A National Institutes of Health (NIH)-organized consortium that includes Berkeley Lab scientists has for the first time mapped the normal microbial make-up of humans. Berkeley Lab’s role in mapping the human microbiome revolves around big data, both analyzing it and making it available for scientists to use worldwide. The research will help scientists understand how our microbiome keeps us healthy. It’ll also shed light on our microbiome’s role in many diseases.
Even as the “supernova of a generation” came into view in backyards across the northern hemisphere last August, physicists and astronomers who had caught its earliest moments were developing a surprising and much clearer picture of what happens during a titanic Type Ia explosion. Now they have announced the closest, most detailed look ever at one of the universe’s brightest “standard candles,” the celestial mileposts that led to the discovery of dark energy.
Lithium-ion batteries power everything from smart phones to electric cars, but especially when it comes to lowering the cost and extending the range of all-electric vehicles, they need to store a lot more energy. The critical component for energy storage is the anode, and Berkeley Lab scientists have developed a new anode material that can absorb eight times the lithium and has far greater energy capacity than today’s designs.
Antimatter nuclei of helium-4, the heaviest antiparticles ever found, have been created by the STAR experiment at Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Eighteen examples of the antihelium particles were detected by STAR’s Time Projection Chamber, designed and built at Berkeley Lab, in debris from a billion high-energy collisions of gold nuclei.
Astronomers predict that large spiral galaxies like our Milky Way have hundreds of satellite galaxies orbiting around them. Using supercomputers at NERSC, scientists developed a mathematical method to uncover these “dark” galaxies. When she applied it to our own Milky Way, she discovered a faint satellite might be lurking on the opposite side of the galaxy from Earth.
A superbright supernova found in a dwarf galaxy by the Nearby Supernova Factory based at Berkeley Lab is the first confirmed example of a pair-instability supernova, the result of the partial core collapse and thermonuclear detonation of an enormously massive star, like the earliest stars in the Universe.
Finding rare and fleeting cosmic events not only requires the right kind of telescope and camera, it depends on high-performance computing that can pinpoint objects of interest among thousands of sky images while there’s still time for follow-up observations. Caltech and DOE’s NERSC join forces in just such a search, the Palomar Transient Factory.
The Department of Energy will invest $777 million in 46 new Energy Frontier Research Centers over the next five years as part of President Barack Obama’s plans to reinvigorate American science. Berkeley Lab will be home to the Center for Nanoscale Control of Geologic CO2, led by Don DePaolo, director of the Earth Sciences Division, to study carbon dioxide storage deep underground.
From COBE to Planck and beyond, the volume of data from measurements of the cosmic microwave background continues to grow by orders of magnitude. The Computational Cosmology Center, a collaboration between Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division and Computational Research Division, has algorithms and implementations in the works so NERSC’s supercomputers can handle the rising tide.