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Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory -- Aug. 2009

ORNL story tips for Aug. 2009

DOE/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. For more information on ORNL and its research and development activities, please refer to one of our Media Contacts. If you have a general media-related question or comment, you can send it to

NEUTRON SCIENCE -- Magnetic attraction . . .

One of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's international partners, Switzerland's Paul Scherrer Institute, is delivering a massive 16-Tesla magnet at the Department of Energy's Spallation Neutron Source to provide unique environmental conditions for sample analysis. Several of the SNS instruments were designed from the outset to produce and use beams of polarized - or magnetically identical - neutrons and all of them can add devices to produce polarized neutron beams. Using polarized neutrons to probe materials provides more information about magnetic structure and fluctuations in materials than using an unpolarized neutron beam. The new magnet is expected to be particularly useful in the study of superconductors and nanomaterials. To ensure that the field produced by the giant magnet doesn't interfere with nearby instruments, it is enclosed in a second set of magnetic coils that compensate, or "jam," the magnetic field produced by the primary coils. The magnet is the first compensated magnet of this strength to be built for a neutron beam line. [Contact: Jim Pearce, (865) 241-2427;]

COMMUNICATIONS -- Warning system success . . .

A first-ever systematic study of the effectiveness of reverse 911 calls shows it worked like a charm and saved lives when fires consumed 368,340 acres and 1,600 structures in San Diego County in 2007. A team led by John Sorensen and Barbara Vogt of Oak Ridge National Laboratory concluded that its findings should be encouraging to communities that have adopted or are considering adopting the reverse telephone warning technology. "By far the dominant initial warning came from the reverse telephone emergency call system, reaching 42.1 percent of the households in the survey population," the report states. Television was next at 7.7 percent in the survey of 1,200 households located in areas identified as evacuation zones. While 10 people died as a result of the fires, officials noted that the toll would have been much higher without the reverse 911 system. Funding was provided by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Mississippi State University Social Science Research Center conducted the survey. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

FORENSICS -- Nabbing child predators . . .

People producing child pornography and using the Internet to share their material could be living dangerously because of a technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex. The system employs software agents to rapidly and thoroughly scan confiscated hard drives to find illegal material and help rescue children from danger. "We will be combining network, text and image analysis tools to rapidly find the worst of the worst offenders," said Tom Potok of ORNL's Computational and Engineering Sciences Division. The technology dramatically reduces the amount of time required to scan a hard drive, which lessens the forensics analysis backlogs and could double the number of offenders who can be prosecuted. ORNL and Y-12 are teaming with the Tennessee Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Knoxville (Tenn.) Police Department. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

NEUTRON SCIENCES -- Power to the protons . . .

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory set a new world record at the end of the most recent run by creating 155 trillion protons in a single pulse and delivering that pulse to the SNS mercury target. The test exceeds the SNS design intensity of 150 trillion protons in a pulse. If pulses of this intensity were delivered to the SNS target at the design repetition rate of 60 pulses per second, it would provide a beam power of 1.5 megawatts, or 0.1 megawatts more than the design beam power of 1.4 megawatts. Research Accelerator Division Director Stuart Henderson said the test, which was performed at a rate of less than one pulse per second, confirms that both the SNS's accelerator and accumulator ring are capable of reaching the design beam power. [Contact: Bill Cabage, (865) 574-4399;]


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