Science and Technology Making Headlines

Sept. 22, 2023



LLNL Director Kim Budil speaks about partnering with Cal State Bakersfield on research to identify new technologies to support carbon neutrality. Image courtesy of EJ Medellin/CSUB.

An innovative partnership

California State University Bakersfield has entered a new partnership with the innovative and cutting-edge science and technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The school hopes the partnership doesn’t just impact the school, but also the county.

On Tuesday, the room was filled with applause as energy leaders, school partners and others looked at a new partnership between CSU Bakersfield and Bay Area-based lab, Lawrence Livermore. The budding partnership signals a reflection of a new future for all of Kern County.

With state officials aiming to transition to carbon neutrality by 2045, Lawrence Livermore conducted a report called “Getting to Neutral” in 2020, and found Bakersfield was a unique place of opportunity for California’s clean energy transition. The partnership between the Lab and CSUB will help further research on clean energy and what that could look like here at home.

“A lot of the gas and oil infrastructure is perfect for carbon capture and storage sites, and there is an opportunity here to build a new economy based around carbon management,” said LLNL Director Kim Budil. “It’s not about getting rid of oil and gas, but really about creating a stable transition, from where the economy and where the community is today, to a more sustainable future based on clean energy technology.”

physics with phones

A phone was tapped (rapid force) and allowed to rotate 1.00 revolution before being stopped by a second applied force. Image by LLNL.

We’re talking physics with a phone

As efforts continue to try to get more students engaged in careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), one Bay Area scientist has created a program, designed to break down barriers. 

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist David Rakestraw has developed, "Physics with Phones" over the past four years. The course, designed for high school and college students, allows students to perform more than 100 different physics experiments using their iPhones. 

"Companies are putting hundreds of billions of dollars a year into making this better and to have all these features in it," Rakestraw said. "They can now be used to teach students in a class." 

Rakestraw recently took his program on the road to a physics class at Livermore High School. The students used their phones to measure concepts like velocity, frequency and friction. 


Jose Herandez

Astronaut José Hernández in the International Space Station. Image courtesy of NASA.

He picked an actor with a familiar vibe

NASA astronaut José Hernández says only Michael Peña could have played him in “A Million Miles Away,” the movie about his life.

And the reason is pretty simple: he had seen Peña wearing an orange space suit just like his in 2015’s “The Martian.” 

“I said, ‘He has experience already. He's been an astronaut!’” Hernández, 61, remembers telling writer-director Alejandra Márquez Abella and producer of “A Million Miles Away” (in theaters and streaming). “Luckily, they listened to me and they did contact Michael and he agreed to it.”

Márquez Abella said “When you think about an astronaut, you never think that he could be like your uncle.” The filmmakers had found in Peña an actor who “looks like you, talks like you, or has just a familiar vibe.”

Hernández agrees there’s an everyday relatability to Pena. “I'm normal-looking,” he joked. “You don't want an Antonio Banderas because people won't have empathy with that person.”

North of 60 Mining News

rare earths

Rare earth oxides of gadolinium, praseodymium, cerium, samarium, lanthanum and neodymium. Photo courtesy of USDA ARS.

Rare earths' future hangs in the balance

The clean energy-driven rare earths imbalance may be creating a hidden opportunity for technology and material scientists exploring new ways to utilize special properties of the elements on the periodic table for the betterment of modern living.

DOE has tackled the rare earth balance problem head-on by tasking its national labs to find new uses for oversupplied rare earths.

Hunter Henderson, a materials engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is leading a team seeking to correct the rare earth imbalance by developing high-volume and high-value applications for cerium. This project demonstrates that metal 3D printing of aluminum-rare earth element alloy forms an internal nanostructure that is resistant to degradation. The team found that this 3D-printed aluminum-cerium alloy outperformed the aluminum currently used in aerospace and defense components. These alloys also demonstrate enhanced thermal performance, which adds to their value and the cerium that goes into them. The team will scale up for demonstration and continue to improve performance at room temperature strength.

climate model

The Gordon Bell Prize for Climate Modeling submission details the Simple Cloud Resolving E3SM Atmosphere Model (SCREAM) team’s record-setting demonstration of SCREAM on Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s 1.2 exascale supercomputer Frontier.

SCREAMing for a prize

A team from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and seven other Department of Energy national laboratories is a finalist for the new Association for Computing Machinery Gordon Bell Prize for Climate Modeling for running an unprecedented high-resolution global atmosphere model on the world’s first exascale supercomputer.

The Gordon Bell submission, led by Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) chief computational scientist Mark Taylor, details the team’s record-setting demonstration of the Simple Cloud Resolving E3SM Atmosphere Model (SCREAM) on Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s 1.2 exaFLOP (1.2 quintillion computing operations per second) Frontier machine.

Incorporating state-of-the-art parameterizations for fluid dynamics, microphysics, moist turbulence and radiation, SCREAM is a full-featured atmospheric general circulation model developed for very fine-resolution simulations on exascale machines. The effort is led by LLNL staff scientist Peter Caldwell, who also heads the Lab’s Climate Modeling group.

Computer with email graphic

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The Lab Report is a weekly compendium of media reports on science and technology achievements at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Though the Laboratory reviews items for overall accuracy, the reporting organizations are responsible for the content in the links below.