|June 28 , 2002|
Back to the Future with Paul Steinhardt
By Ron Kolb
If Berkeley Lab Director Charles Shank’s vision is an indication, the first decade of the new millennium at Berkeley Lab is going to be an exciting period marked by unprecedented opportunities for discovery and scientific advances.
Presenting his annual State of the Laboratory address to a full house at the Building 50 Auditorium on Tuesday, Shank described a post-9/11 future for research at Berkeley Lab.
The Department of Energy’s Office of Science has a portfolio of initiatives that represent new director Ray Orbach’s highest priorities, and Shank said he expects Berkeley Lab to play a role in all of them – reasserting U.S. leadership in scientific computation, exploring the frontiers of nanoscale science, solving the mystery of dark energy in the universe, building scientific foundations for countering terrorism, and exploring biotechnology for energy security, among others.
At the top of the Laboratory’s wish list are two projects that should come to fruition before 2010 if they pass all the relevant funding tests in Washington. The $85 million Molecular Foundry is the centerpiece to the Lab’s initiative in nanoscience, “which will provide access to capabilities in both hard and soft matter, and unique tools for imaging and fabrication,” Shank said. The Foundry, to be located between the National Center for Electron Microscopy and Building 66, may have its groundbreaking in 2004.
The other major project is “one of the most significant experiments that our Lab has ever been involved in,” according to the director. The SuperNova/Acceleration Probe (SNAP) is a satellite with a high-performance telescope that will be able to observe thousands of supernovae from space. The resulting data collection, which Shank described as “precision cosmology,” will address current questions surrounding the mystery of dark matter and its impact on the fate of the universe. A launch later in the decade is anticipated.
He also described the Lab’s prospective role in the DOE’s Genomes-to-Life initiative, a post-human-genome effort to better understand the fundamental processes and functions of living organisms. Central to that effort is the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, of which Berkeley Lab is a leading partner. The JGI has already sequenced comparative structures in the Fugu fish and the primitive chordate Ciona, which Shank said is “the Rosetta Stone for understanding more broadly how genes work and how they are regulated.”
Other critical lab work that the director touched upon included the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) and its dramatic discoveries about solar neutrinos, microbial bioremediation, the Yucca Mountain waste repository, ocean carbon sequestration research, national electric transmission grid reliability studies, and cutting-edge advanced scientific computing strategies.
Shank pronounced Berkeley Lab’s budget “healthy” and projected modest growth over the next several years.
Shank closed with a sobering message on scientific integrity, which he described as one of the Laboratory’s core values. He pointed out that the retraction of the announcement that Lab scientists had discovered Element 118 two years ago was a result of fabricated research data and scientific misconduct by one individual.
“I am proud of the intensity and professionalism of the (internal) review to get to the bottom of this, and of the commitment of the Laboratory to the highest level of scientific integrity,” the Director said. “There is nothing more important for a laboratory than scientific integrity. Only with such integrity will the public, which funds our work, have confidence in us.”
Emphasizing that the Lab will vigorously pursue all issues involving scientific integrity, Shank said many lessons have been learned from the Element 118 experience, including one “that all coauthors have a responsibility before a paper is published to verify the data. In this case, the most elementary checks and data archiving were not done.”
The State of the Lab address is accessible online at http://www-library.lbl.gov/teid/tmVideo/ aboutus/VideoDefault.htm. The program requires RealPlayer and can be viewed with Internet Explorer or Netscape.
By Lynn Yarris
“This is a fantastic laboratory! You have achieved wonderful things here!” exclaimed an enthusiastic Ray Orbach, Director of the Office of Science, following a day-long series of presentations at the DOE on-site review of Berkeley Lab held last Wednesday, June 18, at Perseverance Hall.
“You really put together a strong presentation here today,” Orbach said. “It speaks volumes about the value of your laboratory.”
Orbach, who was sworn in as the 14th director of the Office of Science (SC) on March 14th of this year, was actively engaged throughout the review and showed his pedigreed background in physics with the many astute questions he posed to the presenters. In the course of the day, he was told about such high-profile laboratory initiatives as the Molecular Foundry, which would see the Lab establish a center for nanoscience research; the Superova/Acceleration Probe (SNAP), which would probe deep-space supernovae for new information on dark energy and matter; and Genomes to Life, which would apply microbial genomics to bioremediation, biotechnology, and biothreats.
Orbach also heard talks on science for homeland security, the future of scientific discovery through advanced computing at NERSC, and the geologic worthiness of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository. He was taken on a tour of the Bevatron site to learn more about the Lab’s plans for dismantlement and restoration of the site, and he was advised as to how the Lab would like to respond to the “Best Practices” management study commissioned by DOE undersecretary Robert Card.
Orbach apparently liked what he saw and heard based on his closing comment.
“I want the Office of Science to be the best in the world, number one,” he said, “and this laboratory is critical for realizing that goal.”
The onsite review opened with remarks from Orbach and from Berkeley Lab director Charles Shank, DOE/SC Berkeley site director Dick Nolan, and University of California vice president for laboratory management John McTague. Shank then gave the first presentation. Citing Ernest O. Lawrence’s emphasis on collaborative interdisciplinary teams as the “cornerstone” for the way in which science is done here at Berkeley Lab, Shank proceeded to lay out his vision for the Laboratory’s strategic direction. His talk served as a roadmap for the scientific presentations that followed.
Shank did, however, make several notable departures from talking about science at the Lab, such as when he discussed diversity in our workforce. Pointing to a graph showing the percentage of representation compared with availability, he noted that the Lab’s workforce diversity action plans have worked well, but added, “We’re going to continue to try to do even more.”
Shank also made a strong pitch for dismantling the Bevatron building that occupies 10 percent of the Lab’s grounds. In response to Orbach asking what use the Lab would make of the Bevatron space, Shank said: “We’ve got to clean this site up first, then we can make plans for the future.”
No scientific presentation drew more commentary from Orbach than that of Horst Simon, division director for both NERSC and the new Computational Research Division. Simon outlined an ambitious four-year plan for overtaking the performance of Japan’s Earth Simulator supercomputer and reestablishing U.S. preeminence in the field. Orbach said his main interest was in how NERSC computers could benefit DOE science.
“Let’s look at the science we want to do, then work with the vendors to develop the architecture that would best help us,” Orbach said. “We should follow a model in which science drives the computer architecture.”
In one of the day’s lighter moments, Shank drew laughter from attendees when he produced an image showing the Gammasphere relocated to the ALS in order to create the Hulk, the muscular green star of the eponymously titled film which will feature several scenes shot on location here.
“The film opens next summer,” Shank said. “Mark your calendars!”
By Paul Preuss
“Was the big bang the beginning of time, or does time have no beginning and no end?" On June 11, theoretical physicist Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University explained why he prefers the second alternative to a capacity crowd in the Bldg. 50 auditorium, where he described his "new, old" cyclic model of the universe.
Steinhardt challenges the recent "consensus cosmology," a big bang followed by rapid inflation, partly for philosophical reasons — he cited everyone from Heraclitus to Nietzsche — but mostly because it fails to predict the phenomenon of dark energy.
In a recent issue of Science (24 May, 2002), Steinhardt and Neil Turok offer an alternative based on the notion of two "branes in the bulk." One is our universe with its three large spatial dimensions (plus string theory's curled-up additional dimensions), and the other is a neighboring brane very like ours but distant along a dimension perpendicular to the others.
These two branes, described by Steinhardt as "dynamic, moving, wrinkling, wiggling," are forever bouncing off each other (literally) and flying apart — as the hypnotic, cycling-brane movie Steinhardt left running during his Q&A brought home. Each bounce is a fairly big bang, followed by a long period of expansion driven by dark energy, essential to the scheme.
Steinhardt avoids paradoxes which doomed other "big bang, big crunch" cyclical models. And because his model predicts no cosmological gravitational waves of the kind inflation would produce, it could soon be put to the observational test.
For more about the cyclic model — including the movie — visit his website at feynman.princeton.edu/~stein/.
David Bailey Launches Summer Lectures with a Slice of Pi
“It's embarrassing, humiliating to mathematicians,” NERSC's David Bailey confessed to a full house in the Bldg 50 auditorium, during the first of the Summer Lecture Series sponsored by Berkeley Lab's Communications Department. He was referring to the embarrassing fact that everybody knows pi is random (or, more technically, “normal”), but nobody can prove it.
Bailey himself, working with a handful of collaborators, has made more progress toward proving pi's normality than mathematicians have achieved in centuries. The key is an astonish formula for determining any binary digit of pi without knowing any of the digits preceding it.
Bailey and his colleagues found the wonderful pi formula with a powerful algorithm Bailey helped develop, running high-precision arithmetic on supercomputers (Bailey's specialties). But the formula itself is so simple, Bailey says, “No one can figure out why it wasn't discovered a couple of centuries earlier.”
If Bailey's string of successes continues, mathematicians may have to blush about proof of pi no longer.
For more about David Bailey, visit http://www.nersc.gov/~dhbailey/ Paul Preuss
By Jon Bashor
The Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Division is being reorganized into two new divisions – the NERSC Center Division and the Computational Research Division.
The goal of the reorganization, which was outlined in the NERSC five-year strategic proposal written and submitted to DOE last year, is to heighten the visibility of the NERSC Center as a national user facility supported by DOE’s Office of Science. NERSC currently provides computing resources to 2,100 users at national laboratories, research centers and universities across the country.
“The NERSC Center Division will continue with its highly successful mission to field and support the nation’s best unclassified high-performance computing user facility,” Lab Director Charles Shank wrote in announcing the reorganization.
The new Computational Research Division will carry out computational science, computer science and applied mathematics research and development in high-performance computing and distributed systems.
“This is an opportunity to enhance the mission of both new divisions and to ensure LBNL’s leadership in high performance computing facilities and research,” said Bill McCurdy, Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences. “The reorganization will allow each division to more effectively focus on its mission.”
Horst Simon will be the NERSC Center Division Director and Bill Kramer will be the NERSC Center General Manager and division deputy. Horst Simon will also be the director of the Computational Research Division, which will comprise the High Performance Computing Research Department led by Juan Meza and the Distributed Systems Department led by Bill Johnston. David Bailey will serve as Chief Technologist for both divisions.
Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham has asked Under Secretaries John Gordon and Robert Card to implement an array of security policy reforms for DOE based on the results of an 18-month study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission of Science and Security chaired by John Hamre, President and CEO of CSIS.
The study, which was commissioned by DOE, reviewed the department’s security, counterintelligence and science programs to see where improvements could be made.
“For the last 18 months, we have worked to improve and strengthen security throughout our laboratory system,” said Secretary Abraham. “Soon after I arrived at the Department of Energy I met with Dr. Hamre about the work of the Commission and I urged him to reject the notion that science and security are necessarily conflicting goals. I believed then, and believe now, that to achieve our mission we need to demonstrate excellence in the performance of both science and security.”
The CSIS commission’s findings and recommendations focused on five areas: clarifying lines of responsibility and authority within DOE’s management structure; improving the collaboration between science and security to facilitate better cooperation and consensus as to what constitutes a significant national security risk; developing a system-wide approach for assessing risks to DOE assets and comprehensively determining priorities for protecting those assets; developing new tools and techniques that can facilitate the conduct of science while at the same time strengthening security; and strengthening cyber security.
“I am pleased that the CSIS report validates the approach we were taking in many areas,” Secretary Abraham said. “For example, the reorganizations of the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Office of Science to clarify roles and responsibilities and eliminate conflicting and duplicative layers of management directly address a key recommendation made by this report.”
A copy of the CSIS commission report’s executive summary is available on the Internet at http://www.csis.org/and a copy of the full report is available by contacting CSIS at 202/887-0200. A fact sheet summarizing the Commission’s recommendation and DOE’s actions or planned actions in response is also available at http://www.energy.gov/.
On the left side of the graph that appeared on page 4 of Currents, June 14, 2002, all values of “charge transfer efficiency” should begin with 0, not 1 — except for the top value, which is correct at 1.00000.
JULY 2, Tuesday
SUMMER LECTURE SERIES
JULY 4, Thursday
4TH OF JULY
JULY 9, Tuesday
NEW EMPLOYEE ORIENTATION
SUMMER LECTURE SERIES
Seminars & Lectures
JULY 11, Thursday
GLENN T. SEABORG CENTER SEMINAR
JULY 12, Friday
GLENN T. SEABORG CENTER SEMINAR
New Way to Apply for a 403(b) Loan!
Eligible employees of the University of California, including LBNL employees, can now apply for a Tax-Deferred 403(b) Plan Loan online at the UCbencom website (http://www.ucop.edu/bencom).
The Loan Program allows active employees with at least $1,000 in the 403(b) Plan to borrow their funds. The web application is accessible to employees eligible to apply for a loan or anyone with an existing 403(b) loan. Employees with a current loan can use the website to review the last six months of activity on their account as information is updated monthly. Those eligible for a new loan can receive instructions and guidance for planning a 403(b) loan, access tools to model short-term and long-term loans, and apply for the loan online.
For more information about the loan program, please see the "Tax-Deferred 403(b) Plan Loan Program" brochure at http://www.ucop.edu/bencom/rs/403bloan.pdf or contact the LBNL Benefits Office at ext. 6403 and email@example.com.
Modified July 5 Bus Schedule
On July 5, the off-site Hearst bus service will maintain its regular route and schedules, as will the on–site bus service. There will be no bus service on the Bancroft, Strawberry, or Rockridge routes.
Regular bus service will resume on Monday, July 8. For more information, contact bus services at ext. 4165.
New Coffee Service Starts in July
Here’s good news for coffee hounds, brought to you by the Facilities Department’s Cafeteria Services. Java Wave, a gourmet coffee service that has drawn rave reviews at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will soon be available at Berkeley Lab. Starting on July 8, the Java Wave van will be making stops at buildings 65, 66, 69, 84, 88, and 90, where it will dispense espresso, latte, cappuccino, and mocha drinks from a genuine Italian espresso machine. In addition to its espresso coffees, Java Wave offers "Lab Mud" (the hearty regular brew), several flavors of ice coffee, hot and ice tea, smoothies, and Italian sodas. Also on the menu will be salads, sandwiches, and bakery treats. The goal is to have twice-a-day service as time allows. The daily schedule isn’t set yet, but will be announced as soon as it becomes final.
“Cold Fun in the Summertime”