Tag Archives: LBNL

Piper Promotes: Molecular Foundry Call for Proposals Due July 15, 2012

The Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has a Call for Proposals with a submission deadline of Sunday, July 15, 2012. The projected award date for selected proposals will be October 1, 2012.

The Molecular Foundry is a Department of Energy-funded program providing support to researchers from around the world whose work can benefit from or contribute to nanoscience. Calls for Proposals allow users access to many scientists and instrumentation, including the Advanced Light Source (ALS), National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM), the Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genomic Institute (JGI), and National Energy Research Science Computing Center (NERSC).

The Foundry is moving to a Spring/Autumn Call for Proposals next year, which means that there will be no Winter 2012 Call for Proposals. After the current Call for Proposals, the next call will not occur until Spring 2013.

Further information can be found at The Molecular Foundry Home Page, TMF Data-base Log in Page, and the Foundry Staff Scientists and Support Personnel. Questions should be directed to the User Program Manager (DABunzow@lbl.gov or 510-486-4674).

The 2012 Annual Users Meeting will be October 4 & 5, 2012.

More efficient cook stoves for Haiti: In lab with Katee Lask

Lighting a cook stove

Just up the hill at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), a handful of UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students congregate in warehouse-like Building 60 each week to cook up two gallons of rice and beans, flavored with salt and garlic to taste. The students aren’t especially hungry for this typical Haitian meal (in fact, they’re probably a bit tired of it at this point)–they’re conducting experiments on cook stove efficiency. Arguably, they are doing some of the most important research currently being carried out at Berkeley, all in a facility that is a far cry from what we usually think of as a high-tech engineering laboratory.

The team is part of the research group of Ashok Gadgil, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at UC Berkeley. One of his students, Katee Lask, recently gave me a tour of the group’s laboratory and spoke to me about their current efforts toward helping Haitian refugees.

Since the January 2010 earthquake, millions of Haitians have been living in refugee camps, displaced from their homes when the frail buildings collapsed. Critical resources, like charcoal for cooking, are difficult to obtain for a reasonable cost in the camps. Moreover, the cramped nature of the camps means that many kitchens burn charcoal in close proximity, polluting the air and presenting a potential health hazard for the refugees. UC Berkeley and LBNL engineers, including Gadgil and Lask, have stepped in to help develop cleaner and less costly means of cooking food for the refugees.

Gadgil originally became involved with cook stove engineering in 2005, with the goal of assisting war-displaced refugees in Darfur, Sudan. That project culminated in the Berkeley-Darfur Stove, a wood-burning stove with more than 15,000 units deployed to Darfur families by the end of 2010 alone. Later, a modified version of the Berkeley-Darfur Stove was designed for cooking use by families in Ethiopia, where wood is also used as the solid fuel source. As a result of these two projects, when the earthquake hit Haiti, the Berkeley team was uniquely qualified to assist with cook stove issues in the refugee camps.

Berkeley researcher Saul Perlmutter wins the Nobel prize in physics

Berkeley Labs has been abuzz with excitement over Tuesday morning’s announcement that LBL and UC Berkeley astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter won this year’s Nobel prize in physics, most notably for his research into dark energy and the accelerating expansion of the universe.  Saul is the 11th LBL scientist and 9th UC Berkeley faculty member to be awarded a Nobel prize, and he brings UC Berkeley’s running total of Nobel prizes to a whopping 22.

Earlier this year, I attended a lecture that Perlmutter gave to a public audience at the International House entitled “Stalking Dark Energy and the Mystery of the Accelerating Universe.” Every seat was taken, but that didn’t stop overflow attendees from sitting in the aisles and peaking through the doors. The rock star treatment was a testament to the public’s interest in Saul and his fascinating research topic.

It has been known for some time that the universe is expanding, but whether or not it would eventually stop growing had long remained an open question.  One popular theory at the time was that the expansion universe would eventually stall out due to the inward pull of gravitational forces. But Perlmutter surprised the scientific community by showing – through the observance of light from supernovas – that not only would the universe continue to expand, but that it would do so at an accelerating rate. For the universe to accelerate outward past the collapsing force of gravity, there must be another force propelling it away.  That force is what we now call dark energy, the “mysterious something” that comprises 73% of our universe.

Congratulations to Saul.  A comment given by Bob Cahn, head of the cosmology group at LBL, sums it up nicely: “This is the biggest discovery in the history of science, and will remain so forever, since it only leaves 25% for everyone else.”