Friday, September 26, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Sept. 22-26

Supercomputer race: Tricky to boost system speed
The Top500 list is always climbing to new heights

Every June and November, with fanfare lacking only in actual drum rolls and trumpet blasts, a new list of the world's fastest supercomputers is revealed. Vendors brag, and the media reach for analogies such as "It would take a patient person with a handheld calculator x number of years (think millennia) to do what this hunk of hardware can spit out in one second."

The latest Top500 list, released in June, was seen as especially noteworthy because it marked the scaling of computing's then-current Mount Everest -- the petaflops barrier. Dubbed "Roadrunner" by its users, a computer built by IBM for Los Alamos National Laboratory topped the list of the 500 fastest computers, burning up the bytes at 1.026 petaflops, or more than 1,000 trillion arithmetic operations per second. (Read the whole story!)

Parallel “Nano-Soldering” Technique Selected as Top Nano50 Awards

You should have so much patience to solder nanowires to nanoelectrodes. Talk about fine work. (A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.)

That’s why a new electroplating process that simultaneously joins many silicon nanowires to many
prepatterned electrodes was selected for a 2008 Nano 50 Award by Nanotech Briefs.

The process removes many difficulties.

“All of the electroplating is done in parallel,” says Sean Hearne, a Sandia National Laboratories researcher at the Center for Integrated Technologies (CINT). “Everywhere there’s a metal contact, the electroplated nickel grows over the nanowire, capturing it.”

CINT is a DOE Office of Science nanotechnology center led by Sandia and Los Alamos National
Laboratory. (The entire story is here.)

Bradbury to celebrate Museum Day Saturday

The Bradbury Science Museum will join cultural institutions across the country to participate in the Smithsonian Institution’s fourth annual Museum Day on Saturday.

The national event is sponsored by Smithsonian magazine as a celebration of culture, learning, and the dissemination of knowledge. Museum Day follows the free-admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C., museums. (See the entire Monitor story here.)

Stupak: Security Improved at Los Alamos, But Not Other Labs

Homeland Security. Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak, D-Mich., said today he was "optimistic, but guarded," that security conditions at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are slowly improving. But he criticized the Energy Department for allowing security at other national labs to slip. At a hearing on security at national defense labs, Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman said the department had taken steps to improve physical security and cybersecurity. He added that labs are still vulnerable to hackers, in some cases foreign nationals with access to a lab's intranet. GAO Information Security Issues Director Gregory Wilshusen countered that the National Nuclear Security Administration "may not have enough staff or the proper training" to provide proper security at Los Alamos.

Los Alamos Medal recipients selected

Laboratory Fellow Robert Cowan and former Laboratory Director Sig Hecker have been selected as recipients of the 2008 Los Alamos Medal, the institution’s most prestigious award.

Established in 2001, the Los Alamos Medal is the highest honor the Laboratory can bestow upon an individual or small group. Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio will present the medals to Cowan and Hecker during a formal awards ceremony and reception. (Read the entire NewsBulletin story here.)

ASPECT plane deployed to areas hit by hurricanes

lying over storm-damaged refineries and chemical factories, a twin-engine plane carrying the ASPECT (Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology) system was on duty throughout the recent hurricanes that swept the Florida and Gulf Coast areas.

ASPECT is a project of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Decontamination Team. The Laboratory leads a science and technology program supporting the EPA and the ASPECT aircraft. (The whole NewsBulletin story is here.)

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