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Berkeley Lab Currents

November 20, 1998


Siberian Journey: On the Trail Of Ancient Microorganisms

By Paul Preuss

If "Vector" sounds like a code name in a James Bond movie, that's not a bad guess. As big as a small city but not on any map, Vector was a secret laboratory and production facility in Siberia which specialized in research on biological warfare. These days, however, Vector and Berkeley Lab scientists are working together under the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP), a Department of Energy program established after the collapse of the Soviet Union to help keep former Soviet defense researchers gainfully--and peacefully--employed.

"Only five years ago Vector had 3,500 scientists," says Tamas Torok of the Life Sciences Division. "Now they are down to 1,500. Luckily these are top staff, people you wouldn't want to see working for any third party."

Torok recently returned from a visit to Vector and to the Lake Baikal region, where, in collaboration with Vector microbiologist and institute director V.E. Repin he began a search for ancient and as yet unknown microorganisms with novel medical and biotechnological potential.

Torok is a member of Berkeley Lab's Center for Environmental Biotechnology (CEB), headed by Jennie Hunter-Cevera of the Earth Sciences and Life Sciences Divisions. Hunter-Cevera is the principal investigator of both the Lake Baikal project and another IPP project to screen rare botanical and microbial extracts, undertaken with the International Institute of Cell Biology and the Institute of Microbiology and Virology, both in Kiev, Ukraine.

With industrial partners from the American Home Products Corporation's Wyeth-Ayerst Research Laboratories and Cyanamid Agricultural Research Center, Hunter-Cevera and her colleagues are searching for biological products with market potential, making use of thousands of plant species already collected throughout the former Soviet Union, plus novel microbes from various sites, including Chernobyl.

"Radiation exposure over time has most likely altered the ways microorganisms in the soils near the Chernobyl reactor metabolize and respond to stress," says Hunter-Cevera. "We want to screen extracts with high-throughput methods, including robotic methods invented here at the Lab, to see if we can isolate new classes of antibiotics or new drugs active against cancer. If so, some good will have come from this tragedy."

Earlier this year Hunter-Cevera and her Ukrainian colleagues were working within 100 meters of the concrete "sarcophagus" that encases the reactor and its melted core. "We were allowed to work in the vicinity just eight hours," she says, "and then at four o'clock in the afternoon we'd go off to have lunch. All the food had to be brought in from outside the area. They topped it off with a special brand of vodka guaranteed to cure radiation damage." She laughs and jokes, "Maybe it has a chelator to pull out the actinides. Whatever it does for radiation damage, it gave me the worst hangover since college."

In the wild taiga of the Buryat Republic, south of Lake Baikal, Tamas Torok encountered a different use for vodka. The Buryats came into the region from Mongolia at the time of Genghis Khan; to insure successful journeys, professional success, and good luck in general, they make frequent offerings of cigarettes, small coins, and splashes of water--or vodka--to a being known as Burhan, "the great ghost."

The journey

Torok began his Siberian journey at Irkutsk, then made his way to Ulan Ude and beyond, traveling by vintage plane--which makes the circuit from Samara to Novosibirsk to Irkutsk just twice a week--then by train, and finally by off-road van, ten hours over nonexistent roads through the snow and mud of mountains and forests, to the "Saint's Nose" peninsula on Lake Baikal's southeastern shore, dragging his entire laboratory with him in two ice chests.

"The only time I lost my temper was when the conductor wouldn't let me on the train with my chests," Torok recalls. "My Russian colleagues couldn't persuade her, but English somehow did the trick." The ice chests nearly filled his upper bunk, and Torok was reconciled to spending the 10-hour overnight ride clinging to a strip of bedding a few inches wide, until a Buryat man insisted on moving one of the chests into his own bunk.

The lake and the samples

Torok went to Lake Baikal because it is an isolated environment with extraordinarily diverse aquatic life--some 1,500 species, 85 percent of which have turned out to be unique (including a fresh-water seal!). The likelihood that one could find unusual microorganisms was therefore high; it was also possible that these microbes might be "ancient"--that is, that they had evolved relatively slowly compared to microorganisms elsewhere.

Lake Baikal is not only the biggest lake in the world, with 20 percent of the Earth's fresh surface water--more water than all the Great Lakes combined; it is also the world's oldest, over 30 million and perhaps as much as 45 million years old. The lake floor averages a mile down, but that floor consists of sediments which fill a rift in the Earth's crust more than five miles deep.

From rented research vessels Torok took samples of deep lake water, seeking unknown organisms adapted to the cold. From hot springs in the surrounding region he took samples which may contain unknown organisms with heat adaptations. Enzymes responsible for resistance to temperature and other extremes, such as acidity, have great potential in manufacturing processes.

A third source of unique specimens came as an unexpected bonus.

"For several years the International Baikal Drilling Project, a consortium of U.S., Japanese, European Community, and Russian scientists, has been taking core samples from sediments in different parts of the lake," Torok explains. "Layers of sediment can be dated almost like tree rings, and by looking at remains of aquatic life and other deposits, they get an indication of how the climate has changed over millions of years."

Core drilling can only be done for a few weeks in winter. After the ice is frozen over, an ice breaker tows the drilling barge to the chosen site; the researchers wait until the ice-breaker's trail is refrozen before they can begin drilling into the sediments a mile beneath the ice, bringing up cores from as deep as a 1,000 meters below the lake bed.

"The core samples are divided up between the local and international scientists--all kinds of scientists, except microbiologists," says Torok. "When we met, both parties saw an incredible opportunity. They gave up some of their cores; I've got 47 samples from the 1998 drilling to work on right here at the Lab." Torok says that coring is just too expensive for microbiologists like himself to have considered, "but once it's done, you just pick up the core samples." He's hoping to find sponsorship so that he can sample the project's final season of drilling, which will begin this January.

Torok returned from Siberia with the soil and water samples he went for, plus the unexpected bonus of the ancient lake sediments. CEB's lab is chock full of microorganic treasures awaiting analysis.

A scientific success, the trip also left Torok deeply impressed with the Siberians. "Most of the people are so poor they have no reason for dishonesty," he says. "If someone catches a fish, they divide it up right there. In a cabin without running water or beds, they made me sleep on the table; it was a place of honor. They share everything they have. They are so human. And so helpful."

Photo:The research vessel Persei brings Lab researcher Tamas Torok and his Russian colleagues to the shore of Lake Baikal to collect microbes from a nearby hot spring. (XBD9811-02975.jpeg)

Photo:Tamas Torok (left), two men from the Buryat Institute of Geology, and S. Tatkov (right), Vector's Deputy Director for Research and Development, pose in front of an uprooted tree where offerings are left for Burhan, "the great ghost." (XBD9811-02974.jpeg)

Photo: Torok working at his traveling laboratory, all of which was contained in two ice chests. (XBD9811-02976.jpeg)


Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention

The Department of Energy began Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) in 1994 to minimize the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. More recently the program has expanded to include chemical and biological weapons.

IPP involves three types of participants: scientists and engineers from DOE laboratories; scientists and engineers from key weapons institutes in the Newly Independent States (NIS), formerly part of the Soviet Union; and interested U.S. corporations. Fifty percent of project funding goes directly to NIS scientists.

Thrust I projects are collaborations between U.S. and NIS scientists to establish the basic feasibility of a proposed technology or process. Ideas may originate either in U.S. labs or NIS institutes and must have potential for commercial development.

Thrust II projects are the first step toward commercialization. Each involves a U.S. industrial partner who provides matching support. A successful Thrust II project will result in a joint venture company, a new NIS company, a U.S. company paying royalties on products it manufactures, or some other arrangement for sharing proceeds.

IPP funds projects in eight areas: accelerators, energy, manufacturing, waste management, biotechnology, environment, materials, and sensors and instrumentation.

Glen Dahlbacka, program manager of IPP at Berkeley Lab, says that to date the Lab has participated in 17 IPP projects. Besides plant and microbial studies, these include new magnetrons for compact accelerators, advanced materials deposition, the SELENE satellite-power proposal (see story on Page 1), and the manufacture of energy-efficient windows by a Russian aircraft factory.

A half-day conference on current IPP work at Berkeley Lab will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 2, starting at noon in Perseverance Hall. It will feature presentations by principal investigators on active Thrust I and Thrust II projects and a discussion of new proposals.

To learn more about the potential for collaborative investigations with NIS scientists, contact Glen Dahlbacka at X5358 or [email protected]


Earth to Space: Powering Communication Satellites from The Ground Up

By Paul Preuss

An extraordinary plan to beam more power to orbiting communications satellites than they can get from the sun may make use of a free-electron laser under development at the Lab's Accelerator and Fusion Research Division.

"If you want to do better than the sun, you need a powerful source," says Alexander Zholents of the Center for Beam Physics, who has helped design a laser called IFRA (Ignition Feedback Regenerative Amplifier). At 200 kilowatts peak power, IFRA would be the most powerful free-electron laser in the world. Remarkably, much of it can be built virtually "off-the-shelf" using key components designed at Berkeley Lab for the B-Factory at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC).

In the early 1990s NASA pursued an Earth-to-space power initiative known as SELENE (for Space Laser Energy), but the project ended before any operational tests were performed. Fortunately, SELENE found a champion in businessman and physicist Harold Bennett, president of Bennett Optical Research, Inc. of Ridgecrest, Calif., who secured a grant from the California Highway to Space program to continue research and development.

Free-electron laser light, if focused directly on the photovoltaic material of a solar panel and tuned to its most sensitive frequency, can generate ten times as much electrical power as sunlight. Bennett reasoned that SELENE could help satellite companies meet the mounting power demands of communications satellites with lighter, cheaper-to-launch spacecraft. As a result, fewer satellites would be needed, relieving an increasingly crowded geosynchronous orbit--and the companies could save billions.

SELENE's investors should also turn a profit. "We can buy power at five cents a kilowatt-hour and sell it to the satellite owners at $350 a kilowatt-hour," Bennett says. "The return on initial investment should be 30 to 35 percent per year."

While the technical challenges to the SELENE dream are stiff, they are not daunting. "There are two main components," Bennett says. "One is the free-electron laser now being developed at Berkeley Lab. The other is the adaptive optics, and we're doing that here."

SELENE's home will be near Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert, where for 360 days a year, "in the words of our favorite song," as Bennett puts it, "the skies are not cloudy all day."

Even in clear skies, however, atmospheric distortion is a challenge. Bennett's solution is a 12-meter compound mirror with adaptive optics--the same technology used by astronomical telescopes such as the Keck 10-meter designed at Berkeley Lab to get rid of starry twinkles, but working in reverse to focus a laser beam on an orbiting satellite.

Since the mirror is so large, airplanes can fly right through the laser beam without damage, although the beam will be turned off if any airplanes do wander into the region--an unlikely event, as the SELENE site is under restricted air space: the former Navy test range at China Lake.

Except for the mirror and power lines (possibly from a nearby geothermal plant), SELENE will be entirely underground. Meanwhile, with major in-kind support from Bennett's company, the Navy is preparing a comprehensive land use management plan for the entire high desert region, as required by the Desert Conservation Act.

Bennett's search for a suitable laser to power his dream took him far afield. When John Madey, inventor of the free-electron laser, told him that a machine with a peak power of 100 kilowatts was under construction at the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics in Novosibirsk, Russia, Bennett traveled to Siberia in July 1993 and inspected it for himself.

"I needed someone who could evaluate it thoroughly," Bennett says. "That's when I approached Kwang-Je Kim at Berkeley Lab." Kim concluded that the Budker machine could indeed be adapted to SELENE's purposes, but that a laser with twice the peak power could be built in California.

"At that point Kwang-Je Kim, Max Zolotorev, and myself were working on SELENE, and we had our own ideas," says Zholents. "We came up with an idea for a simple, reliable facility that could run 365 days a year, 24 hours a day."

Zholents says that one of his incentives was the fact that Robert Rimmer and his colleagues in the Beam Electrodynamics Group had already designed powerful radio-frequency cavities for the B-Factory. Twenty-six of these unique rf cavities have been constructed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for use at SLAC.

Although IFRA's 476-megahertz rf cavities will be virtually the same design, the IFRA layout is quite different from that of the B-Factory. Electrons are accelerated in the front stretch of a racetrack longer than a football field, and the electron bunches pass through long undulator magnets in the backstretch. The powerful coherent synchrotron radiation is sent to the giant mirror to be beamed into space.

"One of the challenges of the project is to produce a high quality electron beam, with an average beam power of about ten megawatts," Zholents says. "Typically only a small fraction of this power is converted to light in the FEL, so another challenge is to slow the returning electrons before sending them to the dump," where otherwise they could produce radioactive isotopes. Most of the energy invested in accelerating the electrons is recouped in the cavities as the returning beam decelerates.

Powerful free-electron lasers like IFRA bring the dream of beaming power across space--one long held only by science-fiction writers and a few visionaries like Nikola Tesla--closer to practical reality.

The possible uses of SELENE do not end with communications satellites. Ground-based lasers could power orbital space tugs with photovoltaic wings and ion-thruster engines--or high-flying electric airplanes, for that matter. Indeed, the NASA scientists who first suggested laser-beaming power from Earth thought it would be a nifty way to keep a lunar base running--which is perhaps the true origin of the acronym SELENE, the classical Greek name for the goddess of the moon.

Photo:In the IFRA design, electrons are accelerated in the front stretch of a 100-meter long racetrack. As the electron bunches enter the undulator magnets in the backstretch, their density is modulated to the desired radiation wavelength of 840 nanometers, tuning powerful coherent synchrotron radiation which is sent to a giant mirror and beamed into space.

A small fraction of the laser light is reflected back and serves to "seed" the density modulation of the next electron bunch. Another fraction, shifted to the ultraviolet, is used in an electron gun to create new bunches of electrons. (diagram.jpeg)

Photo: The 476-megahertz radio-frequency, high-accelerating-gradient cavities of the IFRA laser will be similar to these, designed at Berkeley Lab and built at Livermore for the B-Factory at SLAC. Sophisticated cooling channels are embedded in their copper shells.

The cavities absorb beam-induced electromagnetic fields for a clean interaction of the beam with the accelerating field. Photos courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (cavities.jpeg)


NERSC Scientist Shares Supercomputing's Top Prize

By Jon Bashor

Researchers from four DOE laboratories win awards

Andrew Canning, a member of NERSC's Scientific Computing Group, was part of an international team that won the 1998 Gordon Bell Prize for the best achievement in high-performance computing. The winners of the prestigious award were announced last Thursday during SC98, an annual conference on high-performance computing and networking held in Orlando, Florida. Canning's collaborators include scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and University of Bristol (UK).

The group was recognized for their modeling of metallic magnet atoms, which was run on increasingly powerful Cray T3E supercomputers. They started with NERSC's 512-processor machine and won the prize with a top performance of 657 Gigaflops (657 billion calculations per second). The group later topped even that performance by achieving 1.02 Teraflops (trillions of calculations per second).

Funded as one of the U.S. Department of Energy's Grand Challenges, the group developed the computer code to provide a better microscopic understanding of metallic magnetism, which has applications in fields ranging from computer data storage to power generation and utilization.

Also during the SC98 awards ceremony, NERSC's Phil Colella was presented with the 1998 Sidney Fernbach award for his "outstanding contribution in the application of high performance computers using innovative approaches." (See story in the Nov. 6 issue of Currents.)

NERSC's strong showing, says NERSC Division Director Horst Simon, clearly demonstrates that Berkeley Lab is taking a lead role in the field of unclassified high-performance computing.

"As the Department of Energy's national facility for computational science, we see this achievement by the Grand Challenge team as a major breakthrough in high-performance computing," Simon said. "Unlike other recently published records, this is a real application running on an operational production machine and delivering real scientific results. NERSC is proud to have been a partner in this effort."

Finally, the Gordon Bell Prize for best price/performance on a computer went to a collaboration among universities and DOE national laboratories, including Brookhaven National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. A member of this team, Greg Kilcup, is a physics researcher at Ohio State University who has been a visiting researcher at the Lab and is a long-time user of NERSC.

Under Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz spoke at the conference and praised the accomplishments of DOE scientists and supercomputing centers. "All of these achievements are part of the Department of Energy's emphasis on taking supercomputing the next big step forward," he said. "Revolutionary advances in computation and simulation promise a new era for scientific discovery and technological innovation."

Although parallel supercomputers are the world's fastest computers, capable of performing hundreds of billions of calculations per second, realizing their potential often requires writing complex computer codes as well as reformulating the scientific approach to problems, so that the codes scale up efficiently on these types of machines.

In developing the magnetism modeling code for parallel computers, the researchers were forced to rethink their formulation of the basic physical phenomena.

"One of the goals of this project is to address critical materials problems on the microstructural scale to better understand the properties of real materials," said Malcolm Stocks, a scientist at Oak Ridge National Lab and leader of the project that won the top honors. "A major focus of our research is to establish the relationship between technical magnetic properties and microstructure based on fundamental physical principles. The capability to design magnetic materials with specific and well-defined properties is an essential component of the nation's technological future."

In May and June of this year the research team ran successively larger calculations on a series of bigger and more powerful Cray supercomputers. After the simulation code attained a speed of 276 Gflops on the Cray T3E-900 512-processor supercomputer at NERSC, the group arranged for use of an even faster T3E-1200 at Cray Research Inc. and achieved 329 Gflops. They were then given dedicated time on a T3E-600 1024-processor machine at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, which allowed them to perform crucial code development work and testing before the final run at 657 Gflops on a T3E-1200 1024-processor machine at a U.S. government site.

"These increases in the performance levels demonstrate both the power and the capabilities of parallel computers; a code can be scaled up so that it not only runs faster but allows us to study larger systems and new phenomena that cannot be studied on smaller machines," said Andrew Canning.

The Gordon Bell Award work was part of a larger Department of Energy Grand Challenge Project on Materials, Methods, Microstructure and Magnetism--a collaboration between ORNL, Ames Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, NERSC, and the Center for Computational Science and the Computer Science and Mathematics Divisions at ORNL.

In addition to Canning and Stocks, the team included Balazs Ujfalussy, Xindong Wang, Xiaoguang Zhang, Donald M. C. Nicholson, and William A. Shelton of Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Yang Wang of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center; and B. L. Gyorffy of the H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory, UK.

Photo: Andrew Canning (XBD9810-02663.jpeg)

Photo:Under Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz (second from right) visited the DOE2000 display at the Supercomputing 98 conference and discussed the Materials Microcharacterization Collaboration with (from left) Stu Loken, the director of Berkeley Lab's Information and Computing Sciences Division, Michael Wright of ORNL, Michael O'Keefe of the National Center for Electron Microscopy, and John Taylor, also of ICSD. Photo by Jon Bashor (moniz.jpeg)


Holiday Party

Berkeley Lab's annual holiday party will be held on Thursday, Dec. 17, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Lab cafeteria. The celebration will include music, food, and lots more. Mark your calendars and come join in the fun.


News Digest


Washington Report

Another Physicist Goes to Washington

There are now two physicists in Congress--a Republican and a Democrat. In an upset victory, Democrat Rush Holt, 50, assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, edged out first-term Republican Mike Pappas to capture New Jersey's 12th Congressional District seat. Holt joins Michigan Republican Vernon Ehlers, who easily won a fourth term, as the first two Ph.D. physicists elected to the House of Representatives. "If we can find a room with a chalkboard, we'll form a bipartisan physics caucus," said Holt, following his victory.

DOE to Issue White Papers On Science

Science Director Martha Krebs has announced that DOE plans to release a series of white papers in February, when the Clinton administration presents its FY 2000 budget to Congress. The purpose is to show how the different offices within DOE work to accomplish the department's missions. "We need to tell a story about energy," Krebs told the press--a story that will help convince Congress that science programs at DOE are as important as those of the National Institutes of Health. Congress gave NIH $1 billion more than it requested for FY99.

Krebs also announced that DOE will submit to Congress a plan for beginning the Scientific Simulation Plan (SSP) in FY 2000. The purpose of the SSP, which involves DOE and the National Science Foundation, is to develop a national network of terraflop computers that will help federal agencies improve their visualization and computer modeling capabilities.Early estimates of SSP indicate it could cost $1 billion over five years, Krebs said, which means DOE and NSF must show Congress why the program is essential to scientific research.

To Embargo or Not

Nicholas Cozzarelli, editor of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has proposed that PNAS abandon its embargo policy, which many scientific journals use to prevent early data release. He said that embargoes are inimical to scientific communication. Cozzarelli, a biologist, presented his plan at a meeting of the 50-member PNAS editorial board on Oct. 30. A number of the board members disagreed. Some argued that PNAS would lose its competitive edge. Others argued that the lack of an embargo might encourage commercial sponsors of research to hype findings before publication. Such concerns prompted the PNAS board to postpone action at least until their next meeting in April.--Lynn Yarris


Monochromator Installed at ALS Beamline

Photo: A new monochromator was installed this week at Beamline 4.0.1-2 at the Advanced Light Source. This is a new beamline designed for the spectroscopy of magnetic materials. It features a high spectral resolution monochromator and a new type of undulator which can directly produce high brightness, high flux beams of circularly polarized x-rays. Tony Young is the project leader. Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt (XBD9811-02906-08.jpeg)


City Council Rejects Activists' Requests on Tritium Issue

By Ron Kolb

The Berkeley City Council has rejected a community group's appeal to analyze historic tritium emissions at Berkeley Lab and instead reiterated its support for the Tritium Issues Work Group conducting independent environmental sampling.

The Laboratory has continued to encourage sampling through the Work Group as a way to validate the Lab's own tritium monitoring and health risk assessment, the results of which have been challenged by some community residents. Lab Director Charles Shank has pledged $100,000 in Laboratory funds to pay for the sampling, which will be managed by the Work Group co-chairs--the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state Department of Health Services.

Berkeley Lab and its regulators have been unanimous in their assessment that Berkeley Lab's tritium emissions are well within all federal safety standards and result in an annual public dose that is a small fraction of the radiation exposure resulting from natural and commercial sources.

At its Nov. 10 meeting, the City Council considered two proposals made by the Committee to Minimize Toxic Waste, an environmental activist group. One would have contracted with the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, a public policy agency in Maryland, to do "dose reconstruction" analysis for the 16 years during which the National Tritium Labeling Facility has been operating. The other would have urged the EPA to designate Berkeley Lab a "superfund" site for priority contamination clean-up based on its tritium emissions.

The Council did not pass either resolution. Instead, it asked the Work Group--a consortium of city, community, regulatory agency and institutional representatives--to accelerate its independent sampling process. Councilwoman Polly Armstrong called the "superfund" designation request "symbolic" and "premature."

The EPA's Betsy Curnow told the Council that her agency needed additional data, which could be supplied by the Work Group, to confirm the Laboratory's preliminary disqualification from the "superfund" list. She said she hoped the Work Group could conduct its sampling program "within eight to 12 months" so that EPA could complete its analysis shortly after that.

Mayor Shirley Dean appealed to the Work Group to "move heaven and earth" to get the data collected as quickly as possible.

The City Council's resolution also included a provision asking the U.S. Department of Energy to fund a consultant to the Work Group who would be "agreeable to the majority of the community and commission members of the [Working Group] and to city staff."


Lab Publications Win Awards

Berkeley Lab's Research Review and Currents won awards in the 1998 "Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards" competition sponsored by the National Association of Government Communicators.

Research Review (Fall 1997 issue) and its staff (editor Pamela Patterson, designer Niza Hanany, staff writers Lynn Yarris and Jeffery Kahn) won top honors for a general audience magazine; Currents (editor Monica Friedlander, writers Lynn Yarris, Paul Preuss) won third place in the newspaper category.

The awards are chosen on the basis of "excellence in writing, photography, editorial content, layout and design, achievement of purpose and cost-effectiveness."

NAGC is a national non-profit professional network of federal, state and local government employees in the communications field.


EETD Work on National TV Show

Berkeley Lab advances in the areas of energy-efficient lights, windows and insulating materials will be featured soon in three segments of "Your New House"--a home improvement television show airing on the Discovery Channel.

In the first show featuring Lab scientists on Nov. 25, Brent Griffith of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) demonstrates the infrared thermography facility for testing the insulating abilities of advanced windows, and Arlon Hunt discusses his work on the chemistry of aerogels--a revolutionary lightweight material with a potential application in house and appliance insulation.

On Dec. 2, Michael Siminovitch of EETD's Lighting Group will highlight his lab's recent work on lighting systems, including the safe, energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamp and new-technology light distribution systems.

"Michael Holigan's Your New House" runs five days a week 6 p.m. PST) on the Discovery Channel.


Berkeley Lab Currents

Published twice a month by the Public Information Department for the employees and retirees of Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Ron Kolb, PID

department head.

EDITOR: Monica Friedlander, X2248 (495-2248 from outside), [email protected]
STAFF WRITERS: Jeffery Kahn, X4019; Paul Preuss, X6249; Lynn Yarris, X5375
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Jon Bashor, X5849; Allan Chen, X4210
FLEA MARKET / CALENDAR: Jacqueline Noble, X5771
[email protected] / [email protected]

Public Information Department, Berkeley Lab, MS 65A
One Cyclotron Road, Berkeley CA 94720
Tel: 510/486-5771 Fax: 510/486-6641

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


Science News



Do-It-Yourself Health Handbook

Is your significant other snoring so loud you can't sleep? What's the best thing to put on a poison oak or ivy rash? Do you need relief from hay-fever? What's the best wrinkle cream? What's the best cure for jet lag?

The answers to these and many other health-related questions can be found in a new "do-it-yourself" health book that is out in bookstores in time for the holidays. Entitled "The UC Berkeley Wellness Self-Care Handbook: The Everyday Guide to Prevention and Home Remedies," the 576-page tome is designed to cover virtually every ailment and disorder that people can do something about on their own.

The book was written by John Edward Swartzberg, a UCB clinical professor of health and medical science and professor of medicine at UC San Francisco, and UCB Professor Emeritus of public health and nutrition Sheldon Margen, chair of the editorial board of UCB's Wellness Letter.

Each entry in the book contains a brief section describing the disorder, followed by discussions on what will happen if the disorder is left untreated, home remedies, prevention and when to call your doctor. The book also features an outline of health-related milestones, from birth to old age, and preventive strategies that can be practiced at any age to improve the quality of life and lessen the chance of developing chronic, long-term illnesses.

The Handbook is published by Rebus and is distributed by Random House, Inc. It retails for $34.95.


Around the Lab


In Memoriam - Chi-hsu (Tracy) Yang

Chi-hsu (Tracy) Yang, the director of NASA's Radiobiology Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center and a long-time staff scientist at Berkeley Lab, died on Oct. 18 after suffering a heart attack. His passing saddens his many colleagues and friends at NASA, Berkeley Lab, and throughout the scientific community.

An internationally renowned radiobiologist, he earned his degrees from Tunghai University in Taiwan, North Texas State University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana. In 1969, after spending his postdoctoral years at Argonne National Laboratory, Yang embarked on a successful research career at Berkeley Lab. He was a staff scientist in what is now the Life Sciences Division and worked closely with Cornelius Tobias on the interactions of space radiation, weightlessness and gravity on biological systems. His work included pioneering studies on the mutational effects of space flight on corn seeds and the mutagenic effects of heavy ions on rice seeds. His research led to the development of new strains of rice that are now cultivated as a source of food in China.

Yang also carried out fundamental studies evaluating the mutagenic and neoplastic effects of heavy charged particles in mammalian cells, including human mammary epithelial cells. His research played a crucial part in the pre-clinical testing of the use of charged particle radiation for cancer therapy and in estimating the health risks to astronauts from exposure to the space radiation environment.

In 1990, Yang moved to the Johnson Space Center where he established a radiobiology laboratory. He continued his studies of heavy particle effects, particularly the effects of human exposure to space radiation. Such studies were performed on astronauts on various missions, including the Russian space station MIR, and were planned for the International Space Station.

Yang's work took him to several of the world's heavy ion accelerators, including the BEVALAC at Berkeley Lab, the AGS at Brookhaven, and the HIMAC facility in Chiba, Japan. His colleagues remember him for his warm smile, his kindness, and his inquisitiveness.

He is survived by his wife Esther and their two children. A memorial service was held on Oct. 24 in Friendswood, Texas. Photo: Chi-hsu Yang (front, right) with his family.



Bulletin Board


LBNL Telephone Coordinator Training

The Telephone Service Center is holding a coordinator training class on Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Bldg. 50 auditorium. The class will give an overview of products and services offered, placing service order requests, and navigating the voice mail system. For additional information or to register call X7997 or send e-mail to [email protected]


Craft Fair Next Month

The third annual Berkeley Lab Craft Fair will be held on Thursday, Dec. 10, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the cafeteria. All Lab employees, their families, former employees, and retirees are invited to participate. The event will feature handmade items that make great holiday gifts. Everyone who attends will also have the chance to win various items donated by each artisan.

For more information about the fair, look up its website at To reserve space contact Ira Wortham at [email protected]


Scientist of the Year Nominations Sought

Nominations are being accepted until Monday, Nov. 30, for the 1999 California Scientist of the Year competition, sponsored by the California Science Center and the California Science Center Foundation. Applications may be picked up from Sonia Mueller, Bldg. 50A-4119, X5944.


Green Team Meeting

The Green Team will meet on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at noon in the back room of Perseverance Hall. Topics will include fall bulb planting, recycling, new employee brochures, web page maintenance, and Earth Month ideas. Lunch will be served. Please RSVP by Dec. 3 to [email protected]


Currents Online

The full text and photographs of each edition of Currents are published online at http://www. You may find a link to Currents on the Lab's home page under the heading "Publications." The site allows users to do searches of past articles going back to 1994.

To set up your computer to access the web, call the Mac and PC Support Group at X4357.


Lab Frisbee Team Flies High

Photo: Berkeley Lab's Ultimate Frisbee Club won this season's four matches and took first place at the Ebb and Flow Invitational Coed Ultimate Frisbee Tournament, held in Sunnyvale last month. Standing are (left to right) Dave Nolan, Anna Weinstein, Terry Ligocki, Hayley Bee, Jason Mark, Phil Price (leaning), Bill Golove, John Heck, Sujata Bansal, and Alain McGlaughlin. Kneeling: Erik Page, Neil Fromer, Derek Yegian, Juliet Lamont, and Joe Eto. (XBD9811-02979.jpeg)


Cafeteria Menu Goes Online

Starting today cafeteria menus will be available on the web at As a result, the menus will no longer be published in Currents. While we realize that many of you like to check the menus in the paper, the web will offer more accurate and up-to-date information.

As some of you have noticed, in recent months it has become increasingly difficult to publish the menus on a regular basis. Given the uncertainties of the food catering business, the cafeteria staff was not always able to plan menus more than two weeks in advance, as needed for publication. As a result, we could not publish them in time.

Having the menus online will offer a much better source of information. At a click of a button you will be able to look up the daily menus on the screen. Meanwhile, the cafeteria staff will have more flexibility in making menu decisions up to the last minute, as well as the ability to update the information whenever necessary.

You will also find a link to the cafeteria menu in the electronic news bulletin Headlines. Meanwhile, look up next week's menu on the web today, and bon appetit!

LBNL Postdoctoral Society Sponsors Career Development Workshop

Berkeley Lab's Postdoctoral Society, in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Postdoc Association, is sponsoring a Research and Career Development Workshop Series for 1998-1999. Preregistration is required; requests may be sent to [email protected] All sessions are open to Lab employees and guests.

The first workshop, "Away from the Bench," will be offered on Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Lab cafeteria. Participants will be able to interact with scientists who are involved in important work outside of the academic or industrial setting and learn about job responsibilities and work activities. Discussions will be held with patent lawyers, consultants, publishers, product managers and others.

For more information visit the Postdoctoral Society's website at


Three Days Left for Open Enrollment

Employees have until Monday, Nov. 23, to take advantage of UC Benefits' annual open enrollment period. During this time you may enroll in or make changes to the various benefits plans, including medical, dental, vision, and Dependent Care Assistance Program. The Open Enrollment Action Line, which allows employees to make changes over the phone, will be open through midnight (PST), Nov. 23.


Building Energy Seminar Schedule Available Online

For the latest information on the Building Energy Seminars presented by the Environmental Energy Technologies Division, check the online calendar at: http://eappc76/essem/ESCAL.CFM. The seminars are held each Thursday at noon in Bldg. 90-3148


Safety Glass Collection

Employees are encouraged to bring in their old safety glasses and any other type of eyeglasses for recycling and distribution worldwide. A collection barrell will be placed today in the basement of Bldg. 26 in front of the Safety Glass Office (Room 004). More information will be available in the next issue of Currents.


Non-Immigrant Visa Update

The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act, signed by President Clinton on Oct. 21, grants a three-year temporary increase in the number of H-1B non-immigrant visas, effective Oct. 1. Six months are required to change nonimmigrant status from F1 or J1 to H1B. Any Lab employee who has an F1 visa and requires employment beyond expiration of the employment authorization document (EAD) should contact [email protected]


Onsite Courier

The Facilities Department is providing the Lab with rush courier service with pick-up and delivery both on- and off-site. Transportation can deliver up to 2,000 pounds anywhere in the Bay Area or in central or northern California. On-site materials will be delivered within one hour. To request a pick up, call Peggy Patterson at X5404. Rush service is also available from IDS Courier.


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


Nov. 20 - Dec. 4, 1998

General Interest

MON., NOV. 23

Noon, Bldg. 50 auditorium

TUES., NOV. 26


FRI., NOV. 27


WED., DEC. 2

noon, Perseverance Hall


7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., cafeteria

11:30 a.m.-12:40 p.m., cafeteria

4 p.m., cafeteria

FRI., NOV. 4

9 a.m. - noon, cafeteria conf. rm.

Items for the calendars may be sent via e-mail to [email protected], faxed to X6641 or mailed to Bldg. 65B. The deadline for the Dec. 4 issue is 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30.

Seminars & Lectures

MON., NOV. 23

"Tuning-up a Quasicrystal" will be presented by Julian D. Maynard of Penn State University.
4:30 p.m., 1 LeConte. Tea at 4 p.m., 375 LeConte

MON., NOV. 30

"Evidence for Oscillation of Atmospheric Neutrinos" will be presented by Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo.

4:30 p.m., 1 LeConte. Tea at 4 p.m., 375 LeConte


"Involvement of the BCR-ABL Tyrosine Kinases and ABL-Interacting Proteins in Human Leukemia" will be presented by Ann Marie Pendergast of Duke University Medical Center.
4 p.m., Bldg. 66-316



"Progressive Radiance Evaluation Using Directional Coherence Maps" will be presented by Baining Guo of Intel Corporation.
Noon, Bldg. 90-3148

FRI., DEC. 4

"Numerical Solution of the Fokker-Planck Equation by the Method of Characteristics with Applications to Beam Transport in the Presence of Systematic & Stochastic Synchrotron Radiation Effects" will be presented by Etienne Forest of KEK.
10:30 a.m., Bldg. 71 conf. rm.

"Einstein's Clocks" will be presented by Peter Galison of Harvard University.
3 p.m., Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Photo: Above is an artist's rendition of the straw bale building that will serve as the Visitor Center for the Shorebird Nature Center of the City of Berkeley. Construction of the building will begin in the Spring of next year. The seed money for the center was provided by Berkeley Lab and the U.S. Department of Energy last year. The structure will be constructed largely with straw bales, an old construction practice that is both energy efficient and environment-friendly. The learning center will showcase technologies to reduce the environmental impacts of building construction and operations. Berkeley Lab will provide exhibits in the new structure. (XBD9811-02814.jpeg)


FY 1999 Holiday Schedule

Below is the holiday schedule for this fiscal year. Please note that for Dec. 29 and 30, employees may use either vacation or leave without pay. New employees who have not accrued enough vacation may receive an advance against future vacation accrual for these days.

Thursday, Nov. 26, Thanksgiving holiday
Friday, Nov. 27, Thanksgiving holiday
Thursday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve holiday
Friday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day holiday
Monday, Dec. 28, Administrative holiday
Tuesday, Dec. 29, Employee vacation day
Wednesday, Dec. 30, Employee vacation day
Thursday, Dec. 31, New Year's Eve holiday
Friday, Jan. 1, New Year's Day holiday
Monday, Jan. 18, M.L. King holiday
Monday, Feb. 15, President's Day holiday
Monday, May 31, Memorial Day holiday
Monday, July 5, Independence Day holiday
Monday, Sept. 6, Labor Day holiday


Flea Market

Autos / Supplies

`74 Chevy pickup, 3/4 ton, 350 V8, ac, at, ps, pb, $1,500, Pierre, 527-3775

`85, GMC Surburban, 52K mi, 3/4 ton, tow package, frt and rear air, 454 ci, eng, 3 spd auto trans, very good cond, $6,000/b.o., Bob, 925-376-2211

`85 FORD Ranger LX Long bed pickup; 4 cylinder, 5 spd manual trans, radio and cassette, 82K mi; Brahma shell, dual tanks, bush bar, needs some work/tlc, $950, Vic (925) 376-4606

`87 MAZDA 323 hatchback, well maintained, 80K mi, original owner, must sell because of move, $1,600, Osman, X4294, 644 3523

`87 FORD Tioga, 26' motor home, 17K mi, 460 V8, auto, ac, sleeps 6, generator, queen size bed, trailer hitches frt and back, $15,000/b.o., Monte, X4587

`88 BUICK Regal, white custom, 116,899K mi, ac, cruise control, am/fm/cass, rear window defogger, tilt steering, wheel, loctronics security system, custom wheels and brand new battery clean inside and out, burgundy interior, $3,500/b.o., Ira or George, (925) 427-9431

`89 NISSAN 240 SX, coupe, green, 5 spd, 95K mi, ac, ps, pb, am/fm/cass, great car, new tires, must sell because of move, $2,000, Linda, 527-3996

`91 GEO Metro, LSi convertible, 2 dr, blue, 80K mi, 5 spd, am, fm, cassette, ac, $2,950, Chaincy, X6762

`94 FORD F150, extended cab, 5 spd, 92K mi, 6 cylinder, short bed, great cond, $8,500, Rick (530) 477-6173

`94 MAZDA Miata, "C" pkg. w/ hardtop, 5 spd., red on saddle, 43K mi, new tires, cover, many extras, $13,900, Geoffrey, X4626, (925) 685-8202

TIRES, 4, P195/50R 15, wide tread low profile, w/ ENKEI rims, $200/b.o., Pierre, 527-3775

SPIKE-SPIDERS European snow grip devices, fits 14" wheels, $195, Phil, X5096, 236-9778


BERKELEY, rm avail 12/1, spacious, big closet, big window, unfurn, shared kitchen and bth in a rambling, spacious old 4 bdrm house on MLK Jr. Way, exc locality, close to Safeway, laundromat, Fatapple's, plenty of street parking. $370/mo, mo-to-mo rental, Smita or Tom 526-8724

BERKELEY, 1 bdrm in two bdrm apt avail, quiet, safe, sundeck, furn, walking distance to Lab (5-10 min to Bldg. 65), Virginia & La Loma, share w/ Italian postdoc, $630, Oliver X5320, 845-0692

EL CERRITO, well furn, good size rm in house, share w/ owner, two adults, TV, bookshelf, closet, private phone line, walking distance to BART and bus, 1.2 mi to freeway, 4 mi to UC Berkeley, free off-street parking, quiet, kitchen appliances, laundry, microwave, exc living environment, graduate student, visiting scholar welcome, room avail Jan. 1999, $485, deposit $600, no smoker, no pets, Ming, 524-3780

EL CERRITO Hills, furn rm, 15 min from LBNL, quiet, view, perfect for single, price negotiable, Larry, X5406, 235-9268

KENSINGTON, June/July, exchange or rent: home, time/ length of stay flexible, 3 bdrm, 1.5 bth, bay view, lg yard, quiet level street, Dick, 524-1641

RICHMOND Hills, avail 12/1, lg bdrm in beautiful 3 bdrm, 2 bth home, off Bernhard & Crest Ave, 2 lg closets w/ full length mirrors, private heating unit, keyed glass sliding door to private balc, private entrance overlooking Wildcat Canyon, w/d, jacuzzi, common study area, private parking, 4 min drive to BART, 2 males, 1 female, 22-27 (prof/ stud.) + 1 small dog; will consider small pet; must be neat and responsible, $675/mo + $500 dep, lease to Aug. 1999+, credit check and refs required, Sylvain, X5419


BED, single, w/ headboard and built-in drawers under frame, incl mattress, $60, Larry, X5406, 235-9268

BOX SPRING and frame for twin size bed, exc cond, $40, Patti, X5151

CAMCORDER, used, no more than 7 yrs old, good working cond, Peter, X4157

CAMERA, Canon AE-1 35mm, 50mm and 80-200mm lenses, $200, Matt, X2425

COMPUTER DESK, $100; lazy-boy couch and recliner set, new condition, $650, Scandanavian dining table w/ 2 leafs and 4 chairs, $125; men's golf clubs, Wilson irons rt, $50; Precious Moments figurines in orig pkg, call for list/prices; ironing board, $5, Janice, X6412

DINING TABLE, oak, w/ foldout leaves, surface imperfect, 4 oak chairs, newly re-upholstered, $400/b.o., Steve, X6941

DOLL HOUSE, perfect Christmas gift for little girl or grandma who collects miniatures, 2 stories, 8 rooms, attic/widows walk, porches on frt and side, individual shingles, great detail all around, 48"x20", built from kit, photos avail, incl some furniture, $175/ b.o., Roberta, X7580, 669-9301

GILLETTE Sensor Excel blades, one unopened 20 cartridge pack, $12 (retail, $16 at Costco), two used Gillette Sensor Excel Razors (holds cartridges), $1 ea, Jon, X5974

HOLIDAY WREATHS, $18, orders accepted now for delivery ~ 12/1 Dennis, 526-7388

MOVING SALE: several nice plants and pots, some 9 ft high, b.o.; iron, 1-1/2 yr old, $20, Winni, X4588, (415) 431-9230

SEWING MACHINE, Singer Quantum-LE, 2 yrs, new, 99 computer program stitches, exc cond, pd $800, will sell for $450, Janice, X6412

S.F. OPERA TICKETS, 12/5 Peter Grimes, 2nd row ctr balc, pair, $100/pr, Paul, X5508, 526-3519

TABLE CLOTH, 7, damask, embroidered, prints, various sizes, like new, some w/ napkins, b.o.; real Irish knit seater, white, wool, new, fits 4' 10", 83 lbs; black iron plant stand, 6' tall, holds 8 pots, $25, Ruth or Herb, 232-0757

VIOLIN, student, recently reworked, from circa 1900, $500/b.o., Dennis, 526-7388.

WASHER/DRYER, stacked combo, 120V, great for apt, exc cond, $500/b.o.; sofa, sectional, off white and tan, exc. cond., $300/b.o.; lg oak coffee table, exc. cond., $150/b.o.; twin bed, $50, Matt, X6428, Yolanda, 247-0447


BABY CLOTHES, diaper wraps, for baby due in November, Judy, X7072, 799-0818

BOOK, "Wonder Tales of Cats and Dogs" by Frances Carpenter, (c) 1955; good, cond, Chris, 495-2211

CAR for rent until 12/25 by visiting scientist, Gena, X2846, 665-8042

HOUSE/CONDO, fully furn, 2+ bdrm, near LBNL, for visiting Canadian scientist and wife, 1/1/99 to 4/30/99, Max, X4022

HOUSING for LBNL employee/ grad student, looking for either a shared apt or a group house w/in biking distance to LBNL, Barbara, X2843, 845-7520

HOUSING for faculty visitor to Lab, Jan-July 1999, 1 or 2 bdrm furn apt preferred, non smoking, no pets, prefer hills, Kensington or Albany areas, Adam Hitchcock at [email protected], (905) 525-9140, X24749, Tony, X5819

HOUSING for visiting senior scholar w/ wife, house/apt in good area, furn, mid-January through March, `99, Mahiko, X4479, 642-1060

HOUSING for Scottish couple,. min 2 bdrm house or apt, pref within walking distance of campus or BART, will arrive 2/8/99, Stephen, 495 2796

MULTI-STANDARD VHS VCR (NTSC + PAL) or converter VCR, Peter, X4549, 524-5173

QUEEN bed and mattress, recliner chair, must be clean and functional, Bob, X6243

ROOMMATE for single rm in furnished, lg 3 bdrm, San Leandro house (great neighborhood), next to 580, close to BART and 880, private bth and entrance, shared kitchen, W/D, fireplace, patio sun room, guest room, lg yards, storage in double garage, smoker OK in bdrm/outside, current occupants non-smokers, must like cats (2), no more pets, $600/mo + util, Susan, X5429


TAHOE KEYS at South Lake Tahoe house, 3 bdrm 2-1/2 bth, fenced yard, quiet area, close to skiing and other attractions, great views of water and mtns; call for details, $150/night (2 night min), Bob, (925) 376-2211

Lost and Found

FOUND, Indian feather earring on sidewalk nr Bldg. 51 on 10/28/98, Jim (security), X4855


MATTRESSES, foam, 2 dbl size, 54"X76"X6", Conway, 528-8553

Car Pools

Carpool avail from Petaluma to LBNL, hours flexible, Don, X6016.


Flea Market Ad Policy

Ads are accepted only from LBNL employees, retirees, and on-site DOE personnel. Only items of your own personal property may be offered for sale.

Submissions must include name, affiliation, extension, and home telephone number.

Ads must be submitted in writing--via e-mail ([email protected]), fax (X6641), or delivered/ mailed to Bldg. 65B. No ads will be taken by phone.

Ads will run one week only unless resubmitted in writing. They will be repeated only as space permits.

The deadline for the Dec. 4 issue is 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27.


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, [email protected]
Associate editor
Lyn Hunter, 486-4698, [email protected]

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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