Friday, July 25, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for July 21 - 25

Ancient Galactic Magnetic Fields Stronger Than Expected

This realization brings a new focus on the broader question of how galaxies form. Instead of the com- monly held view that magnetic fields have little relevance to the genesis of new galaxies, it now appears that they are indeed important players.

Mining the far reaches of the universe for clues
about its past, a team of scientists including Philipp Kronberg of Los Alamos National Laboratory has proposed that magnetic fields of ancient galaxies like ours were just as strong as those existing today, prompting a rethinking of how our galaxy and others may have formed. See the story here.

Broader Agenda For Weapons Labs

Top officials at the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories are planning a shift in research focus that will result in 50% of the labs' work being unrelated to nuclear weapons. That reduces nuclear-weapons-related work by 20 to 30% of current levels at most of the labs.

Photo: D'Agostino briefs reporters in Washington, D.C.

The labs expect that the majority of the new research will come from projects within other parts of the federal government, explained Thomas P. D'Agostino, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. He was joined last week by the directors of Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, and Los Alamos National Laboratories, as well as the head of the Nevada Test Site, in briefing reporters in Washington, D.C., and in testifying before a House Armed Services subcommittee. See the story here.

Green 500 List Puts IBM Supercomputers
at the Top

When it comes to supercomputing energy efficiency, IBM cannot be beaten--that's according to the findings of the latest Supercomputing 'Green 500 List' announced by The No fewer than the top 15 positions in the ranking of energy efficiency
are held by supercomputers built on IBM high performance computing technology.

Ranking the recently announced world's fastest Los Alamos National Laboratories petaflop
supercomputer at number three for energy performance--the list is topped by IBM's own Boeblingen Lab supercomputer which is used for development of IBM blade computing systems. Read the MarketWatch report here.

Magnetic slingshot creates aurora on Earth

Reconnecting magnetic fields, situated Roughly a third of the distance to the Moon, can fire particles towards Earth to create the aurora. NASA Illustration

A fleet of satellites has pinpointed the sequence of events that lead to magnet
ic "substorms" near Earth. These are frequent occurrences that cause auroras and may unleash radiation that can damage satellites. Although these substorms have been observed for decades, no one was sure exactly how they were created.

Now, researchers with NASA's THEMIS mission say they have the answer. The substorms begin far out in space, roughly a
third of the way to the Moon, where magnetic fields from the Earth are thrown together and reconnect to sling charged particles back toward the planet, they say. Other researchers are impressed by the study.

"I think this is a very important result," says magnetosphere modeler Joachim Birn of Los
Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. "It's certainly going to trigger more systematic studies in the area." See the story here.

Halfway there: Lab pays tribute to work done

Los Alamos National Laboratory
's new Rad Lab topped out Tuesday at five stories with a traditional ceremony for the workers involved in the project.

"It's a long-time tradition in the construction industry, when the building reaches its highest point," said Rick Holmes, the project division leader for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) project.

"We hung a flag and put up a piñon tree, which means the building was constructed safely and signifies good luck for the occupants." Laboratory
Director Michael Anastasio and Deputy Director Jan Van Prooyen also offered remarks for the occasion.

Math and Science Academy recognized by DOE

Duncan McBranch, left, of Science, Technology &

shakes hands with KSL Services GM
David Whitaker after the ceremony.

"Today is a special day of celebration for our Northern New Mexico Math and Science Academy (MSA) program," said Dave Foster of the Laboratory's
Education and Postdoc Office.

Foster, whose office oversees the Laboratory‚s MSA program, was excited for good reason. The ceremony July 17 at San Juan Elementary School in Española marked not one but two outstanding milestones for the MSA.

The Math and Science Academy was recently given the 2007 Secretary of Energy EEO & Diversity Best Practices Award in recognition of outstanding service to the community. Read the Newsbulletin story here.

2008 Hazmat Challenge featured on YouTube

Teams of Hazardous Material Response professionals compete to clear a course of leaking pipes, potential toxic fumes and other scenarios. Watch the YouTube video

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