Today at Berkeley Lab

Protein Instability and Lou Gherig’s Disease Explored at the ALS

A new study uses small-angle x-ray scattering as well as several advanced biophysical techniques to link protein instability to the progression of a lethal degenerative disease: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. More>

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Opsin Protein Could Aid Studies of Brain, Central Nervous System

Ehud Isacoff led a team that discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation. This discovery could lead to a potentially powerful new tool in the on-going search for a better understanding of how the brain and central nervous system develop. More>

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Evolution of Roman Ceramics Reflect Changes in Technology, Life

Terra sigillata ceramics were the most famous ancient tableware produced during the Roman period. Scientists investigated terra sigillata samples using the Advanced Light Source and found significant differences in mineral compositions between the Italic and Gallic samples — which suggests modifications in the manufacturing process. More>

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Dark Matter Experiment Completes First Reviews

Recently, the Berkeley-Lab managed LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) dark matter experiment completed its initial Critical Decision-1 review (CD-1) where the project’s technical design, preliminary timelines, and budget range were reviewed by the Department of Energy’s Office of Project Assessment. More>

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Decoding Ancient Ocean Acidification Signals From Plankton Shells

Ancient plankton shells can record the physical and chemical state of the ocean in which they grew. The zooplankton Foraminiferadoes does this by trapping trace chemical impurities in their calcium carbonate shells. Decoding these records can reveal changes in global climate, atmospheric CO2, and the acidity of the oceans in deep geologic time. More>

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Caution Urged in Using New DNA Editing Technology for Gene Therapy

A group of 18 scientists — including Berkeley Lab’s Jennifer Doudna — and ethicists warned that a revolutionary new tool to cut and splice DNA should be used cautiously when attempting to fix human genetic disease, and strongly discouraged any attempts at making changes to the human genome that could be passed on to offspring. More>

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In Climatic Tug of War, Carbon Released From Thawing Permafrost Wins

There’s a carbon showdown brewing in the Arctic as Earth’s climate changes. On one side, thawing permafrost could release enormous amounts of long-frozen carbon into the atmosphere. On the opposing side, as high-latitude regions warm, plants will grow more quickly, which means they’ll take in more carbon from the atmosphere. More>

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Most Precise Measurement of the Higgs’ Mass Yet

The ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider have pinned down the mass of the Higgs boson with more than 20 percent better precision than previous measurements. This allows scientists to determine further properties of the Higgs and marks the beginning of a collaboration between the two LHC experiments. More>

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A Better Way of Scrubbing CO2

Materials scientist Jeff Long (center) led the discovery of a means by which the removal of carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants might one day be done far more efficiently and at far lower costs than today by appending a diamine molecule to the sponge-like solid materials known as metal-organic-frameworks (MOFs). More>

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Researchers Assess Amazon Mechanical Turk for Appliance Usage Data

A Berkeley Lab study just published in Energy Efficiency compared the effectiveness of different weighting schemes applied to household appliance data gathered using online surveys from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service. Accurate population-weighted data is needed by energy researchers to make effective recommendations for reducing energy consumption. The authors include Hung-Chia Yang, Scott Young, Jeff Greenblatt, and Louis-Benoit Desroches.

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