Friday, January 13, 2012

Nanotube “glow sticks” transform surface science tool kit

Many physical and chemical processes necessary for biology and chemistry occur at the interface of water and solid surfaces. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory publishing in Nature Nanotechnology have now shown that semiconducting carbon nanotubes—light emitting cylinders of pure carbon—have the potential to detect and track single molecules in water (full story).

Who’s in the lead? Algae around the world

In New Mexico, Dr. José Olivares, an analytical chemist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, is head of the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB), a consortium funded by the Department of Energy to develop innovative technologies that will help bring algal biofuels to a commercial reality.

Biofuels Digest writer Jonathan Williams sat down recently with Dr. Olivares after he had completed a wide-ranging tour of some of the algal hot spots around the globe (full story).

Quantum dot research named among top ten advancements at Los Alamos

Research by Los Alamos scientists published in the journal Nature documented significant progress in understanding the phenomenon of quantum-dot blinking. The efficiency of the dots is greatly reduced by blinking, but the problem can be controlled and even completely suppressed electrochemically, researchers discovered, as they developed a novel spectro-electrochemical experiment that allowed them to controllably charge and discharge a single quantum dot while monitoring its blinking behavior (full story).

Video: Visualizing the Los Alamos asteroid killer

How do you mitigate a meteor? Our Video Sunday feature continues with this feature describing how LANL scientists used a Cray supercomputer to model effects of nuclear energy source on an Earth-threatening asteroid.

The newest supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Cielo, is currently working on classified nuclear weapons physics problems. However, it is sometimes used to do fascinating unclassified science when a computer model is so large that it can’t be run on a smaller platform (full story).

Scientists studying how the brain ‘sees’

Garrett Kenyon, a neurophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who is studying the way the brain processes visual information. “If we could help computers understand what underlies the ‘aha!’ moment when we recognize something, we would be able to communicate better.” (full story)

Researcher's tool maps malware in beautiful 3D models

Security researchers face a tough problem: Computer viruses, unlike their biological counterparts, can’t be seen under a microscope. Even common reverse engineering tools merely render malware as thousands of lines of garbled text more legible to machine than man.

Now one researcher hopes to show the malware that plagues PCs in all its evil elegance. At the Shmoocon security conference later this month, Danny Quist plans to demo a new three-dimensional version of a tool he’s created called Visualization of Executables for Reversing and Analysis, or VERA, that maps viruses’ and worms’ code into intuitively visible models.

Quist, who teaches government and corporate students the art of reverse engineering at Los Alamos National Labs, says he hopes VERA will make the process of taking apart and understanding malware’s functionality far easier.

Lab outlines priority cleanup goals

Lab officials are calling it the “LANL 3,706 Transuranic Waste Campaign.” Why the 3,706? Their goal is to remove 3,706 cubic meters of TRU waste by June 30, 2014 from Technical Area 54 and Material Disposal Area G.

Dan Cox, the deputy associate director for Environmental Programs at the lab, told the Northern New Mexico Citizens Advisory Board that the waste is classified into three categories. Seventy percent of the waste is in oversized containers, 20 percent are in drums and 10 percent are in standard waste boxes (full story).

Also from the Monitor this week:

Hecker: N. Korea remains shrouded in mystery

Hecker is a former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory who now directs the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

He is considered a leading expert on North Korea having made seven annual trips in a row to the isolated country through 2010 (full story).

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