Wednesday, December 29, 2010
ORNL in the News

UT-Battelle scores 94 at ORNL; gets $10.7M

(Knoxville News Sentinel) UT-Battelle, the Dept. of Energy's managing contractor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, received an overall rating of 94 (out of 100) for Fiscal Year 2010 and a fee of $10.7 million. In a letter to ORNL Director Thom Mason, DOE Manager Gerald Boyd outlined some of the highlights of the year and concluded, "As you are aware, ORNL serves a very important role in the mission of DOE. You and your staff are to be congratulated for a high level of performance in the achievement of this mission."...12/29

White Oak Dam fortified

(Knoxville News Sentinel) Department of Energy contractors are wrapping up a four-month, $3.7 million project to widen and strengthen White Oak Dam to make sure the earthen-and-rock dam can withstand extreme weather events. The dam was built during the World War II Manhattan Project to prevent discharges from early nuclear operations at Clinton Laboratories (which became Oak Ridge National Laboratory) from free-flowing into the Clinch River and points downstream....12/29

East Tennessee

Stories of local authors: Ijams naturalist details adventures with ivory-billed woodpecker

(Knoxville News Sentinel) Just like renowned naturalist Jim Tanner did in the 1930s, Stephen Lyn Bales camped out to do research for his book on the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker. "The ivory-billed woodpecker is a species that is or is not extinct," said Bales, a naturalist at Ijams Nature Center. "It would be declared extinct, but every three or four years there is a fairly credible source that says they have seen one."...12/29

National

China's rare earths export cut raises trade concerns

(Reuters) China has raised fresh international trade concerns after slashing export quotas on rare earths minerals, risking action from the United States at the World Trade Organization....12/29

State & Regional

TN Revenue Department chief gives internal investigator broad powers

(WBIR-TV) The new head of the state Department of Revenue has created an internal investigator - with powers broad enough to look into the commissioner himself - amid an inquiry into his predecessor's actions....12/29

energy & science policy

Why Obama's bid to prevent loose nuclear weapons is going slowly

(Christian Science Monitor) President Obama wants to secure loose material for nuclear weapons by 2013. He has made progress, but success depends on countries disclosing sensitive information....12/28

science & technology

A Pinpoint Beam Strays Invisibly, Harming Instead of Healing

(New York Times) A fast-growing form of radiation therapy injures patients when its pinpoint beam is allowed to spread too far....12/29

Neanderthals cooked and ate vegetables

(BBC) Neanderthals cooked and ate plants and vegetables, a new study of Neanderthal remains reveals. Researchers in the US have found grains of cooked plant material in their teeth....12/27

Sci-Fi To Fact: Planet Hunters Find Worlds Like Earth

(NPR) In the search for extraterrestrial real estate, it was a record-breaking year: Scientists found more than 100 new planets — more than ever before. And a few of the planets look enticingly like our own warm and comfortable Earth....12/29

Forecasters keep eye on looming 'Solar Max'

(PhysOrg) The coming year will be an important one for space weather as the Sun pulls out of a trough of low activity and heads into a long-awaited and possibly destructive period of turbulence....12/29

The World's Biggest, Iciest Particle Detector

(Wired) Construction of the world's largest particle detector is now complete after 10 years of drilling deeper than a mile into ultraclear Antarctic ice. Called the IceCube, the three-dimensional array of sensors can detect neutrinos expelled by some of the universe's most violent sources, including black holes, supernovas and energetic stars....12/29