Today at Berkeley Lab

X-Rays Reveal ‘Handedness’ in Swirling Electric Vortices

Scientists used spiraling X-rays at Berkeley Lab to observe, for the first time, a property that gives left- or right-handedness to swirling electric patterns —dubbed polar vortices — in a layered material called a superlattice. Researchers said the behavior could be explored for coupling to magnetic or optical (light-based) devices. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Largest Recorded Underwater Volcanic Eruption Sheds Light on Deep-Sea Events

The 2012 eruption of the underwater Havre volcano near New Zealand was so big, satellite images showed a 150-square-mile floating raft of pumice that had bobbed up to the surface afterward. “Underwater eruptions are fundamentally different than those on land. There is no on-land equivalent,” said the Lab’s Michael Manga, who co-authored a paper about the aftermath of the eruption. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Dark Energy Survey (DES) Publicly Releases First Three Years of Data

This first major release of data from the survey includes information on about 400 million astronomical objects, including distant galaxies billions of light-years away as well as stars in our own galaxy. DES scientists are using this data to learn more about dark energy. Berkeley Lab is a DES collaborator. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Ingredients for Life Revealed in Meteorites That Fell to Earth

A detailed study of blue salt crystals found in two meteorites that crashed to Earth — which included X-ray experiments at Berkeley Lab — found that they contain both liquid water and a mix of complex organic compounds including hydrocarbons and amino acids. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

JGI Gauges Plant Pan-Genome Size Using Brachypodium

A team led by John Vogel of the Joint Genome Institute has released a pan-genome of the model grass Brachypodium distachyon. One application of the dataset is to help crop breeders identify genes that may only be retained if they are beneficial under specific conditions, such as disease resistance or development. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Real-World Native Biocrusts: Microbial Metabolism

Biological soil crusts can exist for extended periods in a dormant state. When it rains, microbes in those crusts become metabolically active, altering both the community structure and the soil chemistry. Using a simplified test-tube system and “exometabolomics,” can help understand the connection between the chemical diversity of soil and microbial diversity in a real-world setting. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

JGI Helps Develop Database for Plant Microbiome Studies

Joint Genome Institute researchers and collaborators have conducted a massive genomic and computational effort to address this fundamental and important question: “How does the plant microbiome interact with the plant?” The findings could help aid crop yields and production of alternative fuels. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Massive New Telescope to Be Built in South America

UC San Diego recently signed a contract for the design and construction of a state-of-the-art millimeter wave telescope for the Simons Observatory. It will be used to study the Cosmic Microwave Background. The Lab is among 35 institutions comprising the Simons Observatory. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

A First Step Toward CRISPR Cure of Lou Gehrig’s Disease

For the first time, University of California, Berkeley scientists have used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to disable a defective gene that causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in mice, extending their lifespan by 25 percent. The team was led by Berkeley Lab bioscientist David Schaffer. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Tool Turns Large-Scale Scientific Array Data Analysis Into a Cakewalk

Computational Research Division researchers helped develop a novel scalable framework that performs scientific analysis of vast data arrays more efficiently and tens to thousands of times faster than current big data management systems. Recently, Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory astronomers used the tool to discover two colliding neutron stars. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.