Thursday, July 3, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for June 30 - July 3

Three national laboratories are testing how well commercial airframes can survive a terrorist bombing-research that U.S. officials say could someday change what airport screeners look for and how they look for it. Preliminary test results are not expected from the labs, Lawrence Livermore in California and Sandia and Los Alamos in New Mexico, until the fall, but officials at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which commissioned the studies, say the findings could have long-range effects on security-and even on aircraft design. [full text not yet online]

Manhattan Scientifics Acquires Metallicum, Inc.

Advanced Metals Technologies from Los Alamos National Laboratory;
Aluminum as Strong as Steel

Metallicum . . . will produce and license the super strong metals using nano-technology developed by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with their colleagues in Russia. See the full story here.

(L to R) NM Senator Jeff Bingaman and Congressman Tom Udall join LANL's Terry Lowe in an interview with Albuquerque Journal business reporter Andrew Webb following the Metallicum news conference Wednesday in Albuquerque. The news conference was to announce the successful commercialization of the patented nanostructured metals technology developed first in the former Soviet Union,and then improved at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the post-Cold War era of U.S.-Russian scientific cooperation. (LANL photo-Kevin Roark)

The Tunguska Mystery-100 Years Later

Finding a piece of the elusive cosmic body that devastated a Siberian forest a century ago could help save Earth in the centuries to come

What scientists call the Tunguska event, the largest impact of a cosmic body to occur on the earth during modern human history. [created] a raging conflagration some 65 kilometers (40 miles) from ground zero, [and] the effects of the blast rippled out far into northern Europe and Central Asia as well. . .

Ever since the [1908] Tunguska event, scientists and lay enthusiasts alike have wondered what caused it. Although most observers generally accept that some kind of cosmic body, either an asteroid or a comet, exploded in the sky above Siberia, no one has yet found fragments of the object or any impact craters in the affected region. The mystery remains unsolved, but our research team, only the latest of a steady stream of investigators who have scoured the area, may be closing in on a discovery that will change our understanding of what happened that fateful morning. . .

Using satellite observations of meteoric "flares" in the atmosphere ("shooting stars") and acoustical data that record cosmic impacts on the surface of the earth, Peter Brown and his co-workers at the University of Western Ontario and Los Alamos National Laboratory estimated the rate of smaller impacts. The researchers have also extrapolated their findings to larger but rarer incidents such as the Tunguska event. See the story here.

10 Audacious Ideas to Save the Planet

To rescue the Earth, we need bold engineering ideas that go beyond simple recycling

Pulling Gas from Thin Air The Vision A modified nuclear reactor that produces 17,000 barrels of gasoline a day-enough to fuel 54,000 Honda Civics. The Plan Air contains hydrogen and carbon, the building blocks of gasoline. So why not turn it into fuel? That's the thinking behind a plan from scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory to transform carbon dioxide into a renewable resource using nuclear plants. Read the story here.

Lab technologies win prestigious
R&D 100 awards

Cutting-edge innovations garnered Los Alamos researchers two of R&D Magazine's prestigious R&D 100 Awards. The awards, which will be presented October 16 in Chicago, recognize the top 100 industrial innovations worldwide in 2008. Winning Laboratory projects are the 3-D Tracking Microscope and Laser-Weave technology. See the Daily NewsBulletin story here.

LANL scientist chosen for elite fellowship

President Bush's 2008-2009 class of White House Fellows includes David Loaiza, technical staff member at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The president announced the 14 appointments this week, each selected by the president's Commission on White House Fellowships, to participate in one of the nation's most prestigious fellowship programs for leadership development and public service. See the Los Alamos Monitor story here.

President Bush Appoints 2008-2009 Class of White House Fellows

The White House announced today the President's appointment of 14 White House Fellows, selected by the President's Commission on White House Fellowships, to participate in America's most prestigious fellowship program for leadership development and public service. The 2008-2009 class [includes] David Loaiza, a technical staff member at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who serves as an advisor to the Department of Energy's Office of Dismantlement and Transparency. See the White House news release here.

ng Fireworks Green

A growing spinoff company out of Los Alamos National Laboratory, DMD Systems, makes low-smoke, low-pollutant fireworks for indoor events, like those put on by World Wrestling Entertainment. Courtesy Photo.

A hidden substance lurks inside those spectacular bursts of red, white and blue decorating the skies on the Fourth of July-one you might not want seeping into your groundwater. It's perchlorate, a chemical used to add oxygen fuel into many explosives and fireworks.

Perchlorate is also a hazardous chemical that can cause
problems in pregnant women and a medical drug used to reduce thyroid production. In every big fireworks display, some of it floats from the explosion back to the ground, where it waits for a good rainstorm to help it seep into the groundwater. A growing spinoff company out of Los Alamos National Laboratory, called DMD Systems, thinks one day it could prevent some of that contamination. See the Santa Fe New Mexican story here.

Greener rockets take off

The challenge for scientists-even explosives chemists such as
Darren Naud and Michael Hiskey, who have worked at the government's laboratory in Los Alamos,N.M.-has been to create fireworks that are relatively smoke-free as well as free of potassium perchlorate, an oxidant. See the Washington Times story here.

Roadrunner strives to lead supercomputer race

A handful of engineers have assembled what they expect will become-at least for a while-the world's most powerful computer. IBM Corp.'s Roadrunner likely will go down in history as the first computer to consistently crank out 1 petaflops-a quadrillion floating-point operations per second. Some 3,240 compute modules are slotted together and linked on a two-tier Infiniband network.

Each Roadrunner module consists of two AMD dual-core
Opteron processors and four PowerXCell 8i CPUs-65nm versions of the Cell processor developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba for the PlayStation. The completed system will consume 4MW and fit into a 6,000-square-foot room. . Once fully tested by IBM, the system will be packed up and shipped to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. See the story here.

Center among competitors in race for turning algae into biofuel

The race is on, and Carlsbad's Center for Excellence for Hazardous Materials Management plans to be the first at the finish line in producing a biofuel from algae oil.

In 2006, when CEHMM began working to extract oil from micro algae and turn it into a biofuel, it was the only group in that field. Today, several research universities and private industries in the U.S. and abroad are competing, said Ned Elkins, who heads the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Carlsbad office.

LANL and New Mexico State University Agriculture Science Center are partnering with CEHMM in the research and development project. CEHMM has a leg up over others because it has the three components in its backyard needed for algae to thrive and generate a new industry in Carlsbad. See the story here.

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