Can more accurate climate models help us understand extreme weather events? Can we use synthetic biology to create better biofuels? These questions, and the ongoing search for Dark Matter and better photovoltaic materials, are just some of the presentations by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab researchers at this year's AAAS meeting. Here's a quick look at Berkeley Lab@AAAS:
Friday, Feb. 14
Opportunities for New Materials in Photovoltaics (Toronto Room, Hyatt Regency)
The Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national program to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. Reducing the installed cost of solar energy systems by about 75% will drive widespread, large-scale adoption of this renewable energy technology and restore U.S. leadership in the global clean energy race. This talk outlines the most promising options in emerging materials for photovoltaics.
Research Challenges Affecting Extreme Events in a Changing Climate (Grand Ballroom B, Hyatt)
Extreme weather and climate events can have serious impacts on human and ecological systems. Changes in the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather associated with changes in the average climate are likely the most serious consequence of human induced global warming. Understanding what the future portends is vital if society hopes to adapt to a very different world. As average temperatures continue to rise due to the human changes to the composition of the atmosphere, it is very likely that events we currently consider to be heat waves will occur more frequently and be more severe over the course of this century. In fact, events that are currently considered rare will likely become commonplace. Accurate simulation of precipitation presents a much more difficult problem to climate models than does temperature.
Saturday, Feb. 15
U.S. National User Facilities: A Major Force for Discovery and Innovation (Columbus EF, Hyatt)
Roger Falcone: Materials in Extreme Conditions: Science Across a Range of Facilities
This presentation will describe research at a range of national user facilities that involves the study of materials under extreme conditions. The facilities range from a synchrotron x-ray source, to an intermediate-scale laser facility, to the world's first x-ray laser, to the world's largest laser. These DOE-funded facilities have a variety of missions and provide different experiences, but each provides a unique capability for scientists to probe the structure and dynamics of matter at extreme temperatures, pressures, and densities.
Is It Possible to Reduce 80% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Energy by 2050? (Columbus CD, Hyatt)
Even if all efforts are made to reduce fuel use, some mobile sources will require liquid or gaseous fuels. Biofuels could be made with a lower carbon signature, but we are unlikely to have enough of them to meet all our needs in a de-carbonized energy system. A few ideas for filling this fuel gap are expensive or complex. We need to invest in a number of these if we are to decarbonize the fuel supply.
Engineering Hydrocarbon Production (Regency B, Hyatt)
Jay D. Keasling
This talk will describe how tools of synthetic biology have been used to engineer hydrocarbon metabolism in microorganisms for production of advanced fuels, including diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel replacements.
Sunday, Feb. 16
The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (Columbus IJ, Hyatt Regency)
The recent results from the Planck satellite confirm that a staggering 85 percent of matter in the universe is a new form not accounted for by the Standard Model of particle physics. Leading particle candidates for dark matter are weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). The WIMP is strongly motivated by supersymmetry and detectable also as a product of the highest energy proton-proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider. Several experiments attempting to directly detect dark matter particles streaming from space have already reported puzzling results with possible signals. New "telescopes" like Fermi, AMS, and IceCube can detect WIMP dark matter particles annihilating in space. Major discoveries may be imminent, as a multi-pronged experimental program moves forward rapidly, driving technological innovations for ultra-sensitive detectors.