Friday, August 8, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for August 4 - 8

Carbon tubes, but not nano

Much larger than carbon nanotubes, colossal carbon tubes are visible to the naked eye and have an unusual structure.

Take solace, all ye who've grown weary of carbon na
notube promises: The latest tubes are anything but nano.

While trying to grow better, longer nanotubes, researchers accidentally discovered a new type of carbon filament that's tens of thousands of times thicker.

Recently at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, materials scientist Huisheng Peng and his collaborators were trying to tweak the conditions inside a vacuum oven to grow "forests" of long nanotubes from carbon gas. When Peng opened the vacuum-sealed door, he saw a scene that could be compared to the floor of a barber's shop: Thin, black hairs were scattered everywhere. See the colossal carbon tube story here.

Science’s Awesome Challenge:
Creating Artificial Life

A model ’protocell’ assembled by artificial life researcher
Jack Szostak at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute inBethesda, Maryland. Janet Iwasa photo.

Scientists are advancing slowly toward one of the most audacious goals humans have ever set for themselves: creating artificial life.

Steen Rasmussen, a physicist at the Los Alamos
National Laboratory in New Mexico, heads a "Protocell Project." Its goal is to build lifelike artificial cells that are "self-reproducing and capable of evolution; self-containing, thereby possessing individual identity; self-sustaining in that they can maintain their complex structure." The whole proto-story is right here.

Service of a scientist

Waltham, MA—"My story has to do with the end of World War II," Henry Linschitz said as he reflected on his role in Manhattan Project.

For the 89-year-old Waltham man, [August 6] i
s a day to reflect upon his role in World War II. A former Brandeis professor, Linschitz was part of an assembly team that created the plutonium bomb that decimated Nagasaki, Japan, effectively ending World War II. "We were putting together the nuclear bombs that finished Hiroshima and Nagasaki," the Riverside Drive resident said. Read the story here.

FDA Reviewing Cancer Screening Study

Biomoda, Inc., a
development stage medical diagnostics company, submitted to the FDA a pre-IDE (Investigational Device Exemption) protocol for a clinical study using Biomoda's proprietary assay for detection of early lung cancer in veterans.

The non-invasive test, originally developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, allows clinicians to identify cancerous or aberrant cells extracted from samples of lung sputum; cancerous cells in the sputum exposed to the assay glow red under fluorescent light and can be detected under a
microscope. See the story here.

The Secret Lives of Supercomputers

Supercomputers able to carry out enormous amounts of calculations per second have long been tied to some rather heady tasks -- playing humans in chess and modeling
genomes, for instance.

But as costs have fallen, businesses and government organizations have turned to supercomputers to solve all sorts of practical problems, from evaluating nuclear warheads without detonating them to designing the perfect potato chip.

The world's most powerful supercomputer, Roadrunner, was clocked with a sustained processing rate of a whopping 1.026 petaflops (one quadrillion floating point operations per second).

Located at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Roadrunner is based on IBM QS22 blades and powered by Opteron and advanced versions of the Cell chip, the microprocessor found in Sony's PlayStation 3 video game console.
Learn more about the supercomputer's secret life here.

Agencies strive to meet ambitious
energy conservation goals

There are a number of things managers can do to reduce energy consumption at data centers, said Anil Karmel, a solutions architect at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

By using server virtualization technology, Karmel and his colleagues were able to decommission 105 of 400 servers at Los Alamos, saving about 873,000 kilowatts of energy use per year.

That translated to savings of about $605,000 in the first year, and is expected to result in $1.4 million in annual savings in the future, he said. More of this story, here.

August Currents now available

The latest issue of Currents features a cover article on the decommissioning of the Laboratory's Milagro facility, a tera-electron volt galactic mapping telescope in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico.

Also featured in the issue is James Maxwell, one of the Laboratory's newest R&D 100 Award winners, who was honored for his 3-D Tracking Microscope.

You can read the entire August edition of the Laboratory’s monthly magazine Currents right here.

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