Techniques to find microbial life in the depths of our planet may be useful for determining whether there is life on Mars. At least that's the idea behind a five-year $5 million NASA project that taps the expertise of Tommy Phelps of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Susan Pfiffner of the University of Tennessee. The project, headed by Indiana University, also takes advantage of ORNL's unique capabilities in genomics, material sciences and instrumentation. Phelps, Pfiffner and other scientists who are part of the 18-member team from eight research institutions have found evidence of microbial life from South African gold mine samples, which were up to 100 million years old at depths up to three kilometers. It's essential to explore water at those depths because it has not been affected by people. Because of the extreme conditions and the complexity involved in such an endeavor, researchers must develop indirect ways such as methods to identify specific genes critical to survival of microbes in their quest to determine the presence of life on Earth and beyond. [Contact: Ron Walli, 865-576-0226; firstname.lastname@example.org]
COMPUTING -- 10 trillion and counting . . .
With eight cabinets, 256 processors and 3.2 teraflops (3.2 trillion calculations per second) of computing power, Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Cray X1 is the largest of its type in the world. Add that total to the lab's IBM Cheetah with 4.5 teraflops, the SGI Ram with 1.5 teraflops and the IBM Eagle with 1 teraflop and the lab's Center for Computational Sciences boasts aggregate power of 10.2 teraflops. The Cray X1 has passed its acceptance test and is undergoing evaluation on a suite of scientific computer programs including global climate modeling, high-temperature superconductivity, astrophysics and fusion energy. ORNL is working with DOE to secure funds to expand the Cray X1 to 10 teraflops this year and to 100-plu
Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory