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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

— Science

Scientists demonstrate a robotic muscle 1,000 times more powerful than a human's

If a so-called "rise of the machines" ever comes to fruition, our chances of survival may have just taken a big hit. A team of scientists from the US Department of Energy ’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has demonstrated a new type of robotic muscle with 1,000 times more power than that of a human's, and the ability to catapult an item 50 times its own weight. Read More
— Electronics

New lithium/sulfur battery doubles energy density of lithium-ion

Batteries. We buy them at the store, use them up, and throw them away without much thought. In reality, however, batteries are remarkably complex electrochemical devices that are continually evolving. The latest example of this comes from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where researchers have invented an advanced lithium/sulfur (Li/S) cell that offers a unique combination of energy storage, power, recharge speed, and survivability. Read More
— Medical

Berkeley develops quick blood test to ID people exposed to ionizing radiation

Industrial and medical accidents have resulted in about 3,000 cases of acute radiation syndrome with over 100 deaths over the past 60 years. Far larger numbers are possible in the future from major reactor accidents or the use of dirty bombs. In the aftermath of a major incident, the radiation dosages of victims must be sorted out quickly, so that suitable treatment can begin as soon as possible. Medical researchers at the US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have now developed a simple blood test to determine the exposure of a patient to ionizing radiation, that can be carried out in the field with a hand-held analyzer. Read More
— Environment

Resurrected process converts sugar directly into diesel

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) are generating bio fuels from renewable sources, such as sugar and starch, using a process that could be commercialized in as little as five to ten years. Although the fuels are currently more expensive to produce than those made from petroleum, they contain more energy per gallon than ethanol and the researchers say that, if adopted, could help to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Read More
— Science

Superfast laser delivers record-breaking peak power of one petawatt

Not even a month since researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) announced a 500 trillion watt laser shot, researchers at the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) have managed to deliver a record-breaking petawatt, that is, a quadrillion watts, in a pulse just 40 femtoseconds long at a rate of one pulse every second. To put that in perspective, a petawatt is more than the combined output of all electric power plants in the world at any given time and one femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second. Read More
— Science

Breakthrough allows inexpensive solar cells to be fabricated from any semiconductor

Despite their ability to generate clean, green electricity, solar panels aren't as commonplace as the could be. The main sticking point, of course, is price. Due to their need for relatively expensive semiconductor materials, conventional solar cells don't yet have a price-efficiency combination that can compete with other sources of electricity. Now Profs. Alex Zettl and Feng Wang of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have developed seriously unconventional solar cell technology that allows virtually any semiconductor material to be used to create photovoltaic cells. Read More
— Science

Alexander Graham Bell’s first sound recordings restored to life

Recently, and for the first time in living memory, sound recordings made in 1881 at Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory Association have been heard aloud. The experimental phonographs made by the association where Bell worked alongside instrument-maker Charles Sumner Tainter and chemist Chichester A. Bell are thought to be the oldest preserved sound recordings intended for playback. Read More
— Science

Newly discovered molecule has potential to offset climate change and cool the planet

Researchers claim a newly discovered molecule found in the Earth’s atmosphere holds the potential to help offset global warming by actually cooling the planet. The molecule is a Criegee biradical or Criegee intermediate, which are chemical intermediaries that are powerful oxidizers of pollutants produced by combustion, such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. They have the ability to naturally clean up the atmosphere by helping break down nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide to form sulfate and nitrate, which ultimately leads to cloud formation that could help cool the planet. Read More
— Science

Nobel Prize in Physics goes to expanding-universe researchers

For almost a hundred years, it has been widely accepted that the Universe is expanding, and that it’s been doing so ever since the Big Bang occurred approximately 14 billion years ago. It was initially assumed that the rate of expansion was slowly declining. What came as a surprise to many scientists, however, was the relatively recent announcement that the rate is in fact increasing. That was the remarkable conclusion reached by three physicists located in two countries, and it has just earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2011. Read More
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