September 2010 Story Tips
Story ideas from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications and External Relations staff member identified at the end of each tip.
Using neutron scattering to examine rock formations in Texas, Wisconsin and other parts of the country, Larry Anovitz, David Cole and Gernot Rother of Oak Ridge National Laboratory are gaining insight into little-understood geologic processes. The researchers are especially interested in studying how natural processes change the pore structure of rocks. These pores can range from nano-scale to room-size and are a primary pathway for many kinds of fluids. Combinations of small- and ultra-small angle neutron scattering, or (U)SANS, with backscattered electron imaging provide the powerful tools that allow researchers to quantitatively analyze porous rocks from the nano to the centimeter scale. Knowledge gained from this research is helping geologists understand fluid-rock interactions and could become increasingly important in discussions of many fluid-rock systems such as aquifers, oil and gas reservoirs and underground carbon sequestration. This research, the first part of which was published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, is funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences. [Contact: Ron Walli; 865.576.0226; email@example.com]
LandScan's latest edition features improved spatial refinement, especially within urban settings, according to Eddie Bright, one of the developers of the global population distribution model. "For certain areas, very high resolution spatial data – down to individual buildings – are incorporated into the analysis for population distributions," Bright said. LandScan 2009, which provides 1-square-kilometer resolution, is the world standard for estimating populations at risk. The database is useful for coordinating disaster response, humanitarian relief, sustainable development and environmental protection. In addition to U.S. federal agencies, thousands of users worldwide in government, education, research and commercial sectors use the LandScan database for scientific analyses and policy decision support in numerous areas of international significance. This is the 11th edition of LandScan. [Contact: Ron Walli; 865.576.0226; firstname.lastname@example.org]
Four of six teams competing for the top honor among scientific computing applications ran on Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar supercomputer, the world's most powerful. The teams are finalists for this year's Gordon Bell Prize, which will be awarded during the SC10 supercomputing conference in New Orleans November 13–19. Named for supercomputing pioneer Gordon Bell, the prize traditionally goes to the world's fastest application, although special awards frequently recognize achievements in areas such as algorithms, structuring of data for interpretation, or implementation of new technologies. Finalists using Jaguar this year include teams led by Thomas Jordan of the University of Southern California, which simulated a massive Southern California earthquake, George Biros of Georgia Tech, which simulated red blood cells flowing in plasma, Thomas Schulthess of ETH Zurich and ORNL, which simulated electronic structures at the atomic level, and Carsten Burstedde of the University of Texas–Austin, which is pursuing techniques for getting the greatest scientific discovery from limited computing resources. Jaguar also hosted the Gordon Bell Prize winners from 2008 and 2009. [Contact: Leo Williams; 865.574.8891; email@example.com]
Wind energy is an important player in efforts to replace fossil energy with renewable-energy sources. A new information resource gives wind energy stakeholders easy access to a large amount of wind energy data and information. The Wind ENergy Data & Information (WENDI) Gateway (windenergy.ornl.gov) points users to a diverse selection of wind energy-related resources from scientific journal articles and downloadable datasets to geographical information system-based information on a range of indicators including wind-energy facility locations, generation capacities and population densities near existing plants. Two main interfaces provide the info: the Wind Energy Metadata Clearinghouse and the Wind Energy Geographic Information System (WindGIS). The new website supports the renewable energy initiatives of DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office. [Contact: Bill Cabage; 865.574.4399; firstname.lastname@example.org]