WBEZ | Argonne National Laboratory http://www.wbez.org/tags/argonne-national-laboratory Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en At Argonne, Obama calls for Energy Security Trust http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/argonne-obama-calls-energy-security-trust-106128 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP80880711566.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="President Barack Obama gestures while speaking at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill., Friday, March 15, 2013. Obama traveled to the Chicago area to deliver a speech to promote his energy policies. (AP)" />President Barack Obama visited <a href="http://www.wbez.org/venues/argonne-national-laboratory">Argonne National Laboratory</a> Friday (<a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2013/03/obama_at_ar.html">full text of his speech here</a>) to tour its research facilities and call on Congress to flag oil and gas money for research that could help wean the nation&rsquo;s vehicles off oil.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The idea is a clearer vision of the Energy Security Trust he outlined in his most recent State of the Union address. Obama proposed diverting $2 billion over 10 years from oil and gas leases on federal land to pay for clean fuel research.</div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Citing an <a href="http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fetrends.htm#report">Environmental Protection Agency report released Friday</a>, Obama recounted recent gains in fuel efficiency. The President responded to recent price spikes at the gas pump, touting <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/autos-must-average-545-mpg-by-2025-new-epa-standards-are-expected-to-say/2012/08/28/2c47924a-f117-11e1-892d-bc92fee603a7_story.html?hpid=z4">a jump in fuel-economy standards</a>&nbsp;under his administration and a <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/autos-must-average-545-mpg-by-2025-new-epa-standards-are-expected-to-say/2012/08/28/2c47924a-f117-11e1-892d-bc92fee603a7_story.html?hpid=z4">downward trend in CO<sub>2</sub> emissions from vehicles since 2005</a>.</p><p>Argonne is a major research center for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/54-mpg-argonne-natl-lab-wins-grant-fuel-efficiency-research-90433">fuel efficiency</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-19/changing-gears-will-advanced-batteries-charge-midwest-economy-93278">advanced batteries</a>. The Department of Energy&nbsp;recently&nbsp;<a href="http://energy.gov/articles/team-led-argonne-national-lab-selected-doe-s-batteries-and-energy-storage-hub">named the lab a national hub</a>&nbsp;for advanced energy storage technology.</p><p>Though the Energy Security Trust idea was hatched from a bipartisan team with support from business leaders, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/us/politics/obamas-2-billion-plan-to-replace-fossil-fuels-in-cars.html?hp&amp;_r=0">its passage through Congress remains uncertain</a>. Securing America&rsquo;s Future Energy, the group <a href="http://www.secureenergy.org/policy/national-strategy-energy-security-2013">that drafted the policy report</a>, notes that federal funding for energy technology research and development in 2012 was less than half what it was in the late 1970s.</p><p>The plan attempts to bridge a political gap between Obama&rsquo;s professed &ldquo;all-of-the-above&rdquo; energy policy, which involves ramping up fossil fuel production, and environmentalists who expect decisive action on climate change. In lieu of comprehensive legislation to curb carbon dioxide emissions, Obama positioned the Trust as part of his economic strategy. It could also potentially supplement clean energy research currently <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/business/energy-environment/future-of-american-aid-to-clean-energy.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">suffering from the expiration of stimulus funds</a>&nbsp;and the mandatory spending cuts known as the sequester.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F83448147" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Obama addressed the effects of the sequester on basic scientific research. He joked that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/sequester-would-cut-funding-environment-and-energy-105774">the sweeping budget cuts</a> could be to blame for a lack of chairs in the audience, but also said the cuts &ldquo;don&rsquo;t trim the fat; they cut into muscle and into bone.&rdquo; This week Eric Isaacs, Argonne&rsquo;s director, co-authored <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/03/the-sequester-is-going-to-devastate-us-science-research-for-decades/273925/">an article in <em>The Atlantic</em></a><em> </em>decrying deep cuts that he said would cancel all new research initiatives for at least two years.</p><p>&ldquo;In a time where every month you&rsquo;ve got to replace your smartphone, imagine what that means when China, Germany and Japan are pumping up basic research and we&rsquo;re just sitting there doing nothing,&rdquo; Obama said Friday.</p><p>Environmentalists also traveled to southwest suburban Lemont to protest&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/environmentalists-protest-keystone-xl-pipeline-105576">the controversial Keystone XL pipeline</a>. The polarizing fossil fuel project did not come up during the President&rsquo;s address.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/350org/8559582711/in/photostream/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/argonne%20protesters%20350.org_.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="Environmentalists gather outside Argonne National Laboratory, where President Barack Obama was giving an energy policy address, to protest the Keystone XL pipeline project. (Courtesy 350.org)" /></a></div></p> Fri, 15 Mar 2013 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/argonne-obama-calls-energy-security-trust-106128 Rise of the Super Smart Supercomputer: How massively powerful computers and big data are transforming science and our lives http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/rise-super-smart-supercomputer-how-massively-powerful-computers-and-big <p><p><strong>Pete Beckman</strong> explains how math and supercomputers are accelerating scientific discovery and helping us predict the future. From discovering the secret inner workings of the universe to developing cars that can drive themselves, Pete Beckman will share with you the technology and science fueling a new breed of massive, smart supercomputers that will improve our world.</p><p>Pete Beckman is a recognized global expert in high-end computing systems. During the past 25 years, he has designed and built software and architectures for large-scale parallel and distributed computing systems. Peter helped found Indiana University&rsquo;s Extreme Computing Laboratory. He also founded the Linux cluster team at the Advanced Computing Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and a Turbolinux-sponsored research laboratory that developed the world&rsquo;s first dynamic provisioning system for cloud computing and HPC clusters. Furthermore, he acted as vice president of Turbolinux&rsquo;s worldwide engineering efforts.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Argonne-webstory.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />Recorded live Thursday, March 14, 2013 at&nbsp;Argonne National Laboratory.</p></p> Thu, 14 Mar 2013 10:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/rise-super-smart-supercomputer-how-massively-powerful-computers-and-big Paul Harvey gets busted http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/paul-harvey-gets-busted-105327 <p><p>Paul Harvey had a long, distinguished career as a radio news commentator. Yet one mistake almost derailed that career before it got rolling.</p><p>In February 1951 Harvey was 32 years old. He&rsquo;d recently begun broadcasting a daily program out of the Chicago office of the ABC radio network. Now he received a tip about security problems at the Argonne National Laboratory.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-6--Paul%20Harvey%201951.jpg" style="width: 220px; height: 308px; float: right;" title="Paul Harvey 1951 (Chicago Herald-American)" />Argonne was a top-secret nuclear facility west of the city. The Korean War was on. Atomic spies were in the news. Harvey decided to see for himself whether Argonne&rsquo;s security was lax.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Shortly after midnight on February 6, Harvey drove out to the lab in his car. Along with him were two men who worked inside Argonne. Parking the car just outside the grounds, Harvey began scaling the ten-foot-high fence. His companions remained behind.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Harvey was just coming down inside the fence when a guard spotted him. The guard ordered him to halt. Harvey stopped, stumbled, and fell. When he got up he was placed under arrest. Meanwhile, the two men outside the fence took off.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Harvey was taken to Chicago FBI headquarters for questioning. Because his driver&rsquo;s license was in his birth name&mdash;Paul Aurandt&mdash;at first it was thought that this intruder might be an atomic spy himself! When his identity as a newscaster was established, Harvey was released.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-6--Paul Harvey 2005.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 315px; float: left;" title="Paul Harvey 2005 (Executive Office, POTUS)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The FBI determined that Harvey had not broken any federal laws, and dropped the matter.&nbsp; However, on March 15, the U.S. Attorney&rsquo;s office announced plans to seek an indictment. The charges involved &ldquo;conspiracy to obtain information on national security and transmit it to the public.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">Harvey had told conflicting stories when questioned. Papers found in his car suggested that he&rsquo;d snuck into Argonne to prepare a sensational radio expose. But the worst that could be said was that he&rsquo;d let his enthusiasm get the better of his judgment&mdash;a not uncommon fault of young journalists. The grand jury refused to indict. On April 4 Harvey was cleared of all charges.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Harvey&#39;s critics claimed he had gotten off easy, courtesy of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover. His supporters said that Harvey had been harassed by the U.S. Attorney on orders from the Truman White House. Realizing that he might have wound up in prison&mdash;or shot&mdash;Harvey promised network executives that he&rsquo;d be more careful in his pursuit of stories.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Paul Harvey received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. He died in 2009.</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 06 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/paul-harvey-gets-busted-105327 Clever Apes #27: Breaking the fossil record http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-03-08/clever-apes-27-breaking-fossil-record-96971 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-07/Orgel2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Joseph Orgel holds his sample of T. rex tissue. (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)" class="caption" height="450" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-07/Orgel2.JPG" title="Joseph Orgel holds his sample of T. rex tissue. (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)" width="600"></p><p>Dinosaurs loom large in our imaginations not just because they were in fact enormous, but also they are so ridiculously old. There has always been a big, impenetrable curtain separating us from prehistoric life. Sure, we have some ancient bones, but those had long since turned to stone. Any actual tissue, the stuff of flesh-and-blood creatures, is irrevocably lost, lasting only a few tens of thousands of years in most cases. Maybe a few stray organic molecules could persist for a few million if, say, they were frozen deep within primeval ice.</p><p>So, needless to say, it came as something of a shock when Mary Schweitzer <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/307/5717/1952.abstract">discovered that she had some 68-million-year-old dinosaur tissue </a>on her hands.</p><p><img alt="Researchers at Argonne lab use tricycles to get around the Advanced Photon Sourc" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-05/Orgel trike.jpg" style="margin: 10px; width: 350px; float: right; height: 267px;" title="Researchers at Argonne lab use tricycles to get around the Advanced Photon Source. (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)">The find was and is controversial. <a href="http://genome.fieldofscience.com/2009/06/dinosaur-proteins-from-t-rex-and.html">Many scientists are skeptical or outright dismissive </a>of the idea that tissue could have persisted inside the partially fossilized thigh bone of a T. rex. But since then Schweitzer and her collaborators have gradually built up evidence that the find is real. And most recently, <a href="http://www.iit.edu/csl/bio/faculty/orgel_joseph.shtml">Joseph Orgel of the Illinois Institute of Technology </a>has begun to understand how mummified dino-flesh could possibly have survived a thousand times longer than was thought possible.</p><p>Orgel used <a href="http://aps.anl.gov/">x-ray diffraction</a>, a kind of molecular imaging technique, to understand how the dinosaur tissue is structured in detail. The particular stuff they have in hand is collagen, a material found in our bones, tendons, blood vessels and skin. It is itself a hardy molecule, and Orgel found that the protein sequences preserved in their fossils came from the innermost, protected part of the collagen fiber. So it’s possible that <a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0020381">collagen’s tough, ropelike structure preserved a tender bit of dinosaur jerky inside.</a></p><p>Keep in mind, this is not DNA. We will not be cloning Barney from this stuff. But understanding how these proteins can be shielded from decay for so long could hold practical lessons for modern medicine. If you’re repairing, say, a bone or cartilage, you might be able to leverage or mimic nature’s ability to make durable organic materials that don’t degrade, in effect, forever.<img alt="Phillip Messersmith designed a medical glue based on the blue mussel's natural a" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-05/Messersmith.jpg" style="margin: 10px; width: 250px; float: left; height: 333px;" title="Phillip Messersmith designed a medical glue based on the blue mussel's natural adhesive. (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)"></p><p>Also in today’s episode, we consider another example of design inspired by biology. <a href="http://biomaterials.bme.northwestern.edu/mussel.asp">Dr. Phillip Messersmith’s muse is the blue mussel </a>– a bivalve that secretes a unique adhesive to stick itself to rocks or boat hulls or wherever it feels like sticking. (They form their connective threads and tacky pads through a kind of shellfish injection-molding process. The video below, provided by the Messersmith lab, captures an amazing example.) This stuff turns out to have some key qualities that a surgeon would envy. It starts as a liquid and solidifies quickly, it functions well under water and it’s sticky as hell.</p><p>That’s a big advantage over the medical glues out there that doctors use to attach or repair tissues. The safest ones are too weak. The strongest ones (basically, super glue) are toxic. <a href="http://biomaterials.bme.northwestern.edu/">Messersmith and his lab-mates at Northwestern University </a>are using the fundamentals of the mussel glue to design their own version, which they demonstrated for us on some sausage casing.</p><p>So someday, maybe they’ll be able to install a dino-inspired bone patch in your body, and lock it down with some mussel glue. Until then, don’t forget to subscribe to our <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-clever-apes/id379051174" target="_blank" title="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast">podcast</a>, follow us on&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/cleverapes" target="_blank" title="http://twitter.com/#!/cleverapes">Twitter</a>, and find us on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412" target="_blank" title="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="451" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/38034455?color=ff0179" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="601"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 07 Mar 2012 16:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-03-08/clever-apes-27-breaking-fossil-record-96971 Top hair-raising research moments http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-12-05/top-hair-raising-research-moments-94614 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-07/Jehlik_1653.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-05/Bear pic.jpg" title="These scientists fend off bears, bats, elephants and tipsy locals to get their research done. (photo by Jason Smith)" width="600" height="400"></p><p>Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of moderating <a href="http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2011/11/28/exploring-world-extreme-science">a conversation among four scientists </a>from local institutions, all of whom worked in rather unconventional “labs:” a mine shaft half-a-mile underground, a volcanic crater in Siberia, a racetrack in rural America.</p><p>The subject of the event was “Xtreme research” (cue air guitars!). You can listen in full via the link above (skip to minute 11:00 if you want to bypass my gobbledygook and cut straight to the panel). It was a really lively discussion and a great window into how science happens in unusual places. But for brevity’s sake, I’m including a few highlights here:</p><p><a href="http://geosci.uchicago.edu/people/colman.shtml"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-05/Jehlik points.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px; float: left; margin-right: 10px; margin-left: 10px;" title="(photo by Jason Smith)"></a><strong>Hot foot</strong></p><p><a href="http://geosci.uchicago.edu/people/colman.shtml">Albert Colman</a> works in the geophysical sciences department at the University of Chicago, and he studies extremophiles – that is, organisms who like extreme conditions, such as boiling hot, oxygenless volcanic hot springs. His main venue is the Uzon Caldera in Kamchatka, off in far-eastern Russia. Beneath much of the ground there is basically boiling mud (think Yellowstone in Siberia), so nearly every step comes with the risk of punching through the crust into the inferno below. One time Colman was about to take a photograph there, and he stepped back just a bit too far, only to feel his booted foot sinking. This was quite perilous – like in quicksand, if you yank out your stuck foot you risk just working your way in deeper. Colman says it took a full minute to carefully extricate himself. When he did get it out, the footprint was already filling with boiling liquid.</p><p><strong>Bat brain</strong></p><p><a href="http://home.fnal.gov/%7Erameika/CV_RAR.pdf">R<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-05/Gina smiles.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px; float: right; margin-right: 10px; margin-left: 10px;" title="(photo by Jason Smith)">egina Rameika</a> of Fermilab worked for a time in an underground lab in a Minnesota mineshaft. She studies the behavior of extremely elusive particles called neutrinos, which in this case are <a href="http://www-numi.fnal.gov/">best observed deep inside the earth. </a>Every trip in and out of the lab, including the construction of a 5,000-ton particle detector, had to go via one elevator, about 20-feet square. I asked Rameika what would be going through her mind on the way down, and she responded without hesitation, “bats.” The shaft is full of them, and she said her chief preoccupation on the way down is keeping them out of her hair.</p><p><strong>Day at the races</strong></p><p><a href="https://blogs.anl.gov/expertsguide/forrest-jehlik/">Forrest Jehlik </a>researches engine technology at Argonne National Laboratory, but much of his work takes place at speedways across the Midwest and South. He helps spearhead the <a href="http://www.circletrack.com/enginetech/ctrp_1005_project_green_dyno_test/viewall.html">“green racing” project</a>, which aims to test uber-efficient engine designs in the context of circle-track racing. (He quipped that while his colleagues may have to fend off bears and bats, he has to worry about Coors-fueled locals who favor Ford, while he brings a Chevy.) At one race he and another engineer volunteered for pit crew duty. These guys are gearheads, to be sure, but not professional racing crew members by any stretch. At one point they improvised a fix to wring a few more horsepower out of the engine, which diverted a cooling system from the brakes. At one pit stop, Jehliks says the brakes got so hot they were “cherry red.” He says they burned through his gloves, and his skin, as he worked to remove them.</p><p><a href="https://blogs.anl.gov/expertsguide/doug-sisterson/"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-05/Gabe tlks.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px; float: left; margin-right: 10px; margin-left: 10px;" title="(photo by Jason Smith)"></a><strong>Gimme shelter</strong></p><p><a href="https://blogs.anl.gov/expertsguide/doug-sisterson/">Doug Sisterson</a> makes a beeline for the places where models of the climate don’t match up with the actual data. This typically means remote spots from Barrow, Alaska to Papua New Guinea. He’s a research meteorologist at Argonne, and he brings truckloads of cutting-edge equipment into inaccessible locales, to figure out what’s going on with the climate. He talks about caravanning his gear to an isolated village on the edge of the Sahara in Niger – a place where “if you forgot a roll of duct tape, it’s a long way to a Radio Shack.” When he got there he discovered that the site was completely exposed to the elements. So he asked the impoverished locals if they could help him build a research building. They enthusiastically complied, building a sturdy complex to house millions of dollars of sophisticated equipment, made entirely of what appear to be mud bricks.</p><p>It’s not at all clear that the skill sets needed to be a careful physicist or geochemist are anything like the skills needed to live and work in such extreme environments. I asked the scientists how they squared that disconnect. They all agreed: The common denominator is passion.</p></p> Mon, 05 Dec 2011 22:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-12-05/top-hair-raising-research-moments-94614 Clever Apes #21: Secret lives of nuclear scientists http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-11-08/clever-apes-21-secret-lives-nuclear-scientists-93868 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/thumbnail.png" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" height="589" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-08/secret lives blog.png" title="Marius Stan and Dan Pancake lead double lives on top of their scientific pursuits. (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer/Michael De Bonis)" width="604"></p><p>In pop culture, we tend to pigeonhole scientists into a few stereotypes: out-of-touch nerds (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DUkGjWVOlc">Jerry Lewis’ Nutty Professor</a>), bumbling head-in-the-clouds types (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5cYgRnfFDA">Doc Brown</a>) or obsessed madmen (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H3dFh6GA-A">Dr. Frankenstein</a>/<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZCIPb2XTms">Moreau</a>/<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqkeemU7fyk">Jekyll</a>/<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iesXUFOlWC0">Strangelove</a>). In truth, research shows that the <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/framing-science/2010/05/reconsidering_the_image_of_sci.php">picture is a bit more nuanced</a>, but scientists still have to work uphill to convince people they are three-dimensional people.</p><p>Which is what makes it so much fun to pull back the curtain on the secret identities of a couple of local players in nuclear science. It would be one thing if their after-hours passion was playing in a cover band or tap dancing (both noble pursuits). But in the case of Marius Stan and Dan Pancake, these guys are entitled to some serious hipster cred.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 8px;">Listen to the episode: </span></strong></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483814-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/Secret lives mix for web.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p><a href="https://blogs.anl.gov/expertsguide/marius-stan/">Marius Stan</a> is a chemist, physicist and computational materials scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, doing theoretical work and computer modeling on materials for nuclear reactors and such. He also has a <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2256387/">recurring role </a>on what might be the best show on television, <em>Breaking Bad</em>.</p><p>Dan Pancake runs <a href="http://www.anl.gov/Media_Center/News/2009/news090908.html">nuclear cleanup projects </a>at Argonne, spearheading the technically complex work of removing radioactive uranium and plutonium from the lab. He’s also a chef and restaurateur, owner of a new (and <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-08-11/features/ct-dining-0811-vettel-autre-monde-20110811_1_berwyn-tuttaposto-dining">well-reviewed</a>) fine-dining <a href="http://autremondecafe.net/">Mediterranean restaurant in Berwyn</a>.</p><p>On this edition of Clever Apes, we reveal the secret lives of nuclear scientists. Just think of what other hipness lurks below the surface in labs and biology departments across our region.</p><p>As always, don’t forget to subscribe to our <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast" target="_blank" title="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast">podcast</a>, follow us on&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/cleverapes" target="_blank" title="http://twitter.com/#!/cleverapes">Twitter</a>, and find us on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412" target="_blank" title="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>.</p></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 22:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-11-08/clever-apes-21-secret-lives-nuclear-scientists-93868 Argonne scores hydropower research grant http://www.wbez.org/story/argonne-scores-hydropower-research-grant-91615 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-07/AP050526025387.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Argonne National Laboratory has secured nearly $2 million in federal money for hydropower technology research.</p><p>The lab, located in suburban Chicago, is one of 16 research facilities in 11 states to receive Department of Energy funds for such research. On Tuesday the department announced it would distribute funds totaling nearly $17 million over three years.</p><p>Argonne is the only Illinois project to receive money. The lab will investigate ways to improve pumped storage hydropower, where utilities pump water up to a dam when electricity demand is low, then release the water when demand is high. Supporters say it can make electric grids more reliable.</p><p>Energy Secretary Steven Chu said improving that technology would help maximize use of a clean energy resource and create jobs.</p></p> Wed, 07 Sep 2011 15:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/argonne-scores-hydropower-research-grant-91615 54 m.p.g? Argonne Nat'l Lab wins grant for fuel efficiency research http://www.wbez.org/story/54-mpg-argonne-natl-lab-wins-grant-fuel-efficiency-research-90433 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-11/Fuel Efficiency Argonne_Flickr_Argonne Nat&#039;l Laboratory.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The dream of a car that gets 54 miles per gallon is behind a grant headed for Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.</p><p>The lab is receiving $800,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy for research aimed at helping automakers achieve fuel efficiency standards required by 2025. The award was among more than $175 million in grants announced Wednesday.</p><p>The funding announced by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu will support 40 projects across 15 states.</p><p>Researchers at Argonne are developing boron-based lubricant additives. Projects funded elsewhere focus on lighter weight materials, longer-lasting and cheaper electric vehicle batteries and more efficient engine technologies.</p><p>Last month, the White House announced a deal with automakers to double overall fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025, starting in model year 2017.</p></p> Thu, 11 Aug 2011 14:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/54-mpg-argonne-natl-lab-wins-grant-fuel-efficiency-research-90433 Clever Apes #15: Trick of the light http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-07-26/clever-apes-15-trick-light-89684 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-26/P1080171.JPG" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Lisa Utschig holds a vial of the protein active in photosynthesis. " class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-26/green stuff.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 400px; margin-top: 5px; margin-right: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 5px; " title="Lisa Utschig holds a vial of the protein active in photosynthesis. (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)"></p><p>Photosynthesis is one of the oldest biological processes on earth. Microorganisms figured it out more than two billion years ago, and <a href="http://www.geo.arizona.edu/%7Ereiners/geos195K/Huxmanreading.pdf">completely transformed the planet</a>. Sure, there was life before photosynthesis, but unless you like <a href="http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Anaerobic_Respiration">breathing rust</a>, it probably wouldn’t have been your bag.</p><p>Photosynthesis put oxygen into the air, fueled the plants that feed us and formed the organic molecules that would become fossil fuels. Life on earth is positively drenched in sunshine, and yet the basic processes of how green things turn light into energy are still shrouded in mystery.</p><p><span style="font-size: 8px;">Listen to the episode here: </span></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483579-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/Clever Apes_15_Trick of the light.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>In this installment of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/cleverapes">Clever Apes</a>, we consider why photosynthesis, a concept <a href="http://www.biology4kids.com/files/plants_photosynthesis.html">familiar to most third-graders</a>, remains a puzzle to science. And we’ll find out how a research team at <a href="http://www.anl.gov/">Argonne National Laboratory </a>has begun to <a href="http://www.anl.gov/Media_Center/News/2011/news110518.html">crack the code</a>.</p><p>Plus, how a Chicago scientist homes in on tiny atomic clocks to figure out how long it’s been since the sun shone on a specimen. That can tell you when, say, a layer of sediment was covered over, and consequently how old stuff buried in that layer is. The <a href="http://www.uic.edu/labs/ldrl/">optical dating technology </a>has already led to major discoveries, including one that helped <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/anthropology/chicago-scientist-dates-artifacts-may-rewrite-ancient-history-84190">overturn the conventional wisdom </a>about when North America was settled.</p><p>Listen up, subscribe to our <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast" target="_blank" title="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast">podcast</a>, follow us on&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/cleverapes" target="_blank" title="http://twitter.com/#!/cleverapes">Twitter</a>, and find us on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412" target="_blank" title="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="David Tiede heads a team trying to unlock the secrets of photosynthesis. (WBEZ/M" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-26/Tree chem.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 400px; margin-top: 5px; margin-right: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 5px; " title="David Tiede heads a team trying to unlock the secrets of photosynthesis. (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)"></p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 01:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-07-26/clever-apes-15-trick-light-89684 Dear Chicago: Green the fleet http://www.wbez.org/content/dear-chicago-green-fleet <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-25/IMG_1653.JPG" alt="" /><p><br/><div id="PictoBrowser120123122034">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "520", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Dear Chicago: Green the Fleet"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157628998934719"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "always"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "top"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser120123122034"); </script><p>Between sanitation trucks, fire engines, and police SUVs, the City of Chicago owns its fair share of motor vehicles - nearly 13,000 in all, according to the Department of Fleet Management. And fueling them up is not cheap: in 2010 the city spent more than $24 million on gasoline and diesel fuel. &nbsp;</p><p>Compare that with only $164,000 spent on alternative fuels and you might have a hard time squaring reality with outgoing Mayor Richard M. Daley’s stated desire to improve the city’s environmental record.</p><div>In a 2006 <a href="http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1193833,00.html#ixzz1Gn06K8Ni">Time Magazine article</a> Mayor Daley said the city was “aggressive in terms of the environment,” and his claim bears out in some cases. Daley founded the Department of the Environment in 1992 and is credited with planting thousands of trees and remediating thousands of acres of brownfield sites in the city. He even had a rooftop garden installed on City Hall.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In addition, the city launched its Climate Action Plan in 2008, with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The plan includes improvements to the fleet, but a publicly available progress report suggests most improvements come from changes to the Chicago Transit Authority's bus fleet, not improvements to vehicles under the city's direct control.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This has not been enough to satisfy some, such as scientist Forrest Jehlik, who want the city to address its fleet’s impact on global warming faster and more aggressively. Jehlik, 38, is an environmentalist, but he’s not wed to weepy, low-performance vehicles; in fact, he loves muscle cars and stock car racing, and hopes to buy a classic British chopper motorcycle this summer. But as a research engineer at Argonne National Laboratory he is also pioneering technological advancements that could make all automobiles greener and more fuel efficient. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here, Jehlik explains why he wants this city to put its money where its mouth is and green its fleet.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WBEZ’s <a href="http://chicagopublicmedia.org/partnerships/our-partners">Partnerships Program</a>. Forrest Jehlik was nominated for the series by <a href="http://www.anl.gov/">Argonne National Laboratory</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Dear Chicago, </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>For a long time now you’ve portrayed yourself as a green city. Let’s make sure those words aren’t just a dream.&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I love cars. I really, really do. I went to a horror movie when I was 10 or 11 years old and in the movie there was this car, a 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda, and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It’s a classic Chrysler car, and from that day on I was sold. I went out and read and learned about cars and knew that was my dream car. To me, cars done right aren’t just a utility; they’re pieces of art.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I’m also passionate about trying to reduce our reliance on foreign petroleum, and looking for solutions that are domestically generated, helping support industry in the United States.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I was at General Motors for 5 years. My job was in research and development working on diesel engine systems for the North American marketplace. Our fuel economy targets were really aggressive at that time, and diesel engines are inherently anywhere from 25 to 40 percent more efficient per gallon than a gasoline engine. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Now I work at Argonne National Laboratory on two different projects. The first thing I’m working on is the effect of temperature on fuel consumption in advanced vehicles like hybrids. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Let’s say you have a Toyota Prius or some advanced vehicle that you were driving around the city. If you were to drive the same route every day, driving at the same speed, and for the sake of argument you didn’t turn on the air conditioner or the heater, you would notice a tremendous increase and decrease in your fuel consumption depending on the temperatures outside. I’ve been working on techniques to characterize what the fuel consumption is relative to those ambient conditions and what engineering solutions could be applied to that loss, which could really benefit the consumer with increased fuel economy. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Then, I got involved a little over a year ago with a green racing program. Racing has an enormous volume of fans in this country, whether it’s motorcycle racing, stock car racing, indie racing, or American Le Mans series racing. It’s second only to the NFL [National Football League]. It’s the perfect platform to say, hey, this race car has this whiz-bang gadget or this new advanced technology and your production cars could have this too.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>The results have been amazing. Last year we were able to record a 40 percent reduction in petroleum use over a whole American Le Mans race series as well as a 40 percent reduction in well-to-wheels greenhouse gas emissions. It was pretty staggering. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>There are a lot of technologies on the horizon that Chicago could look at to diversify their fleet and become much more sustainable environmentally. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>The first step is we really need to find out what their driving habits are. Engineers tend to be a lot more rational than we are political. I think the key is doing the research and seeing what makes the most sense for the driving route, driving conditions, seasonal driving distance, loading conditions and so forth. Certain technologies lend themselves better to certain things. It could be anything from electric power vehicles to compressed natural gas for busses. There’s not one silver bullet. There are more like a lot of silver shotgun pellets, and you need to find the right shotgun pellet to address the issue. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>The image a city portrays is a global thing, and it can really make the difference between people wanting to invest and become a part of the city or looking elsewhere. So the City of Chicago has touted itself for a long time now as a green city, but what does green mean? Well, in my opinion green means sustainable. The city definitely has the potential to be a world leader in this movement. We can really start down that path where we’re not reliant on just petroleum-based products that will ultimately become too expensive for the world to use.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>What I’d like to see the city do, if it really wants to make good on its green image, is take a look at the entire transportation sector to see what the free market could do to reduce their petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions, and truly reflect the image of Chicago as a leader of clean transportation.</em></div></p> Mon, 28 Mar 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/dear-chicago-green-fleet