Science@Berkeley Lab Magazine banner Berkeley Lab logo
April 27, 2007
Editorial image
Here Comes the Sun

Berkeley Lab has a proud history of environmental research beginning in the 1970s, but much of the effort was confined to a handful of the Lab's numerous scientific divisions. In many other divisions, pertinent research was pursued independently.

When Steven Chu became Berkeley Lab's Director in 2004, he set out to focus the Lab's expertise, wherever it was found, on the nation's and the world's most pressing challenge: energy.

The problem isn't where to get energy — there's more fossil fuel than is good for us still in the ground, if we're willing to suffer the environmental, economic, and social consequences of extracting it and burning it. The problem, now widely recognized as real and impending, is how to keep energy use from wrecking the environment and undermining human welfare.

The most urgent threats are pollution and global warming. To stop loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases requires new "carbon-neutral" fuels — the goal of the Helios Project, which draws upon the futuristic technologies of nanoscience and synthetic biology. Other urgent scientific needs include more sophisticated and interactive computer models of climate change, based on a better understanding of climate science, and safe and effective technologies for reducing energy use from all sources.

This issue of Science@Berkeley Lab features research — some of it surprising — on the terrestrial carbon cycle, the monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions, and technologies for green buildings. Energy and environment will continue to share our pages along with the Lab's research in every field from cosmology to health, research that feeds the wide spectrum of scientific enterprise in constantly surprising ways.  

If you have questions and comments about any of the stories in this issue of Science@Berkeley Lab, let us know by dropping us an email.

Paul Preuss, Editor, Science@Berkeley Lab