Thursday, December 20, 2012
ORNL in the News

Pinpoint climate studies flag trouble for Mexico, Central American farmers

(Reuters) A growing body of scientific evidence ranks Mexico and its southern neighbors near the top of the list of countries most vulnerable to global warming, and advances in micro-forecasting foresee a grim future in alarming detail...Daniel McKenna, a climate change model researcher at the U.S. government's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, says the latest forecasting models do mark a "new standard" in providing detail, but will not work miracles...12/19

Protecting the Grid Against Solar Storms

(The Energy Collective) Numerous studies by accredited groups, such as the Congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Commission, the National Academy of Sciences, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have concluded that solar storms and resulting geomagnetic disturbance are a critical threat to the reliability of electric grids...12/19

With ‘fiscal cliff’ looming, ORNL says it’s as well-prepared as it can be

(Oak Ridge Today) As President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner continue their high-stakes negotiations over tax revenues and spending cuts, officials at Oak Ridge National Laboratory say they have prepared as best they can for automatic spending cuts that could go into effect in January...12/19

DOE

The unpredictable nature of DOE contracting

(Knoxville News Sentinel) On Dec. 13, 1983, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the selection of Martin Marietta to manage the government's three big Oak Ridge plants...12/19

Unmended fences: Months after Y-12 break-in, hole in barrier remains

(Knoxville News Sentinel) Four and a half months after Plowshares protesters broke into the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, it appears that government contractors have yet to repair the fence where the initial entry took place...12/20

U.S. Oil Fields Could Store Decades of Carbon Emissions

(Bloomberg) ...In a report released yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy said the underground capacity of oil fields in the U.S. and Canada is 225 billion metric tons, or about 60 percent greater than estimates from two years ago. That’s the equivalent of more than a century of U.S. power-plant emissions at current levels...12/20

National

‘Cliff’ standoff: Boehner works to wrangle votes for ‘Plan B’; Obama threatens veto

(Washington Post) House GOP leaders scrambled to rally their members Wednesday behind a plan to extend tax cuts on income up to $1 million, defying President Obama’s veto threat and setting up a showdown that could send Washington over the year-end “fiscal cliff.”...12/19

East Tennessee

Tile company to bring $70 million and jobs to Loudon Co.

(WBIR-TV) The next time you buy floor tile at the local big box hardware store, there's a possibility it was made here in East Tennessee. An Italian floor tile manufacturer will be bringing almost 200 jobs and a $70 million investment to Loudon, TN...12/19

Oak Ridge airport plan moves ahead

(Knoxville News Sentinel) The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority took steps Wednesday toward the eventual transferal of land for its planned general aviation airport in Oak Ridge...12/20

energy & science policy

Export American natural gas? Not so fast, says Stanford economist

(PhysOrg) With the advent of the "shale gas revolution," the United States has undergone a full-scale natural gas boom. Driven by fracking and horizontal drilling, the United States will likely overtake Russia as the world's largest producer of natural gas by 2015, according to the International Energy Agency...12/19

Science Committee Examines US Antarctic Program

(AIP) The House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a November 15 hearing to examine the work and goals of the US Antarctic program and to review recommendations from the US Antarctic Program Blue Ribbon Panel July 2012 report “More and Better Science in Antarctica Through Increased Logistical Effectiveness.” ...12/19

science & technology

Magnetism flips heat flow

(Nature) The strange world of quantum mechanics just got a little stranger with the discovery that a magnetic field can control the flow of heat from one body to another. First predicted nearly 50 years ago, the effect might some day form the basis of a new generation of electronic devices that use heat rather than charge as the information carrier...12/19

Peak Farmland? Some Researchers Say It's Here

(NPR) ...As the researchers put it, "we are confident that we stand on the peak of cropland use, gazing at a wide expanse of land that will be spared for Nature." Globally, they predict that farmers will release an area bigger than Egypt, or the equivalent of ten Iowas...12/19

Sunlight Fuels Historic Sea-Crossing, Next Solar Effort Transcontinental Flight

(Scientific American) A solar-powered boat sailed around the world this year, now a team of Swiss technologists hope to fly across the U.S. powered strictly by sunshine...12/19

Other Stories

Finally, an Independent Study of the Health Effects of Airport Scanners

(The Atlantic) Last year, ProPublica reported that airport "backscatter" machines -- the controversial imaging devices that x-ray the human bodies that pass through airport security checkpoints -- might be more dangerous than the Transportation Safety Administration has led us to believe....12/18