Thursday, January 17, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Jan. 14-18

A Weaker, Cheaper MRI (IEEE Spectrum)

By Neil Savage --

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have made what they say are the first images of a human brain using magnetic fields a hundred-thousandth the strength of conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), paving the way for lower cost medical images that might be better at detecting tumors. Though the resolution is much lower than that in conventional MRIs, the images "show we have a potential for pretty good results," says Vadim Zotev, a researcher in Los Alamos’s applied modern physics group. MRI works by subjecting the human body to a strong magnetic field, which causes the proton in the nucleus of each hydrogen atom in the body to line up along the magnetic field’s lines of force. An RF pulse briefly knocks the protons out of alignment. As they snap back into position, the protons emit an RF signal that can be used to construct a three-dimensional image. Most MRI machines have a magnetic field of about 1.5 teslas, strong enough to yank metal objects out of the hands of the unwary.

Read the whole story here

National labs need vision and money, official says (Government Executive)

By Heather Greenfield --

Scientists at national laboratories will be critical to post-Cold War national security solutions, but they need a clearer vision and financial commitment from the government, according to the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Lab Director Michael Anastasio spoke Tuesday to scientists and reporters at the Woodrow Wilson Center about the security challenges of the 21st century. Anastasio said more than a half-century ago, Los Alamos headed the president's call to make sure the United States had a safe, reliable nuclear deterrent. Since then, research at national labs on pathogens like anthrax led to the understanding to build anthrax detectors, which Anastasio said were deployed when anthrax was discovered in a letter delivered to Congress.

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New Understanding For Superconductivity At High Temperatures (Science Daily)

An international research team has discovered that a magnetic field can interact with the electrons in a superconductor in ways never before observed. Andrea D. Bianchi, the lead researcher from the Université de Montréal, explains in the January 11 edition of the journal Science what he discovered in an exceptional compound of metals -- a combination of cobalt, indium and a rare earth -- that loses its resistance when cooled to just a couple of degrees above absolute zero. "This discovery sharpens our understanding of what, literally, holds the world together and brings physicists one step closer to getting a grip on superconductivity at high temperatures. Until now, physicists were going around in circles, so this discovery will help to drive new understanding," said Prof. Bianchi, who was recruited to UdeM as a Canada Research Chair in Novel Materials for Spintronics last fall and performed his experiments at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, in collaboration with scientists from ETH Zurich, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Birmingham, U.K., the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Read the whole story here

LANL NewsLetter
Two careers in service to the nation

Doug Anson is a senior military adviser to the Lab’s Threat Reduction Defense and Intelligence program office. He also is a newly promoted brigadier general in the United States Army Reserves and the Commanding General of the 3rd Brigade, 75th Division, based in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. In addition to his threat reduction and military service, Anson has served as group leader of the former Military Systems Analysis and Simulations and deputy group leader of Simulation Science and Information Sciences. Anson was awarded his new rank in a ceremony last month at Fort Sheridan, accompanied by his wife, Mija, and sons
Byron and Davis, as well
as family from across the country and well wishers from the Laboratory. Discussing the challenge of maintaining two careers, thousands of miles apart, Anson said, “This country is at war. As someone who wears the uniform and has been trained as a soldier since my college days, I feel a responsibility to answer the call to war. I also share the values of the military institution and enjoy leading soldiers.”

See the latest edition of the LANL Newsletter here