Friday, December 12, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Dec. 6 - 14

Disarming ourselves

A new report warns Obama about our aging nuclear weapons.

raq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo get more press, but among the most urgent national security challenges facing President-elect Obama is what to do about America's stockpile of aging nuclear weapons. No less an authority than Secretary of Defense Robert Gates calls the situation "bleak" and is urging immediate modernization. (Want to know more?)

LANL: Contract extension 'a vote of confidence'

Good report card earns lab incentive fee, bump on DOE expiration date

he managers of Los Alamos National Laboratory are pleased with their report card for the year, a federal assessment that led to a one-year extension of their contract to run the lab for the Department of Energy.
Link The assessment, by the National Nuclear Security Administration's Los Alamos site office, awarded Los Alamos National Security LLC 87.9 percent of the possible fees available, up from 81.3 percent the previous year. The assessment was for Oct. 1, 2007, through Sept. 30, the second full year LANS has operated Los Alamos. See this story in the Albuquerque Journal or the Santa Fe New Mexican.

LANL: Dust Isn't From Us

Data show the small contribution that LANL makes to the overall dose from natural radioactive sources.

Los Alamos scientists have concluded that the vast majority of radioactive dust identified last year by a research group did not come from the nuclear weapons lab.

The author of the study, which was commissioned by a watchdog group, said Wednesday he did not disagree with the lab's conclusion that the dust was either naturally occurring or the result of nuclear fallout from decades-old weapons tests.

The Government Accountability Project caused a stir last year when it reported elevated levels of radioactivity in dozens of places in the Los Alamos area, from a dusty restroom fan in White Rock to a vacuum bag in an a local office. See stories in the Albuquerque Journal and the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Los Alamos Magnet Lab Explores Superconductivity

A schematic drawing of the magnetic field surrounding a simple wire coil. LANL illustration

Researchers at the Magnet Lab at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) are using magnetic fields to explore the properties of superconductors and other exotic materials.

The LANL facility houses some of the largest and most powerful magnets in the world and is part of a larger group offering free access to non-affiliated researchers in the fields of chemistry, biology, physics, geophysics, and medicine.

The LANL Magnet Lab typically focuses on condensed matter physics and materials science. See the whole story here.

Astronomers Find The Two Dimmest Stellar Bulbs

This artist's concept shows the dimmest star-like bodies

currently known - twin brown dwarfs referred to as 2M 0939.
NASA/JPL illustration

The new record-holder for dimmest known star-like object in the universe goes to twin "failed" stars, or brown dwarfs, each of which shines feebly with only one millionth the light of our sun.

"Both of these objects are the first to break the barrier of one millionth the total light-emitting power of the sun," said Adam Burgasser of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Burgasser is lead author of a new paper about the discovery appearing in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Didier Saumon of the Los Alamos National Laboratory is one of the paper's co-authors. Gaze upon the whole story here.

Community generosity recognized by United Way

"I feel very blessed to have done the campaign at this time," Campaign Chairman Ralph Damiani said. "We have raised more than $2 million and that's more than $200,000 more than last year and the big thanks has to go out to all the good folks at LANL."

United Way Executive Director Donna Schroeder agreed saying, "this has been an amazing year for the lab." Los Alamos National Laboratory employees contributed more than $1 million and Los Alamos National Security LLC matched all monies raised throughout the campaign to bring the total to more than $2 million.

"We're really proud of our employees - I didn't think we'd make the million but we were committed to it and it really felt good all across the lab," said LANL Deputy Director Jan Van Prooyen. See the whole story here.

FDA Approval Granted on New Titanium Dental Implant

he patented new form of titanium metal originally developed by Russian scientists in concert with scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory is expected to significantly improve dental implants.

Studies have shown that bone integrates with these new metals up to 20 times faster than with conventional metals. Patients should experience shorter post surgery healing times and a more reliable integration of these new implants into their body. Sink your teeth into this story here.

To subscribe to Los Alamos Report, please e-mail and include the words subscribe los alamosreport in the body of your email message; to unscubscribe, include unsubscribe losalamosreport.

Please visit us at