Friday, September 12, 2014

Lab reports lowest radiation emissions in two decades

Technical Area 3. LANL photo.           

Los Alamos National Laboratory reached its lowest radioactive air emissions rate in 20 years during 2013, the lab reported Thursday. “The laboratory has worked diligently to ensure the air is as clean as possible.”

Based on 2013 data from 40 air monitoring stations located at the lab and in neighboring communities that measure ambient air quality, the off-site dose rate was 0.21 millirem — about 2 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act limit of 10 millirem, a unit of radioactive measurement. (Full Story)

Also from the Los Alamos Monitor

Los Alamos conducts important hydrodynamic experiment in Nevada

Making final adjustments to "Leda" in the "Zero Room" at the NNSS U1a facility. LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory has successfully fired the latest in a series of experiments at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).

“Leda is an integrated experiment that provides important surrogate hydrodynamic materials data in support of the Laboratory’s stewardship of the U. S. nuclear deterrent,” said Bob Webster, associate director for weapons physics. (Full Story)

Also from Homeland Security Newswire

National Labs play unique role in working for America
Co-author Charlie McMillan.  LANL photo.

By Paul Alivisatos, Dan Arvizu, Charlie McMillan and Terry Michalske. 

As directors within the National Lab System, we are honored to steward the phenomenal resources of this one-of-a-kind research network to solve problems in the public interest. In today’s rapidly changing global environment, the list of technological demands is staggering: more and cleaner energy, better batteries, carbon capture and storage, faster and more powerful supercomputers, national security, and the development of more energy efficient homes and offices, to name just a few. (Full Story)

LANL hosts pre-campaign kickoff reception

Alan Bishop talks about the 2015 Employee Giving Campaign and why he finds giving personally satisfying. LANL photo.

Individuals in the position of division leader and above joined United Way staff, board members and LANL Executive Director Rich Marquez for the Lab's Employee Giving Campaign "Pre-campaign" Kickoff Reception Sept. 2 at the Oppenheimer Study Center.

LANL Giving Campaign Chair Alan Bishop explained that the theme for the 2015 campaign is "Leading the Way" by example. He issued a challenge for this year's goal to surpass the all-time campaign's employee participation rate of 21 percent in 2013 and exceed last year's $2million in employee contributions. (Full Story)

New exhibit highlights archaeology, wildlife, and climate

Nake'muu Pueblo archaeological site on Los Alamos National Laboratory property. LANL photo.    

The Bradbury Science Museum unveils a new interactive exhibit featuring the rich history and current research into archaeology, wildlife biology, local climate and sustainability efforts at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The exhibit shows in posters, interactive elements and videos the Laboratory’s compliance work and research into the diverse archaeological and biological resources found here, as well as local climate research and the Laboratory’s environmental sustainability activities. (Full Story)

Day of commercially available quantum encryption nears

Quantum Key Device, LANL photo.

The largest information technology agreement ever signed by Los Alamos National Laboratory brings the potential for truly secure data encryption to the marketplace after nearly twenty years of development at the national-security science laboratory.      

“Quantum systems represent the best hope for truly secure data encryption because they store or transmit information in ways that are unbreakable by conventional cryptographic methods,” said Duncan McBranch. (Full Story)

Also from

Los Alamos’ explosive history ushered in nuclear age

Newly renovated Ashley Pond.  Photo from The Chieftain.

Sprawled across the vast mesas of the Pajarito Plateau with the Jemez Mountains looming darkly in the background, it looks, at first glance, like many other isolated backwaters in the American West.

In the early 1940s, as World War II raged across Europe and the Pacific, this remote, sparsely inhabited area 32 miles northwest of Santa Fe was being converted into a top-secret government complex to create what was, at that time, the most powerful and destructive military weapon ever known. (Full Story)

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Science Matters: LANL scientists take closer look at rain

Graphic from the New Mexican.        

“The fact that they [heavy downpours] are extreme means they don’t happen often, so it’s hard to separate the signal from the noise,” says Todd Ringler, an atmospheric scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, describing one of the most critical issues in the ongoing debate over global warming. “The challenge gets back to weather and climate,” he said. “We observe extreme events in terms of weather events, but we’re trying to understand extreme events in the realm of climate. It’s a tough job.” (Full Story)

LANL may have answer to computer security

Illustration from ABQ Biz First.            

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have developed a quantum random number generator that could change the face of computer security. Now, LANL has licensed the technology to Allied Minds, a firm in Boston that aims to build the next generation of cryptography though it subsidiary, Whitewood Encryption Systems Inc.

The deal is the largest technology transfer licensing agreement ever for LANL, according to Whitewood. (Full Story)

Light particles may hold the keys to a revolution in encryption

Quantum Key, LANL photo.

The largest information technology licensing deal ever signed by the Energy Department’s Los Alamos National Laboratory may one day produce uncrackable encryption for use in personal communications, e-commerce, banking and critical infrastructure data transfer.

Los Alamos has developed a way to encrypt data by using the random spin of photons — single light particles — to create cryptographic keys. This represents a vast improvement over current cryptological systems. (Full Story)

Also from NextGov

NASA to fund research at NMSU

Researchers will use the Apache Peak Observatory in Southern New Mexico. NMSU photo.

New Mexico NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) has awarded a grant of $749,893 to New Mexico State University astronomers for research to be conducted over the next three years.         

Jovian Interiors from Velocimetry Experiment (JIVE) team includes NMSU’s Jason Jackiewicz and Patrick Gaulme, researchers from NASA and Didier Saumon from Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

NERSC reveals 44 NESAP code teams

To ensure that the highly diverse workloads of the DOE science community continue to be supported as over 5,000 users make the transition to Cori, the partners launched the NERSC Exascale Science Applications Program (NESAP).

The 20 NESAP teams include the Multi-Scale Ocean Simulation for Studying Global to Regional Climate Change by Todd Ringler of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Fargo selected as site for National Agricultural Genotyping Center

The National Corn Growers Association's Corn Board today announced that Fargo, N.D., will be the site of the National Agricultural Genotyping Center.   

The NAGC partnership brings together Los Alamos National Laboratory, the premier research institution in the world with a proven track record in developing high-throughput genotyping technology. (Full Story)

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Biofilm shatters serious skin infections

Cross section of skin layers shows topical application of an ionic liquid for combating a skin-borne bacterial infection. UCSB illustration.

Biofilms are the first line of defense for harmful bacteria and make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult because microorganisms protected in a biofilm have antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment.

“In essence, we may have stumbled onto a magic bullet,” said David Fox, a Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher. “Through a robust screening strategy, our research team has identified a unique class of materials.” (Full Story)

Antibacterial approach could resolve skin infections

Like a protective tent over a colony of harmful bacteria, biofilms make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult. Microorganisms protected in a biofilm pose a significant health risk due to their antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment, and biofilm-protected bacteria account for some 80 percent of total bacterial infections in humans and are 50 to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than simpler bacterial infections. (Full Story)

Also from Medical Design Technology

Los Alamos National Lab’s R&D fueling new quantum-crypto firm

Quantum Key encryption device developed at LANL. LANL photo.

Technology development firm AlliedMinds says it has set up a new company, Whitewood Encryption Systems, to develop quantum-crypto technology under an R&D licensing arrangement with Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Photon-based quantum crypto has been known to face some technical difficulties, such as geographical distance limitations, but it offers considerable promise due to ways it can be used to generate what are believed to be unique unbreakable keys, among other attributes. (Full Story)

Particle physics to aid nuclear cleanup

Postdoc Elena Guardincerri, right, and undergraduate research assistant Shelby Fellows prepare a lead hemisphere for muon tomography. LANL photo.

An international team of physicists and engineers plans to use these particles to peek inside Fukushima Daiichi’s reactor cores. The team hopes that with muon-vision, the exact level of destruction inside—and consequently the best method of decommissioning the site—will become clear.

Since the early 2000s, a small team at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has developed technology that uses muons to examine fragile or otherwise inaccessible nuclear materials. (Full Story)

Ion beams simulate nuclear-reactor damage

Three accelerators at the Michigan Ion Beam Laboratory. U. Mich. photo.

Damage to nuclear-reactor components caused by neutron irradiation across several years can be simulated with ion beams in just a few days. That is the finding of researchers in the US, who have used ions to create the same fabric of tiny structural defects found in long-running reactors.

Microstructural damage to the duct had already been studied extensively by researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory using atom probe microscopy, electron microscopy and other techniques. (Full Story)

Robots come out in full force

Several robotics teams from Los Alamos gathered at the Bradbury Science Museum on Friday to show off their handmade robots. In attendance were Project Y from Los Alamos High School, FIRST Robotics team from UNM-LA, FIRST Lego Atomic Phoenixes, FIRST Tech Challenge from Los Alamos Middle School and the Radioactive Fireflies. (Full Story)

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Friday, August 22, 2014

10Best: Los Alamos, N.M., without security clearance

The Bradbury Science Museum. From USA Today.

Los Alamos is home to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a secure government lab that is still responsible in part for the nation's nuclear arsenal. But Los Alamos is also a community that is happy to share its history with visitors from all over the world, be it the 1940s or the 1200s, when ancestors of today's New Mexico Pueblo tribes called the forested canyons here home. Here are the 10 best things to enjoy in and near this storied northern New Mexico city that don't need a security clearance. (Full Story)

Training bees to detect diabetes

Robert Wingo on KRQE News13.

A New Mexico researcher is helping train honeybees to detect a deadly disease. It could be a new, low-cost way for developing countries to catch the disease early.

A group of foreign graduate students called Bee Healthy teamed up with a Los Alamos National Lab researcher to test whether bees can in fact detect diabetes.

Dr. Robert Wingo said he started working with bees about 10 years ago, training them like search dogs to detect explosives. (Full Story)

Also from WBZ-TV Boston

A safire in the rough

Safire developers Dipen Sinha (left) and Anirban Chaudhuri of Materials Synthesis and Integrated Devices. LANL Photo.

A multi-phase flow meter, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Safire provides noninvasive, real-time and accurate estimates of oil production for every well. Jointly developed with Chevron ETC and GE Measurement & Control, Safire achieves measurement rates as high as 100 readings/sec, including computation time.

Safire is based on SFAI, swept frequency acoustic interferometry. SFAI uses frequency-chirp signal propagation (wideband ultrasonic frequency) through a multi-phase medium to extract frequency-dependent physical properties of said medium. (Full Story)

Also from R&D Magazine:

Nuclear reactor reliability: Fast test proves viable

Tandem accelerator exposed the metal sample to a barrage of charged iron atoms. From R&D.    

Univ. of Michigan’s Gary Was, the Walter J. Weber, Jr. Professor of Sustainable Energy, Environmental and Earth Systems Engineering at UM, and colleagues from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory and TerraPower sought to confirm theories for reproducing the degradation seen in reactors with beams of charged atoms, or ion beams. This method takes a matter of days to produce the same amount of damage. (Full Story)

TA-21 towers come tumbling down

West tower, LA Monitor photo.

The Department of Energy’s Environmental Projects Office took down the water tower at the west end of Technical Area 21 (TA-21) Monday beginning at about noon. The tower to the east came down today.

“By bringing down these towers, we are making a noticeable difference in the skyline at TA-21,” said Pete Maggiore, assistant manager for Environmental Programs at the Los Alamos Field Office. “This is another positive step toward eventual transfer of this property to Los Alamos County.” (Full Story)

The story also appeared in the Los Alamos Daily Post

Also this week in the Los Alamos Monitor:

Robots take center stage

The public can see and drive a variety of different robots at “Robotics Night” from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday at the Bradbury Science Museum. Robots from Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Hazardous Devices Team, the FIRST Robotics Clubs (high school and middle-school students), University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, First LEGO League and other local robotics enthusiasts are scheduled to be at the museum. (Full Story)

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