Today at Berkeley Lab

Are We Living in a Giant Cosmic Void?

Voids, vast expanses of nearly empty space, account for about 80 percent of the observable universe. Researchers say the Milky Way may float near the center of one of these voids. The Lab’s Greg Aldering says the voids are “kind of like bubbles, they get bigger and bigger as the universe not only expands, but as more galaxies get pulled out over time.” More>

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Defrosting the World’s Freezer: Thawing Permafrost

DOE Office of Science researchers are visiting remote locations to study how permafrost thaws, which is essential for more accurately modeling terrestrial ecosystems and climate. Scientists studying this phenomenon include Charlie Koven and Jizhong Zhou of the Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area. More>

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A Race to Develop Pollution Sensing Tech Plays Out in Oakland

Google Street View cars with pollution sensors are mapping pollution in Oakland, block by block, joining another assortment of low-cost sensors monitoring a wider array of gases and particles from the roofs of schools, museums, and hospitals in the Bay Area. The latter effort, led by ETA’s Ronald Cohen, is called BEACO2N (BErkeley Atmospheric CO2 Observation Network). More>

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Mars Research by Pimentel Recognized With National Historic Landmark

The American Chemical Society honored George Pimentel’s development of the Mars Infrared Spectrometer with a plaque in the lobby of UC Berkeley’s Pimentel Hall. The spectrometers were used on the NASA spacecrafts Mariner 6 and 7. In addition to being an associate director at the Lab, Pimentel was a longtime Cal professor, teaching freshman chemistry until just before he died in 1989. More>

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Op-Ed From NERSC’s Bautista on WannaCry Attack; Talk on Cybersecurity

Elizabeth Bautista wrote an opinion piece for Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle urging people and companies to apply patches and updates immediately to guard against the spread of malicious code, such as the WannaCry ransomware that recently crippled systems worldwide. Read the opinion piece here. A noon talk on ransomware and targeted phishing at the Lab takes place June 1 in Wang Hall, room 3101.

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Creating Buildings That Breathe Cleanly to Limit Indoor Air Pollution

The increase in indoor air pollution is an unfortunate side effect of well-meaning efforts to reduce energy use. As buildings are made more and more airtight to increase efficiency, they can trap dangerous chemicals and gases. “We need to make our buildings more energy efficient,” says ETA’s William Fisk, “but we need to do it in a way that protects our indoor environment.” More>

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Lab’s Weitekamp ‘Thanks’ Taxpayers for Being Angel Investors

Cyclotron Road’s Raymond Weitekamp recently contributed a post on the blogging platform “Medium” thanking American taxpayers for being his angel investor. In reference to polySpectra, the spin-off company he helped found, Weitekamp wrote, “You took a big risk and it’s paying off.” polySpectra uses light-activated catalysts to 3D print advanced functional materials. More>

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Sea-Level Rise Could Wreak Havoc on California Coast, Experts Warn

A new report, “Rising Seas in California: An Update on Sea-Level Rise Science,” stresses the potential for extreme sea-level rise because of uncertainties in projections of how ice sheets will melt due to their unique, hard-to-understand physics. Berkeley Lab’s BISICLES project has created maps outlining how the Antarctic ice sheet will retreat as it melts. More>

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The Scientist Profiles the Inspirational Work of Lab’s Mina Bissell

“The reason I still travel and give talks, meet young scientists, and do interviews is that I see young people are inspired by my story of how I have persisted,” says Bissell of the Biosciences Area. “I never wanted to quit. If you are passionate and you have ideas leading to rigorous proof, you need to trust yourself.” More>

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KQED’s QUEST Program To Air Program Featuring Ashok Gadgil

Gadgil, with the Energy Technologies Area, discusses how innovative engineering is improving the lives of refugee women via the Darfur Stove in a program that first aired in 2014. It will air on April 8 at 1 p.m., and April 9 at 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 5 p.m. Check here for your service provider’s KQED channel.

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