Talking to Trees for Better Lumber

“Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe,” stated astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei.

And just like everything in nature and the cosmos, trees have a mathematical language too.

A scientist at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) and his colleagues are tapping into the language of trees to produce more reliably classed wood products—from evaluating and grading structural timber to wood-based composite materials (veneer, laminated veneer lumber, and glued laminated timber).

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A Forest of Invisible Trees

New York City skyline in sunset (credit: Raoyang – stock.adobe.com)

The urban jungle could one day be a forest of invisible trees.

The Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) is pushing the technological concepts of science fiction into reality. A scientist at FPL is helping progress the feasible development of an alternative transparent material to glass that is made from wood.

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There’s a Superhero Beneath Your Feet

Imagine a trail dipping below a steep valley edge surrounded by lush, verdant greens. A brook chatters below and in its soft watery tones invites hikers to a moment of relaxation and communion. The breeze is soft and sweet as the leaf canopy dances in unison overhead. It is idyllic and accessible because of the wooden boardwalk solidly supporting each who visit this natural wonder.

This boardwalk and others like it can be found in many natural areas. But it is made possible by pressure-treated wood, a building material that when processed with the correct preservatives, often outlasts and outperforms durability estimates and usefulness before it can biologically deteriorate.

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Throwback Thursday: FPL’s 1920 Bowling Team

For a blog on wood research, Lab Notes features a surprising amount of posts about sports.

Our researchers’ work has touched the world of basketball because of the floors, baseball because of the bats, and bowling because of the pins (and maybe also because we’re located in Wisconsin, home to more bowling alleys than any other state in the nation).

It’s bowling that gets a mention again today, after librarian Julie Blankenburg found a few gems in the historic records of the FPL library, photos of a team from 1920 and a bowling banquet.

FPL bowling team, 1920
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Researchers Honored with Department, Agency Accolades

Several Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) employees were recently honored by Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen and USDA Under Secretary Jim Hubbard at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The 2019 Chief’s Awards were presented to three current employees and one retiree.

Junyong Zhu, FPL research general engineer, was presented with a Chief’s Award for his work supporting the Forest Service goal of applying knowledge globally. Junyong’s work contributed to the USDA goal of facilitating rural prosperity and economic development, and he was also selected to receive the Natural Resources and Environment 2019 Under Secretary’s Award for his work in wood and woody biomass utilization.

Junyong Zhu (center) received awards from both Forest Service Chief Christiansen (right) and USDA Under Secretary Hubbard (left).
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