchers unlock secrets to cheaper ethanol

(domain-b) Researchers from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Georgia Tech used small-angle neutron scattering to probe the structural impact of an acid pretreatment of lignocellulose from switchgrass. The findings, published in Biomacromolecules, could help scientists identify the most effective pretreatment strategy and lower the cost of the biomass conversion process. "My hope is that this paper and subsequent discussions about our observations will lead to a better understanding of the complex mechanisms of lignocellulose breakdown," said co-author Volker Urban of ORNL's chemical sciences division....9/21

Future is bright for mini nuclear plants according to industry experts

(PennEnergy) The nuclear industry is now dominated by giant electricity-generating power plants, but many of tomorrow's nuclear reactors will be small--some as Lilliputian as a refrigerator. Daniel T. Ingersoll, a senior program manager who studies small modular reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, predicts rapid growth for these mini-nukes--and big investment opportunities. "Global demand could reach 500 to 1,000 reactors by 2040," he says....9/21

Does Ocean Power Have Electrifying Effects on Fish?

(New York Times) A group of federal researchers has dived into a project to explore animal magnetism, except it's not what you might think. The project, headed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State, is looking into the potential effects of electromagnetic fields on marine wildlife, a study that can become a key reference for any environmental impact review of any ocean power project in the U.S. The project also will involve researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University....9/22

Cutting-edge home show: houses serve as labs for energy innovations

(Knoxville News Sentinel) Schaad Companies and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, along with partners BarberMcMurry architects, TVA and a number of building technology companies, officially unveiled four homes built to test the latest and greatest in efficient technologies and building practices that are rendering the Oak Ridge homes 55-60 percent more efficient than their traditionally built counterparts.

Dr. Yi Guo Synchronizes Semiconductor Laser Arrays at Stevens with NSF Grant

( The National Science Foundation has announced funding for Dr. Yi Guo's research at Stevens Institute of Technology into a rigorous mathematical approach to the analysis and control of coupled semiconductor laser systems. Dr. Guo, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will partner with Dr. Leonid Bunimovich at Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Yehuda Braiman of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and graduate students at Stevens, Georgia Tech, and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville....9/22


New START could boost local economy

(Knoxville News Sentinel) If the full Senate ratifies the treaty to further reduce the world's largest nuclear arsenals (in the U.S. and Russia), the stage is set for the Y-12 work because the ratification resolution - as approved last week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - commits the United States to maintaining and modernizing the weapons program in order to ensure the safety, reliability and performance of its nuclear forces....9/22

East Tennessee

Life after the ash spill

(Knoxville News Sentinel) Congregating in a small church near ground zero of an environmental disaster, residents of Roane County's Swan Pond community on Tuesday made a wish list for their future....9/22


Summers Move Lets Obama Alter Economic Team

(New York Times) The departure of Lawrence H. Summers, the top White House economic adviser, allows President Obama to reshape his economics team after the midterm elections, when Republicans are expected to gain strength....9/22

Bob Woodward book details Obama battles with advisers over exit plan for Afghan war

(Washington Post) President Obama urgently looked for a way out of the war in Afghanistan last year, repeatedly pressing his top military advisers for an exit plan that they never gave him, according to secret meeting notes and documents cited in a new book by journalist Bob Woodward....9/22 [Registration Required]


energy & science policy

Inside Energy Extra

9/21 A daily report on U.S. energy policy
[ORNL users only]
** Senators confident about RES bill
** Kerr-McGee ordered to pay royalties
** BP pays $7M in Macondo royalties
** Senators seek longer DOD fuel pacts
** Chu: nuclear a 'bridge' technology

science & technology

Sizing Up Consciousness by Its Bits

(New York Times) One day in 2007, Dr. Giulio Tononi lay on a hospital stretcher as an anesthesiologist prepared him for surgery. For Dr. Tononi, it was a moment of intellectual exhilaration. He is a distinguished chair in consciousness science at the University of Wisconsin, and for much of his life he has been developing a theory of consciousness....9/21

'Lost' frogs found after decades

(BBC News) A mission aimed at rediscovering amphibian species thought to be extinct has yielded its first results. Conservationists have turned up live specimens of two West African frogs and a cave-dwelling salamander from Mexico....9/21

A Fishy Question About Genetically Engineered Salmon

(NPR) If you build it he will come, a ghostly voice famously tells Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams. But if scientists build an Atlantic salmon that grows twice as fast as regular salmon, will consumers eat it?...9/22

Life on Earth May Have Had an Icy Start

(Wired) Cracks in ice could have served as a safe environment — much like a cell — for the first life on Earth to replicate and evolve. A new study adds plausibility to the 'RNA World' hypothesis that argues life began with a single stranded molecule capable of self-replication....9/21

Vegetative state patients may soon be able to communicate

(PhysOrg) Researchers from Cambridge University in the UK have been able to communicate with brain-injured patients in "locked states" commonly referred to as persistent vegetative states (PVS). They predict such patients will soon be able to communicate and perhaps even move themselves around in motorized wheelchairs....9/22

Other Stories

Danish astronomer was first to estimate the speed of light 300 years ago

(Washington Post) The man who first measured the speed of light died 300 years ago this week. That's right, 300 years. By the time Einstein published his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905, the speed of light -- that's the C in E=MC{+2} -- was old news. A Danish astronomer, Ole Romer, figured out how to calculate it in 1676, using just a telescope and a clock....9/21 [Registration Required]

Stuxnet malware is 'weapon' out to destroy ... Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant?

(Christian Science Monitor) The Stuxnet malware has infiltrated industrial computer systems worldwide. Now, cyber security sleuths say it's a search-and-destroy weapon meant to hit a single target. One expert suggests it may be after Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant....9/21