Monday, December 1, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Nov. 22 - 30

Cosmic ray hotspots seen near Orion

Research discovers two distinct hot spots bombarding Earth with an excess of cosmic rays. The hot spots were identified in the two red- colored regions near the constellation Orion. LANL image.

Orion the Hunter appears to be firing his arrows at Earth, report international researchers who have detected an excess of cosmic rays coming from the starry constellation.

"This discovery calls into question our understanding of cosmic rays and raises the possibility that an unknown source or magnetic effect near our solar system is responsible for these observations," says team scientist John Pretz of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in a statement. See the
USA Today story here, and a longer version from the Los Alamos Monitor.

LANL: HIV's complexities make work on vaccine difficult

"Usually we see how nature does things with the immune system, and then we try to imitate that - that's how it's been done for other vaccines," Ribeiro said. "But with HIV we don't know what a successful response by the immune system is. We've never seen it. So it's very hard to find a way to replicate it."

Ribeiro spoke about the difficulty in creating an HIV vaccine Tuesday night at the Center for Nonlinear Studies in Santa Fe, as part of a ongoing science public lecture series there. Read the story here.

NASA needs help naming rover

The Mars Science Laboratory investigates the Red Planet’s geology with the laser-based ChemCam developed in part at Los Alamos. NASA illustration.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration needs your help to name a rover that's going to Mars in October. Right now it's called the Mars Science Laboratory. If you can come up with the coolest name: Game on.

Kids in Los Alamos may have a tiny advantage in this contest, because two very important parts of the new rover are connected with the laboratory. Roger Wiens, who has been working on an instrument called ChemCam, said the idea of ChemCam is that it's going to be able to tell what kind of rocks there are in the area around the rover when it's on Mars. Read the story here.

Los Alamos Lab Names New Deputy Director

Isaac Richardson has been named the new deputy director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Richardson will begin his new job Feb. 1. He will replace Jan Van Prooyen, who is retiring early next year after three years at the northern New Mexico lab.

The lab said Richardson has 37 years of leadership experience. He spent 31 years in the Navy, where he attained the rank of rear admiral and commanded the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. See the story here.

Los Alamos ships volatile waste to WIPP

A shipment of transuranic waste leaves the Laboratory for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

os Alamos National Laboratory has shipped the last of one group of high-activity radioactive waste drums to the federal government's waste dump near Carlsbad, saying it made good on a commitment to remove the material from lab property.

The nuclear weapons lab shipped 282 high-activity drums to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant after repackaging much of the material identified as high activity - which means it's above a certain level of radioactivity. The last of the drums went to WIPP earlier this month. See the full story here.

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