Friday, October 21, 2011

Genetically modified algae are magnetic, for ease of manipulation

Proving that there’s always a different way to approach a problem, researchers at Los Alamos National Lab have devised a pretty clever method of algae harvesting that could take a major chunk out of the cost of algae-based biofuel production. And all they had to do was create a magnetic organism.

Scientists at LANL have genetically engineered a new kind of algae that is magnetic, which could lead to new and simple ways of both extracting genetically engineered biofuel-producing algae from water and extracting the lipids that contain the hydrocarbons from the algae (full story).

This story also appeared in PhysOrg.

NASA: One-third of gamma ray sources are complete mysteries

The Fermi Space Telescope has detected 1,873 gamma ray sources in space, and nearly 600 are complete mysteries, NASA wrote today on its website.

NASA's Fermi team has recently released the second catalog of gamma ray sources from its satellite's Large Area Telescope and have no idea where nearly one-third of gamma rays originated.

Fermi sees gamma rays coming from directions in the sky where there are no obvious objects likely to produce gamma rays," said David Thompson, Fermi deputy project scientist, of Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

[NASA: Another instrument onboard, the Fermi Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor, is monitoring gamma-ray bursts at lower energies. The GBM is a collaboration among scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (full story).]

Valuable heavy isotopes recycled to research labs as security facility is decommissioned

National nuclear security, energy and research agencies completed transfer of a rare nuclear material among research laboratories to stretch its use and secure it as a nuclear security research facility is decommissioned.

The National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Office of Nuclear Energy completed transfer of 40 grams of the special isotope curium-244 from Los Alamos National Laboratory to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory (full story).

LANL celebrates International Year of Chemistry

In order to bring attention to and celebrate the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to civilization, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution declaring 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry.

"Our goal, which is consonant with the

greater goal of the United Nations and

IUPAC, is to educate concerning the

discipline of chemistry and share some of

our excitement concerning the wonders of chemistry," said chemistry division leader Carol Burns (full story).

Gene sequenced by Harmon students

Students at J.C Harmon High School have determined the DNA sequence for the common sunflower. The gene was mixed with sequencing chemicals and sent to the Joint Genome Institute at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico where the sequencing reaction was run (full story).

Appro notches up another Los Alamos super deal

Supercomputer maker Appro International has lassoed itself another supercomputer win at the US Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Los Alamos has five other clusters that are part of its non-classified computing capacity, which is collectively called Turquoise and which have nearly 300 teraflops of aggregate computing capacity. This includes a baby version of the Opteron-Cell hybrid called "Roadrunner" which was built for Los Alamos by IBM (full story).

Homemade explosives school begins fourth year

In 2012 the Lab will begin its fourth year of offering the Homemade Explosives (HME) School to select members of the U.S. Military. A new video on the LANL YouTube channel shows how the course has expanded to include a mock Afghan village.

The school is sponsored by the Department of Defense Joint IED Defeat Organization and is taught by LANL personnel from the Weapons Experiments division and the Lab's Hazardous Devices Team (watch video).

ChemCam for Mars Science Laboratory rover, undergoing pre-flight testing

Los Alamos National Laboratory and partners developed a laser instrument, ChemCam, that will ride on the elevated mast of the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity.

The system will allow Curiosity to “zap” rocks from a distance, reading their chemical composition through spectroscopic analysis (watch video).

Officials cite no damage from 3.8 magnitude earthquake

"We hear experimental explosions from the lab," Romero said of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. "We hear sonic booms and crashes on [N.M.] 503. But this was totally different."

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, the only noticeable effect was on the lab's seismologists, said spokesperson Nancy Ambrosiano (full story).

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