Today at Berkeley Lab

Study Shows How Lowering Crime Could Contribute to Global Warming

While there is an energy cost to operating prisons, inmates generally consume less than an average citizen, so fewer prisoners might mean higher overall energy consumption. The Lab’s Alan Meier cites as another example of this “rebound effect” the increased purchase of efficient appliances, which drives up energy use, but studies show energy savings still dominate. More>

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How to Make Superheavy Elements and Finish the Periodic Table

Chemistry World visited Berkeley and Livermore Labs to meet some of the scientists who study superheavy metals. In a series of videos, they were asked how they do it, how many more elements do they think they can make, and what led them to this field of study. The Lab’s Jackie Gates and Ken Gregorich are featured. More>

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SpaceX Rocket Carries Chernobyl Fungi Into Space

The eight species of fungi on board, which are descended from microbes collected at Chernobyl, may one day lead the way to a “sunblock” that could protect human space travelers from the harmful radiation of space. The microbes were originally collected by the Lab’s Tamas Torok. More>

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Your Air Conditioning is Making the Heat Wave Worse

While air conditioning temporarily cools, it’s making our world hotter. According to Berkeley Lab researchers, a crash program to maintain or establish three shade trees per building and make all roofs and pavement in U.S. cities reflective could decrease national cooling demand by 20 percent by driving temperatures lower. More>

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Darkness Falls on the Dinosaurs

In 1980, Luis Alvarez and colleagues at Berkeley Lab, proposed what has become the preeminent theory of the dinosaurs’ annihilation: an asteroid six miles wide struck Earth at the same geologic instant that the dinosaurs and many other organisms went extinct. Yet among geoscientists, there has been a lingering sense that the story has not been told in full. More>

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The Bloody Battle Against Aging

By examining the chemical makeup of young blood, bioengineers, including David Schaffer of the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division, have discovered a drug that could turn back the age clock. More>

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Climate Change to Blame for Deaths in 2003 Heat Wave, New Study Says

Scientists merged climate data and health data to determine the likelihood that a warming climate influenced the death toll, which totaled 1,050 in Paris and London. The study “takes us a little farther, looking at apparent temperature, a function of temperature and humidity, and relates it to how many people died,” says the Lab’s Michael Wehner. More>

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‘Water Windfall’ Found Deep Beneath California’s Central Valley

Scientists say it’s three times more groundwater than previous estimates and four times more if saltier water is included. This could come as welcome news with the state’s drought. However, the Lab’s Preston Jordan says much of the water is too salty and not usable unless treated. More>

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Is U.S. at Risk of Losing Supercomputing Leadership?

“All the U.S. systems on the list are getting old,” said the Lab’s Horst Simon, regarding the recent top 500 rankings of fastest supercomputers. “There will be no 100-petaflop systems in the U.S. for two years…and we have been complacent for four or five years about pushing for an exaflop system.” His comments appear in a “nextBIG Future” story. More>

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Research Finds Low Levels of Indoor CO2 Impair Thinking

Bill Fisk (ETA) developed a test to measure decision-making and had participants take three versions of the test, each time with different CO2 levels in the room. The results floored Fisk. At concentrations as low as 1,000 parts per million, decision-making declined. More>

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