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Berkeley Lab Currents

February 20, 1998


President Clinton Addresses the AAAS

President emphasizes basic research and health science; names new science advisor

By Paul Preuss

In a rare presidential appearance before the nation's largest scientific and engineering society last Friday, President Bill Clinton addressed the 150th anniversary meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), held in Philadelphia.

Clinton used the occasion to emphasize his administration's commitment to science and health, particularly in the form of the "21st Century Research Fund" included in the proposed fiscal year 1999 budget recently submitted to Congress.

Clinton described the 21st Century Research Fund as "providing for the first time a strong, stable, multiyear source of funding for research that will enable you to engage in long-term planning as never before."

He said the proposed Fund "represents the largest funding increase in history for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health," and provides "substantial budget increases for basic and applied research at NASA, the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture."

Clinton also outlined legislative initiatives in education--he praised a proposal by Philadelphia Congress-man Chaka Fattah to identify promising seventh-grade students and give them college-preparatory financial aid through high school--as well as efforts to increase tobacco regulation, raise tobacco taxes, and control cloning research.

While mentioning "the troubling news that a member of the scientific community claims to be laying plans to clone a human being," Clinton commended the Senate for delaying a ban on human cloning until a bill can be crafted that preserves "our ability to use cloning technology for morally acceptable and medically important purposes." Clinton credited the AAAS for giving the government "the scientific foundation for this debate" (i.e., halting hasty legislation; one health official privately characterized the Senate's first draft as "so broad it would have banned biology").

Before discussing specific legislative proposals, the President had announced a number of changes and appointments in the administration's scientific personnel. He began his talk by remarking on the lavish introduction given him by Jack Gibbons, his longtime science advisor. "That introduction reflects Clinton's fourth law of politics--whenever possible, be introduced by someone you have appointed to high office."

A few moments later, however, Clinton announced that Gibbons had resigned and would be replaced by Neal Lane, currently the director of the National Science Foundation. To head the NSF, Clinton will nominate Rita Colwell, whom he described as "the first life scientist chosen to head this organization." Colwell is a professor of microbiology at the University of Maryland and a recent president of the AAAS.

The 150th anniversary of the AAAS provided an excellent opportunity to continue the recent campaign by members of the Cabinet and the White House to stress the Admini-stration's commitment to science.

"I actually had to fight to get to give this speech," Clinton joked. "The First Lady wanted to give this speech. She said, look, it was my idea to create this research fund for the 21st century. And the Vice President, he really wanted to give this speech. This is a guy who goes absolutely rhapsodic when contemplating the Spallation Neutron Source."

Gore officially announced the funding of the SNS--DOE's five-laboratory collaboration to build an accelerator-based source of neutrons for research, to which Berkeley Lab will supply the "front end," in late January. The SNS will be based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Gore's home state of Tennessee. (See the Oct. 17, 1997 issue of Currents.)

Clinton framed his speech by looking backward and forward in the progress of science. When President Harry Truman addressed the centennial of the AAAS in 1948 (using the occasion to excoriate the threat to university research mounted by the House Un-American Activities Committee), the transistor had just been created, the President recalled. The ENIAC computer had just been powered up in Philadelphia, and X-ray crystallography and other techniques were being developed to solve the structure of DNA.

"Where will we be 50 years from now?" asked Clinton. "When a future President of the United States addresses your bicentennial meeting, fusion and solar power may yield abundant energy. I am absolutely convinced that by then we will have discovered how to grow the economy by restoring, not depleting, our planet."

Clinton added that it is important to remember that "as Americans tend to focus on the health miracles that can come from scientific progress, that advances in health research and prevention and treatment depend upon the entire scientific enterprise, including engineering." He used the MRI as an example, noting that "a diagnostic tool that has benefited many of us in this audience today originally came from research in nuclear physics."

The President urged that we "never for a moment be afraid of the future. Indeed, we must envision the future we intend to create." He concluded by stating that "we must always marry our newest advances and knowledge with our oldest values. That is what we owe our children."

Photo: "We must always marry our newest advances and knowledge with our oldest values." --President Bill Clinton (XBD9802-00170)


Lab Scientists Make Headlines With AAAS Talks

Berkeley Lab researcher Ronald Krauss made national news at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Philadelphia last week by announcing new evidence that diet and lifestyle are not enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle: genes play a complex and important role.

Krauss, head of molecular and nuclear medicine in the Life Sciences Division, organized a Saturday symposium entitled "Gene-Diet Interactions in Coronary Heart Disease" that included researchers Claude Bouchard of Brown University, Jan Breslow of Rockefeller University, and Rene Malinow of the Oregon Primate Research Center.

Their conclusion was that, while it is possible to control the kinds and amounts of fat in one's diet, genes control what a person's body does with fat. Individual responses to different kinds of cholesterol differ widely, and dietary studies show that average results from large populations may be useless and even misleading if used uncritically in prescribing treatment.

In addition to the two well-known kinds of cholesterol--so-called "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which has a tendency to stick to blood vessel walls--there is a third form, worst of all, Krauss said. A smaller variant of LDL, this type of cholesterol has a greater likelihood of adhering to artery walls, which may interfere with circulation even more.

The usual therapeutic approach for people at risk for heart disease and stroke is to try to control LDL intake through diet and exercise. However, says Krauss, "When a large group of people go on the same diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, their LDL levels can vary widely." In some people the measured levels of LDL in the bloodstream may actually increase.

Krauss discussed two genetic factors that affect response to fat in the diet. One trait tends to raise cholesterol levels and increases risk of heart disease and Alzheimer's disease. Another trait, which actually tends to increase the small form of LDL in response to a low-fat diet, is found in a third of adult men and about a fifth of postmenopausal women.

Medical treatments based on population studies do not take into account these widely varying responses. Krauss hopes that further research on the influence of genetic traits on dietary effects will lead to tailored diet plans and better drug regimens that take into account an individual's vulnerability to heart disease and stroke.


Budinger Highlights Body Imaging Techniques

Another Berkeley Lab scientist, Tom Budinger of Life Sciences, participated in a seminar on "Engineering a Future for Biology and Medicine." Budinger, who heads the Laboratory's functional imaging program, focused his Sunday talk on the advances made over the last 20 years in non-invasive body imaging.

Drawing an analogy to the science fiction movie "Fantastic Voyage," in which characters were miniaturized and injected into a human body, Budinger told reporters that techniques today allow such virtual voyages for anatomical imaging that shows what's happening inside the body dynamically.

He noted the effectiveness of heart and brain scans using techniques like positron emission tomography (PET) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Resolutions have been improved dramatically since the 1970s, Budinger said--by a factor of 20 in the case of NMR and by 10 in PET imaging.

Functional brain imaging has progressed to the point where determining the causes and treatments for neurological disorders like dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and depression can be realistically envisioned.

"Our goal is to collect a volume of MR images in less than a second," Budinger said. (The higher the magnetic field, the better the image.) "In 1980, we'd collect a few sections [of images] in half an hour. Now we can collect 20 sections in two seconds. But if we oscillate the field too fast, we'll create an electric shock. So what is the threshold, the physiological limit?"

One solution, he said, might be to combine the elements of PET and NMR technologies into one procedure, one of many studies being conducted to more effectively probe the inner workings of anatomy without physically entering the body.

Photo: Ronald Krauss discussed genetic factors that may influence the body's response to different types of cholesterol. (XBD9802-00203)


Chemist Develops Novel Technique That Could Detect Metals and Clean the Environment

Imprinted polymers can trap metal ions in aqueous solutions

By Paul Preuss

Chemist Richard Fish of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division has developed a new technique that holds promise for recovering precious metals such as gold and silver from aqueous solutions and for cleansing polluted waters of mercury and other toxic metals.

The key to Fish's technique is the use of "imprinted polymers," molecular chains imprinted with empty binding sites that match the size and shape of specific kinds of metal ions. These polymers can be used to selectively trap and contain a desired species of ion for removal from solution.

To create his imprinted polymers, Fish first sandwiches a target metal ion such as zinc or mercury between a pair of special organic ligands known as TACNs (short for N-[4-vinylbenzyl]-1,4,7-triazacyclononanes). After these sandwich complexes are cross-linked into a polymer, the metal ions are washed away with a strong acid, leaving templates or empty sites of the right size to fit similar ions. The imprinted polymer is then ground to a fine powder. When the powder is confined so that an aqueous solution can be passed through it, as in a chromatography column, metal ions become trapped in the empty sites and are thus removed from the solution.

"Copper ions, for example, immediately turn the slightly off-white imprinted polymer to a very prominent green color," Fish says. "The copper can be recovered from the imprinted polymer by eluting the same chromatography column with a strong acid."

Metal ions have different ionic radii, the average distance at which the mutual repulsion of their electric charges makes them repel one another like hard spheres. In cases such as copper and zinc, where the ionic radii are similar, the imprinted polymer can bind more than one kind of metal ion.

Nevertheless, imprinted polymers can seek out specific ions. TACN polymers imprinted with zinc actually prefer copper ions, Fish explains. In a solution with equal concentrations of five different ion species, including both copper and zinc, the polymer captured 157 copper ions for every ion of zinc.

"We think that thermodynamic effects are the overriding factor when two metal ions have similar radii," says Fish. "Despite the nice fit of the zinc ion in the polymer, the chemical combination of copper and TACN has better thermodynamic stability."

Yet the imprinted shape does play an important role. Once copper is removed from the solution, the same polymer much prefers the zinc ions over the other metal ions, grabbing zinc over nickel, the nearest competitor, in a ratio of nine to one.

In a separate test of the role of shape and ionic radius, divalent copper ions and trivalent ions of iron were dissolved in the presence of zinc-imprinted TACN polymer to see which would be selected. A free TACN ligand usually selects the highly reactive iron ions over copper, but in this experiment, the zinc-imprinted polymer favored copper ions by a ratio of 44 to one. The most likely answer lies with the size of the hole in the polymer. Zinc and copper ions have nearly the same radius, but the radius of the iron ions is significantly smaller.

Fish is also investigating the use of imprinted polymers as real-time probes for metal ions in the environment. He has designed TACN ligands with attached fluorescent groups which he then binds to mercury ions, for example. His final product will be an imprinted polymer that fluoresces when it encounters mercury ions.

The TACN monomer containing the fluorescent probe can be polymerized on the tip of an optic fiber. When the fiber is dipped in an aqueous solution, the intensity of the fluorescence can be measured immediately to reveal how much of the ion is present. Such fluorescent probes would be useful for determining the concentration of a wide variety of metal ions that pollute streams.

"Imprinted polymers can be highly selective, somewhat like antibodies, but more easily prepared, with higher stability, and at a lower cost," Fish says, "which gives them great power to detect and remove specific substances from the environment."

Fish has given details on his metal-ion implanted polymers in a number of recent publications, including a chapter of the forthcoming American Chemical Society Symposium Series book, "Recognition with Imprinted Polymers".

Photo: Richard Fish is shown with a rotary evaporator that is used in the synthesis of metal ion templated monomers, the precursors to the imprinted polymers. (XBD9802-00204)


Computer Corner

A discussion of anticipated year 2000 computer problems and the way Berkeley Lab is preparing for them is the topic of the first "Computer Corner" column, to be published periodically in Currents. See Page 4.


Riding Up A Storm

Photo: Not even El Nino's fury could keep biking faithfuls like Annette Greiner and Deborah Dixon--shown here riding past Bldg. 2 on their way to the ALS--from biking their way to work. (XBD9802-00159)


FY99 Budget Cuts Funding for Most National Labs

Despite all the uplifting news for science and technology in the FY99 federal budget proposed by President Clinton earlier this month, researchers should not anticipate an avalanche of new funds. According to an analysis reported in Inside Energy, most of the national laboratories, including Berkeley Lab, are actually slated to receive less money from DOE than in FY98.

Although DOE's $18-billion budget request for science and technology in FY99 is up $1.5 billion from this year's appropriation--a boost of nine percent--much of this increase will go to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for construction of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). Under the funding proposals announced by Energy Secretary Federico Peña, ORNL would see its funding increase from $187.6 million in FY98 to $311.6 million in FY99 with the inclusion of $157 million for building the SNS. Inside Energy reports that Berkeley Lab would see a slight drop in DOE funding, from $197.3 million this fiscal year to $196.9 million in FY99. Percentage-wise, the worst blow would be suffered by the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, which would see its funding cut by 27.3 percent, most of it in its fusion energy research program. Also hit hard were Sandia and Livermore National Laboratories, which could expect to see DOE funds reduced by 12.2 and 10.2 percent, respectively. Many of the reductions at the national labs stem from DOE redirecting $65 million in high energy physics money away from places like Fermilab to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.


And Some Good News

One area of proposed DOE FY99 R&D funding in which a resurgence has held up across the board is in the field of synchrotron radiation. All of DOE's synchrotron light sources, including Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source, would see increases if approved by Congress.

Under the DOE FY99 budget proposal, the ALS would receive $31.6 million, a 2.9 percent increase over what was appropriated for FY98. The Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory would see the largest increase, a six percent boost to $87.3 million. Brookhaven's National Synchrotron Light Source would get a 5.2 percent raise to $32.6 million, and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory would receive a 2.7 percent increase to $21.9 million.

A primary reason for DOE's renewed enthusiasm for its synchrotron light sources has been the expanded usage for this type of radiation in a growing number of fields. For example, ALS director Brian Kincaid says that demand for research time at the facility here has doubled in the past 18 months, with researchers from pharmaceutical companies being among the largest of the new user groups. "There's no question that this is a fast growing area for us," Kincaid says.

This past October, DOE's Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee issued a report calling for an 11 percent increase in funding for synchrotron radiation sources. Patricia Dehmer, associate director of DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences, said the department could not provide that large an increase without reducing spending on other important programs. However, she expressed confidence that Congress would support the increases that DOE is now seeking. "It is my sense that Congress is very supportive of the fundamental research taking place at these facilities. The burden is on DOE to manage them wisely," Dehmer said.


Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

It may not all be smoke and mirrors but the record-setting increases proposed for science in President Clinton's FY99 budget appear to hinge on the questionable assumption that Congress will pass legislation forcing the tobacco industry to pay the federal government billions of dollars in penalties starting Oct. 1. Although President Clinton has not proposed any specific legislation, his budget depends upon a first installment from the tobacco industry of $10 billion in FY99--$3.6 billion of which would be set aside for scientific research. In all, the Administration earmarks nearly 40 percent of potential tobacco revenues over the next five years for science initiatives.

The problem is that Congress has yet to adopt such legislation and gives no indication that it will be forthcoming any time soon. Senate budget committee chair Pete Domenici (R-NM), a strong supporter of civilian R&D spending, was highly critical of the Clinton plan to link potential windfalls from the tobacco industry to science spending. Another key senate budget leader and science supporter, Arlen Specter (R-PA), called the tobacco revenue "pie in the sky since we are nowhere near an agreement on the tobacco deal."

The Administration anticipated that anti-tobacco legislation would be based on the agreement reached last year between 40 states and the big five tobacco companies which would have settled tens of billions of dollars in legal claims in exchange for protection from future lawsuits. But this agreement came under instant fire because it extracted too little from the tobacco companies in exchange for indemnity. This past week, House Science Committee Chairman James Sensen-brenner, R-Wis., stated that "the immunity provisions of the settlement are in deep trouble. What happens if there is no settlement? Do we have to drop the science initiatives?" The Administration responded by saying that Congress could choose to fund the science initiatives in other ways. Sensenbrenner then accused the administration of trying to make congressional leaders look bad for not wanting to spend money on popular programs.

According to an analysis in Science, what happens to the president's budget proposals for science could depend upon "the tangled politics of tobacco."

--By Lynn Yarris


NIH Director Stresses Link Between Health and Basic Science

Harold Varmus, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), delivered a plenary lecture to the AAAS on "new directions in biology and medicine." Varmus began his talk last Friday with the assertion that "there is no reason to be coy" about the President's budget proposals. "This is the most auspicious year, the most auspicious day, in the history of American scientific research."

"The timing could not be better for health and biology," Varmus said, "with new technologies to revolutionize our abilities, with the prospect of better funding, and with new levels of public support."

Although he was not surrounded by Secret Service agents, and his talk was less crowded than Clinton's address earlier in the day, Varmus gave a much more detailed discussion of the linkage the President had suggested between health and basic sciences. Varmus stated that progress in the "popular health sciences" depends on "fundamental discoveries in many fields."

Varmus is particularly well qualified to give what he called "a medical scientist's perspective on new prospects in medical research." Before being named NIH director in 1993, Varmus was at UC San Francisco for more than 20 years. In 1989, he won the Nobel Prize for his cancer research along with his colleague Michael Bishop

Among the fields named by Varmus that have contributed to advances in health care were nuclear physics, computer sciences and materials sciences. He cited such discoveries as nuclear isotopes used in diagnosis and treatment, X-ray crystallography, fiber optics, sonograms, robotics, and computer imaging.

He noted the many fundamental contributions of molecular biology, singling out the ability to locate defects among the tens of thousands of sequences in a typical gene through new karyotyping methods. He laid particular stress on the advances of the Human Genome Project.

"Biology is not only for biologists," Varmus said, citing "new modes of analysis" offered by advances in computer hardware, software, and Internet communications, including contributions from theoretical mathematics like chaos theory.

"Even with blunt tools we've made significant progress against cancer," said Varmus. He mentioned health advances made through regulation of tobacco use, noting that "the greatest triumphs lie ahead." He predicted better methods of pinpointing genetic risk factors, new ways to discourage tumors (for example, by interfering with the growth of blood vessels), new ways to identify potential cancer victims, and new methods of imaging tumors.

Varmus concluded by noting that while "biology has been transformed by new methods," and "knowledge is ennobling," its usefulness lays an ethical obligation on scientists to expand their role in public policy debates "beyond scientific literacy, to scientific involvement."

Photo: Harold Varmus (varmus.pict)


Computer Corner


Lab's Computers Ready for Year 2000

While much has been said about the anticipated problems stemming from some computers' inability to deal with the year 2000 date, the Lab's computer systems are generally ready for the turn of the millennium. According to Mark Rosenberg, leader of the Computing Infrastructure Technology Group, employees using PCs made before mid-1994 are most likely to have computer problems. Macintosh and UNIX users will not encounter any operating system problems, Rosenberg says. Most current commercial software packages have also eliminated the problem.

The expected difficulties will result from older computer designs which allocate only two spaces for recording the year in date-sensitive applications. For instance, 1998 shows up as 98, and the year 2000 will be 00, which some computers could equate with the year 1900. In some applications, such as automated security and safety systems, the results could be catastrophic. For most desktop systems, however, the problem is more likely to be irritating than debilitating.

As a result of the possible implications, the U.S. government has required all its agencies and facilities to ensure that computer systems are "Year 2000 compliant."

"In general, we've looked at the major systems here at the Lab and found that the systems are either already in compliance, or will be replaced by compliant systems before the year 2000 becomes an issue," Rosenberg said.

For the past few years, the Lab has been conducting a major program to replace infrastructure and application programs for all Lab-wide business systems, and Year 2000 compliance was a core requirement for the new systems. These system replacements are nearly complete, and are scheduled to be finished before year 2000 problems could affect operations, according to Dave Stevens, the Lab's liaison to DOE for Year 2000 compliance issues. All systems critical to the Lab's mission have been certified as Year 2000 compliant, he noted. Also, as part of the Lab's long-standing, risk-based computer protection program, potential year 2000 problems are being identified and contingency plans made.

One area that may be hard to assess, Rosenberg said, is the use of specialized, embedded computers used for data acquisition in experiments. These systems are likely to be affected and should be tested. A procedure for testing computers, as well as links to other resources, can be found on the web at

--By Jon Bashor


Stan Klezmer and Anton Kast Take to the Skies with the UC Flying Club

By Jon Bashor

Since retiring from the Lab in 1993, Stan Klezmer's future plans have been up in the air. Really. And he credits the UC Flying Club with giving him the lift he needed.

The club, established in 1939, provides affordable instruction and access to six aircraft. Membership is open to members of the UC family, including Berkeley Lab employees.

"If you ever thought about learning to fly, or if you used to and want to take it up again, the club allows you to take a flight with an instructor to see if you're interested in pursuing it further," said Klezmer, who is also secretary to the club board of directors.

A Lab employee since 1952, Klezmer first got the flying bug some 20 years ago, although he did not pursue his pilot's license at that time. When his father died three years ago he decided to start putting some of his life's goals back in order--including trying to take up flying again.

His club affiliated instructor, who flies a Federal Express plane, took him through a refresher course. "I found I still remembered the basics--how to take off, take a heading and make a climb," says Klezmer, who turns 66 in March.

"Now I'm very comfortable in the air, and have the keys to three planes in my pocket."

To qualify for his license, Klezmer still needs to get in some more night flying and complete his cross-country phase of learning. This involves landing and taking off at two other airports. Klezmer's plan is to take off from the club's base at Oakland airport, head up to Little River for lunch, then drop by Ukiah, Chico, Stockton, and Livermore before heading home. "The idea is just to get used to finding other airports," he says.

The club offers a choice of planes to rent, ranging from single-engine, two-seat Cessnas to a four-seat, high-performance Beechcraft Sierra. The rental fee for planes starts at a mere $41 an hour, including fuel. This, coupled with monthly dues of $37, makes the UC club one of the most affordable ways to learn to fly, Klezmer says. The club's non-profit status means the cost is lower than commercial outfits, and instruction can be arranged to fit nearly any schedule.

Anton Kast, a physicist in the Lab's Mathematics Department, was in his fourth year of graduate work at UC Berkeley when he joined the club "to escape my studies." Flying three times a week and studying volumes of regulations, Kast earned his pilot's license in six months and added an instrument rating after six more months.

"I always liked airplanes and wanted to fly since I was a little boy," Kast said. He also likes dealing with complex machines and elaborate technical procedures.

"I think flying satisfies the same elemental craving that Star Trek caters to in scientists," said Kast, who served as club president from 1994 to 1995. "And that's being able to take your technical expertise and apply it in some way to save the day."

Earning a pilot's license requires 20 hours of instruction, 20 hours of flying (including night and instrument flying), and then passing a written exam. Once earned, the license never expires, Klezmer says. Getting back into the air after a long absence, however, requires a medical exam and a check-out flight with an instructor.

During his tenure at the Lab, Klez-mer combined his electronics expertise with the dawning of the computer age in the Real Time Systems Group. He supported experimental hardware and served as a liaison with experimenters. He also helped automate a number of procedures, such as purchase orders, fire alarms and business administration. Focusing his energy on a number of related activities still appeals to him, which is one reason he likes flying.

"There's something about sitting up there, using your hands, feet and eyes, talking on the radio and making your way across the terrain," he says.

He also enjoys running an occasional experiment when weather conditions change. "It's a nice feeling to be able to land in gusty winds. You tip one wing, correct with the rudder, touch down one wheel, then the other and bring it in," he said. "It feels good."

To learn more about the UC Flying Club, view the website at

Photo: Stan Klezmer, a Berkeley Lab retiree, has a bird's-eye view of the world at the helm of one of UC Flying Club's planes. (XBD9802-00140)


Diane Fisher Has All the Right Questions

By Monica Friedlander

Do you ever watch Jeopardy and think, "I could do that myself!" So did Diane Fisher, a data analyst in the EET Division. But unlike most of us resigned to test our trivia power on board games or computer simulations, Fisher went for the real thing. Barely two months after mailing a post card to Jeopardy, Fisher was taped in honest-to-goodness competition, to be televised nationwide on April 4.

"It's pretty weird, thinking 17 million people will be watching," said Fisher, who is planning a big bash with all her friends and family that day. Among them will be her boyfriend Fred Ottens of the Lab's Engineering Department--a Jeopardy regular who was partly responsible for fueling Fisher's enthusiasm for this national obsession.

Since the questions and outcome of the game must remain well guarded secrets until air time, Fisher could not reveal any specifics of the game itself. Suffice to say that even while facing a live audience with the clock ticking away, Fisher never lost her focus.

"I wasn't nervous at all," she said. "I was totally oblivious to the studio audience and television camera. It was just like playing at home, except you're in a television studio."

The real nerve-wracking part, Fisher said, was not the game itself but the waiting to find out whether she would make it on the show in the first place. To qualify, Fisher had to pass a preliminary written test, which was then followed by a mock game. And then came the agonizing wait. "Another contestant said it's like a slow Russian Roulette," Fisher said. "You go at your own expense and then you don't know what will happen until the last minute. You just wait for them to call your name."

In addition to her broad general knowledge, Fisher relied on her expertise in a few specialized fields, such as science and technology and--as a great opera aficionado--classical music. Nevertheless, she put in long hours brushing up on Jeopardy basics, poring over geography books, and memorizing standard categories such as state and world capitals, U.S. presidents, and those ubiquitous Shakespearean characters.

To round out her practice, Fisher also got a little help from her fellow riders on the Lab's Rockridge shuttle bus. "Everyone got into it and peppered me with trivia questions," Fisher said. "It was a lot of fun." Fisher would like to return the favor by extending a generous standing offer to all Jeopardy fans at Berkeley Lab.

"I'll be happy to coach anyone who would like to go on Jeopardy," she said. "You learn how to do these things well."

That Rockridge commute may soon become a popular ride indeed.

Photo: Diane Fisher (XBD9802-00186)


Protein Initiative Uses X-Ray Crystallography

By Lynn Yarris

Sung-Hou Kim, a senior staff scientist with Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division and an internationally recognized leader in X-ray crystallography, is putting together a structural biology undertaking that might one day rival the Human Genome Project. The goal is to determine the structures of a core set of proteins that would be representative of all types of protein structures.

Function follows form in the spiraled, zig-zagged, folded world of proteins. Knowing the structure of a protein encoded by a specific gene sequence is critical for biomedical researchers seeking to understand the what and how of that protein's function. X-ray crystallography in combination with computerized image analysis is an excellent technique for determining protein structures. However, even with the availability of new state-of-the art resources, such as the Macromolecular Crystallography Facility at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source, researchers such as Kim cannot keep pace with the enormous influx of new genetic sequencing data.

Noting that the human genome might code for as many as 100,000 different proteins, Kim recently told a reporter for Science Magazine, "There are too many genes, making it too difficult to reasonably determine them all."

In response to this dilemma, Kim organized a meeting of some 70 other protein crystallographers that took place on Jan. 24 and 25 at Argonne National Laboratory. At this meeting, they discussed a "targeted" strategy as a practical alternative to trying to identify the structure of each and every protein identified through genetic sequencing.

The targeted strategy has been warmly received by representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, the two agencies most likely to foot the bill for such a national initiative. Many details remain to be worked out, however, including the basis on which to classify proteins into a representative core. One approach put forward would group proteins according to "folds," which refers to how key components of a protein are arranged. While promising, this approach could also be unwieldy because there may exist more than 1,000 different types of folds for proteins.

Kim has suggested that one way to speed up the discovery of new protein folds would be to target only proteins that appear to be exceptionally good candidates for having novel folds. To find such candidates, he proposes to study genes from simple organisms.

"The idea is just to pick a small, self-replicating organism that presumably has a small number of genes but a large fraction of the three-dimensional folds," he told Science.

Kim and his colleagues here at Berkeley are testing this idea on the proteins coded for in the fully sequenced genome of a microbe called Methanococcus jannaschii. They are looking at 20 of the microbe's genes--10 that resemble known genes and 10 that do not. From this gene pool, they have so far purified five proteins and determined the structures of three of them. None yielded a new fold, but Kim remains confident in the idea.

The number of proteins that might constitute a representative sample of all proteins could range from 1,000 to 10,000. At the current price of $150,000 per structure, even a targeted strategy for identifying protein structures could cost $1.5 billion. Expensive, yes--but Kim says there may be no choice. "What else can we do if we're trying to get the function of as many gene products as possible?"

At the conclusion of the January meeting, attendees agreed to meet in April and again in October to try to work out a more detailed plan.

Photo: Thomas Earnest and Natasha Khlebtsova at the Macromolecular Crystallography Facility, where the intense x-rays of the ALS are providing new opportunities for solving protein structures. Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt (XBD9802-00222-03)


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Furniture Sale at Lab Warehouse

The Lab warehouse holds furniture sales every Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second floor of Bldg. 903 at 2700 Seventh Street in Berkeley (between Dwight Way and Ashby Ave). New and used items include bookcases, chairs, computer tables, cabinets, drafting-tables, and oak and steel desks. Most items are individually priced and no cash is accepted. For more information, call Paul Stagnaro at X4177.


New EH&S Class

"Ergonomics for Computer Users" (EHS 060 )--a new class offered by EH&S--is designed to help people recognize, evaluate and control workstation ergonomic hazards in the work place. The first class will be held on March 12 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Health Matters, Tang Center, UC Berkeley, 2222 Bancroft Way. Additional classes will be offered on May 7 and July 28. To register, contact EH&S Training at X7366.


Courier Available 24 Hours a Day

IDS Couriers, the Lab's contract courier service, operates 24 hours a day and provides pick-up and delivery service anywhere in the Bay Area and in portions of northern and central California. Delivery time can range from two or four hours, to same day, rush, or scheduled service. Special rates are available for the Laboratory. For service, call 548-3263 with pick-up/delivery locations, time requirements, and a valid Lab account number.


Currents Online

The full text as well as photographs of each edition of Currents is also published on the World Wide Web. You can find a link to Currents on the Lab's home page (http:// under the heading "Publications." The site allows users to do searches of past articles. To set up your computer to access the web, call the Mac and PC Support Group at X6858.


Happy Faces at Retirement Fete

Photo: Dave Stevens, Deane Merrill, Eric Beals, and Bill Benson of the Computing Sciences Division were joined by some 75 current and former employees in a Jan. 28 celebration honoring the four scientists' long and distinguished careers at the Lab. Stevens, Merrill, Beals, and Benson were presented with engraved plaques by Bob Fink, Carl Kwong and Harvard Holmes. The event was held at the Holiday Inn in Emeryville. Photo by Don Fike (retirees.jpeg)


Deadline Draws Near for the 1998 R&D 100 Awards

March 2 is the submission deadline for the prestigious R&D 100 Awards, which recognize the year's 100 most technologically significant new products and processes. The award is sponsored by Research & Development Magazine. Nominations must be submitted through Bruce Davies of the Lab's Technology Transfer Department, Bldg. 90-1070. Application information, as well as downloadable entry forms and winning tips are available online at For further questions, contact Bruce Davies at X6461 or


On-Site Tax Workshops for Foreign Visitors

For the first time, a series of tax workshops will be offered on the Hill to international visitors employed by Berkeley Lab. The workshops are sponsored by the Foreign Visitors' Office, Human Resources, and the Payroll Office. All employees regardless of tax treaty or exemption status are required to file federal and state tax returns by the April 15 deadline.

The workshops will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 26, March 11, March 16, and March 31 in the Bldg. 66 auditorium. They will be co-led by Ted Goode, director of Services for International Students and Scholars, and Wes Hunt, payroll group leader at the Laboratory.

Workshop organizers ask that participants whose last name begins with letters N through S attend on Feb. 26, T through Z on March 11, H through M on March 16, and A through G on March 31.

Questions may be submitted in advance to and IRS forms will be available at the workshop, or may be obtained online at and at forms/index.asp.


Employee Activities Association Has New Website

The Employee Activity Association is inviting everyone to look up its new website at The Association, which is sponsored by the Lab's Human Resources Department, organizes activities and a wide range of recreational and cultural clubs for Lab employees, retirees and their families.

New members are always welcome and everyone is encouraged to start new clubs or suggest activities. Funding for new clubs is based on employee interest and viability of club structure. For more information send e-mail to EAACoordinator@ or contact Carma Hamer at X2288 or Michael Goldstein at X6748.


Lab Celebrates Black History Month

In recognition of Black History Month, Berkeley Lab with assistance from the African American Employee Association is sponsoring a number of activities during February and early March. All presentations listed below will be held at noon in the Bldg. 50 auditorium.

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, actress, storyteller and comedienne Marijo returns to the Lab for the fourth year in a row with a performance that mixes storytelling, a musical display using folk instruments, and audience participation.

On Friday, Feb. 27, scholar and performer Susheel Bibbs of UC Berkeley will present a "Chautauqua" --a dramatic performance in which she will bring to life the works of Mary Ellen Pleasant, called the "Mother of Civil Rights" for her work in the 1860s.

On Wednesday, March 4, historian and journalist John William Templeton will discuss technological contributions of African American Californians, from early Spanish exploration through a preview of a new exhibit on African American innovators opening at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. Templeton is curator of "Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California."

A video montage of African art is on exhibit in the cafeteria lobby throughout the month of February.


Diversity Activities at Berkeley Lab

Black History Month (see above) kicks off a series of year-round activities sponsored by Berkeley Lab's Diversity Committee and the Workforce Diversity Office. All employees are invited to attend.

Upcoming diversity activities will soon be published online under "Our Workplace" on the Laboratory's home page. Suggestions for upcoming events are welcome and should be forwarded in writing or by e-mail to members of the Diversity Committee or to chairpersons Kathie Hardy (X5533) or Linda Smith (X4440). For more information about upcoming events, contact Harry Reed (X4130) or Sherie Reineman (X4232).


Calendar of Events at Berkeley Lab


The Berkeley Lab Calendar is published biweekly here on the World Wide Web and in Currents by the Public Information Department. Employees can list a meeting, class, or event in the Calendar by using this submission form. The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. on Monday in the week that Currents is published.

In addition to the events listed below, Berkeley Lab's Washington, D.C. Projects office is hosting a Science and Technology Seminars series. 

Scientific Conferences





Black History Month
Noon, Bldg. 50 auditorium
Presentation by actress, storyteller and comedienne Marijo


7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Bldg. 54 parking lot

Tax workshop for foreign visitors
3-5 p.m., Bldg. 66 auditorium


Black History Month
Noon, Bldg. 50 auditorium
"Chautauqua" performance by scholar and performer Susheel Bibbs of UC Berkeley



Black History Month
Noon, Bldg. 50 auditorium
Journalist John William Templeton will discuss technological contributions of African American Californians.

Items for the calendars may be sent via e-mail to currents_calendar@, faxed to X6641 or mailed to Bldg. 65B. The deadline for the March 6 issue is 5 p.m. Monday, March 2.


Seminars & Lectures

FEBRUARY 20, Friday

Earth Sciences Seminar
"Measurement of Hydrologic Properties in the Thermal Testing Area of the ESF" will be presented by Barry Freifeld of Earth Sciences. 11 a.m., Bldg. 90-2063

FEBRUARY 23, Monday

NCEM Seminar
"Aerosol Synthesis and Crystallization of Ultrafine, Nanostructured Fullerene Iron Oxide and Titanium Oxide Powders" will be presented by Esko I. Kauppinen of VTT Chemical Technology, Finland. 11 a.m., Bldg. 72-201 conf. rm.

UCB Physics Department Colloquium
"The Neural Code of the Retina" will be presented by Markus Meister of Harvard. 4:30 p.m., 1 LeConte. Tea, 4 p.m., 375 LeConte

FEBRUARY 25, Wednesday

Center for Beam Physics
"An RF Resonance Polarimeter Proof of Principle" will be presented by Pete Cameron of Brookhaven. 2:30 p.m., Bldg. 71 conf. rm.

FEBRUARY 26, Thursday

EET Building Energy Seminar
"The Development Process of an Energy Efficient Product--The Electric Bicycle" will be presented by Dale Foster of Aerovironment, Monrovia, CA. Noon, Bldg. 90-3148

Surface Science and Catalysis
"Structure and Catalytic Properties of Supported Oxide Clusters" will be presented by Enrique Iglesia of LBNL and UC Berkeley. 1:30 p.m., Bldg. 66 auditorium

FEBRUARY 27, Friday

NCEM Seminar
"Magnetic Anisotropy Energy and the Reorientation of the Magnetization in Ultrathin Ferromagnetic Films" will be presented by Michael Earle of Freie University of Berlin. 3 p.m., Bldg. 72-201 conf. rm.

Center for Beam Physics
"Control of Chaos in Plasmas" will be presented by Bimla Buti of NASA. 10:30 a.m., Bldg. 71 conf. rm.

MARCH 2, Monday

Earth Sciences Seminars
"Integration of Dynamic Data from Diverse Sources into Reservoir Models" will be presented by Roland Horne of Stanford, 1:30p.m., Bldg. 90-2063

"Artificial Intelligence Techniques for Data Analysis" will be presented by Masoud Nikravesh of Earth Sciences. 2:30 p.m., Bldg. 90-2063

MARCH 3, Tuesday

Center for Environmental Biotechnology
"Degradation of MethylTert-butyl Ether in an Up Flow, Granular Activated Carbon Bioreactor" will be presented by William Stringfellow of Earth Sciences. Noon, Bldg. 50A-5132

NERSC Division
"Scientific Visualizations" will be presented by Nancy Johnston of the Visualization Group. 2 p.m., Bldg. 50A-5132

Earth Sciences Seminars
"Toward a Restructuring of the Foundation of Fuzzy Logic" will be presented by Lotfi A. Zadeh of UC Berkeley. 8:45 a.m., Bldg. 66 conf. rm.

"Pattern Recognition and Exploration on MARS" will be presented by Shelia Guberman of Paragraph International. 3 p.m., Bldg. 66 conf. rm.

MARCH 4, Wednesday

Earth Sciences Seminars
"Mining and Fusion of Data with Ultra-Fast Neural Network Model" will be presented by Jacob Barhen of Oak Ridge National Lab. 9:30 a.m., Bldg. 66 conf. rm.

"Mining and Fusion of Data Based on Quantum Inference" will be presented by Sandeep Gulati of NASA. 10 a.m., Bldg. 66 conf. rm.

"Pore Network Simulation of Fractional Flow in Heterogeneous Porous Media" will be presented by Mehrdad Hashemi of USC. 4:15 p.m., Bldg. 66 conf. rm.

MARCH 5, Thursday

EET Building Energy Seminar
"Stretching the Limits of Sustainable Architecture" will be presented by David Arkin of Tilt Architects, Albany. Noon, Bldg. 90-3148

Surface Science and Catalysis Science Seminar
"Elastic Stabilization of 2-D Vacancy Island Lattices" will be presented by Karsten Pohl of Sandia and Livermore. 1:30 p.m., Bldg. 66 auditorium

MARCH 6, Friday

Earth Sciences Seminar
"Autonomous Measurement of Ocean Carbon Biomass" will be presented by Jim Bishop of Earth Sciences, 11 a.m., Bldg. 90-2063.


Bambi Checks Out the Neighborhood

Photo: Berkeley Lab's wildlife thinks nothing of the rainy weather--or intruding photographers. (XBD9710-03840)


Flea Market


`83 HONDA Accord, single owner, 4 door, a/t, a/c, 4 spkr stereo, garaged day/night, all records, super cond, 138K mi, $3500, David, X7803, 233-6007

`83 TOYOTA SR5 pickup, 5 spd, lumber rack, cross-bed tool box, runs great, 162K mi, $1500/b.o., Jim, X5967, 237-6986

`91 ACURA Legend L, 4 dr sedan, 5 spd, loaded, 57K mi, all records, exc inside & out, $13,900, Bill, X7271, 376-3419

`95 KIA Sephia, exc cond, 5 spd manual, a/c, am/fm stereo, cassette, 31K mi, $6,900, Ron, X5453

CAB OVER CAMPER, 10.5 ft, fully self-contained, shower-toilet, heater, refrig w/freezer, 30 gal water storage, twin propane bottles, sliding front window, jacks incl, sleeps 4, plenty of storage, new floor & front, 4 burner stove & oven, hook-up for 110 & water, $1500/b.o., Alyce, X4091


BERKELEY, furn rm, in 2 bdrm apt on 8th St, own bath, share kitchen & living rm, close to businesses, good connection to LBNL shuttle/BART, share w/UC scientist, rm avail 3/5-4/30, $525/mo or $150/wk, Sandeep, X7448, 495-2080

BERKELEY, 1 rm in furn home to share, nr UC & Rose Garden, fireplace, hot tub, deck, views, quiet, avail 4/1, $500/mo, David, 525-4470

BERKELEY HILLS, 1 bdrm, furn in-law apt, recently remodeled, marble bthrm, private patio, util, nonsmoker, $895, Helga, 524-8308

BERKELEY, northside, furn rm in 4 bdrm house, 5 blks from UCB, nr LBNL shuttle stop, 2 other visiting scholars live here, $550/mo + util, Luis, 548-1287

EL CERRITO, furn studio in home nr El Cerrito/Kensington line, BART & bus, 10 min from campus, util, laundry & cable, $500/mo, Nenad, 525-8211

SAN LEANDRO, 2 bdrm, 1 bth, 1 car garage, fireplace, washer & dryer, city view, 30 min drive to LBNL, close to BART, shopping mall and I-580, 1 yr lease, avail 3/15, Bob, 357-2778


ANSWERING MACHINE, AT&T, works like new, money back guarantee, $10, Christa, 653-5863

BICYCLE, Nishiki Olympic, 12 speed, $50; Bicycle resistance trainer, Schwinn Speedworks II, $50 or both $80, Nancy, X4644

BICYCLE, Bmx, kid's chrome colored Robinston SST, Chromoly frame & fork, alum GT mohawk hubs, GT megabite tires, under a yr old & in great cond, $125, Scott, X4103

BLANKET, electric, dbl/queen size, $20/b.o.; goose feather pillow, hardly used, $10/b.o., Steve, X6941

BRASS BED, heavy, queen, modern style; modern, heavy brass oblong coffee table, 4'x3'x1', pictures avail, willing to meet halfway, possibly deliver, $300/b.o., Margo, X6280, (650) 871-4450

CACTUS, Euphorbia Acrurensis, large & robust, 4' tall & growing, needs sunny indoor location, $15, Barbara, 527-5940

CHAIR, arm, $25; old arm chair, $10; kitchen table + 4 chairs, $65; twin bed + mattress, $50, 2 dressers, $15 ea, Ron, X5453

COMPUTER desk, blk, incl pull out keyboard, $25; small blk floor cabinet, 39.5"x15.5"x19", suitable for stereo, $15, Howard, X5031, 540-6718

CRADLE, exc cond, natural wood finish, used for only 5 mos, $65; mattress & matching set of linens, $25; changing table, natural wood finish, used for only 3 mos, w/changing pad, $70, Ilham, X7001, 525-6521

CRIB, baby, white, 40 yrs old, good cond, fine wire mesh sides, removable wire mesh cover, great for bug protection when napping outdoors, rolling castors, $40, Shelley, X6123, 820-3172

DINING ROOM set, solid walnut, table & eight chairs, $600, Bob, X5658, 530-0522

DRYER, electric, good cond, $50, Bob, 357-2778

GOLF CLUBS, left handed, #1, 3, 4, & 5 woods, #2-9 irons, 1 pitching iron, 1 wedge, 2 putters, + bag; clubs are Wilson Blue Ridge, Power Bilt, & Sam Snead, $225/b.o., Jan, 6653

SAXOPHONE, Alto, hardly used, good shape, $400/b.o., Harrie, 422-0034

SKI equipment, children's ski bibs, size XL, blk, $10; ski poles, 42" and 44", can be used by skier about 5' fall, $15, Howard, X5031, 540-6718

SKIS snow, Rossi Quantum, 195cm $95; ski boots, mens size 9, like new, $75; ski suit Rolfe Mens large (never used), $95, Steve, X6598, 689-7213

TABLE, oak drop leaf, 3'x3' closed, 3'x5' open, $175, Jim, X5967, 237-6986

TV, Mitsubishi, 19" color w/ remote, good cond, $200/b.o., Gerry, X4693

Real Estate

CUSTOM HOME, Albany, 2458 sq ft, 3 lg bdrm, 2.5 bth, lg patio & terraced back yard, lg oak floor living rm, form dining, massive family rm, recent upgrades, $369,000, Arlene 526-5143

CONDOMINIUM, North Berkeley, 1 bdrm apt in sm bldg, nr campus & LBNL, quiet, hardwood floors, lg living rm w/ French doors opens to small deck, dining area, fireplace, carport, $165,000 w/realtor or $160,000 w/o realtor, Steve, X6941, 841-9709


CAL PERFORMANCES, 10% of list, 1 ea, Flying Karamazov Brothers, 2/21; Russian National Orchestra, 4/5, Deborah, X5139, 522-5621


HOUSE, Tahoe Keys at South Lake Tahoe, 3 bdrm, 2.5 bth, on the water, fenced yard, quiet area, close to skiing & other attractions, view of water & mountains, 2 night min, $125/night, Bob, 376-2211


APT, 2 bdrm, quiet, good neighborhood, must move by 4/15, Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Albany, exc references, Susan, 531-4376

APT/ROOM, Berkeley, for LBNL postdoc, non-smoker, begin April, Karin (423) 576-7738(w), (423) 470-9515(h),

COMPUTER, laptop, old Windows-based for word processing, Jeanne, X5074, 548-5829

EASEL, French Julian Sketch box, good cond w/foldable legs or similar in other brand name, Tennessee, X5013

HOUSING, for visitor to LBNL, 4/1-6/30, rent/sublease, 1 bdrm furn apt, prefer quiet area, w/i 2-3 blks of LBNL shuttle & BART, Olivia, X5792,

ESCORT for Owen Chamberlain, Monday afternoon Physics Dept. Colloquium on campus at 4 p.m., must drive & assist cheerfully, w/mobility impairment, Senta, 524-4654

SOCCER GOALIE, female, for semi-competitive East Bay team, games played on Sat in Oakland, Hayward, or San Francisco, good attitude & commitment to playing for at least 1-2 full seasons, required, Peter, X4157, 525-3290

ORGAN, Hammond, B3, C3 or A100 in any cond, Leslie speakers in any cond, Steve, X5927

Vanpool / Riders Wanted

VANPOOL/riders starting in Benicia (East Second Street/Hwy 780 Park-n-ride) to Berkeley Lab (or if one exists and there is a vacancy), Sherie, X4232

RIDER/DRIVER from Dublin (San Ramon & Pleasanton area) to LBNL, Work hrs: Mon-Fri, 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Calvin, X5562, 828-0306



Flea Market Policy

Flea Market items may be sent via Quickmail, e-mailed to fleamarket@, faxed to X6641, or mailed to Bldg. 65B. The deadline for the Feb 6 issue is 5 p.m. Friday, Jan.30.


Flea Market ad policy

Due to the large volume of ads received each week, ads are accepted only from LBNL employees, retirees, and on-site DOE personnel. No other ads will be accepted. We encourage past contributors to the Flea Market to use other local services, such as LBNL's online housing listing (call X6198 for information), and the UC Housing Office.

Please note also:


Currents/The View and the Communications Department Staff

Published once a month by the Communications Department for the employees and retirees of Berkeley Lab.

Reid Edwards, Public Affairs Department head
Ron Kolb, Communications Department head

Pamela Patterson, 486-4045,
Associate editor
Lyn Hunter, 486-4698,

Dan Krotz, 486-4019
Paul Preuss, 486-6249
Lynn Yarris, 486-5375

Ucilia Wang, 495-2402
Allan Chen, 486-4210
David Gilbert, (925) 296-5643

Caitlin Youngquist, 486-4020
Creative Services Office

Berkeley Lab
Communications Department
MS 65, One Cyclotron Road, Berkeley CA 94720
(510) 486-5771
Fax: (510) 486-6641

Berkeley Lab is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Flea Market is now online at


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