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Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Study Shows Oil Plume Degraded by Microbes


In the aftermath of the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, a dispersed oil plume was formed at a depth between 3,600 and 4,000 feet and extending some 10 miles out from the wellhead. An intensive study by scientists with Berkeley Lab found that microbial activity, spearheaded by a new and unclassified species, degrades oil much faster than anticipated. This degradation appears to take place without a significant level of oxygen depletion. More>

In Memoriam: Robert (Bob) Birge

VolunteersRobert Walsh (Bob) Birge died on August 16 at the age of 86. Birge was born in Berkeley, attended University High School and UC Berkeley, and was drafted and sent to work on the Manhattan Project. He got his doctorate in physics at Harvard, moved back to Berkeley in 1950, and worked at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, which later became Lawrence Berkeley Lab. He retired in 1994. More>

GravityIn The News: Scientists Simulate Terror Attack on Boston Subway

[WBZ TV] Scientists were in Boston's subway system Friday for a homeland security test involving the release of non-toxic gases. The weeklong study, commissioned by the federal Homeland Security Department, will analyze how particles would spread in a terror attack and how to minimize the impact of airborne assaults on the nation's subway systems. The study involves 30 researchers, including members of the atmospheric science and indoor air departments at Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division. More>

Employee Activity: Photo Club Takes on the ALS

VolunteersMembers of the Lab’s Photo Club were recently invited to explore the Advanced Light Source and take shots of this historic structure and the complex experiments that reside within. The photos will be judged and the winning selections will be displayed at the upcoming ALS Users Meeting. Go here to view a selection of images from the shoot taken by Kelly Soderberg, Bob Stokstad, Yves Verhertbruggen, Steve Kessler and Keoki Seu (who is also a contributing photographer for local-news blog Berkeleyside). For more information about the Photo Club, contact Lorraine Dowling.

GravityFacilities: Bamboo Near Cafeteria Cut to Limit Fire Hazard

The Lab’s Facilities Division is working to reduce vegetation near buildings that can cause a fire hazard. One of those locations includes the large bamboo stand adjacent to the cafeteria’s dining hall. The vegetation was so tall it hung over the roofline, its close proximity to glass increased the danger, and intermodal air pockets among the plant makes it explosive. The roots of the bamboo were left intact and will grow back to a more manageable scale.

VolunteersSafety: Take Precautions During Hot Weather

High temperatures are predicted for today and tomorrow, so employees are reminded to take precautions to prevent heat-related illness, such as drinking plenty of fluids, wearing appropriate clothing and sunscreen, and limiting outdoor activities. Be sure to monitor those at high risk, including the elderly, infants and young children, and those with illnesses that make them vulnerable to increases in temperatures. Go here to view a one-minute-for-safety slideshow, or visit the Centers for Disease Control website for more information.

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