The Sound of Science

A podcast that lets you hear the voices behind the scientific breakthroughs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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The Sound of Science Podcast - Oak Ridge National Laboratory

TCR: Printing the future of nuclear

August 12, 2020

Since 1943, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has built 13 nuclear reactors — now it's preparing for its 14th, the Transformational Challenge Reactor, or TCR. But this one will be quite a departure from the reactors that have come before. It’s going to be 3D printed. TCR aims to revolutionize how a nuclear reactor is built – a process that hasn’t really changed much in the past 50 years. In this episode, you'll hear from some of the lab's nuclear and materials experts, an industry partner using technology coming out of TCR, as well as Rita Baranwal, the assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy in the U.S. Department of Energy.

In the fight against COVID-19

June 1, 2020

In just a few short months, COVID-19 has upended daily life around the globe. However, one thing that hasn't changed is the scientific community’s drive to find answers and solutions to big problems. And right now, there's no bigger problem than COVID-19. In this episode, you'll hear from ORNL researchers who are applying their expertise in computational science, advanced manufacturing, data science and neutron science to combat the novel coronavirus.

Chromosomes, conservation & chocolate: The life of Liane Russell

March 30, 2020

Learn about the remarkable life and legacy of the late Liane B. Russell, one of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's most renowned scientists. She was a pioneer in genetics, a passionate conservationist and an unabashed chocolate lover. In this episode, you'll hear from those who knew her best — and a few whom she inspired during the course of her career.

GIS: More than a map

February 24, 2020

Geographic information systems are powerful mapping tools that we use on a daily basis without realizing it. Apps for navigation and weather are just a few examples of GIS in our everyday lives. But the applications of GIS span far beyond consumer apps. These complex systems hold massive amounts of data that scientists can use to solve big problems. In this episode, you'll hear how Oak Ridge National Laboratory has used its expertise in GIS to aid in disaster relief; find missing populations for a polio eradication campaign; and map communities using social media.

Far out: Fueling the future of space exploration

December 31, 2019

Plutonium-238 is critical to deep space exploration. The special isotope has powered missions that have enabled us to explore the atmosphere of Saturn, see the heart of Pluto and traverse the surface of Mars. But what if missions like those were no longer possible? That's a question NASA faced not so long ago as the U.S. was in short supply of the isotope. The decision was made to restart pu-238 production and Oak Ridge National Laboratory was the place to do it. In this episode you'll hear from the manager of the plutonium program, as well as from the team that makes the cladding to hold the fuel.

The human element: Expanding the periodic table

November 19, 2019

It’s the International Year of the Periodic Table. Did you know Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been helping shape the periodic table for more than seven decades? The lab has discovered three elements, and contributed to the discovery of several more through its isotope production and detector technology. In this episode, you’ll hear from a some of the team that helped discover one of the table’s newest elements, tennessine. 

Inventing the future: AI for science

October 15, 2019

Artificial intelligence is no longer just a subject of science fiction. From personal assistants to self-driving cars, it's revolutionizing everyday life. While AI may be more prevalent these days, there are still a lot of misconceptions about what it is and what it isn't. In this episode you'll hear from a few of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's AI developers and practitioners. They'll dispel some of those myths and discuss how AI is revolutionizing cancer research, manufacturing and plant biology.