Friday, February 3, 2012

“Alien” matter beyond solar system spotted by NASA probe

Color-coded full sky neutral atom map, as obtained with IBEX at energies where the interstellar wind is the brightest feature in the maps. NASA.

For the very first time, a NASA spacecraft has detected matter from outside our solar system — material that came from elsewhere in the galaxy.

The presence of less oxygen within interstellar material could indicate that the sun formed in a region with less oxygen compared to its current location, the researchers said.

"That leaves us with a puzzle for now: could it be that some of that oxygen, which is so crucial for life on Earth, is locked up in the cosmic dust?" asked Eberhard Möbius, a professor at the University of New Hampshire and a visiting professor at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

This same story also appeared on MSNBC

IBEX probe glimpses interstellar neighborhood

The IBEX probe. NASA image.

Space scientists, including researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, have described the first detailed analyses of captured interstellar neutral atoms—raw material for the formation of new stars, planets and even human beings.

The information was presented in Washington, D.C., at a press conference sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). (Full Story)

Quantum cryptography comes to smart phones

Quantum key device. LANL image.

60-Second Tech -- researchers at Los Alamos National Lab hope quantum encryption can help. Quantum encryption typically requires a lot of processing power and covers only short distances. But Los Alamos says it's developed a minitransmitter that encodes the encryption key on a single photon.

They call it the QKarD transmitter, short for Quantum Smart Card. Any change in the photon’s quantum information reveals an attempted hack and cancels the transaction. (Full Story and Podcast)

LANL honors four for leadership, research

Laboratory Director Charles McMillan and the Laboratory’s Fellows organization have awarded the 2011 Fellows Prize for Leadership in Science or Engineering to scientists John Gordon of LANL’s Inorganic Isotope & Actinide Chemistry group and Geoffrey Reeves of theLab’s Space Science & Applications group.

“This year’s Fellows Prize winners embody the excellence of the science that is so vital to completing our national security missions,” McMillan said. “I congratulate each of the four winners and salute their creativity and innovation.” (Full Story)

Also from the Monitor this week:

DOE to transfer tracts to county

By late 2010, a water tower and waste bins awaiting transport were all that was left at the DP West area of Technical Area 21. LANL photo.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration issued an amended Record of Decision to the Environmental Impact Statement for the conveyance and transfer of certain land tracts to Los Alamos County.

The tracts include the remaining acreage of Los AlamosNational Laboratory’s Technical Area 21 (about 245 acres) and the remaining acreage of the Airport Tract (about 55 acres). (Full Story)


Students build world’s first experimental super computer

Several local high school and undergraduate students including those from Los Alamos spent their summer assembling 2,500 computers at the New Mexico Consortium to create the world’s largest large-scale, low-level systems research facility.

The project (Parallel Reconfigurable Observational Environment, or PRObE) will be dedicated to systems research. The machines are retired large clusters donated by Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

National Academy picks UC administrator for top staff job

A jack-of-all-trades in the U.S. science policy arena, Bruce Darling says that becoming executive officer of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences will put him right exactly where he wants to be: in the middle of a "problem-rich environment" at an institution with the talent and resources to make a difference.

Bruce Darling, now vice president for laboratory management at the University of California, was named today to the job of overseeing day-to-day operations at NAS and its operating arm, the NationalResearch Council. (Full Story)

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