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March 31, 2006

S@BL Suppositions

Like all social enterprises, science has its fashions. But the history of science, including Berkeley Lab's own, shows that what's worth learning about never goes out of style.

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Fire in the Desert

While international agencies grapple with millions of refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan, a small group of scientists is seeking to make a personal difference. Better wood-burning stoves could reduce dangers, help food go further, and slow environmental destruction.
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Growing in the Dark

Phytoplankton are tiny plants that play a big role in regulating global climate. One long-standing phytoplankton mystery may finally be solved: how phytoplankton in subpolar regions can grow at roughly the same rate all year round, even in the dead of winter.
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A Light Touch

Lightweight, flexible organic field-effect transistors, or FETs, amplify weak electromagnetic signals. Common in cell-phone displays, FET electronics will have to be probed on the nanoscale before large-area displays and other uses become practical. An infrared beamline at the Advanced Light Source has done just that.
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The View from Below

What shapes planet Earth? If you're a geochemist, out of sight doesn't mean out of mind. Reactive transport modeling creates simulations of geochemical, microbiological, and physical processes that occur at all depths from just below the surface to deep underground.
  In Series  
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If the term "biofuels" brings to mind images of Volkswagens smelling of French fries because they're running on used veggie oil, check out this first in a series of articles on advances in the genomic sciences. Green genes found in nature could show the way to renewable fuels made from bugs, beans, and boards.
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  Inspector Detector  
When it comes to studying the nuclear processes responsible for a good part of the universe we live in, or for peering at the properties of ultraheavy elements and other exotic species, nothing can beat catching some rays — gamma rays, that is. Berkeley Lab researchers lead the construction of GRETINA, the world's most powerful gamma-ray detector.
The opposite of watching a single nucleus fall apart may be watching an energetic neutrino from the farthest reaches of the cosmos slam into a molecule of water a mile deep in the Antarctic ice. The IceCube neutrino telescope is one of the largest particle detectors ever designed — and certainly one of the most challenging to build.
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