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Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, November 2006

ENGINEERING -- Real world stress . . .

To see if your system or instrument will stand up to real-world stresses, put it through its paces in Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Environmental Effects Laboratory. The EE Lab boasts a suite of instruments and mechanisms that can simulate just about any insult the world can throw at a piece of equipment. Team leader Peter Chiaro said the project looks at and mimics real-world situations such as extreme temperatures, humidity, air pressure, magnetic fields, electromagnetic interference, ionizing radiation, voltage variation, vibration, shock and even dust. Devices can simulate collisions, impacts and changing conditions that, in tests, can assure that equipment performs to field environment specifications. The EE Lab, funded by the Work For Others Program, has tested commercial equipment, including more than 200 models of radiation detection instruments. Check the Website at public.ornl.gov/estd/ACTS/. [Contact: Bill Cabage, (865) 574-4399; cabagewh@ornl.gov]

BIOLOGY -- Determining protein function . . .

With genetic sequencing now routine, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are taking the next step toward understanding the molecular function of living things by identifying and characterizing protein interactions in cells. Using a combination of molecular biology, mass spectrometry and computational tools, researchers at ORNL's Center for Molecular and Cellular Systems can now decode the interactions of 16 target proteins per week, a rate that will double each year over the next four years. Understanding these interactions in bacteria and other microbial species, in which groups of proteins function as little molecular machines to perform a variety of functions, could lead to their application in tasks ranging from degrading or sequestering pollutants to producing fuels such as ethanol or hydrogen. [Contact: Larisa Brass, (865) 5
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Contact: Mike Bradley
bradleymk@ornl.gov
865-576-9553
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
10-Nov-2006


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