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Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Scientists Track Chemical Changes in Cells as They Endure Extreme Conditions


How do some bacteria survive conditions that should kill them? In groundbreaking research, Berkeley Lab scientists used the Advanced Light Source to track chemical changes in individual cells as they adapt to extreme environments. Until now, scientists had not been able to monitor, at a molecular level, these changes. The ability to watch this Herculean adaptation to stress, from such an up-close and real-time vantage, gives scientists an improved way to study adaptive responses in a range of microbes, such as disease-causing pathogens and microbes that play a role in photosynthesis, energy production, and geochemical phenomena. Their work was recently published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We can now follow chemical changes in living bacteria as they respond to extreme environments. This opens up a new window into how bacteria adapt and carry out some of life’s most important processes," says Hoi-Ying Holman, a staff scientist in the Earth Sciences Division. More>

ChinaDOE: Energy Secretary Chu to Travel to China Next Week

Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will travel to China from July 14 to 17. The two secretaries will highlight the tremendous potential for mutually beneficial relationships in the clean energy sector. "Clean energy will drive the economy of the future, both in the United States and around the world," Chu said. More>

Travel: New Secure Flight Program Will Require Additional Info From Travelers

TSAThe Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced the implementation of the Secure Flight program. This program is intended to enhance the security of domestic and international air travel for all passengers through the use of improved TSA watch-list matching, as well as reduce the instances of passenger misidentification. As of July 2, 2009, the Lab’s travel agency and Cliqbook, the online booking tool, have begun requesting all travelers' gender, date of birth and middle name in order to update profiles for the new TSA requirements. Many LBNL travelers have official names that do not match their profiles or frequent flyer program information. This will cause items to be incorrectly communicated to the airline and cause airport delays. More>

Policy: Proposed Change to Catastrophic Leave Sharing

Berkeley Lab is proposing to revise RPM Section 2.26 (Catastrophic Leave Sharing). The policy is being revised to (1) redefine the meaning of catastrophic illness or injury and (2) add catastrophic casualty loss and catastrophic bereavement loss as eligible criteria for leave donation requests. This policy applies to nonrepresented employees only. Represented employees should contact their union representative or consult their collective bargaining agreement. Go here to see the proposed changes. To comment on this proposed change, contact [email protected] by July 24.

Nerve CellWorld of Science: The First Artificial Nerve Cell That Uses Real Neurotransmitters

[Popular Science] Writing in this week's Nature Materials, a team of Swedish scientists announced that they had created the first device that communicates with nerves in their own language of neurotransmitter chemicals, rather than electrical impulses. This new device utilizes the same neurotransmitters that natural nerves use. That allows the robotic nerve to target specific neural pathways, without the random side effects of electronic neural stimulation. The technology is still in its infancy, but contains the potential for a radical shift in brain/electronics interfaces. More>

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