After the big bang, most of the normal matter in the universe consisted of hydrogen and helium, with only trace amounts of lithium, beryllium and boron. All the rest was cooked up by thermonuclear fusion in stellar cores and spewed into the void when stars exploded. Scientists are working with sophisticated computer models of stellar flameout to ferret out the details of how the other members of the periodic table came to be. But they require information that can only be obtained using beams of unstable nuclei. [Contact: Michael Smith]
HEALTH Organ lifesaver . . .
Using a tiny wireless sensor developed at ORNL, doctors will know in minutes instead of hours if an organ is getting adequate blood flow after transplant or reconstructive surgery. Conventional methods for assessing circulation involve invasive procedures or time-consuming and expensive laboratory testing. In some cases, by the time doctors realize there isn't adequate blood flow to an organ or tissue, irreversible damage has already occurred. ORNL, working with the University of Pittsburgh and Texas A&M, is developing an implantable sensor and micro-instrumentation that would provide real-time information by transmitting data to a nearby receiver. Early testing using laboratory rats has provided encouraging results. [Contact: Nance Ericson]
HOMELAND SECURITY -- Portable radiation analysis . . .
First responders, customs inspectors and law enforcement personnel may soon have a new instrument to detect radioactive material at airports, border crossings and ports. The HotSpotter, developed by researchers at the Y-12 National Security Complex and ORNL, detects gamma and neutron radiation and analyzes the data in just seconds. As a result, if the HotSpotter alarm sounds, inspectors know instantly the isotope involved and what action they need to take. The handheld battery-powered unit, designed with cost in m
Contact: Cindy Lundy
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory