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Story tips from the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory February 2010

HEALTH CARE - Maximizing mammography . . .

Mammograms could conceivably save more lives with a technology being developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Chicago. The proposed system would allow doctors to quickly identify trends specific to an individual patient and also match images and text to a database of known cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. "Our goal is to develop a decision and support system that helps doctors and patients," said Robert Patton of ORNL's Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. "There is a wealth of existing information that doctors could be using but with time and resource constraints it is virtually impossible." So far, researchers have studied 60,000 mammograms of 12,000 patients. This project, which makes use of the lab's ultra-scale computing, is funded through ORNL's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865)576-0226;]

CYBERLAND - Advanced attack analysis . . .

Intrusion detection systems used by governmental agencies, large companies and others who want to prevent cyber attacks could soon be turbocharged with a highly sophisticated tool being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Oak Ridge Cyber Analytics, dubbed ORCA, greatly boosts the performance of existing cyber attack systems by filtering noise and quickly making sense of massive amounts of data. "ORCA effectively sits on top of off-the-shelf intrusion detection systems and its correlation engine processes information and learns as cyber events arrive," said Justin Beaver, who leads the development team. Key features include ORCA's ability to interact with the operator, its flexibility and configurability. Cyber security is becoming an increasingly bigger national concern as a recent Congressional Research Service study pegged the cost of cyber attacks on businesses at $226 billion annually. Lockheed Martin funded this project, and has integrated this capability into its Defense and Self-Healing Networks experimental cyber defense system. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865)576-0226;]

COMPUTING - Seeking Supercomputing Energy Savings . . .

A fan upgrade that will save Oak Ridge National Laboratory's computing complex $150,000 a year in energy costs is just the latest step by the laboratory to reduce its computing carbon footprint. The fan upgrade will allow the laboratory's Computer Science Building's (CSB's) 20 30-ton air conditioning units to operate at peak efficiency. The upgrade is just the latest in a series of steps by the laboratory to reduce its energy footprint while maintaining two of the world's fastest computers and solving some of the world's most pressing scientific problems, from alternative energy to new materials to the role of proteins in diseases. The CSB was among the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified computing facilities in the country and has one of the best power usage effectiveness ratings of any large-scale data center. Furthermore, a new cooling system, dubbed ECOphlex, for the laboratory's Cray supercomputers allows the laboratory to reduce the amount of chilled water used to cool Jaguar, the world's fastest supercomputer. Considering the fact that thousands of gallons of water per minute are necessary to keep Jaguar cool, a reduction in the volume of necessary chilled water means a proportionate reduction in the energy used to cool it. Whereas most centers use 0.8 watts of power for cooling per every watt of power used for computing, ORNL enjoys a far more efficient ratio of 0.3 to 1, one of the lowest of all data centers measured. [Contact: Scott Jones, (865)574-6944;]

COMPUTING - How bacteria "know" . . .

Using a combination of experimental and computational techniques, a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee has discovered a novel type of receptors in bacteria that sense changes in oxygen concentration and other redox parameters. Their work, which has been published in the online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), may help scientists to better understand how sensing of the environment is linked to cell metabolism and to predict behavior of hundreds of bacterial species that have yet to be studied experimentally. [Contact: Bill Cabage, (865) 574-4399,]


Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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