Friday, April 9, 2010

For nuclear reactors, metals that heal themselves

A nuclear reactor is a tough place for metals. All those neutrons bouncing around wreak havoc with the crystalline structure of steel, tungsten and other metals used in fuel rods and other parts. Over time, the metals can swell and become brittle.

Now researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico have shown that by altering the microstructure of metals, metallurgists may be able to make reactor parts that are self healing. (full story)

Preparing for possible killer asteroid

If we ever need to use Los Alamos scientist Cathy Plesko's research, we're in nail-biting trouble. But at that moment we're likely to be very glad she did it. Plesko is trying to figure out how to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

"You hope you never need it, but you know, you hope you never need car insurance," said the 29-year-old researcher. (full story—requires subscription or advertisement view)

New technologies may help rescue more miners

Several manufacturers are working on low-frequency transmissions, one of the more advanced is "through-the-earth radio" technology being developed by Vital Alert Communications Inc. of Toronto and its U.S. subsidiary, Vital Alert Technologies of Cleveland. Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico developed the technology. (full story)

Shooting stars can shoot down satellites
We don't know enough about meteoroids

By Sigrid Close - I have worked with Bill Cooke at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and with researchers at the Air Force’s Office of Scientific Research throughout my career, first while I conducted studies at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and later at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where my team searched for ground-based electromagnetic pulses using LANL’s radio frequency sensors, and now as an assistant professor at Stanford University. (full story)

New study shows possibilities and dangers of nanotechnology

A tiny change in a tiny particle can mean the difference between treatment and toxicity, federal researchers found in the first observations of its kind.

Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico originally set out to study the interactions of carbon fullerenes – soccer-ball shaped molecules more commonly known as “buckyballs” – and cell membranes, said Rashi Iyer, a toxicologist at Los Alamos and principal research lead on the study, which was recently published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. As research progressed, she said that she and her colleagues began to observe an unexpected reaction that could either be dangerous or desirable. (full story)

Plutonium lab key part of updated nuke policy

A multibillion-dollar new plutonium lab in Los Alamos and money for the nuclear weapons scientists who would use it are centerpieces of the Pentagon's updated national nuclear weapons policy, unveiled Tuesday.

Replacement of old Cold War nuclear weapons design and manufacturing buildings, and a focus on human talent at U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories, which include Sandia and Los Alamos in New Mexico, are critical pieces to maintaining our long-term nuclear deterrent, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters during a televised Pentagon briefing. (full story—requires subscription or view of advertising)

Assistance program helps 320 businesses

The New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program will honor nine companies Thursday for outstanding achievements. The companies participated in the program last year. The program is a partnership of Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the state of New Mexico. (full story)

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

Please visit us at