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February 18, 2005
Introducing Science@Berkeley Lab

As the 21st century enters its fifth year, it's still individual researchers who come up with the bright ideas and do the hard work, but the walls between scientific disciplines are rapidly dissolving in a research environment that increasingly draws on expertise from many different fields to make significant progress in any one.

That kind of team science had its beginnings when Ernest Lawrence founded what has become Berkeley Lab almost 75 years ago, as a research department on the University of California's Berkeley campus. In acknowledgment, we've renamed our venerable online science magazine, Science Beat, to honor the way science has long been done at this multidisciplinary laboratory.

Science@Berkeley Lab stories won't be news stories. Instead, they'll look beyond the parade of press-release "breakthroughs" to examine what it takes to prepare the ground for real advances in knowledge: the instruments and techniques, the scholarship and discipline, and the exchanges of ideas without which progress is impossible.

Science@Berkeley Lab will tackle long, complicated stories in bite-sized chunks: each issue will have at least one installment "In Series" on multidisciplinary science. In coming months look for series on renewable energy, carbon sequestration, bioremediation, nanoscience, the water-energy nexus, synthetic and in silico biology, and other emerging fields in which Berkeley Lab takes a lead.

Science@Berkeley Lab will have departments too — departments whose dividing membranes, like those of a cell, are very permeable. The Energy Bar, debuting in this issue, will feature stories on energy and the environment, ranging from what our scientists are learning about saving on home heating costs to the research needed to cope with global warming. However, we expect it will sometimes be hard to tell whether a story fits in the Energy Bar or ought to go in the Parallel Processor, our department for computational science, or in Signals, the biology department, or in one of the others we'll create as we need to. We'll take that kind of difficult decision as a good sign that cross-disciplinary science is thriving.

One concrete way you can help us is to recommend the stories in Science@Berkeley Lab that you'd like to see made available as pdf files you can download and print, for your own reference or for use in the classroom. If we get enough requests for a particular story we'll have our designers translate it into pdf, and we'll make the library of pdfs available online as we build it up. Just let us know.

Thanks for joining us as we follow the continuing quest to discover how the world works.

The Editors