Friday, December 16, 2011

First physics experiments soon to move into former Homestake mine

The Majorana Demonstrator will search for one of the rarest forms of radioactive decays—neutrinoless double-beta decay. Majorana could help determine whether subatomic particles called neutrinos can act as their own anti-particles, a discovery that could help physicists better explain how the universe evolved.

“We’re pushing very hard so we can hit the ground running when we move into the Transition Cavern,” Majorana spokesperson Steve Elliott of Los Alamos National Laboratory said (full story).

The Higgs boson and the LHC: at last, a clue to the universe?

Neutrinos are particles with almost no mass and no electrical charge (neutrino is Italian for “little neutral one”). They were first detected in the Fifties by Clyde Cowan and Frederick Reines at Los Alamos, New Mexico, in an experiment nicknamed Project Poltergeist because it was trying to detect the undetectable. Neutrinos are sometimes called “ghost particles”, as they hardly ever interact with solid matter. There are billions passing through your body right now (full story).

Seven Los Alamos Scientists Earn AAAS Honors

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has awarded the distinction of Fellow to seven scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory for advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. New Fellows will be recognized in February at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver, B.C., Canada (full story).

Scientists report first solar cell producing more electrons in photocurrent than solar photons entering cell

Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have reported the first solar cell that produces a photocurrent that has an external quantum efficiency greater than 100 percent when photoexcited with photons from the high energy region of the solar spectrum. . . .

The mechanism for producing a quantum efficiency above 100 percent with solar photons is based on a process called Multiple Exciton Generation (MEG), whereby a single absorbed photon of appropriately high energy can produce more than one electron-hole pair per absorbed photon. . . .

MEG, also referred to as Carrier Multiplication (CM), was first demonstrated experimentally in colloidal solutions of quantum dots in 2004 by Richard Schaller and Victor Klimov of the DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (full story).

At Los Alamos Lab, mobile security gets picky

Large government agencies with many internal organizations face a conundrum when they plan to deploy new mobile systems or upgrade existing ones.

The steps the Los Alamos National Laboratory took to deploy wireless in its complex and highly security conscious environs show how a big organization picks and chooses systems and services to meet the requirements of different user groups.

Research at Los Alamos covers a range of areas, from basic science to highly sensitive nuclear weapons work. Because of its broad range of research and a large population at varying security levels, the lab wanted to develop a more flexible and secure wireless capability, according to Anil Karmel, a solutions architect at Los Alamos.

There are currently some 20,000 wireless devices running on Los Alamo’s existing network. For very secure applications, the lab issued BlackBerry 160 Bold devices to selected personnel, Karmel said (full story).

Guest Column: Ten ways to fool the masses when giving performance results on GPUs

The performance potential of Graphics Processing Unit or GPU computing has produced significant excitement in the HPC community. However, as was the case with the advent of parallel computing decades ago, the nascent technology does not equally benefit all applications, says Scott Pakin of Los Alamos National Laboratory (full story).

LANL holiday drive a hit

More than 1,100 children and seniors will have more gifts under their tree this year because of a holiday gift drive at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“More than 1,000 children and seniors from around Northern New Mexico will have a brighter holiday because LANL employees enthusiastically participated in the holiday gift tag program,” said Tim Martinez of LANL’s Community Programs Office. “I’m so proud to be part of such a worthwhile program.” (full story)

Also from the Monitor this week:

LANL employees make record number of pledges

Los Alamos National Laboratory employees have pledged a record $1.81 million to United Way and other eligible nonprofit programs. Los Alamos National Security, LLC, which manages and operates the laboratory for the National Nuclear Security Administration, plans to prorate its $1 million match among the selected nonprofit organizations, bringing the total donation to $2.81 million.

“Our Los Alamos employees can take pride in this accomplishment,” said Carolyn Zerkle, LANL’s associate director for Information Technology and this year’s campaign champion (full story).

Staying Power

Like cities, academic medical centers appear destined to last

The modern academic medical center . . . resembles another of mankind's oldest organizations — a city. . . .

In the September 2011 issue of Scientific American, West and Luis M.A. Bettencourt, both theoretical physicists at the Santa Fe Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratory, observed that, rather than "unnatural human conglomerations blighted by pathologies[,] … cities do more with less … because they concentrate, accelerate and diversify social and economic activity." (full story)

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