Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2005


To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications and External Relations staff member identified at the end of each tip.

DEFENSE -- Real war games . . .

Dan Tufano spends a lot of time in his Ballistic Missile Defense System mode, thinking about human behavior, decision-making and how people interact with screens and machines. If the United States ever comes under attack, his work with the Missile Defense Agency and Joint Air and Missile Defense organization could play a role in determining the outcome. "As the Ballistic Missile Defense System continues to grow, it will become increasingly complex and include multiple types of weapons and sensors distributed across the globe," said Tufano, an experimental psychologist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. To ensure that the U.S. is prepared, each year he participates in a number of war games designed to help participants work collaboratively and with a multitude of automated systems in real and accelerated time scenarios. The war games are coordinated through either the Missile Defense Agency or the Joint Air and Missile Defense Organization. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; [email protected]]

INSTRUMENTATION -- Stressed out . . .

Quick, accurate location and measurement of potential failure points in materials is the focus of a second-generation neutron residual stress mapping instrument jointly developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee. The project, headed by Cam Hubbard of ORNL's Metals and Ceramics Division, uses high-flux neutron beams from the lab's High Flux Isotope Reactor to measure residual stress and create a three-dimensional map pinpointing high stress locations of likely materials failure. The instrument also can study the grains in a material and how they react when going through a deformation process, helping to improve the manufacturing process of engines, nuclear reactors, large steel machinery and equipment operated in heat recovery systems. It is applicable to a wide range of materials, including iron, aluminum, titanium, magnesium and various metal matrix composites. The ORNL system recently has been used to strengthen concrete and to understand powder compaction. DOE's Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies is funding the research. [Contact: Fred Strohl, (865) 574-4165; [email protected]]

ASTROPHYSICS -- Connecting the dots . . .

Nuclear physics laboratory results and simulations of exploding stars come together with a big bang in a program developed by a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Michael Smith. The Computational Infrastructure for Nuclear Astrophysics is an on-line suite of computer codes that provide an accurate, easy-to-use connection that allows scientists to upload and process data from laboratory measurements and run simulations to illustrate the astrophysical consequences of these measurements. The suite includes collaborative and community-building tools allowing researchers to quickly share their results with other scientists worldwide. The program is available through, a Web site linking all available nuclear data sets for research in astrophysics. The project, a collaboration between ORNL's Physics Division and the University of Tennessee, was funded by DOE's Office of Science. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865-576-0226; [email protected]]

ENVIRONMENT -- Potent protein probes . . .

New probes with greatly enhanced protein activity are making life better for scientists studying environmental contaminants. The multilayer polyelectrolyte thin film array slide, developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Joe Zhou, Xichun Zhou and Liyou Wu, overcomes the problem of conventional protein probes, which quickly lose their ability to bind with corresponding target proteins in soil, sediment and water samples. The polyelectrolyte thin film array slide, dubbed PETAS, incorporates a jelly-like plastic consisting of charged polymers whose pores and electrostatic forces preserve protein activity. Compared to protein arrays, this approach results in probes with greater versatility, detection sensitivity, reproducibility, stability and ease of handling at significantly lower cost. Diversified Biotech of Boston has licensed this technology from ORNL. Funding for this project was provided by DOE's Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; [email protected]]

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
    Published on All rights reserved.