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Berkeley Lab Scientist Invents Portable DNA Extraction Kit, Helps Haiti

What does the coastal community of Bolinas, California have in common with the impoverished island nation of Haiti? The surprising answer is a fledgling sanitation strategy whereby human waste is composted into nutrient-rich fertilizer, all supported by research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist Gary Andersen.

Trials (and Tribulations) at Sea Can’t Keep Carbon Explorers on the Beach

Somewhere between tossing Jonah overboard and hanging that albatross around the Ancient Mariner’s neck, sailors acquired a reputation for superstition. It takes a clear-headed oceanographer to resist joining them, especially after a string of bad luck at sea involving the number 13. Jim Bishop of Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division (ESD), a professor in UC

Synchrotron Infrared Unveils a Mysterious Microbial Community

“Strings of pearls” (arrow and upper inset), whose pearls are up to three millimeters in diameter, were found where SM1 Euryarchaea live in close association with bacteria in the cold sulfidic streams of Germany’s Sippenauer Moor. Part of a pearl (lower inset) reveals colonies of microscopic spherical SM1 surrounded by filamentous bacteria.

A cold sulfur spring in Germany is the only place where archaea are known to dominate bacteria in a microbial community. How this unique community thrives and the lessons it may hold for understanding global carbon and sulfur cycles are beginning to emerge from research at the Advanced Light Source’s Berkeley Synchrotron Infrared Structural Biology facility.

Berkeley Lab Seeks to Help U.S. Assert Scientific Leadership in Critical Materials

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory aims to change the status quo by reviving the study of rare earths to better understand how to extract them, use them more efficiently, reuse and recycle them and find substitutes for them.

A New Kind of Carbon Explorer Rides Out the Storm

A series from the new Carbon Flux Explorer’s optical sedimentation recorder shows three views of the same collection of carbon-containing particles and live invading organisms, which descend from surface waters at dawn (shown for their beauty, although they rarely get into the system). The images are 26 millimeters across, a little over an inch, and resolution is 10 millionths of a meter. The three lighting modes are, left, dark field (side) illumination; middle, transmitted light; and right, cross-polarized light, which can detect birefringent calcium carbonate – the small, very bright particles – and structures in some organisms. Two living larval ctenophores (comb jellies) are at left and right. The buckyball shape at top is a dead radiolarian, a one-celled animal with a silica skeleton. The carbon sedimentation is composed of a half-dozen amorphous aggregates and a dead crustacean.

Carbon Explorers have produced detailed information on the carbon cycle in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans – information that would be unaffordable or even impossible to obtain from shipboard. Now a new breed of Carbon Flux Explorers not only measures day-by-day variations in biomass sediment, they can determine exactly what’s in each collected sample. Knowing what’s in the sediment, including what’s eating the detritus, adds essential knowledge for understanding the ocean carbon cycle.

A Look Back as Berkeley Lab Scientists Raced to Estimate Oil Flow from the Deepwater Horizon Macondo Well

Among their findings, the Berkeley Lab team found that reservoir permeability had a strong influence on oil flow rate. This graphic tracks oil flow rate, in barrels per day, as a function of reservoir permeability and gas-oil ratio in a model in which the pressure at the blowout preventer is 4,400 pounds per square inch

The first two weeks of June 2010 were a blur for six Berkeley Lab scientists. As the world focused on the ongoing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico after the blowout of BP’s Deepwater Horizon Macondo well, the scientists dropped everything to estimate how much oil was flowing from the mangled wellhead. Their research is recounted in an article published in this week’s online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A Research Center for Kazakhstan

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Kazakhstan is a nation rich in energy resources but plagued by a history of exploitation and a legacy of environmental disasters. With an eye to a diverse economy, sustainable growth, and responsible environmental stewardship, the newly opened Nazarbayev University is establishing a national Center for Energy Research, with guidance from a diverse team of Berkeley Lab scientists.

A Novel Route to Discovery

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The “Discovery” track of Berkeley Lab’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development proposal review encourages bold, highly innovative concepts with strong potential for impact in their fields, independent of divisional programs and lab-wide initiatives. The winning proposals for 2010 are described in a five-part series, beginning with research for a new way to deposit high-quality, transparent, metal-oxide films on the industrial scale, with implications for energy applications.