This month’s stories include: fishy behavior, lifesaving databases, glowing standards and intense detectives.

oakridgeFishy behavior . . .
Proposals to install hydrokinetic turbines – like underwater windmills – in rivers across the U.S. are prompting questions about the environmental impacts of this new hydropower energy source. In response, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are investigating how electromagnetic fields generated by the turbines could affect the behavior of freshwater fauna such as snails, clams, minnows and sturgeon.

Database a likely lifesaver . . .
Highly effective anti-virus programs for computers are providing the inspiration for a system to protect people from deadly genetically engineered biological bugs. While the National Cyber Security Division’s US-CERT provides cyber security updates and tools to safeguard computers within federal agencies, industry, state and local governments and the public, no such program exists to protect the public from harmful biological threats. That could change, however, with BioSITES, the vision of Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers Robert Cottingham and Tom Brettin.

Setting standards . . .
By testing radiation detection equipment and helping establish national and international standards, a team of Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers protects the people who keep the nation safe. The Graduated Rad/Nuc Detector Evaluation and Reporting program fulfills a Congressional mandate to set capability standards and establish a test and evaluation program for radiation and nuclear detectors. “The basic idea is to ensure that we identify the functional limitations of radiological and nuclear detection equipment,” said Pete Chiaro, who leads numerous international and American National Standards Institute standards committees.

Intense neutron detectives . . .
What does it take to withstand the conditions of ITER, the world’s largest fusion energy reactor? Neutron scattering is one way to find out. The Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory offers fusion researchers with the U.S. ITER Project Office at ORNL, the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency and the ITER Organization a unique resource for improving the performance of superconducting cables. In the ITER design, toroidal magnetic confinement fusion relies on superconducting cable that must endure extreme magnetic fields and electromagnetic forces. SNS has the most intense neutron beams of any pulsed neutron source in the world, and the facility’s VULCAN engineering diffractometer can handle large samples like the ITER cable.

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Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Photo: Oak Ridge National Laboratory