Articles written by Thomas R. O'Donnell

About the Author

Thomas R. O'Donnell is senior science writer at the Krell Institute and a frequent contributor to DEIXIS.

December 2017

A fusion fix

December, 2017 Updated: February, 2018

Graduate fellow leads software project to head off damaging fusion energy disruptions.


February 2015

Slippery subject

February, 2015 Updated: June, 2015

University of Texas researchers are out to improve computational models of ice sheets by refining estimates of basal friction: how much rocks and earth slow the sheet’s movement.


May 2014

Supernova shocks

May, 2014 Updated: May, 2014

More than 10 years after simulations first suggested its presence, observations appear to confirm that a key instability drives the shock behind one kind of supernova.


Big explosions, big pictures

May, 2014 Updated: May, 2014

For discovering significant supernova phenomena and simulation flaws, several pairs of eyes beat pages of numbers, Anthony Mezzacappa says. Data visualization has been a key tool as he and his fellow astrophysicists model the standing accretion shock instability (SASI) in core-collapse supernovae, says Mezzacappa, director of the Joint Institute for Computational Science at Oak Ridge […]


September 2013

Quantum gold

September, 2013 Updated: September, 2013

Driven by what’s missing in experiments, Brookhaven’s Yan Li applies quantum mechanics to compute the physical properties of materials.


June 2013

Foiling airflow error

June, 2013 Updated: June, 2013

Portraying airflow over wings and other fluid movement is tricky. A Department of Energy award for early-career researchers is helping a former DOE CSGF fellow devise mathematical methods to decrease the error rate in fluid modeling.


September 2012

A spontaneous collaboration

September, 2012 Updated: September, 2012

In 2007, when Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers calculated that adding boron would bend carbon nanotubes, they did little with the information. Boron was one of several elements the computational scientists plugged into their model as they investigated ways to induce useful changes in nanotube structures. There were experiments to compare with the results […]


Kinky nanotubes

September, 2012 Updated: September, 2012

With the help of Oak Ridge computations, scientists are probing the properties of macroscale sponges made of nanoscale carbon-boron tubes. The material could soak up oil spills, help store energy or meet other needs.


August 2012

A passion for pressure

August, 2012 Updated: August, 2012

Plasmas are the purview of Livermore scientist and Computational Science Graduate Fellowship alumnus Jeffrey Hittinger. He works both sides of the fusion street – inertial confinement and magnetic confinement – while simulating aspects of these tremendously hot, fast-moving particle clouds.


March 2012

Prime-time punch

March, 2012 Updated: February, 2013

The mantis shrimp packs one of the strongest punches on Earth. Computational Science Graduate Fellow Michael Rosario is investigating the physics, design and material properties behind the crustacean’s prey-crunching wallop. His research has landed him on the National Geographic Wild channel.


September 2011

Boosting Berkeley Lab’s bacteria research

September, 2011 Updated: November, 2011

For one summer, Sarah Richardson postponed her work computerizing yeast genome research and probed bacteria instead. As part of her Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship, Richardson served a 2009 practicum under Adam Arkin, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Physical Biosciences Division. She made important contributions to Arkin’s research into an RNA-based transcription […]


October 2010

Seeing the invisible

October, 2010 Updated: January, 2016

Armed with computing power from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, researchers are detailing the nature of dark matter surrounding a galaxy much like our own Milky Way.


Dark matter predictions put to test

October, 2010 Updated: March, 2011

Collisions in dark matter “clumps” should produce gamma rays, but a satellite looking for them has come up empty so far.


Parsing particle experiments

October, 2010 Updated: June, 2014

A detector suggested dark matter collisions, but no other test has seen similar signs.


June 2010

From Cuba to Cambridge by way of Miami

June, 2010 Updated: November, 2011

The former Computational Science Graduate Fellowship recipient escaped the communist regime with his family, then found a love of physics.


Forceful thinking

June, 2010 Updated: November, 2011

A quantum curiosity called the Casimir force gums up micro- and nanomachines. Work at MIT led by a newly minted alumnus of the DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship suggests uses for the force – and ways around it.


Getting a grip on the grid

June, 2010 Updated: February, 2013

A PNNL team enlists new algorithms and powerful computers to quickly analyze which combinations of failures most threaten the power grid.


Grids grasp at multiple threads to block blackouts

June, 2010 Updated: March, 2011

A supercomputer’s unusual qualities make it a good fit with electric system problems.


March 2010

Putting catalysts on track

March, 2010 Updated: March, 2011

Computation and experimentation combine to improve and speed design of useful compounds.


December 2009

Breaking the biomass barrier

December, 2009 Updated: June, 2014

What Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are learning could help make ethanol from cellulose a viable fuel alternative – and help the United States replace foreign oil with a green, renewable resource.


Program may mean cutting the tags

December, 2009 Updated: February, 2013

Image searches typically rely on tags – text humans have attached to the pictures to identify objects or people they depict. The algorithms PNNL scientists Rob Farber and Harold Trease have created could largely eliminate tags because they recognize content automatically in massive amount of data. The application could make it as easy to index […]


The big face off

December, 2009 Updated: February, 2013

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers say their algorithms can analyze millions of video frames, pluck out the faces and quantify them to create searchable databases for facial identification.