Friday, April 16, 2010

US nuclear policy could
boost basic research

LANL’s William Rees. LANL photo.

William Rees, who manages non-proliferation programmes as principal associate director for Global Security at Los Alamos National Laboratory, says that the lab needs to ensure a broad scientific base as an entry point for new recruits.

Initially, these researchers might start work at the lab in its non-weapons programmes, such as projects in studying greenhouse-gas emissions and seismology. Some of those may then move into the weapons programme. (Full Story)

Black hole twins
spew gravitational waves

Gravitational waves are like ripples in the fabric of space–time. Physics World illustration.

A team of researchers, led by Chris Belczynski of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, report that these projects have taken the wrong option, saying that double black hole systems may be far more common than previously thought. The reason is related to stars' metallicity, which is the fraction of elements that are heavier than helium. (Full Story)

New study shows possibilities and dangers of nanotechnology

Los Alamos National Laboratory toxicologist Jun Gao, a co-author in the study, works in his laboratory. LANL photo.

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. (Full Story)

Optimal Dynamic Detection system detects nitroglycerin-based bombs

Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher Shawn McGrane adjusts the gas content for the shaped laser system to create visible light. LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Princeton University researchers have successfully demonstrated the functioning of the Optical Dynamic Detection (ODD) system that can detect chemical explosives like nitroglycerin in a package.

The ODD project was initiated during the 2008 summer when these researchers discussed the proof of ODD concept with the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) of the Homeland Security. (
Full Story)

Pentagon turns to 'softer' sciences
US defence research to focus more on biology, cybersecurity and social sciences to help win conflicts.

Farmers work on a poppy field in Helmand province in April. Reuters photo.

The Pentagon's director of defence research and engineering is ramping up funding in social-science projects, including a model developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to simulate the opium trade in Afghanistan and analyse the effectiveness of efforts to combat it. (Full Story)

5 companies making fuel
from algae now

Algae biofuel research at Colorado State University in partnership with Solix and LANL. CSU photo.

Solix is also 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, obviating the need for chemical solvents. (
Full Story)

Nuvera lands $8.4m in federal funding

The Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell vehicle. GM photo.

Nuvera Fuel Cells is getting $8.4 million from the federal energy department. The money will help fund two projects - valued at $11.1 million. Nuvera has partnered with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as the Argonne National Laboratory, on its first project, called SPIRE. That project will look how fuel cells degrade in an attempt to improve their durability. (Full Story)

Giant natural particle accelerator
above thunderclouds

Lightning sprite image from Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratories.

The trick to determining the height of one of the natural particle accelerators is to use the radio waves emitted by the particle beam, explains Dr. Martin Fullekrug. These radio waves were predicted by his co-worker Dr. Robert Roussel-Dupré using computer simulations at the Los Alamos National Laboratory supercomputer facility. (Full Story)

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