in the News
heads off terrorism
Laboratory researchers have
developed a new analysis tool to assist government agencies in preventing
and mitigating terrorist attacks. The Homeland Operations Planning
System, or HOPS, is a Web-based information system that models buildings,
stadiums, convention centers, landmarks, and other potential terrorist
HOPS can assist federal,
state, and local agencies in making an inventory of high-value infrastructure
such as key buildings, bridges, and convention halls; developing
vulnerability assessments; and preparing emergency response plans.
Using HOPS, security planners can examine overviews of a facility,
including its location and proximity to hospitals, transportation
systems, and fire stations. Interior views of facilities can provide
information on the functioning of the building itselffor example,
entrance and exit locations or power and water sources.
HOPS also contains an information
inventory of more than 1,000 toxic substances and provides details
about how the substances affect people, treatment methods, and cleanup.
With HOPS and modeling technology from Livermores National
Atmospheric Release Advisory Center, government officials can access
assessments of chemical, biological, or radiological attacks on
laptop computers. The assessments, requested from anywhere nationwide
about any U.S. location, can be displayed in less than 10 minutes
on computer-generated maps.
Recently, HOPS assisted the
Los Angeles Country Sheriffs Department in planning for the
Democratic National Convention, supported the California National
Guards security efforts during the 2002 World Series, and
was part of a California National Guard exercise in the San Francisco
Bay Area in September 2002.
Contact: Tony Farmer (925) 423-2037 (email@example.com).
an artificial retina
Livermores Center for Microtechnology is a key contributor
to a Department of Energy project to construct an epiretinal prosthesis,
or artificial retina. This device could restore vision to millions
of people suffering from eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa
and macular degeneration or who are legally blind because of loss
of photoreceptor function.
This three-year project brings
together Oak Ridge National Laboratory (the project lead) with Livermore,
Argonne, Sandia, and Los Alamos national laboratories; North Carolina
State University; the Doheny Eye Institute at the University of
Southern California; and a private company, Second Sight LLC.
The project has called on
Lawrence Livermores Center for Microtechnology to develop
a flexible microelectrode array that can conform to the curved shape
of the retina without damaging delicate retinal tissue.
According to Peter Krulevitch,
leader of the Livermore team developing the flexible array, the
Center for Microtechnology was selected because of Livermores
pioneering use of poly(dimethylsiloxane), or PDMS, in fabricating
hybrid integrated microsystems for biomedical applications. In particular,
Livermore has worked on metalizationapplying metals
for electronics and electrodes to PDMS for implant devices. PDMS-based
electronics are flexible, robust enough to withstand damage from
the implant procedure, and compatible with human biology.
Says Krulevitch, Weve developed a technique for fabricating
metal lines that can be stretched. This is really critical for a
flexible device designed to conform to the shape of the retina.
Following up on successful
tests with devices based on first-generation Livermore arrays, Livermore
engineers are now working on a second-generation microelectrode
array with smaller electrodes in greater numbers. They are developing
techniques to integrate the electrodes with electronics chips and
are also working on strengthening and stabilizing the array.
Krulevitch predicts additional
applications for the flexible electrode array, including a cochlear
implant for hearing, deep brain stimulation devices for treating
diseases such as Parkinsons, and a spinal cord stimulation
device for treating chronic pain.
Contact: Peter Krulevitch (925) 422-9195 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
on male fertility
recent study by biomedical researchers at Livermore and the University
of California at Berkeley concludes that healthy adult males become
progressively less fertile as they age. Published in February in
Human Reproduction, the study is one of the first to focus on men
with no known fertility concerns. Its goal is to provide researchers
and health professionals with a better sense of how aging affects
semen quality in a healthy male population.
The researchers recruited
97 men between 22 and 80 years old, all employees or retirees of
Lawrence Livermore who had not smoked within 6 months of the study
and had no relevant health problems. They found that while age had
affected semen volume, the more significant effect was on sperm
motility, defined both as liveliness and as progressive
motility, or the ability of sperm to move forward linearly. The
researchers found that motility decreased by 0.7 percent per year.
Simply put, sperm slow
down with age, says Andrew Wyrobek, head of the Health Effects
Genetics Division at Livermore and coauthor of the study. Gradually,
beginning in men in their 20s, increasing numbers of sperm (3.1
percent per year) begin to swim around in circles and not move in
a linear direction toward collision with the female egg.
The researchers found that
unlike the female biological clock, which shows a marked
decline in fertility in a woman in her mid-30s, the male clock winds
Commenting on the larger
significance of this study, the authors said that the results mean
that men as well as women
need to consider fertility issues. Their study results indicate
that men who wait until they are older to have children are risking
Contact: Andrew Wyrobek (925) 422-6296 (email@example.com).