Hank Edenborn working in the field.NETL’s only microbiologist finds multidisciplinary interests in work and play

Hank Edenborn has a cartoon on his wall that shows a scientist finding a $20 bill under a petri dish. It says below—“Fact: Many of science’s most useful discoveries are found while looking for something entirely different.”

Whether it’s conducting research at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory or hiking in Pennsylvania’s forests, Edenborn’s natural curiosity lies in honing in on what’s going on around him. Officially a research microbiologist at NETL, he more often wears the hat of a geomicrobiologist or microbial geochemist or biologist, depending on the project or the day.

Edenborn describes his interests as multidisciplinary, including science, nature, industrial history, and music. Growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, he collected rocks and minerals as a boy, and he visited many old mine sites in the eastern Pennsylvania region. He headed for the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology to study geology and ultimately was lured to the field of environmental biology. “I actually became interested in microbiology at New Mexico Tech, where my professor was studying the use of bacteria to leach copper ores. I also admired the way he could open a petri dish with one hand, something to which I immediately aspired,” he explained.

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Artist's rendering of the planetary system HR 8799 at an early stage in its evolution, showing the planet HR 8799c, a disk of gas and dust, and interior planets. Image courtesy of Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics; Mediafarm.Water signature in distant planet shows clues to its formation

A team of international scientists including a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory astrophysicist has made the most detailed examination yet of the atmosphere of a Jupiter-size like planet beyond our solar system.

The finding provides astrophysicists with additional insight into how planets are formed.

“This is the sharpest spectrum ever obtained of an extrasolar planet,” said co-author Bruce Macintosh, an astronomer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “This shows the power of directly imaging a planetary system – the exquisite resolution afforded by these new observations has allowed us to really begin to probe planet formation.”

According to lead author Quinn Konopacky, an astronomer with the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto and a former LLNL postdoc: “We have been able to observe this planet in unprecedented detail because of Keck Obervatory’s advanced instrumentation, our ground-breaking observing and data processing techniques, and because of the nature of the planetary system.” The paper appears online March 14 in Science Express and in the March 21 edition of the journal, Science.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 386  |
  • April 15, 2013
  • Berkeley Lab Tackles Next-Generation Climate Models

    A Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5) visualization of water vapor. Tornadoes, twisting winds that descend from thunderheads, and derechos, winds that race ahead of a straight line of storms, are just two varieties of extreme weather events whose frequency and violence are on the increase. To keep up with nature, climate models are running at ever-higher resolutions, requiring ever-greater processing speeds and altered computer architectures.

    Michael Wehner is a climate scientist in the Computational Research Division (CRD) of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who focuses on just such extreme weather events. He notes that simulations run with a low-resolution climate model can give completely contrary results from a high-resolution version of the same model.

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  • Biofuels, batteries, and hybrid energy systems

    The new Energy Systems Lab at Idaho National Laboratory. Research on biomass processing, advanced vehicles and energy storage systems will benefit from new state-of-the-art facilities at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory. The new Energy Systems Laboratory also will include capabilities for studying hybrid energy systems that integrate hydrocarbon, nuclear and renewable energy sources to generate electricity and divert waste heat for manufacturing activities.

    The facility will accommodate the biomass Process Demonstration Unit, which is helping overcome the barriers to a national commodity-scale bioenergy feedstock supply system. The new lab also will house the team collecting and analyzing data for DOE’s Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity, which works with users across the country to demonstrate advanced vehicles in real-world driving conditions. INL collects 1-million miles worth of advanced vehicle testing data each week and conducts advanced battery testing. Energy storage also contributes to research on hybrid energy systems, which can help integrate renewable energy sources into the grid while using waste heat from nuclear and fossil energy generation to make valuable commodities such as vehicle fuel or chemicals for plastics. 

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  • New particle detector records first 3-D tracks

    A cosmic-ray muon deposits a large shower of energy in the NOvA detector in Minnesota.The NOvA particle detector, under construction in northern Minnesota, has begun recording its first three-dimensional images of particles. At its current size, the detector catches more than 1,000 cosmic rays per second. A webcam documents the progress of the construction of the humongous detector.

    This summer, DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, located in Batavia, Ill., will start sending a beam of neutrinos every 1.3 seconds to the NOvA detector—500 miles straight through the Earth; no tunnel is necessary.

    When complete in 2014, the full NOvA detector will be the most powerful neutrino detector in the United States. Made of PVC tubes that technicians will fill with scintillating liquid and outfit with light-sensitive electronics, the completed detector will weigh 14,000 tons. It will be the largest free-standing plastic structure in the world.

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  • Rivers run right through...the model

    The new river-routing model can simulate how water makes it into tributaries and the main river channel through its pathways as surface runoff and subsurface water discharge that you can’t see. Because climate change, hydropower dams, and reservoirs greatly influence water sources, scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory built a river-routing model, known as MOSART, to help with water management. The full name of MOSART is the MOdel for Scale Adaptive River Transport. MOSART helps scientists improve computer simulations of the magnitude and timing of water flow through the landscape and into the ocean. This new tool is better at simulating water flow at different scales than some widely used large-scale routing models. By coupling MOSART with established land and Earth system models, scientists will better understand a wide range of water-land-climate interactions. Thus, MOSART serves as a cornerstone for integrating and understanding the impacts of human activities on the water cycle at regional and global scales.

    Designed to work within the smaller regional modeling units or the larger global ones, MOSART first tracks the surface water routes along the land surface. Then, it collects water discharged from the surface and subsurface systems into tributaries before entering the main river channel.

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  • End of the road for Roadrunner

    Roadrunner will be decommissioned on March 31.Roadrunner, the first supercomputer to break the once-elusive petaflop barrier—one million billion calculations per second—has been decommissioned.

    During its five operational years, Roadrunner, part of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program to provide key computer simulations for the Stockpile Stewardship Program, was a workhorse system providing computing power for stewardship of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, and in its early shakedown phase, a wide variety of unclassified science. The IBM system achieved petaflop speed in 2008, shortly after installation at DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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