Thursday, March 27, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for March 24-28

Nanomaterial turns radiation
directly into electricity

Materials that directly convert radiation into electricity could produce a new era of spacecraft and even Earth-based vehicles powered by high-powered nuclear batteries, say US researchers. Liviu Popa-Simil, former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear engineer and founder of private research and development company LAVM says transforming the energy of radioactive particles into electricity is more effective. "I believe this work is innovative and could have a significant impact on the future of nuclear power," says David Poston, of the US Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory. However perfecting new nuclear technologies requires years of development, he adds. See the story here.

Bingaman impressed by lab's ideas for energy storage

A United States senator in search of solutions to national energy problems and a national laboratory looking to extend its portfolio of alternative energy programs had a meeting of minds Wednesday. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, visited Los Alamos National Laboratory Wednesday looking for advanced energy storage technology that would enable more green energy generation, like electricity from wind and solar sources. After the meeting, Bingaman said he was very impressed with the laboratory’s potential to improve energy storage capacity. See the story here.

Also from the Monitor
Universe does a doozie

A robotic telescope on Fenton Hill in the Jemez Mountains west of Los Alamos was the first instrument on Earth to get a look at one of the brightest known explosions in the cosmos March 19. The phenomenon was a major gamma ray burst that had happened 7.5 billion years ago when a massive star collapsed into a black hole. Radiation from the blast had just arrived on earth's outskirts, tipping off the Swift satellite to swing into position. Los Alamos researchers were already absorbed with an ordinary burst from a half-hour earlier. See the story here.

KOAT-TV, Albuquerque
Lab technology to help airport security

Action 7 News reporter Natalie Swaby joins us live to explain. This is something most travelers will want to hear. What if you could carry your water and toiletries on the plane without any hassle. That's not the way it works at airports now, but thanks to technology being developed at Los Alamos National lab -- it could be the way of the future. See the video clip.

Director: Lab 'Highly Effective' Despite Rating

The director of Los Alamos National Laboratory says the lab made significant progress last year and that the overall performance of its leaders was "highly effective" despite a performance rating of 35 percent. The rating was part of a 180-page federal evaluation of Los Alamos National Security LLC, which runs the nuclear weapons lab for the U.S. Department of Energy. "Focusing on results that we have delivered and the improvements that we have made, in spite of numerous obstacles, I can only assess our overall performance over the past year as highly effective," lab director Michael Anastasio said. See the Albuquerque Journal story here. Subscription required.

Hundreds learn about NanoDays at Bradbury Science Museum

Science educator Gordon McDonough uses a scanning probe to demonstrate remote sensing of atoms to a group of visitors at Bradbury Science Museum. The pingpong balls represent atoms. More than 500 people came to the museum Wednesday for NanoDays.

A boy "nanojumps" over a stick as science educator Liz Martineau supervises this NanoDays activity. The stick is 16 inches from the floor, which represents one one-billionth of the total distance to the moon. Some of the NanoDays activities and displays will remain available at the museum's TechLab through the end of May. Read the Daily NewsBulletin.