Thursday, March 13, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for March 10-14

Building the lab’s future

New construction in Los Alamos heralds a new age for the lab

What the [CMR-R] project will create is a compact, more modern version of a facility already at the lab, called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research building. That building is a 570,000-square-foot monstrosity built in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and it looks like a prison, said Joe Martz. "At the time it was constructed, it was the second largest concrete building in the U.S., next to the Pentagon," he noted. Read the full story here.

LANL Officials Defend Proposal

Los Alamos National Laboratory officials went on the offensive Tuesday, supporting a proposal to make the nation's plutonium bomb parts at the lab. The proposal is in the nation's best interest and the lab's, Los Alamos associate director Terry Wallace said during a public hearing on the proposal. Wallace's appearance was part of a broad effort, as lab heavy hitters testified at the hearing and made the news media rounds, including a drive time talk radio appearance on KKOB-AM (770). The unusual public relations initiative comes as the National Nuclear Security Administration takes public comment on a far-reaching initiative that would make Los Alamos the nation's permanent plutonium manufacturing center for the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal. Read the story here, subscription required.

Giving an opinio

A large crowd turned out for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s public hearing Wednesday night at the Hilltop House. For the first time in recent memory, top Los Alamos National Laboratory managers and other members of the community made a strong public showing in support of the agency’s current proposal for transforming the nuclear weapons complex. Toward the end of the evening, LANL plutonium scientist Joe Martz, speaking as a private citizen, said he had been attending these meetings for 20 years and called the community support, “unprecedented.” See the Monitor story here.

The Future of New Mexico's National Labs

The Department of Energy is holding several public hearings about proposals that would radically shrink America's nuclear weapons complex. But under part of the plan.. Los Alamos National Lab would get a new two-billion dollar research facility.. that some critics say.. would just help build more nuclear bombs.. Bob Martin has details.. See the video clip here.

Fly neurons fire much faster than thought

U.S. scientists have discovered neurons in the visual system of the common blowfly generate electrical impulses at a rate 10 times greater than thought. The Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists led by physicist Ilya Nemenman said their findings are expected to significantly change theories about the functioning of neural networks, as well as advance development of computers that mimic biological processes. Read the full story. See the LANL News Release.

LANL NewsBulletin
NNSA’s Goodrum congratulates DARHT team

Steve Goodrum, the newly appointed NNSA Assistant Deputy Administrator for Science, Technology, and Production, visited the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) facility on Wednesday to congratulate the team on successfully meeting or exceeding all of the technical requirements to operate the DARHT second axis. “When the calls started to come in at headquarters about the DARHT success,” said Goodrum, “the news quickly spread all throughout the Forrestal building. I’m particularly pleased to visit here to recognize this success and to remind you of the importance of DARHT axis 2 in the overall success of stockpile stewardship.” Goodrum was accompanied on his visit by Laboratory director Michael Anastasio, associate director for weapons physics Charles McMillan, NNSA science campaign manager Chris Deeney, and DARHT accelerator project leader Raymond Scarpetti.