Friday, October 16, 2009

Solar system’s edge surprises astronomers

Illustration of IBEX spacecraft (SwRI).

The edge of the solar system is tied up with a ribbon, astronomers have discovered. The first global map of the solar system reveals that its edge is nothing like what had been predicted.

“Our maps show structure and energy spectra that are completely different from what any model has predicted,” says study coauthor Herbert Funsten of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Full Story.

Mystery space "ribbon" found at solar system's edge

The first full-sky map of solar system's edge has revealed a bright ribbon of uncharged atoms. From NatGeo.

The IBEX spacecraft’s map shows that the ribbon measures roughly two billion miles (three billion kilometers) long and several hundred thousand miles wide. The ribbon isn't visible to people and wouldn't harm spacecraft or humans passing through it, IBEX principal investigator David McComas, [formerly of Los Alamos National Laboratory], now with Southwest Research Institute in partnership with LANL. Full Story.

N.M. project would link nation's 3 electric grids

Gov. Bill Richardson gives a news conference in Albuquerque announcing superstation. AP photo.

Officials announced an ambitious project in New Mexico on Tuesday that would allow energy to flow more freely across the nation's three massive power grids. American Superconductor has partnered with scientists at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories for two decades to develop the superconductor, which already is being used in Columbus, Ohio; and Long Island and Albany, N.Y. Full Story.

Companies making fuel from algae now

The Solix demonstration facility produces up to 3000 gallons of algal biofuels per acre per year. Solix photo.

Solix is collaborating with the Los Alamos National Laboratory to use its acoustic-focusing technology to concentrate algal cells into a dense mixture by blasting them with sound waves. Oil can then be extracted from the mixture by squeezing it out; this makes the extraction process much easier and cheaper. Full Story.

Death Stars: What exactly are gamma-ray bursts?

Gamma-ray bursts occur when a giant star uses up all its fuel, collapses, and turns a vast amount of its mass into radiation. NASA illustration.

On 2 July 1969, physicists Ray Klebesadel and Roy Olson sat down in a tiny office at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to examine data sent back by the U.S. Vela 4 spy satellites. At the time, the U.S. was afraid the Soviet Union was planning to test atomic bombs in space. Full Story.

Malicious software targeted by newly patented technology

Malware has the potential to pose security threats, which is where scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory come in.

The laboratory announced Tuesday that a first patent had been issued on a new malware defense, known as support vector machine classifiers, or SVM, that appears to have a number of promising advantages over other systems currently being used.
Full Story.

Also this week in the Monitor:

DOE grant supports solar energy innovations

Two more allotments of what is mainly stimulus funding have been made available to Los Alamos National Laboratory in recent days.
Full Story.

Virtualization proves cost effective

Officials at the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory have used virtualization technology to address issues of cooling, limited floor space and power consumption as they sought to ramp up capacity in data centers on the sprawling, 36-mile campus.
Full Story.

Astronomers seek to explore the cosmic Dark Ages

Workers install conduit and cabling for the LWA near Socorro. LWA photo.

The Long Wavelength Array (LWA), which will consist of about 13,000 spindly antennas in the desert west of Socorro, N.M. The first 256 detectors arrived on site last week, and the completion date for the system is 2010. The LWA is sponsored by the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Naval Research Laboratory, and others. Full Story.

Magnet lab to investigate promising superconductor

The Applied Superconductivity Center at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory has received $1.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to understand and enhance a new form of superconducting material. The other institutions participating in the collaboration are Los Alamos National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Fermilab, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and others.
Full Story.

Future Darwinism - quantum evolution I

In a major break-through, Wojciech H Zurek, an eminent theoretical physicist currently based at the US Los Alamos National Laboratory, has developed a proof based on the Darwinian model, which provides a third and more rigorous interpretation of the emergence of classical reality from quantum states and at the same time offers a key element in the proof needed to realise a Unified Darwinian Theory.
Full Story.

Road to exascale computers

Exascale computers, which would be 1000 times more powerful than today's fastest supercomputers, will need to have optics playing a bigger role, said Jeffrey Kash of IBM Research during a presentation at Frontiers in Optics 2009.

The top supercomputer today is the IBM Roadrunner petascale floating point operations per second (petaflops) machine at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Full Story.

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