[Inside Science TV] A team led by Berkeley Lab physical bioscientist Seung-Wuk Lee is developing a new type of “soft” nanotech robot that could operate in extremely small spaces, including inside the body. “Our hair is 100 microns, so therefore we can make our materials smaller than our hairs,” Lee says. Activated by near-infrared laser light, the robots offer medical promise for new ways of delivering medicine, tissue engineering, or taking tissue samples without surgery. More>
Posts Tagged ‘In The News’
The push to replicate research findings could shelve promising lines of inquiry and unfairly damage the reputations of careful, meticulous scientists, says Mina Bissell, Distinguished Scientist in the Life Sciences Division. Writing a commentary in the journal Nature, Bissell a renowned breast cancer researcher, expressed concern about a drive underway by NIH and others in the biological fields to have results replicated by an independent, self-appointed entity that will charge for the service. Although reproducibility is the bedrock of the scientific process, Bissell notes that those who try to repeat research often lack the time, funding, resources and expertise to do so. “It is sometimes much easier not to replicate than to replicate studies, because the techniques and reagents are sophisticated, time-consuming and difficult to master,” she says.
Donald Lucas of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division is among the experts featured in the new HBO documentary film “Toxic Hot Seat.” The movie explores the dangers of chemical flame retardants, which, they say, don’t seem to stop fires and make people sick. Lucas demonstrates how furniture foam that has fire retardants added to it can still burn, and that when covered with fabric the burning rate can increase. The fabric/foam combination also has a flame that produces more soot and toxic byproducts. The opening scene and a few other shots were filmed in Building 70. The documentary airs on Monday at 9 p.m. More>
[Wired] Alex Ramirez wants to build a supercomputer that’s six times as powerful as Tianhe-2, the Chinese machine that’s ranked as the world’s most powerful. That’s an incredibly ambitious goal, but here’s the surprising part: He wants to build it using the sort of chips you typically find in mobile phones and tablets. He wants to use ARM processors. Whatever chips are used, many countries are working to build exascale machines, but in the U.S., budget cuts have tapered funding for these projects. Since 2010, the Lab’s funding has been flat or downward, said Deputy Director Horst Simon. More>
The ground-breaking research of Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist with the Physical Biosciences Division, into a key enzyme in the microbial immune system, was featured in The Independent, the national morning newspaper of Great Britain. The enzyme is called CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, and Doudna, with help from protein crystallography beamlines at the Advanced Light Source, has been unlocking its secrets. Her findings hold potentially big implications for safer and more effective therapeutic drugs. More>
The National Laboratories have a storied, yet largely hidden, history and presence in the energy innovation space. Created to build the atomic bomb in the 1940’s, the Labs have evolved to conduct “big science” to address leading national missions, solve complex societal problems, and keep the United States at the leading edge of innovation. In many ways, the Labs got their start on the backs of particle accelerators, particularly the cyclotron invented by Ernest Lawrence at Berkeley Lab. Today, Berkeley Lab houses one of the world’s premier cyclotrons — the Advanced Light Source — a domed, circular path of magnets that whip electrons around at nearly the speed of light. More>
[Nature] Tests on the exhumed body of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat have found traces of the radioactive isotope polonium-210, prompting renewed claims that he was deliberately poisoned. Others are less certain. Polonium-210 has a half-life of 138 days, so any radioactivity measured by the team would have been a million times lower than in 2004. “After so many half-lives you can’t reliably say how much polonium was there eight years ago, there’s too much background interference,” says Kai Vetter, head of applied nuclear physics at Berkeley Lab. More>
A newly published study on pollutant exposures from natural gas stoves was featured in the Los Angeles Times. The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that 62 percent of households using gas burners without range hoods are routinely exposed to excess levels of nitrogen dioxide, 9 percent to carbon monoxide and 52 percent to formaldehyde. Co-author Brett Singer was quoted as saying: “Even in Los Angeles, those pollutants don’t exceed air quality standards outdoors. But inside homes they do.” Other Lab co-authors were Jennifer Logue and Agnes Lobscheid. For more on Berkeley Lab’s work on indoor air quality, including articles, videos and other resources, visit indoorair.lbl.gov.
The Bay Area is becoming a hub for start-ups and multinational corporations hoping to produce the next big battery breakthrough. Technology like electric cars could depend on it.
“I’m actually in the market for a new car and would love to buy an electric car,” says Venkat Srinivasan, who heads up battery research at Berkeley Lab. “But there are practical problems.” “What we want to do is get cars that go 200 miles but you can buy them for the cost of say, a Toyota Corolla or Toyota Camry,” he says. “Where we are today in battery technology, we need a lot more work before we can get there.” More>
Berkeley Lab physicist Carl Haber was a recent guest on KQED radio’s Forum, hosted by Michael Krasny. Haber discussed his research that has enabled the restoration of long-lost sounds, for which he won a MacArthur Genius Award. More>