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Science News

Simulations Reveal Unusual Death for Ancient Stars

September 29, 2014

Those primordial stars—between 55,000 and 56,000 times the mass of our Sun, or solar masses—may have died unusually. In death, these objects—among the Universe’s first-generation of stars—would have exploded as supernovae and burned completely, leaving no remnant black hole behind. Read More »

Pore Models Track Reactions in Underground Carbon Capture

September 25, 2014

Using tailor-made software running on top-tier supercomputers, a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory team is creating microscopic pore-scale simulations that complement or push beyond laboratory findings.  The models of microscopic underground pores could help scientists evaluate ways to store carbon dioxide produced by power plants, keeping it from contributing to global climate change.  The models could be a first, says David Trebotich, the project’s principal investigator. “I’m not… Read More »

Interface Surprises May Motivate Novel Oxide Electronic Devices

September 23, 2014

A research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory has discovered that intrinsic electric fields can drive oxygen diffusion at interfaces in engineered thin films made of complex oxides. This may serve as a basis for design of new electronic devices utilizing both electrons and ions. Read More »

Mapping the March to Methodical Materials

September 18, 2014

Scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have determined the individual reactions and the energy needed at each step to form the basic unit of a popular MOF. Read More »

New Catalyst Converts CO₂ to Fuel

September 5, 2014

Scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago have synthesized a catalyst that improves their system for converting waste carbon dioxide into syngas, a precursor of gasoline and other energy-rich products. Read More »

Photon Speedway Puts Big Data In the Fast Lane

August 26, 2014

In experiments run at the Linac Coherent Light Source, scientists from Berkeley Lab and SLAC used NERSC and ESnet to more quickly achieve a breakthrough in photosynthesis research. Read More »

DOE Project Taps HPC for Next-Generation Climate Modeling

August 25, 2014

High performance computing will be used to develop and apply the most complete climate and Earth system model to address the most challenging and demanding climate change issues. Read More »

SPOT Suite Transforms Beamline Science

August 18, 2014

Most synchrotron light sources have been operating on a manual grab-and-go data management model, but a recent data deluge is quickly making this practice implausible. So scientists from the Advanced Light Source (ALS), CRD and NERSC teamed up to create SPOT Suite, and it is already transforming the way scientists run their experiments at the ALS. Read More »

Hot Plasma Partial to Bootstrap Current

July 9, 2014

Supercomputers at NERSC are helping plasma physicists “bootstrap” a potentially more affordable and sustainable fusion reaction. Read More »

‘Thirsty’ Metals Key to Longer Battery Lifetimes

June 30, 2014

Replacing lithium with other metals with multiple charges could greatly increase battery capacity. But first researchers need to understand how to keep multiply charged ions—ions that have gained or lost more than one electron—stable. Read More »

'Erratic' Lasers Pave Way for Tabletop Accelerators

June 9, 2014

Making a tabletop particle accelerator just got easier. A new study by researchers from Berkeley Lab shows that certain requirements to build an emerging type of small-area particle accelerator can be significantly relaxed. Read More »

Farming: A Climate Change Culprit

June 7, 2014

Increased agricultural activity is a rain taker, not a rain maker, according to computer simulations of African monsoon precipitation. This research offer new insights into how land-use change may affect regional rainfall. Read More »

Confirmed: Stellar Behemoth Self-Destructs in Type IIb Supernova

May 21, 2014

For the first time ever, astronomers have direct confirmation that a Wolf-Rayet star—sitting 360 million light years away in the Bootes constellation—died in a violent explosion known as a Type IIb supernova. Using the iPTF pipeline, researchers caught supernova SN 2013cu within hours of its explosion. These observations are providing valuable insights into the life and death of the progenitor Wolf-Rayet. These stars are interesting because they enrich galaxies with the heavy chemical elements that eventually become the building blocks for planets and life. Read More »

Atomic Switcheroo Explains Origins of Thin-Film Solar Cell Mystery

April 29, 2014

Scientists have known since the 1980s that treating cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar cell materials with cadmium-chloride improves efficiency, but the underlying physics has remained a mystery until now. Combining electron microscopy with computer simulations run at the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), researchers have put this decades long debate to rest. Read More »

Calming Plasma's Stormy Seas

April 23, 2014

Energy researchers continue to make headway in their quest to better understand what makes a fusion reaction “tick.” Read More »

Clocking the Early Universe's Expansion

April 17, 2014

By analyzing the light of distant quasars gathered by the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), astronomers have made the most accurate calculation yet of the expansion rate of the young Universe. Their findings could help scientists discover the nature of dark energy, the mysterious, repulsive force that pervades our universe causing it to expand at an accelerating rate. Read More »

To Bridge LEDs' Green Gap, Scientists Think Small

April 4, 2014

Nanostructures half the breadth of a DNA strand could improve the efficiency of light emitting diodes (LEDs), especially in the “green gap,” a portion of the spectrum where LED efficiency plunges, simulations at NERSC have shown. Read More »

Human-induced climate change reduces chance of flooding in Okavango Delta

March 27, 2014

Researchers at the University of Cape Town, Berkeley Lab and the United Nations Development Programme have analyzed how human-induced climate change has affected recent flooding in an ecologically and geographically unique river basin in southern Africa—the Okavango River. Read More »

Disordered Materials Hold Promise for Better Batteries

February 21, 2014

A lot of research is being done to facilitate the use of lithium batteries in electronic devices. Using supercomputers at NERSC, researchers have found a new avenue for such research: the use of disordered materials, which had generally been considered unsuitable for batteries. Read More »

Decoding the Molecular Mysteries of Photosynthesis

February 14, 2014

Understanding the inner workings of photosynthesis is key to building new man-made energy resources. Simulations run on NERSC supercomputers are helping researchers do just that. Read More »

Taming Plasma Fusion Snakes

January 24, 2014

Controlled nuclear fusion has held the promise of a safe, clean, sustainable energy resource for decades. Now, with concerns over global climate change growing, the ability to produce a reliable carbon-free energy source has taken on new urgency. Read More »

Are Earths Rare? Perhaps Not

January 13, 2014

One out of every five sun-like stars in our Milky Way galaxy has an Earth-sized planet orbiting it in the Goldilocks zone—not too hot, not too cold—where surface temperatures should be compatible with liquid water, according to a statistical analysis of data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. Read More »

BOSS Measures the Universe to One-Percent Accuracy

January 8, 2014

The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey announced that it has measured the scale of the universe’s structure to an accuracy of one percent. This and future measurements at this precision are the key to determining the nature of dark energy. Read More »

Supercomputers Capture Turbulence in the Solar Wind

December 16, 2013

With help from Berkeley Lab's visualization experts and NERSC supercomputers, astrophysicists can now study turbulence in unprecedented detail, and the results may hold clues about some of the processes that lead to destructive space weather events. Read More »

An Inside Look at a MOF in Action

December 5, 2013

A unique inside look at the electronic structure of a highly touted metal-organic framework (MOF) as it is adsorbing carbon dioxide gas should help in the design of new and improved MOFs for carbon capture and storage. Read More »

NERSC Supercomputers Help Reveal Secrets of Natural Gas Reserves

December 3, 2013

Supercomputers at the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Supercomputing Center (NERSC) helped scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) study gas and oil deposits in shale and reveal structural information that could lead to more efficient extraction of gas and oil from shale. Read More »

Big Data Hits the Beamline

November 26, 2013

When scientists from around the world visit Dula Parkinson’s microtomography beamline at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Advanced Light Source, they all want the same thing: scientifically illuminating X-ray views of matter. Unfortunately, many of them have left with debilitating data overload. Department of Energy scientists like Parkinson are collaborating with computational scientists and mathematicians on data-handling and analysis tools. Read More »

Searching for Cosmic Accelerators via IceCube

November 21, 2013

New results from IceCube, the neutrino observatory buried at the South Pole, may show the way to locating and identifying cosmic accelerators in our galaxy that are 40 million times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Read More »

Greenhouse Gases into Gold

November 6, 2013

Environmentalists have long lamented the destructive effects of greenhouse gases, with carbon dioxide (CO2) often accused of being the primary instigator of global climate change. As a result, numerous efforts are under way to find ways to prevent, capture and sequester—perhaps even bury—CO2 emissions and reduce their negative effects. But some researchers say CO2 is getting a bad rap. Read More »

New Model of Earth’s Interior Reveals Clues to Hotspot Volcanoes

October 29, 2013

Using supercomputers at NERSC, scientists have detected previously unknown channels of slow-moving seismic waves in Earth’s upper mantle. This discovery helps to explain how “hotspot volcanoes”—the kind that give birth to island chains like Hawaii and Tahiti—come to exist.
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2D Monolayers Could Yield Thinnest Solar Cells Ever

October 21, 2013

New computer simulations have shown how using a different type of material could enable thinner, more lightweight solar panels that provide power densities – watts per kilogram of material – orders of magnitude higher than current technologies. Read More »

Clot Busting Simulations Test Potential Stroke Treatment

September 24, 2013

Researchers are using computer simulations to investigate how ultrasound and tiny bubbles injected into the bloodstream might break up blood clots, limiting the damage caused by a stroke in its first hours. Read More »

NERSC Calculations Provide Independent Confirmation of Global Land Warming Since 1901

September 9, 2013

Scientists report that land surface air temperatures estimated using a number of historical observations largely match the existing temperature measurements spanning the years 1901 to 2010. Read More »

OpenMSI: A Science Gateway to Sort Through Bio-Imaging’s Big Datasets

August 27, 2013

MSI technology is already helping doctors to better diagnose diseases, and leading to the creation of energy efficient and renewable biofuels. But researchers envision these areas of science progressing much faster—if only they had the computational tools to easily process, analyze and share these massive datasets. Now, they do—it’s called OpenMSI. Read More »

Computer Simulations Indicate Calcium Carbonate Has a Dense Liquid Phase

August 22, 2013

Berkeley Lab researchers find that calcium carbonate—the ubiquitous compound that is a major component of seashells, limestone, concrete, antacids and myriad other naturally and industrially produced substances—may momentarily exist in liquid form as it crystallizes from solution. Read More »

NERSC Helps Physicists ID New Molecules With Unique Features

August 10, 2013

Hollow magnetic cage molecules may have applications in technology, healthcare Read More »

Rising Sea Levels Due to Global Warming Are Unstoppable

August 5, 2013

A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions could greatly lessen the impacts of climate change. However, the gases already added to the atmosphere ensure a certain amount of sea level rise to come, even if future emissions are reduced. A study by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Gerald Meehl and colleagues quantifies the impact on oceans of the “climate commitment” being made now by human activity. Read More »

Throwing a Lifeline to Scientists Drowning in Data

August 1, 2013

Computational scientists at Berkeley Lab have figured out how to streamline the analysis of enormous scientific datasets. The analysis uses the same techniques that make complex subway systems understandable at a glance. Read More »

Physics of Intrinsic Plasma Rotation Explained for First Time

July 23, 2013

The quality of a fusion reaction is determined by plasma confinement at the edge, which is not yet completely understood due to the complicated interactions between multiscale physics. The SciDAC-developed XGC1 code, which was created using NERSC supercomputers, is the world’s first and only gyrokinetic code able to simulate the multiscale turbulence and background physics in realistic edge geometries. Read More »

With Nanoparticles, Slower May Be Better

July 5, 2013

Molecular dynamics simulations conducted at NERSC provide unprecedented understanding of nanoparticle structure and symmetry. Read More »

Thriving Tundra Bushes Add Fuel to Northern Thaw

June 28, 2013

Carbon-gobbling plants are normally allies in the fight to slow climate change, but in the frozen north, the effects of thriving vegetation may actually push temperatures higher. In a series of climate simulations performed at NERSC, a group of researchers found that the spread of bushes, taller ones especially, could exacerbate warming in northern latitudes by anywhere from 0.6°C to 1.8°C per year. What’s more, taller species have the potential to warm tundra soil more deeply, threatening… Read More »

Development of Advanced Materials Get Boost

June 24, 2013

The Materials Project—an open-access Google-like database for materials research developed by Berkeley Lab and MIT—is working with Intermolecular, Inc. to enhance the tool's modeling capabilities and thus accelerate the speed of new material development by tenfold or more. New materials are key to addressing challenges in energy, healthcare and national security. Read More »

Emission Regulations Reduced Impact of Climate Change in CA

June 13, 2013

A study using supercomputers at NERSC found that reductions in emissions of black carbon since the late 1980s, mostly from diesel engines as a result of air quality programs, have resulted in a measurable reduction of concentrations of global warming pollutants in the atmosphere, according to a first-of-its-kind study examining the impact of black carbon on California’s climate. Read More »

Trillion Particle Simulation on Hopper Honored with Best Paper

May 31, 2013

An unprecedented trillion-particle simulation, which utilized more than 120,000 processors and generated approximately 350 terabytes of data, pushed NERSC’s Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer to its limits. And, allowed Berkeley Lab researchers to glean valuable insights that will help thousands of scientists worldwide make the most of current petascale systems like Hopper and future exascale supercomputers. Read More »

Researchers Model Impact of Aerosols Over California

May 28, 2013

For the first time ever, researchers have characterized the relative, direct influence of different aerosol species on seasonal atmospheric warming and cooling over California using supercomputers at NERSC and at PNNL. Read More »

Math of Popping Bubbles in a Foam

May 9, 2013

Researchers have described mathematically the complex evolution and disappearance of foamy bubbles, a feat that could help in modeling industrial processes. Applying these equations, they used NERSC supercomputers to create visualizations showing the disappearance of wobbly foams one burst bubble at a time. Read More »

Aided by Simulations, Scientists Observe Atomic Collapse State

April 26, 2013

Aided by simulations generated at NERSC, scientists have finally confirmed a 70 year-old prediction in quantum mechanics: Electrons in super-heavy atoms can spiral into the nucleus and away again, emitting positron in the process, an effect known as atomic collapse state. This finding holds important implications for new kinds of graphene-based electronic devices, as well as future basic physics research. Read More »

Supercomputers Help a Catalyst Reach its Full Potential

April 23, 2013

Chemical reactions, facilitated by catalysts, are crucial to many industrial processes. Although many catalysts used in industry work just fine, researchers at PNNL want to help them reach their full potential. Read More »

BISICLES Captures Details of Retreating Antarctic Ice

March 30, 2013

Satellite observations suggest that the shrinking West Antarctic ice sheet is contributing to global sea level rise. But until recently, scientists could not accurately model the physical processes driving retreat of the ice sheet. Now, a new ice sheet model—BISICLES—is shedding light on these details. Read More »

Reading the Cosmic Writing on the Wall

March 21, 2013

Thanks to a sensitive space telescope and some sophisticated supercomputing performed at NERSC, scientists from the international Planck collaboration have made the closest reading yet of the most ancient story in our universe: the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Read More »

Simulations Yield Clues to How Cells Interact With Surroundings

March 21, 2013

Computer models offer a new look at the molecular machinery that enables cells to interact with their environment. The research has implications for cancer and atherosclerosis research. Read More »

NERSC Global Filesystem Played a Key Role in Discovery of the Last Neutrino Mixing Angle

February 7, 2013

Discovery of the last neutrino mixing angle was announced in March 2012, just a few months after the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment’s first detectors went online in southeast China. But that result might not have been available so quickly without the NERSC Global Filesystem (NGF) infrastructure, which allowed staff at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) NERSC to rapidly scale up disk and node resources to accommodate the surprisingly large influx of data. Read More »

A Massive Stellar Burst Before the Supernova

February 6, 2013

An automated supernova hunt is shedding new light on the death sequence of massive stars—specifically, the kind that self-destruct in Type IIn supernova explosions. Read More »

NERSC Supercomputers Help Explain the Last Big Freeze

January 31, 2013

About 13,000 years ago, a catastrophic injection of freshwater into the North Atlantic “conveyor” triggered a major cold spell. But, how did the freshwater get there? With help from NERSC, two researchers may have finally solved this mystery. Read More »

NERSC Contributes to Smithsonian Magazine's Surprising Scientific Milestones of 2012

January 23, 2013

Using NERSC supercomputers, MIT researchers came up with a new approach for desalinating sea water using sheets of graphene, a one-atom-thick form of the element carbon. Smithsonian Magazine named this result the fifth "Surprising Scientific Milestone of 2012. Read More »

NERSC Contributes to Science Magazine's Breakthroughs of the Year

January 14, 2013

Of the top 10 finalists for Science mag's 2012 "Breakthrough of the Year," NERSC provided critical computing and archival support to two accomplishments.
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NERSC Helps Develop Next-Gen Batteries

December 18, 2012

As part of DOE's new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub, NERSC resources will be used to predict the properties of electrolytes. When JCESR is up and running, collaborators will be able to combine these results with the existing Materials Project database to get a complete scope of battery components. Read More »

Modeling Feat Sheds Light on Protein Channel's Function

November 1, 2012

Using supercomputers at NERSC, chemists have simulated the biological function of the Sec translocon, which allows specific proteins to pass through membranes. The feat required bridging timescales from the realm of nanoseconds up to full minutes, exceeding earlier simulation efforts by more than 6 orders of magnitude. Read More »

The Path a Proton Takes Through a Fuel Cell Membrane

October 11, 2012

Experts believe that fuel cells may someday serve as clean energy conversion devices for transportation and other applications, but there are still some design issues that engineers need to sort out before this can happen. One challenge is to develop an inexpensive and robust polymer membrane that effectively conducts protons. In a step toward achieving that goal, researchers are running computer simulations at NERSC to understand how protons move through different polymer membranes. Read More »

Supernovae of the Same Brightness, Cut From Vastly Different Cosmic Cloth

August 23, 2012

Palomar Transient Factory team presented the first-ever direct observations of a Type 1a supernova progenitor system. Astronomers have collected evidence indicating that the system, called PTF 11kx, contains a red giant star. They also show that the system previously underwent at least one much smaller nova eruption before it ended its life in a destructive supernova. The event was initially detected by the PTF Real-Time Detection pipeline at NERSC. Read More »

Haverford College Researchers Create Carbon Dioxide-Separating Polymer

August 1, 2012

Using supercomputers at NERSC, researchers from Haverford College have come up with a new type of two-dimensional polymer, PG-ES1, which allows, in theory, for highly efficient separation of carbon dioxide from the exhausts of power plants. Read More »

New Computer Model Pinpoints Prime Materials for Carbon Capture

July 17, 2012

With help from NERSC's Petascale Initiative and DIRAC, researchers developed computer model to screen solid materials for cost-effectively capturing carbon emissions from fossil fuel-burning power plants. The new model shows that the parasitic energy costs of carbon capture could be reduced by 30 percent with the use of more efficient materials. Read More »

A new approach to water desalination

July 12, 2012

MIT researchers found that graphene sheets with precisely controlled pores have potential to purify water more efficiently than existing methods. Read More »

A new approach to water desalination

July 12, 2012

MIT researchers found that graphene sheets with precisely controlled pores have potential to purify water more efficiently than existing methods. Read More »

Sifting Through a Trillion Electrons

June 26, 2012

Astrophysicists using NERSC's Hopper system generated a 3D trillion-particle magnetic reconnection dataset, where each time-step amounted to a massive 32 terabyte file. With specialized tools developed by Berkeley Lab researchers, the scientists queried the dataset in 3 seconds and visualized it. This is the first-time a dataset of this magnitude has been queried and visualized so quickly. Read More »

Scientists Help Define the Healthy Human Microbiome

June 13, 2012

The human microbiome’s exact function, good and bad, is poorly understood. But, that could all change now that the normal microbial make-up of healthy humans has been mapped for the first time. Read More »

Using NERSC Systems, Physicists Close In on a Rare-Particle Decay Process

June 11, 2012

With help from supercomputers at NERSC, the Enriched Xenon Observatory experiment (EXO-200) has placed the most stringent constraints yet on the nature of a process called neutrinoless double beta decay. In doing so, the physicists have narrowed down the range of possible masses for the neutrino. Read More »

Why Onion-Like Carbons Make High-Energy Supercapacitors

June 1, 2012

The two most important electrical storage technologies are batteries and capacitors. Batteries can store a lot of energy, but have slow charge and discharge rates. Capacitors generally store less energy but have very fast (nearly instant) charge and discharge rates, and last longer than rechargeable batteries. Developing technologies that combine the optimal characteristics of both will require a detailed understanding of how these devices work at the molecular level. And researchers used supercomputers at NERSC to do just that. Read More »

Turning Water into Hydrogen Fuel

May 15, 2012

To do its job, the popular catalyst titanium dioxide often needs an even layer of hydroxyl groups across its surface; thanks to a new method by scientists at PNNL, the catalyst is now getting it. Read More »

Learning From Photosynthesis to Create Electricity

May 15, 2012

Inspired by plants, scientists have created a light-harvesting material that can turn sunlight into chemical energy. However, creating a stable form of the material for large-scale usage has proved difficult. Read More »

New Accelerator Will Study Steps on the Path to Fusion Power

May 10, 2012

The Neutralized Drift Compression Experiment, NDCX-II has recently marked successful completion. Designed with the aid of computer simulations executed at NERSC, the accelerator was created to study warm dense matter, an important research field in itself and particularly relevant to nuclear fusion. NDCX-II will test a variety of technologies in preparation for a new generation of power plants on Earth that will mimic the engines of the stars. Read More »

Floating Robots Track Water Flow, Stream Data via Smartphones

May 9, 2012

To understand how water flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, 100 mobile sensors were placed into the Sacramento River on May 9 to make critical measurements every few seconds. Once collected, this data is transmitted to NERSC for assimilation and analysis. Read More »

New Computer Codes Unlock the Secrets of Cleaner Burning Coal

March 29, 2012

Researchers supported by the Department of Energy are investigating relatively "clean" methods for extracting energy from coal—like gasification. Using NERSC systems, a scientist from the University of Utah has developed tools to model and validate the complex processes of coal gasification Read More »

Researchers Discover a New Kind of Neutrino Transformation

March 8, 2012

Some unprecedentedly precise measurements from the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment are revealing how electron antineutrinos “oscillate” into different flavors as they travel. This finding may eventually solve the riddle of why there is far more ordinary matter than antimatter in the universe today. Read More »

A Roadmap for Engineering Piezoelectricity in Graphene

February 23, 2012

With the help of supercomputers at the Department of Energy’s NERSC, researchers at Stanford University have uncovered yet another hidden talent of graphene—with a little chemical doping, it can be transformed into a controllable piezoelectric material. This discovery could lead to a wide variety of nanoscale devices from electronics and photonics to chemical sensing and high frequency acoustics. Read More »

New Mathematical Method Reveals Where Genes Switch On or Off

February 22, 2012

Developmental biologists using computing resources at NERSC, have taken a new mathematical method used in signal processing and applied it to biochemistry, using it to reveal the atomic-level details of protein–DNA interactions with unprecedented accuracy. They hope this method, called “compressed sensing,” will speed up research into where genes are turned on and off, and they expect it to have applications in many other scientific domains as well. Read More »

Bubbles Help Break Energy Storage Record for Lithium Air-Batteries

January 25, 2012

Using supercomputers at NERSC and microscopy, a team of researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Princeton University recently built a novel graphene membrane that could produce a lithium-air batter with the highest-energy capacity to date. Read More »

The Great Gas Hydrate Escape

January 25, 2012

For some time, researchers have explored flammable ice for low-carbon or alternative fuel or as a place to store carbon dioxide. Now, a computer analysis of the ice and gas compound, known as a gas hydrate, reveals key details of its structure. This work could enlighten alternative fuel production and carbon dioxide storage. Read More »

Calculating What’s in the Universe from the Biggest Color 3-D Map

January 11, 2012

Using NERSC systems, Berkeley Lab scientists and their Sloan Digital Sky Survey colleagues have produced the biggest 3D color map of the universe ever. The team also achieved the most accurate calculation yet of how matter clumps together – from a time when the universe was only half its present age until now. Read More »

Closest Type Ia Supernova in Decades Solves a Cosmic Mystery

December 14, 2011

Even as the "supernova of a generation" came into view in backyards across the northern hemisphere last August, physicists and astronomers who had caught its earliest moments were developing a surprising and much clearer picture of what happens during a titanic Type Ia explosion. Now they have announced the closest, most detailed look ever at one of the universe’s brightest “standard candles,” the celestial mileposts that led to the discovery of dark energy. Read More »

A Better Way to ID Extreme Weather Events in Climate Models

December 7, 2011

A team of researchers that includes Berkeley Lab scientists are using state-of-the-art methods in data mining and high-performance computing to quantify extreme weather phenomena in the very large datasets generated by today’s climate models. Their work will help scientists predict how climate change impact the frequency of extreme weather events. Read More »

Supercomputers Take a Cue From Microwave Ovens

November 30, 2011

To build the break-through supercomputers that climate researchers need to model clouds, scientists are taking a cue from consumer electronics where everything from chips to batteries to software is optimized to the device’s application. Read More »

Turning Grass into Gas for Less

September 30, 2011

Pull up to the pump these days and chances are your gas will be laced with ethanol, a biofuel made from corn. Corn-ethanol is relatively easy to make, but with growing populations and shrinking farmland, there will never be enough of the starchy food crop to both feed and fuel the world.That’s why researchers are working on “grassoline,” liquid biofuels made from hardy, high yielding, non-food crops, like switchgrass. But what makes these crops indigestible to humans also makes them… Read More »

A Better Lithium-ion Battery on the Way

September 23, 2011

Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere, in smart phones, laptops, an array of other consumer electronics, and the newest electric cars. Good as they are, they could be much better, especially when it comes to lowering the cost and extending the range of electric cars. To do that, batteries need to store a lot more energy. A team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has designed a new kind of anode — a critical… Read More »

Supernova Caught in the Act

August 25, 2011

A supernova discovered yesterday is closer to Earth—approximately 21 million light-years away—than any other of its kind in a generation. Astronomers believe they caught the supernova within hours of its explosion, a rare feat made possible by a specialized survey telescope and state-of-the-art computational tools.The discovery of such a supernova so early and so close has energized the astronomical community as they are scrambling to observe it with as many telescopes as possible,… Read More »

Small Particles, Big Impact

August 24, 2011

High-resolution simulation for Mexico City (top), shows a more detailed and accurate picture of aerosol pollution compared to representations of a global climate model (bottom). The deep red to light green colors represent concentrations of aerosol pollution with red being highest, light green lowest. Using systems at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), atmospheric scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have found that small scale effects of… Read More »

Magellan Tackles Mysterious Proton Spin

July 28, 2011

The STAR experiment's detector records the decay of subatomic smash-ups to uncover how the fundamental building blocks of the universe work. What makes a proton spin? That is one of the biggest mysteries in physics.  Although researchers do not fully understand the underlying physics of this phenomenon, they do know that it contributes to the stability of the universe, magnetic interactions, and are a vital component of technologies like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines that are used… Read More »

At Solar System's Edge, There be...Bubbles?

June 9, 2011

This animated computer simulation shows how magnetic bubbles form at the edge of our solar system. It was created on NERSC's "Franklin" supercomputer using 8,192 processor cores simultaneously running for 20 hours. (Credit: James F. Drake) NASA's Voyager probes have reached the end of our solar system where they've found neither giants nor dragons, but something nearly as surprising—a turbulent froth of magnetic bubbles. Using new computer models to analyze Voyager data, scientists computing… Read More »

Petaflops Power to NERSC

May 31, 2011

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) recently marked a major milestone, putting its first petascale supercomputer into the hands of its 4,000 scientific users. The flagship Cray XE6 system is called “Hopper” in honor of American computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper; it is capable of more than one quadrillion floating point operations per second, or one petaflops, and is currently the second most powerful supercomputer in the United States, according to the TOP500 list. Read More »

NERSC Systems Help Develop Next-Generation Combustion Equipment

May 19, 2011

Robert Cheng demonstrates his low swirl burner in the lab. The housing remains cool to the touch, as shown here. Combustion – the complex chemical process of burning fuels – is a huge driver behind the American economy and standard of living, producing more than 83 percent of our nation’s energy. In addition to fueling power plants, combustion also drives aircraft, ships, locomotives, and trucks and cars (even hybrids). At home, we rely on combustion for heating systems, water heaters,… Read More »

Proton Dripping Tests a Basic Force of Nature

May 9, 2011

Despite its prevalence in nature, researchers are still searching for the precise laws that govern the strong force--the essential "glue" that holds atomic nuclei together to form atoms. However, the recent discovery of an extremely exotic, short-lived nucleus called fluorine-14 in laboratory experiments may indicate that scientists are gaining a better grasp of these rules.

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LED Lighting Comes out of the Dark

April 29, 2011

New findings from simulations carried out at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) have unearthed the cause of a problem that limits the use of ultra-efficient, light-emitting diodes in general lighting, researchers say. Read More »

Heaviest Antimatter Particle Detected with NERSC Help

April 24, 2011

Eighteen examples of the heaviest antiparticle ever found, the nucleus of antihelium-4, have been made in the STAR experiment at RHIC, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. The finding wasn’t unexpected, but it is a milestone for scientists exploring a fundamental puzzle of physics: Why is there any matter at all? Read More »

Boosting the Next Wave of Accelerators

March 29, 2011

Generating computer models of 'tabletop accelerators' has proven difficult, slow, and costly. To solve this problem, a team of scientists computing at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) has perfected a new method that generates models anywhere from 10,000 to a million times faster than before.
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Cyclones Linked to Pliocene Warming

March 21, 2011

Scientists searching for clues to Earth’s future climate are turning to its dim past, the Pliocene epoch. Using computer simulations, researchers are unraveling a mystery that has bedeviled climatologists for years: Why was the Pliocene – under conditions similar to today – so much hotter? Recent work suggests that tropical cyclones (also called hurricanes or typhoons) may have played a crucial role. Read More »

'Dark' Milky Way Satellite Galaxy Uncovered

March 21, 2011

Sukanya Chakrabarti has developed a mathematical method uncover “dark” satellite galaxies. When she applied this method to our own Milky Way, Chakrabarti discovered a faint satellite might be lurking on the opposite side of the galaxy from Earth, approximately 300,000 light-years from the galactic center. Read More »

Modeling the Bonds of Iron and Water

February 28, 2011

Using supercomputers at the Department of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), scientists have successfully modeled the atomic interactions between a high spin ferric iron ion and 64 water molecules for the first time. Researchers say this unprecedentedly accurate model will offer valuable insights into key reactions involved in carbon sequestration and other environmental remediation projects. Read More »

A Goldilocks Catalyst

February 21, 2011

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion are major contributors to global warming. Since CO2 comes from fuel, why can't we recycle it back into fuel rather than releasing it into the atmosphere? Read More »

Clearer Picture of Carbon Sequestration

January 31, 2011

Berkeley Lab scientists are using computer simulations run at NERSC to help evaluate one method for keeping carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fueled power plants out of the atmosphere: Geologic sequestration in salty water reservoirs deep underground. Researchers have created the most detailed models yet of the mixing processes that occur at the interface of sequestered carbon dioxide (CO 2) and brine in geologic sequestration projects.These simulations—including the first three-dimensional ones—will help scientists better predict the success of this kind of project. Read More »

Climate Time-Machine

January 25, 2011

An international team of climatologists have created a comprehensive reanalysis of all global weather events from 1871 to the present day with help from NERSC. Over the last four years, the project's leader, Gil Compo, has put to use over 20 million processing hours at NERSC to help make it happen. Read More »