Vice Chancellor Chris McKee honored for lifetime contributions to astronomy

Christopher McKee, UC Berkeley’s interim vice chancellor for research and a professor of physics and astronomy, was honored at last week’s American Astronomical Society meeting with the 2016 Henry Nor..

Study reveals climate change impacts on Buzzards Bay

An analysis of long-term, water quality monitoring data reveals that climate change is already having an impact on ecosystems in the coastal waters of Buzzards Bay, Mass. The impacts relate to how nitrogen pollution affects coastal ecosystems. Utilizing 22 years of data collected by a network of citizen scientists, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their colleagues at the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and the Marine Biological Laboratory found that average summertime temperatures in embayments throughout Buzzards Bay warmed by almost 2 degrees Celsius--roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit. "That is a rapid temperature increase for marine life," said Jennie Rheuban, a research associate at WHOI and lead author of the paper published January 15, 2016, in the journal Biogeosciences. "For some species, a single degree Fahrenheit change can mean the difference between a comfortable environment and one where they can no long..

Microbes take their vitamins — for the good of science

IMAGE: This is an illustration of the PNNL team's technology where a vitamin mimic (small blue structure) binds to a protein (larger coiled structure) to gain entry into the bacterium Chloroflexus... Credit: Illustration courtesy of PNNL/Nathan Johnson RICHLAND, Wash. - Microbes need their vitamins just like people do. Vitamins help keep both organisms healthy and energetic by enabling proteins to do their work. For bacteria, a dearth of vitamins can spell death. Now scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have made a "vitamin mimic" - a molecule that looks and acts just like the natural vitamin to bacteria, but can be tracked and measured by scientists in live cells. The research offers a new window into the inner workings of living microbes that are crucial to the world's energy future, wielding great influence in the planet's carbon and nutrient cycle and serving as actors in the creation of new fuels. Vitamins are a..

Assessment aims to maximize greenhouse gas reductions from bioenergy

Amsterdam, Jan. 21, 2016 - A study reported in the journal Energy used a new method, never before applied to the energy sector, to assess the "sustainability index" of various sources of energy, both conventional and renewable. The study, led by a research team at the University of Coruña, Spain, has been selected as the winning entry for Elsevier's montly Atlas Award. The new model used by the researchers is based on the MIVES method (which stands for Modelo Integrado de Valor para una Evaluación Sostenible or Integrated Value Model for Sustainability Assessment). This model seeks to generate a 360 degree view of each energy source and includes parameters such as costs, from obtaining the fuel to operating the plant; environmental impacts, such as global warming, ozone depletion, and noise; and social dimensions, such as jobs, population displacement and visual impact. "The mistake is sometimes made of associating sustainability solely with caring for or respecting the environ..

New finding may explain heat loss in fusion reactors

CAMBRIDGE, MA - One of the biggest obstacles to making fusion power practical -- and realizing its promise of virtually limitless and relatively clean energy -- has been that computer models have been unable to predict how the hot, electrically charged gas inside a fusion reactor behaves under the intense heat and pressure required to make atoms stick together. The key to making fusion work -- that is, getting atoms of a heavy form of hydrogen called deuterium to stick together to form helium, releasing a huge amount of energy in the process -- is to maintain a sufficiently high temperature and pressure to enable the atoms overcome their resistance to each other. But various kinds of turbulence can stir up this hot soup of particles and dissipate some of the intense heat, and a major problem has been to understand and predict exactly how this turbulence works, and thus how to overcome it. A long-standing discrepancy between predictions and observed results in test reactors has been..

Study illuminates war between the sexes: Fruit fly edition

IMAGE: Some female Drosophila erecta fruit flies have a dark coloration that camouflages them as males, reducing the number of copulations and, therefore, the amount of injury. Credit: Amir Yassin MADISON, Wis. -- Drosophila erecta is an African fruit fly with a big problem: The male sexual organ is so rough that sex acts, almost literally, as a two-edged sword -- necessary for reproduction, but physically injurious. Because evolution places reproduction as first among equals, females have developed overlapping solutions to their dilemma. First, as Amir Yassin, a scientist in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Laboratory of Genetics recently discovered, females have evolved protective armor plates in their reproductive tract. But "females still have an incentive to avoid excess mating attempts beyond what they need to reproduce," observes John Pool, senior author of a paper published this week (Jan. 18, 2016) in the journal Nature Communications. And that explains the seco..

Why some cuckoos have blue eggs

For roughly a century, researchers have been trying to figure out how different female cuckoos manage to lay such a variety of different egg colors to match different host birds. Now, a group of researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has come up with an answer to this puzzle, in cooperation with researchers from all over Europe and Asia. The short answer is that "the female bird decides everything," says researcher Frode Fossøy. Fossøy is part of the cuckoo research group at the Department of Biology at NTNU. The results of the group's work have just been published in Nature Communications. "We've been able to show for the first time that the blue egg color is inherited via the female cuckoo only. The father has no effect on the color of his daughter's eggs," says Fossøy. Researchers have investigated a wide variety of samples from Europe and Asia. They found a clear relation between blue eggs and genetic material that only comes..

Screening gets top marks for picking up bowel cancer early

IMAGE: Routes to diagnosis and stage at diagnosis for all cancers in England, 2012-2013. Credit: Cancer Research UK BOWEL cancer is more likely to be diagnosed at the earliest stage if it is picked up by screening, according to new figures* releas..

Study shows different genetic drivers of colorectal cancer in older and younger patients

IMAGE: Christopher Lieu, MD, and colleagues show that colorectal cancer is genetically different in young patients than it is in older patients. Credit: University of Colorado Cancer Center A University of Colorado Cancer Center study being presented Saturday at the 2016 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium shows genetic differences between colorectal cancer (CRC) in young and old patients, possibly pointing toward different treatments and strategies in combating the young form of the disease. Comparing 9 tumors from younger patients (median age 31) with 9 tumors from older patients (median age 73), showed "distinct genetic differences between younger and older patients with colorectal cancer," says Christopher Lieu, MD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and assistant professor of medical oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. While the overall rate of colorectal cancer (CRC) is declining, CRC specifically among young patients is increasing. Previous studies have..

ORNL supports new projects to develop advanced nuclear technologies

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 21, 2016-- Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory will support two new DOE-funded projects to explore, develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor technologies. The projects announced Jan. 15 will allow industry-led teams with participants from universities and national laboratories to further nuclear energy technology, and will enable companies to further develop their advanced reactor designs with potential for demonstration in the mid-2030s. Initially, DOE's investment will be $6 million for each project and both companies will provide cost-share. The possible multi-year cost-share value for this research is up to $80 million. A project led by Southern Company Services, a subsidiary of Southern Company, focuses on molten chloride fast reactors (MCFRs). The effort includes ORNL, TerraPower, the Electric Power Research Institute and Vanderbilt University. The liquid-fueled MCFR is a molten salt reactor desi..