4885669236_244fd066e0In an unprecedented attempt to make Emeryville worth a damn — unless you’re already a fan of E-ville because you really like Clif bars or suburban-style outdoor shopping malls — the Berkeley Lab has just opened a biofuel test center there with the 20 million dollars it received from the Department of Energy just last year.

This nice chunk of change actually comes from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and by that we mean that $787 billion stimulus that people are always hatin’ on.

Considering the current state of the economy, the stimulus didn’t quite fix everything. However, since we’re in a glass-half-full kind of mood at the moment, we’re gonna go ahead and say this whole biofuel testing center was a nice idea.

After all, the article clearly states that “[i]ndustrial scale development of these fuels would create jobs and help cut the United States’ reliance on foreign sources of energy.”

Jobs, clean energy, less reliance on foreign energy and Emeryville can be known for something other than ridiculous gentrification. Sounds like a whole bunch of wins to us. Thanks, stimulus!

Image Source: Argonne National Laboratory under Creative Commons
Lawrence Berkeley Lab opens biofuels test center in Emeryville [SF Business Times]
Senator McCain Says Stimulus Bill Was A Failure [MRCTV]

greenThe hot topic in campus energy research news is predictably the BP partnership and what it means in the wake of the oil spill.

Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times mused as to why there has been “no campus protest over Berkeley-BP connection,” which of course is completely untrue.

We’re pretty confident in saying we’ve attended more recent UC Berkeley campus protests than Hiltzik, and there has been plenty of outcry ever since the deal was penned. Reading the article, it seems want he was really trying to say was, “Why is there no campus protest now?” To which we respond: Everyone’s on summer vacation. read more »

It seems like the Lawrence Berkeley Lab is always getting in the news for something or other. Now, it’s for getting a pretty sweet cut out of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act pot—$7 million, to be vaguely precise. And this time the funding is for geothermal energy research.

“Now wait a minute, Clog,” you suspiciously ask. read more »

Check out the winning smile on that one.

Earlier today, our old (like, old as in silver fox old, of course) buddy Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy and hero of the universe, visited the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to catch up with his former colleagues.

He talked to them about all sorts of fun things, like the future of energy research, $151 million in funding for awesome ambitious projects and Wayne Gretzky. True story–just watch the webcast and check out the PowerPoint presentation he made … all by himself. D’awww.

Oh, Steven. You haven’t changed a bit.

Lawrence Berkeley Lab [Site], via Berkeleyside
Earlier: Capchuring and Storing Carbon

Cutie patootie!According to a post on the official White House blog, Secretary of Energy and former Berkeleyan turned celebrity, Steven Chu is soliciting you … for your opinions and ideas. How is he going about gathering and disseminating such crucial information?

Why, through Facebook, of course! In the post, Chu says he’ll “keep you up to date on all the latest developments, as well as share tips that will save you money on your energy bills,” and that he hopes to have “a true dialogue.” If it’s a dialog that’ll save us money, we’re so there.

Plus his info doesn’t reek of editing by a P.R. department, which totally ups his street cred in our (Face)book. His activities include “Cooking, biking, doing crossword puzzles with my wife Jean, and trying to learn to golf.” Oh, and his default is a-freaking-dorable. Aw, Steven Chu, we love you!

Image Source: Center For American Progress Action under Creative Commons
Energy on Facebook [The Briefing Room Blog]
Earlier: Latest Issue of Rolling Stone Features Jonas Brothers, Steven Chu

The biggest news for the UC system coming from last week is that $3 million fine that the Department of Energy is about to bitch-slap UC with. Well, at least we still have our curry.

*First Up…Eating Curry Can Save Your Brain*
Whoever thought that eating all that Naan ‘N Curry and then going to the bathroom for days upon days could be a good thing?

Researchers at UCLA say that turmeric, which is found in curry, can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. They also say that curcumin, which is an antioxidant found in turmeric, can prevent tumors from growing in lab rats.

But, don’t go out tonight and eat so much curry that you’ll throw up for the next three hours.

The researchers said it is not clear if people can eat enough curcumin to get this level of activity.

So, we’re supposed to inject ourselves with curry? Actually, no. Don’t do that.

*Mental Decline = Sleep Problems*
A study reported by UC San Francisco researcher Kristine Yaffe says that older women who experience such mental difficulties as memory loss and attention loss are more likely to also have sleep problems.

“This study does not mean that an individual with cognitive problems will necessarily develop sleep trouble, but that these elders are at a higher risk of sleep disorders,” researcher Kristine Yaffe, MD, states in an American Academy of Neurology news release.

We were going to put a very insensitive joke about someone’s grandma here, but we decided against it. It was going to be something about why someone’s grandma can never go to sleep, or remember our names. But maybe eating some curry will help?

*UC Riverside, Your Place to Be for Science Fiction*
We here at Cal have the Mark Twain papers. Pretty impressive stuff if you haven’t perused through them yet.

But UC Riverside’s library is the safe haven for all that is Trekkie, Ewok and things from outer space. UC Riverside’s library boasts the largest collection of science fiction things in the world.

It’s like going to Graceland if you’re an Elvis fan,” said Drew Morse, a creative writing professor who made the pilgrimage to Riverside from Ohio last summer to study rare poetry by “Fahrenheit 451″ author Ray Bradbury.

Great. We guess there has to be some sort of reason why tourists would go to Riverside. While you’re at it, can you get us the complete Klingon dictionary?

*Aggies Athletics Graduates to Division I*
It’s been a long time coming for UC Davis, and now after four years of purgatory, the Aggies have been approved to become a full-fledged member of NCAA Division I sports.

UC Davis joins the Big West conference, where it joins fellow UC schools Santa Barbara and Irvine, Cal Poly, Long Beach State and Pacific.

Maybe we should just replace Stanfurd with the Aggies in the Pac-10. UC Davis did defeat the Card a few years ago—in soccer, basketball, baseball and yes, football.

Beat Brain Disease By Eating Curry [Sky news]
Mental Decline, Sleep Problems Linked [WebMd]
UC library boasts world’s largest sci-fi collection [CC Times]
UC Davis makes it official: School is Division I now [Sac Bee]

Two years ago, after six months of fighting off rival universities, the University of California was able to renew its contract with the most important laboratory in terms of the Manhattan Project.

Of course, the contract to the Los Alamos Lab was up for grabs because all the little snafus that occurred under the UC’s management.

Speaking of snafus, the LA Times reports that UC may have to pay more than half of the $5.8 million that it won to co-manage the lab. According to the Times, the $3 million fine that the Department of Energy is considering to assign UC is a record-breaker.

Why is DoE going to hand down such a hefty fine? It’s all because a former employee was able to walk out of the lab with a thumb drive (jump drive, USB drive, whatever you want to call it) that contained classified info. Who would have thought that such a little device can cause so many problems?

The UC said that it was going to appeal the decision, and it has been successful in the past.

UC dodged a $1.1 million fine after the National Nuclear Security Adminstration found more than a dozen safety violations at the Los Alamos Lab a few years ago. Berkeley was able to have the fines waived because it was considered a non-profit organization (really? Universities are non-profit?).

However this time the university claims that it shouldn’t be the only one responsible, especially since the new operating company, Los Alamos National Security, LLC, had already taken over the lab when the incident occurred.

We are going to respond to the department on this matter,” said Chris Harrington, a spokesman for UC in Washington.

“Our response will point out that the university was no longer the sole manager of the laboratory when this incident occurred,” Harrington said.

Will this money come out of student pocketbooks, you ask? Harrington said that it won’t, which is good, because we don’t think students would be very happy with having to pay for the university’s fuck ups.

UC could get record nuclear fine [LA Times]