|January 18th, 2008|
Dark energy made its debut at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Washington, D.C. 10 years ago this month. Saul Perlmutter of Berkeley Lab's Physics Division, leader of the international Supernova Cosmology Project (SCP), made the first public announcement of evidence for a "cosmological constant" at a press conference on Jan. 8, 1998.
Type Ia supernovae are brighter than whole galaxies. Their measurement led to the discovery of dark energy.
By then the SCP had worked for a decade to measure the expansion of the universe by using Type Ia supernovae as "standard candles." Carl Pennypacker, who co-founded the Supernova Cosmology Project with Perlmutter when both were postdocs in Rich Muller's group in 1988, recalls that in the beginning, "the most striking part of the project was the huge skepticism. Nobody believed we could do it, and it was an enormous challenge to get things done."
The obstacles were social as much as technical, but by 1994 the SCP had persuaded the committees who allocate precious time on the world's major telescopes that they could find dozens of distant supernovae "on demand."
Inspired by their success, the rival High-Z Supernova Search Team was formed, adapting the SCP's methods in hopes of being first to reach the scientific goal: a precise measurement of how much the expansion of the universe was slowing down.
Except it wasn't. By fall of 1997 it became apparent that the data from the exploding stars held something strange. On Sept. 24, Gerson Goldhaber showed his teammates a puzzling chart of brightness versus redshift for 38 of the SCP's Type Ia supernovae; sometime that fall, the High-Z Team found a similar trend in their own smaller database: far from slowing down, the universe was expanding ever faster. Perlmutter and the SCP were first to present their results to other scientists in December and then, in January 1998, to the public.
Science writer Charles Petit was at the press conference and was first to report the news, in a front-page article in the San Francisco Chronicle the next morning, Jan. 9:
"Call it the runaway universe, and we are on board.
"A new, detailed study of exploding stars and immense galaxy clusters billions of light years away seems to indicate that the universe not only will expand forever, contrary to some theories, but that its outward expansion is starting to speed up....
"'If these data hold up, then we can know we are in a universe that will exist forever,' said Saul Perlmutter. 'And we seem to be seeing, for the first time, direct evidence that the cosmological constant is real.'"
Three days later Petit reported in the weekly newsmagazine U.S. News & World Report:
"Strong signs that the expanding universe is actually starting to speed up come from astronomers using ground-based and orbiting telescopes to chart supernova exploding stars in galaxies, a gauge of how fast the universe has expanded so far. Says Saul Perlmutter of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, a leader of the effort: 'No big crunch. The galaxies out there seem to be accelerating outward....'"
James Glanz reported on the announcement in the Jan. 30 issue of Science:
"At the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, Saul Perlmutter of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, announced that he and an international team of observers have now studied a total of 40 far-off supernovae, using them as beacons to judge how the cosmic expansion rate has changed over time. Not only did the results support the earlier evidence that the expansion rate has slowed too little for gravity ever to bring it to a stop; they also hinted that something is nudging the expansion along...."
Not all reporters were as quick to grasp the implications as Petit and Glanz. "We wanted the results to be presented in the press as thoroughly considered, sober-minded," Perlmutter said recently, "which was perhaps not the best way to capture the press's attention...."
Some of the members of the Supernova Cosmology Project in 2007. Background photo (Roy Kaltschmidt, CSO) from left: front row, David Rubin, Saul Perlmutter, Josh Meyers, Hannah Swift; standing, Tony Spadafora, Kyle Dawson, Rahman Amanullah, Nao Suzuki, and Kyle Barbary. Inset photo (Rosemary Nocera) from left: front row, Kyle Barbary, Serena Nobili, Rahman Amanullah, Gerson Goldhaber, Tomonori Totani, Yutaka Ihara, Saul Perlmutter, Chris Lidman, Don Groom; middle row, David Schlegel, Josh Meyers, Hannah Swift, Kouichi Tokita, Nao Suzuki, Tomoki Morokuma, Ariel Goobar, Mamoru Doi, Tony Spadafora; back row, David Rubin, Greg Aldering, Alex Gude, Pilar Ruiz-Lapuente, Naohiro Takanashi, Takeshi Oda, Naoki Yasuda, Xiaosheng Huang, and Kohki Konishi.
For scientists at the meeting, the SCP's data-packed poster made a deeper impression, as indicated by cosmologist Michael Turner of the University of Chicago:
"I was wandering aimlessly around a room filled with poster papers. Saul Perlmutter, the leader of the Supernova Cosmology Project at Berkeley, grabbed me and asked if I wanted to see something interesting.
"What he showed me changed the direction of my research and recharged my science batteries. It also changed the course of astronomy and physics....
After many ups and more downs, including a chorus of 'you'll never succeed' sung by many astronomers, in 1998 [the SCP team] announced their amazing result: The universe is speeding up, not slowing down...."
Other reporters finally caught the drift a month later. In February, at a UCLA symposium on dark matter held at Marina Del Rey in California, the Supernova Cosmology Project presented its results again, and the High-Z Supernova Search Team followed with the first presentation of its own results. Both had reached the same conclusion, independently.
Early in May, Fermilab convened a workshop where both teams presented their data and an expert panel searched for holes in the evidence. When a straw pole was taken, reported John Noble Wilford in the New York Times, "a show of hands indicated that most scientists now agree, by a vote of two to one, that the supernova astronomers have made a strong case for an accelerating universe and thus for something like the missing energy."
A rush of theoretical papers followed, trying to explain the new results with such models as dynamical scalar fields and "quintessence." Turner, who'd first encountered evidence for a cosmological constant in the SCP's poster at the AAS, decided that the universe's unknown energy component needed a broader descriptive term. By June of that year he'd come up with the one that stuck: dark energy.
With the arrival of dark energy's 10th anniversary, some individuals have applied a narrow definition of the word "public" to dispute who was first with the news of cosmic acceleration. For example, the 2008 UCLA symposium on dark matter and dark energy, to be held next month at Marina Del Ray, advertises a session honoring "the first public discussion on dark energy at DM'98."
But science writer Petit, who was there, has no doubt the first public discussion was at the AAS, spearheaded by Perlmutter and the SCP. "It was in the SF Chronicle the next morning, on the front page," says Petit. "If that's not public, what is?"
Theorist Frank Wilczek has called dark energy "the most fundamentally mysterious thing in science." Discovering its nature is now one of the most pressing questions facing astronomers and physicists in the 21st century.
Federal investment in research and development for fiscal year 2008 declined dramatically from earlier congressional and Administration plans. The “omnibus bill” signed by President Bush in December has the federal investment in basic and applied research gaining just 1.1 percent to $57.5 billion, less than inflation and far less than anticipated. The federal research investment declined in real terms for the fourth year in a row.
That is disappointing news for America’s scientific leadership and for its premier research institutions.
For Berkeley Lab, the FY08 budget is a mixed bag. Although analysis continues and budget guidance from the DOE has yet to arrive in some areas, the outlook is disappointing for some programs, positive for others.
Despite the ‘08 budget, Lab Director Steve Chu remains optimistic about the Lab’s future. “The entire scientific community is disappointed by the results of the Appropriations bill,” said Chu,“ and “Berkeley Lab will certainly feel some pain. However, I believe the Lab’s long-term future remains very bright. Our strong programs, leading scientists and top operations professionals will continue to accomplish great science, and will continue to be supported aggressively by the Department of Energy and the Congress.”
Federal funding for basic research in the physical sciences, a key element of various plans to sustain U.S. economic competitiveness, fell well short of a planned doubling path over the next decade. The omnibus bill took away most of the requested increases for the three physical sciences agencies in the Administration’s American Competitiveness Initiative (the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories). At one point in the budget process last year, the Office of Science was slated for a 17 percent increase in core research programs. The final outcome was a 2.6 percent increase. The bill also zeroed out funding for the U.S. contribution to the international ITER fusion energy project.
Berkeley Lab’s two renowned national user facilities, the Advanced Light Source (ALS) and the National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM), will be both impacted negatively. The ALS is anticipating at least a 10 percent reduction in operating hours and a freeze on new and replacement hires. Although no direct layoffs of ALS staff are anticipated, beamline development will be slowed, which will also have a negative impact on the Lab’s Engineering Division. A reduction from a requested $17.2 million to $5 million for construction of the ALS User Support Building will delay its opening at least a year and will add to the final costs.
At NCEM, productivity and user support will be affected. At least one key technical staff position will not be filled, and scheduled upgrades to spectrometers and software will be deferred. Several postdoc positions will be terminated early.
The bill will also impact the Lab’s growing portfolio of advanced energy research. DOE announced last week that no new starts would be funded by the Basic Energy Sciences’ Solar Energy Utilization program.
Programs in the physical sciences — physics, chemistry, nuclear sciences, and accelerator and fusion research — get little help in the FY08 budget. Modest layoffs in selected departments are possible, with the Lab’s venerable Actinide Chemistry Program being hit especially hard. Work on the International Linear Collider has stopped, and support for other high-energy physics programs is unclear, although the Office of Science is working to ensure adequate support for the SuperNova Acceleration Probe and the Daya Bay Project. Other physics programs received little or no increase in funding. Engineering collaborators will likely realize related support cuts.
Both Environmental Energy Technologies and Earth Sciences fared better, benefitting from the increased federal interest in energy supply, technology, and renewable programs. Energy efficiency funding is up, as is vehicle battery R&D. Clean coal technologies, fuel and power systems, natural gas and petroleum research, and geothermal studies all received boosts. Climate science received healthy increases in both climate change and computation areas. Computing sciences fared well, and daily operations at the Joint Genome Institute will remain unchanged.
The new Joint BioEnergy Institute will receive its full first-year funding.
So, as Director Chu notes, it could have been worse for Berkeley Lab, but it also could have been a lot better — for this Lab and for science in general. “Analysis suggests major slippage, especially in the basic sciences,” he said. “Although this does not bode well for America’s scientific infrastructure, and for the future of American competitiveness, I believe that there remains strong bipartisan support in Washington for science funding, such as House Democrats’ Innovation Agenda,
the America COMPETES Act, and the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative. These initiatives call for doubling of funding for physical science research agencies, including the DOE’s Office of Science.
I will join other scientific leaders throughout the country in reiterating the critical importance of science funding in all areas, including fundamental research, to innovation and to America’s economic future.”
Wendy Corr has worked as a nurse in emergency rooms, home care, and occupational health, including nearly nine years at Berkeley Lab’s Health Services Department — all very satisfying. But if you really want her to wax poetic, ask Corr about raising and showing her award-winning Alaskan Malamutes.
“That is my mental health,” she says with a smile, “coming home to my dogs.”
Lab nurse Wendy Corr, in blue, in the winner’s circle with her champion Malamute, Ashley
Known for their beautiful wolf-like features and powerful snow-sledding prowess, Alaskan Malamutes might have seemed like an unlikely passion to possess a teenage girl growing up in California, but that’s exactly what happened to Corr in 1968, during what she described as her awkward, nerve-wracking high school years.
Eager to escape the social crucible of high school, Corr volunteered to work for a local veterinarian where she met “an absolutely terrible specimen” of a malamute — and fell in love. By her junior year, she had researched the breed and bought her own show dog.
“That dog kept me together,” she said, “helped me get through a difficult time.” Before she knew it, she was showing him and running him through obedience trials. “It was almost a fluke, “ she laughed, “because Malamutes don’t really do obedience.” Nevertheless, the dog went on to win numerous obedience and champion trials, eventually winding up on the cover of a book — and lighting the fire for a lifetime of successful breeding and showing of Alaskan Malamutes.
In fact, in 2006 Corr’s passion and instinct for understanding what makes a successful show dog came to a pinnacle when her dog, Costello, a male she co-owned with breeder and friend Sandy D’Andrea, made history, becoming the first Malamute to ever win Best in Show at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. Now, Costello’s offspring, Ashley, has become Corr’s pride and joy.
Ashley flying over a gate during her agility trials
Although only two years old, Ashley has proven a formidable competitor in the show ring, becoming a champion at a young age, and leaving Corr in the dust at agility trials, where the dog flies through the obstacles paying no mind to Corr trying to keep up alongside her.
The dog’s prowess shined especially bright in her first year of competition at the Alaskan Malamute 2006 Nationals. A photographer who had gotten wind of the dog’s talents asked Corr if he could snap Ashley’s photo on the last jump of the agility trials. As the Malamute came flying through the final gate, oblivious to the hapless photographer, Ashley took him down, in a pile of dog fur and camera equipment.
Corr panicked at first sight of the mishap, which was visible to the crowd in the stands. “I ran up to the photographer to see how he was, thinking at very least I’m going to have to pay for that camera. He sat up and said, ‘I’m okay — look at the picture!’ I said, I’ll take two!” The photograph made the cover of National Malamute Magazine that month.
How dedicated is Corr to raising Malamutes?
When she was nine months pregnant and in the early stages of labor with her first child, Corr spent the day painstakingly delivering a litter of puppies from one of her Malamutes, one after the other. Later that same day she delivered her own daughter, Jennifer. Just as passionate about raising Malamutes as her mother, Jennifer began going into the ring at a young age — and winning — with the very dog her mother was birthing the day Jennifer was born. “Imagine being beat by your own daughter, by the dog that you saw into labor and the daughter you gave birth to,” mom said.
If Corr has to work hard to keep the dogs in shape, they do the same for her. “In health services, you need to represent who you are and what you do, and training these dogs helps me stay in shape,” she says.
She and a group of raisers go backpacking with the dogs in the summer, and every winter during the Lab shutdown she snow sleds with them, an endeavor that takes lots of time and training. “I go to the gym because I have reason to stay in shape for that yearly trip,” she says.
To prepare for the annual snow run, she and the other raisers run their dogs on the East Bay’s Iron Horse Trail, hooking them up to what is known as a dryland sled. This holiday season the group decorated their dogsleds with lights and bells, handing out candy canes to delighted passersby. For Corr, it’s all part of spreading the Malamute joy.
Wendy Corr and her Malamutes will be showing at the Golden Gate Kennel Club, at the Cow Palace on the 26th and 27th of this month.
Published once a month by the Communications Department for the employees and retirees of Berkeley Lab.
Reid Edwards, Public Affairs Department head
Berkeley Lab is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Flea Market is now online at www.lbl.gov/fleamarket
Ever reached for your cell phone to make a call only to discover that you forgot to recharge the battery? Ditto the YouTube moment that came and went because your digital camera battery was dead? In the future you might restore power to these and other devices through the heat from your own body.
Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a technique for synthesizing silicon nanowires that enables the wires to capture heat energy and generate electrical power. Personal power packets represent only one small example of the far-ranging potential applications of this technology. If silicon nanowire thermoelectric devices could be used to capture even a small fraction of the 15 trillion watts of energy now being lost each year as heat in the generation of electricity, they could have an enormous impact on the global energy situation.
“Ours is the first demonstration of high performance thermoelectric capability in silicon, an abundant semiconductor for which there already exists a multibillion dollar infrastructure for low-cost and high-yield processing and packaging,” said Arun Majumdar, a mechanical engineer and materials scientist with joint appointments at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, who was one of the principal investigators behind this research.
“We’ve shown that it’s possible to achieve a large enhancement of thermoelectric energy efficiency at room temperature in rough silicon nanowires that have been processed by wafer-scale electrochemical synthesis,” said chemist Peidong Yang, the other principal investigator behind this research, who also holds a joint Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley appointment.
Majumdar, recently appointed director of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) and a member of the Materials Sciences Division, is an expert on energy conversion and nanoscale science and engineering. Yang is a leading nanoscience authority with the Materials Sciences Division. They are co-authors of a paper appearing in the Jan. 10, edition of the journal Nature, entitled “Enhanced Thermoelectric Performance of Rough Silicon Nanowires.” Also co-authoring this paper were Allon Hochbaum, Renkun Chen, Raul Diaz Delgado, Wenjie Liang, Erik Garnett and Mark Najarian.
The silicon nanowire thermoelectric technology starts with a unique “electroless etching” method by which arrays of silicon nanowires are synthesized in an aqueous solution on wafer surfaces that can measure dozens of square centimeters in area. The technique involves the galvanic displacement of silicon through the reduction of silver ions on a wafer’s surface. Unlike other synthesis techniques, which yield smooth-surfaced nanowires, this electroless etching method produces arrays of vertically aligned silicon nanowires that feature exceptionally rough surfaces. The roughness is believed to be critical to the surprisingly high thermoelectric efficiency of the silicon nanowires.
“Thermoelectric materials, which have the ability to convert heat into electricity, potentially could be used to capture much of the low-grade waste heat now being lost and convert it into electricity,” said Majumdar. “This would result in massive savings on fuel and carbon dioxide emissions. The same devices can also be used in refrigerators and air conditioners, and because these devices can be miniaturized, it could make heating and cooling much more localized and efficient.”
It is an American tradition that the close of each year brings with it lists of the best accomplishments over the last 12 months…best films, best moments in sports, best celebrities (meaning worst-behaved), and so on, including best stories in science. Berkeley Lab researchers were featured in two such science lists compiled for 2007 by Scientific American and Discover magazines.
Former Deputy Lab Director and current member of the Physical Biosciences Division, Graham Fleming, scored the rare “double” of making the lists of both magazines with his discovery that quantum mechanical effects are behind the nearly 100 percent efficiency by which green plants convert sunlight into chemical energy. Speed is the key — the transfer of solar energy from light-capturing pigment molecules to molecular reaction centers for conversion into chemical energy takes place almost instantaneously, so little energy is wasted as heat. Fleming and his group found that a remarkably long-lived wavelike electronic quantum coherence makes this instantaneous energy transfer possible. He and his group subsequently identified the source of the long-lived quantum coherence as a closely packed pigment-protein complex of the photosystem.
Peidong Yang, a chemist in the Materials Sciences Division (MSD), made Scientific American’s year’s best for his role in the development of a technique by which silicon nanowires can be embedded into a living cell, with no apparent harm to the cell. This demonstration opens the possibility that one day physicians might be able to use electrical stimulation to guide the development of embryonic stem cells into specific cell types, such as neurons or heart or lung cells. The technique might also allow the delivery of genetic material to specific organelles within a cell. For now, it can be used to connect individual cells to one another and to wire the cells to external sensors and other electronic devices.
Xiang Zhang, an MSD mechanical engineer, made the year’s best in Discover for his development of a “hyperlens” that makes it possible to study nano-sized objects with visible light. Zhang’s hyperlens consists of multiple layers of silver and aluminum oxide placed along the cavity of half a cylinder carved out of quartz. Through the capture of evanescent waves, the hyperlens is capable of projecting a magnified image of a pair of nanowires spaced 150 nanometers apart onto a plane up to a meter away. The hyperlens rekindles the dream of being able to study living cells at the molecular level using optical imaging. Currently, such nanoscale imaging can only be carried out through the use of microscopy technologies that cannot be applied to living samples.
TEAM 0.5, the world's most powerful transmission electron microscope (TEM), performs truly lilliputian feats. The citizens of Lilliput in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels were an enormous six inches tall, but TEAM 0.5's half-angstrom resolution (half a ten-billionth of a meter) is less than the diameter of a single hydrogen atom.
The installation of TEAM 0.5 and other recent events at the National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM) have, in the words of Uli Dahmen of the Materials Sciences Division, "put NCEM, and in fact the U.S., back in the lead in electron microscopy."
TEAM 0.5 is the first of two instruments being developed by the TEAM Project (TEAM stands for Transmission Electron Aberration-corrected Microscope), a DOE collaboration among Berkeley Lab, Argonne, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, the University of Illinois, and microscope companies FEI, headquartered in Oregon, and CEOS of Hamburg, Germany. The TEAM Project director is Dahmen, who also heads NCEM.
After rigorous tests, TEAM 0.5 will become available to outside users this fall, with remote control operation available from locations around the world. The microscope's technical advances include an ultrabright electron beam tunable from 80 kV (80,000 volts) to 300 kV, extraordinarily stable electronics, powerful computers, and sensitive CCD detectors.
One dramatic result is TEAM 0.5's ability to correct spherical aberration. This, plus extreme sensitivity and a superb signal-to-noise ratio, makes it possible for TEAM 0.5 to resolve individual atoms and locate their positions in three dimensions.
Spherical aberration blurs an image if electrons passing through the center of a lens focus differently from those passing through its edges. Correcting it requires shaping the beam with a series of magnetic lenses of varying geometries.
"Until now this was never practical," says Dahmen. "By the time you started working on the second lens, the first one was already drifting out of focus." TEAM 0.5's stable electronics reduce drift, and its fast computers allow continuous adjustments in real time.
By moving the tightly focused electron beam across the sample as a probe, TEAM 0.5 can also be used for scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), allowing spectroscopy on individual atoms — an ideal way to precisely locate atoms of different species in an otherwise homogeneous sample, for example.
A versatile way to achieve 3-D is by taking images at different angles. The computer then reconstructs a 3-D tomograph, as in a CAT scan. To facilitate tomography, a sample stage that can tilt, rotate, and move the sample up, down, or sideways is being separately developed by the TEAM Project at NCEM. The stage will be small enough to be housed entirely inside a microscope column, manipulating the sample with methods including minute piezoelectric "crawlers" that change shape when electricity is applied.
Installation of the new stage awaits the TEAM I microscope, due at NCEM early in 2009. While TEAM 0.5 corrects spherical aberration in the "probe" beam (the electron beam before it strikes the sample), TEAM I will also correct both spherical and chromatic aberration after the "image" beam leaves the sample, on its way to the detector.
Correcting chromatic aberration, which results when a lens refracts different wavelengths at different angles, takes more room, Dahmen says. "The chromatic aberration corrector will add two feet to the height of the TEAM I column." However, "the new configuration will allow us to enlarge the gap into which the sample fits," allowing space for the new sample stage.
The potential of manipulating samples was recently demonstrated with NCEM's existing In Situ Microscope. NCEM's Andy Minor (who is also responsible for TEAM 0.5's column integration) led a research collaboration that discovered why metal structures get stronger as they get smaller — at least when their dimensions approach the micrometer scale (millionths of a meter) or less.
Many theories have been proposed to explain why "smaller is stronger" since scientists discovered the phenomenon 50 years ago, but Minor and his colleagues from the Hysitron corporation and General Motors Research and Development were first to look at what actually happens to tiny metal structures under stress. They compressed pillars of nickel 150 to 400 nanometers in diameter under a diamond punch and recorded what happened.
"What controls the deformation of a metal object is the way that defects, called dislocations, move along planes in its crystal structure," Minor says. "For example, bending a paper clip causes its trillions of dislocations per square centimeter to tangle up and multiply as they run into one another and slide along numerous slip planes."
Before testing, says Minor, the nanoscale pillars of nickel "were full of dislocations. But as we compressed the pillar, all the dislocations were driven out of the material — literally reducing the dislocation density by 15 orders of magnitude."
The results confirmed a recent theory called "dislocation starvation," proposed by William D. Nix of Stanford and others, a leading theory of why smaller structures are stronger. Says Minor, "We called this effect mechanical annealing."
But if a defect-free nanoscale nickel pillar continues to be compressed, something has to give, which happens when new sources of dislocation "nucleate" in the material at progressively higher stresses. Deformation may take the form of sudden flattening, bulging, twisting, or shearing of the pillar, as bursts of new dislocations propagate through it. Or the hardened pillars, made stronger by mechanical annealing, may punch right down into the substrate — even though pillar and substrate are the same continuous piece of metal. These processes were captured in the In Situ Microscope's dramatic videotaped experiments.
When the day comes that similar experiments — and others quite different, such as experiments with biological materials under nondestructive, lower-energy beams — are performed with the extraordinary resolution, sensitivity, and ability to see individual atoms in 3-D that the TEAM I microscope will make possible, the window will open on new vistas of the very small.
The rapid rise in the energy use of data centers made national news last year — so big was that story that Congress passed a law requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to submit a report on the magnitude of the problem, and possible solutions. Even as this was in progress, corporate Information Technology (IT) executives met in one industry conclave after another to figure out how they could lower their own companies’ energy costs, or at least slow the rate of growth. Berkeley Lab researchers played a prominent role in providing research, data, and results that informed the final EPA report, which was released in 2007.
Greenberg, Tschudi, and Ritenour in the Building 50B data center
Berkeley Lab researchers also traveled the country, giving presentations to IT professionals about how to improve data center energy efficiency, and they made measurements at various data centers as they began to develop a tool, funded by the Department of Energy, to help data center managers assess the energy efficiency of their facilities.
Closer to home, Berkeley Lab’s own data center managers are facing the same issues. They have been working with the Environmental Energy Technology Division staff on several projects, including the improvement of energy efficiency at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center, in the design of a new computing facility building, and in an existing IT Division data center in Building 50.
The IT Division is expecting growth in server capacity in the Lab’s Building 50B data center this year that would result in an increase of 100 kilowatts (kW) of power load, and additional growth is expected in future years. In order to increase efficiency, IT staff need to know if there is enough power and cooling to meet the growing demand, and what technologies are available to increase energy efficiency in the center.
To help answer this question, they began working with Bill Tschudi, of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division who is the Project Leader for the High Technology Buildings Program, last fall. Tschudi, along with Steve Greenberg, Jon Koomey, Dale Sartor, and other researchers and subcontractors have been conducting research aimed at improving data center energy efficiency. Tschudi and Greenberg are members of EETD’s Applications Team, which is led by Sartor, and works on high-profile field projects to demonstrate the latest energy-savings technologies.
One prominent Applications Team effort was an energy-efficient DC-powered data center testbed, studied for several months in a Sun Microsystems facility in Silicon Valley. Another project currently in progress is an effort to develop a data center energy assessment tool that facility managers can apply to their own facilities to reveal opportunities for potential savings. “Building 50B became the third data center we studied,” says Tschudi. “It has helped inform us in the effort to develop and improve the assessment tools.” The team is now making measurements at a fourth center, with plans for more in the near future. DOE’s goal is for the team is to study approximately 20 data centers.
The Berkeley Lab team made measurements in the Building 50B data center, and brought in Taylor Engineering, one of its subcontractors, to help provide a detailed set of recommendations for improving energy efficiency. The study found that there is sufficient cooling capacity to handle the short-term demand from increased server capacity. It recommends a series of measures that could improve the airflow through the center to reduce zones of hot air, reducing the need for cooling, and other more traditional energy efficiency improvements such as lighting controls.
IT staff is considering implementing the recommended measures as funding becomes available. The federal ESPC mechanism (energy savings performance contracts) may provide a means to support some of the work. ESPCs are a formal mechanism for federal agencies to fund energy efficiency retrofits by allowing approved contractors to do the work and receive payment from the savings to the facility’s energy bill over a contractually agreed period of years.
The Berkeley Lab staff who participated in the work include IT Division Chief Technology Architect Mark Dedlow, IT Division Infrastructure facilities manager Ed Ritenour and staff member Dave Edgar, as well as Tschudi, Steve Greenberg and Craig Wray of EETD. Mark Hydeman and Molly McGuire of Taylor Engineering analyzed the data center and prepared a report with their recommendations.
The first thing people noticed in the January switchover of Lab cafeteria management was the limited number of food choices. Not to worry, says new steward UC Dining on the Berkeley campus. Transitions this drastic take a few weeks. Much, much more is on the way.
What customers may not have noticed are the environment-friendly and health-happy goods and services. From the all-organic salad bar, to grab-and-go organic selections, to the “greenware” utensils, to the compostable disposables, this place is becoming a paradise of sustainability.
New executive chef Steve Kerr stirs up a fresh batch of lamb stew and discusses the ingredients with (from left) Berkeley Lab cafe manager Victoria Fassano, UC Dining assistant director Brian Bigelow, and UC Dining Director Shawn LePean.
“We’re going green,” said café general manager Victoria Fassano, who was retained by new management from the old Eurest days. “Over the next three weeks, our system will be able to recycle and recompost all food waste. Cups are made out of corn products, utensils out of potatoes (“spudware”), to-go boxes out of sugar cane.” Bio-bags are available for carryout. Receptacles for biodegradable to-go containers will be placed around the Lab in the near future.
Still, she adds, “it’s better to reuse than to recycle.” So diners who eat at the cafeteria should use washable dishes and flatware rather than the recyclable boxes. The reuse trend is encouraged by a price break: fill-ups of $1 are offered on coffee and soft drinks in reusable cups and mugs.
All well and good, but what about the food? That, too, is in makeover mode. Under the direction of new executive chef Steve Kerr, the kitchen is now cooking trans-fat-free. More vegan and vegetarian entrees are coming, a new double-decker pizza oven is on the way, and organic, ethnic and health foods are priorities. Fassano, a native of Queens, brings her New York influence to a new bagel bar, courtesy of Manhattan Bagels. The Peet’s coffee bar is fresh with two new espresso machines and a retooled staff.
And there’s more to come. UC Dining Director Shawn LePean promises to meet customers’ needs and desires, much like he’s done over the past five years with a campus business that serves 26,000 students daily. “We listen and respond,” he said, pointing out that the “green” dining evolution grew from student requests. “We need to have an understanding of what our customers want, and match that with our service, food and pricing.”
So he’s set up an employee input e-mail for the Lab (Labdining@berkeley.edu) and promises a comprehensive survey during the first quarter of ’08. Want a small dinner offered during evening and weekend hours? How about online ordering? Or a Peet’s coffee and pastry truck making the rounds on the hill? LaPean’s willing to consider it. He also hopes to offer the campus’ faculty/staff meal plan at the café for those Lab employees who hold Cal Net ID or Cal 1 ID cards.
“If we can do it and still break even, we’ll do it,” he says. “Our vision is to create a ‘third place’ for people to be, after home and lab. It should be a comfortable place where they can hang out, meet friends, talk and learn about things. It should reflect the values of the community.”
More changes are ahead, including a much broader menu, more “daily specials,” a more extensive grab-and-go option, upgraded and newly placed vending machines throughout the Lab, and expanded hours.
Two things, however, won’t change. First, the former Eurest service staff has returned, with the addition of more dining employees to improve customer service. And “Taco Tuesday” will stay. “It was the first e-mail I received when UC Dining was announced – ‘Don’t get rid of Taco Tuesday’,” said LePean. “So the taco salad stays, although we may add vegetarian options like soy and kidney beans.”
A new nanomagnetic switch can control cell signaling.
Sanjay Kumar of the Physical Biosciences Division and his colleagues at Harvard and the Children’s Hospital of Boston have developed a “nanomagnetic cellular switch,” which activates a signaling mechanism in immune-system cells that normally requires binding numerous chemical ligands. Thirty-nanometer beads coated with ligands bound to cell membrane receptors can be repeatedly magnetized and demagnitized by an external magnetic field, switching the cell signals on or off. The rapid, robust, noninvasive technique, say the researchers, “may represent a new actuator mechanism for cell-based microtechnologies and man–machine interfaces.” The research appeared in January issue of Nature Nanotechnology.
Invasion of the Bryophytes
Clues to how plants managed to colonize dry land nearly half a billion years ago are found in the genome of a contemporary moss species, the bryophyte Physcomitrella patens, by an international team working at DOE’s Joint Genome Institute and other institutions. The first-to-be-completed whole genome of a nonvascular land plant reveals that Physcomitrella has almost 500 million nucleotides and nearly 36,000 genes, half again as many as humans do. The moss’s rapid life cycle and relative cellular simplicity make it an excellent model organism for studying potential drought-resistant plants and biofuel feed stocks. The genome was published in the Dec. 13 issue of Science Express.
Soundwaves in the Sky
David Schlegel of the Physics Division is principal investigator of the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), the largest of four surveys in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s next round. Schlegel and his colleagues, including Nikhil Padmanabhan, use the 2.5-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico to observe the evolution of galaxy clustering and create a “yardstick in the sky” for measuring cosmic distances. With the new round of observations, says Schlegel, “Our measurements should reach 1 percent accuracy and extend to distances of 10 billion light years, giving us strong tests of dark-energy theories.”
In 2009, Europe will ban the testing of cosmetics on live animals. One alternative may be to test the toxicity of chemicals, or their liver metabolites, on human skin cells encapsulated in an algae extract, a method developed by Douglas Clark of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division and his colleagues at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Solidus Biosciences. Their DataChip suspends a thousand human cell cultures in a 3-D gel on a standard microscope slide, each capable of assessing the toxicity of a different chemical. DataChip is described in the Jan. 8 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Elected officials representing the East Bay at all levels of government, including Congresswoman Barbara Lee and State Assembly-member Loni Hancock, were on-hand the evening of Jan. 10 at the Oakland Museum for the presentation of the 2007 East Bay Vision Awards, one of which went to Berkeley Lab Director Steve Chu in the category of Innovation. The Vision Awards are given annually by the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA), a public/private partnership serving Alameda and Contra Costa counties to “grow businesses, attract capital and create quality jobs.” State Senator President Pro Tem Don Perata also received a 2007 Vision Award in the category of Leadership.
David Ciesco, of New United Motor Manufacturing, presented the 2007 East Bay Vision Award for Innovation to Chu, citing Chu’s leadership in winning the $500 million grant from BP that led to the establishment of the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), and the $135 million grant from the Department of Energy that led to the establishment of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), both of which are aimed at developing new, sustainable, carbon-neutral sources of energy.
“These two institutes represent a tremendous driver for innovation in the East Bay,” Ciesco said. “They will provide new educational opportunities for our students, stimulate economic development for our communities, and make possible more progress in our fight to combat global climate change.”
Chu, in his remarks, accepted the award on behalf of Berkeley Lab.
“This award isn’t really for me, it’s for the entire Laboratory,” Chu said. “These research grants (for EBI and JBEI) are just the beginning. Our hope is to create intellectual property and train scientists who will stay here in the Bay Area and help create new wealth. What we want to do is provide the intellectual basis that will be the seed for whole new industries. Just as Silicon Valley is considered the heartland of the computer industry and the Internet, I want the East Bay to be the heartland and the world leader in all the green technologies that will help save the rest of the world.”
Physics postdoc Jed Biesiada, part of Berkeley Lab's ATLAS Group at CERN, is the winner of the American Physical Society's 2008 Mitsuyoshi Tanaka Dissertation Award in Experimental Particle Physics. Biesiada earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University with a doctoral thesis on the decay of B-mesons to kaons at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center's BaBar experiment.
Decays most favored by the Standard Model are mapped as straight-line Feynman diagrams, where particles change directly into others with less energy. The decays Biesiada studied can only occur via loops involving fleeting intervention by virtual particles. In particular, B mesons can only decay to two kaons through one-in-a-million b-quark to d-quark "penguin" decays (so-called because their Feynman diagrams supposedly resemble penguins), which may invoke, among other virtual possibilities, top quarks, W bosons, gluons, and strange quarks.
Not only was Biesiada first to observe and collect data on more than two dozen gluonic b-to-d penguin decays, he was first to measure them for evidence of charge-parity violation. CP violation is essential to account for the one-in-10-billion excess of matter particles over antimatter particles in the early universe, culminating in the existence of everything including humans.
So far, known CP-violating processes can't explain the difference. The processes Biesiada saw and measured (granted, with large statistical uncertainty) may involve new physics like supersymmetry or extra large dimensions and could, conceivably, provide the missing CP violation.
Biesiada is a Chamberlain Fellow at Berkeley Lab, the second Chamberlain Fellow in two years to win the Tanaka Award. Last year's award went to his colleague Jean-Francois Arguin for measurements of top quark mass at Fermilab. Noting that Arguin's high-energy work and his own low-energy, high-precision experimentation are necessary complements, Biesiada laments the uncertainty of being able to continue such promising research in an age of drastic budget cuts for fundamental science.
— Paul Preuss
The FY 2009 Call for Proposals has been issued for the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program, which provides support for projects in forefront areas of science that can advance Berkeley Lab’s R&D competencies and open up new directions and capabilities.
The Call for Proposals has been distributed to division directors and business managers. Principal investigators must submit proposals to
division directors by Friday, March 14.
After an internal divisional review and evaluation, Division Directors will forward the proposals with their rankings to the Director’s office in anticipation of the proposal reviews. As part of the proposal reviews, Division Directors will defend their rankings to review committees comprised of the Director, Deputy Director, Associate Laboratory Directors, and other Division Directors.
Similar to prior years, for FY 2009 a subset of proposals will be reviewed by a broader representation of all senior managers in a “Laboratory-wide” proposal review. These proposals generally are more cross-divisional and larger scale, and intended to initiate and/or develop major new strategic directions. If Principal Investigators and their Division Director anticipate the proposal would be appropriate for this forum, the scientist(s) must also discuss the proposal with their area Associate Laboratory Director (ALD) prior to submission. Final selection of proposals for this review will be made by the Deputy Director in consultation with the ALDs.
The complete call, schedule, guidance, and forms are available for downloading off the Lab home page under the heading “Publications,” then LDRD, or directly at http://www.lbl.gov/dir/LDRD/.