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Tuesday, March 24, 2009
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Profiles in Safety:
Mind Your Own Business — and Other People’s Too

No one likes having an outsider scrutinize their own house, but cross-shop inspections are a way to get another set of eyes to analyze an area for any risks, and they’re required every six months. Kevin Haugh (right, with Tim Montoya), who is in charge of transportation, shipping, and receiving, was called on to inspect the Lab warehouse. There he found fire extinguishers not properly hung or marked, exit doors without emergency lighting, and old wiring that should’ve been removed. “When you’re doing a cross-shop inspection, you’re putting your signature on it,” Haugh says. Within his own group, Kevin likes to occasionally have everyone get up during their weekly safety meetings, walk around to inspect the work areas, then identify anything that needs to be corrected. This sparks every one’s interest in safety and promotes employee and supervisor relations.

Go to OurSafety for more on the Lab's safety efforts.

Research: New Technique Speeds Search for Biofuel Microbes

extremophileJay Keasling and Rajat Sapra at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have developed a research technique that should greatly speed up the search for microbes that can ferment cellulosic sugars under the harsh conditions of biofuels production. They successfully used this technique to establish the biofuel credentials of a recently discovered extremophile, Geobacillus thermoglucosidasius (pictured). More>

UC Update: Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction on Computational Research and Theory (CRT) Building

A ruling granting a preliminary injunction on construction of the University of California's CRT Facility project was issued on March 18 by the U.S. District Court of Northern California. To read the full text of the ruling, go here. To read UC's response go here.

In The News: Evidence Mounts for Exotic Supersolid

supersolid[Science News] Hallmarks of an exotic state of matter called a supersolid have been spotted in a gas of ultracold rubidium atoms. In the same piece of matter, researchers found signs of the seemingly disparate properties of both solidity and superfluidity, the frictionless flow of atoms. Reporting at the March 18 meeting of the American Physical Society, Berkeley Lab materials scientist Dan Stamper-Kurn described two telltale signs that suggest this weird state of matter may indeed be a supersolid. More>

In The News: Energy Secretary Serves Under a Microscope

chu[New York Times] As a physicist, Steven Chu has seen atoms suspended in a powerful laser beam and DNA stretched out in a vacuum chamber. But in his new job as energy secretary, Chu is observing phenomena he never saw in the science laboratory. For a slight, soft-spoken Nobel laureate, Washington has been an initiation that he has likened to being “dumped in the deep end of the pool.” Chu, 61, former director of Berkeley Lab, has been forced to backtrack on some ill-informed comments about OPEC and ordered to spend quickly tens of billions of dollars in stimulus money with virtually no top-level help. More>

Safety: New Nano Safety Training Requirement for Crafts and Technical Work

Effective Tuesday, March 31, craft and technical workers will be required to take a new online nano-safety training course. The course is required for those (primarily in Engineering and Facilities) who may work near or on equipment and systems that have potentially come into contact with engineered nanoparticles. This includes duct-work, blowers and vessels. The training provides information on the hazards that may be associated with the handling of engineered nanoparticles and provides workers the knowledge needed to implement the necessary controls to minimize the possible hazards. Go here to access the course (EHS0356). For more information, contact Larry McLouth (X5286) or Brooke Vaughn (X7603).

tahitian dancerHR Employee Activity: Cardio-Tahitian Dance Class, Potluck Scheduled

The Lab’s Dance Club is hosting two upcoming events that are guaranteed to get staff up and moving, and having fun along the way. At noon on Thursday, a cardio-Tahitian class will be offered, taught by employees Adel Serafino (EH&S) and Marylin Beardsley (HR). Be sure to wear workout gear and bring a towel. On Monday, March 30, the club will host a potluck party to mark the end of the Salsa instruction session. Attendees are asked to bring a food dish to share. East Cost Swing lessons will start on Monday, April 6. All activities take place in the multipurpose room in Building 76 (which includes a shower facility).

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