Nov. 6, 2009
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'Birth of solar system' starts Tracy series

Two sessions of the Lab's popular free lecture series, "Science on Saturday" are scheduled in Tracy this month.

"Order from Chaos: The Birth of the Solar System," will be presented by LLNL scientist John Bradley and Dean Reese, Tracy High School science teacher, on this Saturday (Nov. 7).

The solar system formed from a cloud of interstellar gas and dust about 4.6 billion years ago. Life began on earth about 3.5 billion years ago following a period of intense bombardment by asteroid fragments and comets, severe volcanism and finally the development of a stable crust and a hospitable atmosphere. Thanks to ever more powerful telescopes and other state-of-the-art observational methods we are now able to directly see "stellar nurseries" and young stars at various stages of formation.

In this talk you will learn about what triggers star formation in clouds, circumstellar disks, and planet formation within the disks and early life on earth.

"Aerogels: The Materials Science of Empty Space," will be presented by LLNL scientist Alex Gash and Ellen Rocco, Tracy teacher, next Saturday, Nov. 14.

Aerogels are a class of materials with fascinating properties but they are hardly materials at all as they can be composed of up to 99.8 percent empty space. Aerogels are extreme materials in structure as well as properties. They exhibit the lowest density, thermal conductivity, refractive index and sound velocity of any bulk solid. Aerogels are among the most versatile materials available for technical applications due to their wide variety of exceptional properties. This material has chemists, physicists, astronomers and materials scientists utilizing its properties in a myriad of applications.

In this lecture students will learn about the structure, properties and advanced applications of aerogels. The scientists may even make some during the talk.

Both Science on Saturday lectures will start at 9:30 a.m. and will be presented at the Grand Theater located at 715 Central Ave. in Tracy.

Science on Saturday is a series of science lectures for middle and high school students. Each topic highlights cutting-edge science occurring at the Lawrence Livermore. The talks are presented by leading LLNL science researchers supported by master high school science teachers.

Admission is free. Seating is on a first come basis. Seats may not be reserved in advance. Seating is limited, so come early to ensure that you will find a seat.

For more information and directions, go to the Science on Saturday Website.

Children's Center makes it easy to be green

LLESA's Laboratory Employee Children's Center has a new fundraiser this year. The Children's Center Parent Advisory Council is promoting the purchase of environment-friendly gift items from Greenraising.

Everything the Website carries is good for the Earth and its people. Not only will you be raising money to assist the Children's Center, but you will be helping the environment by using their Earth-friendly products.

The fundraiser runs from Nov. 1–22. Get started at the Greenraising event page.

If you have questions, contact monaco1 [at] llnl.gov (Suzanne Monaco) or bourguet1 [at] llnl.gov (Feliza Bourguet).

Students weigh in on 'Mole Day' observance

Twenty five students in grades 2–8, from the Tri-City Home School in Fremont enjoyed a Super Science Field Trip to the Lab's Discovery Center on Oct. 23.

Led by tour guide Nick Williams, they participated in an observance of 'Mole Day,' with Fun with Science experiments, balloons and bookmarks.

An unofficial chemistry holiday celebrated annually on Oct. 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., 'Mole Day' commemorates Avogadro's Number (6.02 x 1023), which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry.

For a given molecule, one mole is a mass (in grams) whose number is equal to the atomic mass of the molecule. For example, the water molecule has an atomic mass of 18, therefore one mole of water weighs 18 grams.

An atom of neon has an atomic mass of 20, therefore one mole of neon weighs 20 grams. In general, one mole of any substance contains Avogadro's Number of molecules or atoms of that substance. This relationship was first discovered by Amadeo Avogadro (1776-1858) and he received credit for this after his death.

'Mole Day,' which coincides with National Chemistry Week, was created to foster interest in chemistry and is recognized at schools throughout the United States.

Visit the Discovery Center page for more information.