Friday, June 4, 2010

Model suggests slick could zoom up East Coast

New supercomputer studies suggest it is "very likely" ocean currents will carry oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico around the tip of Florida and thousands of miles up the U.S. East Coast this summer, researchers announced Thursday. "It is truly a simulation, not a prediction," said Terry Wallace, principal associate director for science, technology and engineering at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, which collaborated on the project. "But it shows that when you inject something into the Gulf, it is likely to have much larger consequences." (full story)

Oil could reach Atlantic coasts
or weeks there have been discussions about the potential for the spreading Gulf of Mexico oil slick to slip around Florida and flow up the East Coast. Now a suite of simulations, run by an international team of ocean and climate scientists, including Mat Maltrud at Los Alamos National Laboratory, shows this is a likely outcome should the flow remain unabated this summer.

The researchers stress there are caveats and uncertainties, most notably related to the state of the gulf’s highly variable loop current in coming weeks. (The Department of Energy put out its own fact sheet stressing that the simulations are highly uncertain.) (full story)

Also in The New York Times:

Nuclear option on Gulf oil spill? No way, U.S. says

Stephanie Mueller, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department, said that neither Energy Secretary Steven Chu nor anyone else was thinking about a nuclear blast under the gulf. The nuclear option was not — and never had been — on the table, federal officials said. Along with the kibbitzers, the government has also brought in experts from around the world - including scores of scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and other government labs - to assist in the effort to cap the well. (full story)

LANL works on oil computer simulations
Researchers say spill could spread across Atlantic Ocean within months

Oil from the gushing Deep Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico could travel around Florida and up the U.S. eastern seaboard, spreading across the Atlantic within months, according to simulations by scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The team's maps, generated this week using the state of New Mexico's Encanto supercomputer, show the possibility of oil getting caught up in a current that swirls around the Gulf of Mexico, then moving rapidly through the gap between Florida and Cuba and into the Atlantic.

The simulations show oil hugging the East Coast as far north as North Carolina before heading out into the Atlantic as it follows the path of the warm Gulf Stream waters.

Scientists cautioned that the simulations are not forecasts, but rather a series of "what if" scenarios useful in exploring the risks as the damaged well continues spewing oil, said Terry Wallace, head of science programs at Los Alamos.
(full story)

First images of heavy electrons in action

Using a microscope designed to image the arrangement and interactions of electrons in crystals, scientists have captured the first images of electrons that appear to take on extraordinary mass under certain extreme conditions. The technique opens the door to further explorations of the properties and functions of so-called heavy fermions. Scientists from the Brookhaven National Laboratory, McMaster University, and Los Alamos National Laboratory describe the results in the June 3, 2010, issue of Nature. (full story)

Zeroing in on quantum effects

he aim of the research is to better understand the processes that lead to high-temperature superconductivity. High-temperature superconductors could revolutionize electric generators, MRI scanners, high-speed trains and other devices. Co-author of the study is Jian-Xin Zhu, of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (
full story)

Bomb squads sharpen skills in robot rodeo

Bomb squads from around New Mexico got a chance to sharpen their skills by using a remote-controlled robot — not to blow things up, but to make pancakes. The Robot Rodeo was held last week at a tech site at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The three-day event offered hours of hands-on training at the controls of $225,000 robots used for bomb and hazardous waste detection and disposal. (full story)

Wrangling in the robots

Six teams included The Albuquerque Police Department, the Santa Fe Police Department, the New Mexico State Police, the Farmington Police Department, LANL and the New Jersey State Police competed in 10 different events. Other challenges included an obstacle course performed in the dark, using explosive tools and power tools. "The main purpose of the rodeo," said Robert Clark, a LANL hazardous devices technician, "is we come up with scenarios that are a challenge to both robot and to the operator." (full story)

Scientists creating advanced computer simulation of nuclear reactor

team of four Energy Department national laboratories, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, three universities and three energy companies will receive up to $122 million over the next five years to develop a highly accurate computer simulation of a light water nuclear reactor.
To simulate the complex physics and chemistry of the reactor core, the consortium will have access to three of the most powerful supercomputers in the world including Roadrunner at Los Alamos. (full story)

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