Three members of the Leiske family – son Christopher (left), daughter Danielle and father Daniel – pause during their work at Beam Line 1-4 at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource to pose for an impromptu family portrait. A Family Affair With Science

Of the hundreds of scientific papers based on research at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource each year, some immediately grab the attention. For example, when we saw a paper on human meibum published in the Biophysical Journal by three people named Leiske, we had to learn more. Meibum is an oily substance in human tears that locks the tears onto the surface of the eye, and there's something undeniably intriguing about the image of using SSRL's X-ray beams to study tears.

All was explained when we reached Danielle Leiske, who conducted the research as a member of Stanford University Professor Gerald Fuller's group and is now a postdoctoral researcher at a small startup in Mountain View, California.

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The MINOS neutrino detector weighs more than 5,000 tons.MINOS experiment confirms Einstein, nails other neutrino measurements

Scientists working on the Fermilab-based MINOS experiment have reported the final results from the first phase of their neutrino experiment, based on seven years of data taking. The 140-member collaboration, which includes scientists from DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven and Fermi national laboratories, presented its measurements of three key neutrino properties at the Neutrino 2012 conference in Kyoto, Japan.

The MINOS collaboration has achieved the world’s best measurement of the mass difference between neutrinos and antineutrinos. While earlier results indicated that neutrinos and antineutrinos might have slightly different masses, the new result agrees with theoretical predictions that neutrinos and antineutrinos should have identical masses.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 365  |
  • June 18, 2012
  • Gelatin helps foam pull radioactive contaminants from building structures

    The Rad Release foam process takes just a few hours, reduces surface contaminants by up to 90 percent and produces a compact waste form. Researchers looking for a new fix to a stubborn problem have found a solution in good old-fashioned gelatin. The stuff of colorful childhood treats provides the rigidity required for a new type of foam that can stick fast to walls or ceilings.

    So why would anyone care about a rigid, gelatin-laced foam? Because the technology can leach radioactive particles or toxic metals from contaminated surfaces more quickly and cheaply than traditional methods.

    Radioactive contamination can be difficult to remediate. Removing contamination from complex surfaces such as brick or concrete can be costly, inefficient and hazardous. But the new approach developed at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory is changing that.

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  • Scientists take a giant step forward in understanding plutonium

    Georgios Koutroulakis and H. Yasuoka in the condensed-matter NMR lab at Los Alamos National Laboratory after having observed the magnetic resonance signal of Pu-239 for the first time.

    Nuclear magnetic resonance offers new insights into the element

    Plutonium is the most complex element in the periodic table, yet it is also one of the most poorly understood ones. But now a well-known scientific technique, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, may turn out to be the perfect tool for uncovering some of plutonium’s mysteries. Scientists at DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) have detected the faint signal of plutonium-239’s unique nuclear magnetic resonance signature. 

    This signal promises to become a Rosetta stone for deciphering the complex atomic-scale electronic properties of this perplexing element. Their paper on the subject, "Observation of 239Pu Nuclear Magnetic Resonance," was published in the May 18 issue of Science magazine..

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  • Feedback regulates plant oil production

    Plant oil detectives Carl Andre and John Shanklin.

    Scientists at DOE's Brookhaven Lab have identified key elements in the biochemical mechanism plants use to limit the production of fatty acids. The results suggest ways they might target those biochemical pathways to increase the production of plant oils as a renewable resource for biofuels and industrial processes.

    “There were hints that a feedback system might exist for plant oil production,” said Brookhaven biochemist John Shanklin, leader of the group publishing the work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of June 4, 2012. He credits Carl Andre — a former postdoctoral research fellow now working at BASF Plant Science in North Carolina — with designing and carrying out the intricate biochemical detective work that uncovered the details.

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  • Berkeley Lab scientists tackle air pollution in Mongolia

    Ulaan-Bataar is among the most polluted cities.

    Windswept Ulaan Bataar, the capital of Mongolia, is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Much of the problem can be traced to the coal-burning stoves used for heating and cooking in the city’s common form of housing, the round, tent-like structures called gers.

    Ashok Gadgil, director of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is well known for his high-efficiency cookstoves used in the refugee camps of Darfur and in Ethiopia and Haiti. Now Gadgil and his colleagues are working with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. foreign aid agency, to improve air quality in Mongolia’s capital city by lowering emissions from outdated stoves and boilers. A small team of EETD scientists led by Maithili Iyer and Larry Dale, working with MCC through the DOE, has traveled to Mongolia to lend technical guidance to implement the new stove program and evaluate it.

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  • Desert dust intensifies summer rainfall in U.S. southwest

    Scientists have found that desert dust increases the monsoon effect in the United States. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

    Dust kicked up from the desert floor acts like a heat pump in the atmosphere, fueling the annual climate system called the North American Monsoon, according to scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The dust increases precipitation by up to 40 percent during the summer rainy season in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Their study, the first on the U.S. Southwest summer monsoon, found that the heat pump effect, attracting moisture from nearby oceans and increasing seasonal rainfall, is consistent with how dust acts on West African and Asian monsoon regions.

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