Friday, February 10, 2012

Space voyages shouldn’t become politically incorrect

It's the kind of question a presidential candidate might ask: "Why should we spend money on space programs and going to Mars, when we need dollars so desperately here on Earth?"

“For thousands of highly-skilled jobs, and the knowledge to survive,” says Princeton physicist Gene McCall, former chief scientist of the Air Force Space Command and a fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory (full story).

Supercomputers help decode space weather

"When a storm goes off on the sun, we can't really predict the extent of damage that it will cause here on Earth. It is critical that we develop this predictive capability," says Homa Karimabadi, a space physicist at the Univ. of California, San Diego (UCSD).

Karimabadi's team, in close collaboration with William Daughton at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is currently using the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility's Cray XT5 Jaguar supercomputer, one of the most powerful in the world with a peak performance of 2.33 petaflops, to better understand the processes giving rise to space weather (full story).

Video: Open science rides LANL Mustang super

In this video, Bob Tomlinson from LANL describes the recently acquired Mustang supercomputer from Appro.

"The Mustang system has been supporting larger jobs as was intended and in just few months of use it has already offered 434 Million CPU hours for competitive, peer-reviewed, open science. According to the latest November 2011 Top500 list, Mustang was ranked as the 46th fastest supercomputer in the world supporting Climate, Environment, Electronic and many other science research projects. (full story)"

Quantum cryptography could be the real deal for smart phone security

Using smart phones for online banking and shopping has been promoted as the next big thing, but adoption has been slow, partly due to the fact that smart phones have security issues. Scientific American reports that this might change with the development of quantum cryptography.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have revamped quantum encryption to make it more viable for smart phone usage by developing a minitransmitter to hold the encryption key on one photon. If a hacker attempts to change the quantum information in the photon during a transaction, the transaction is cancelled (full story).

No tritium found in water system

Results from routine monitoring tests of the Santa Fe water system’s Buckman well field in 2010 came back with results showing traces of radioactive tritium, but Los Alamos National Laboratory and city officials now say the finding was erroneous (full story).

New facility boosts ability to ship transuranic waste

Construction has begun on a new facility that will help Los Alamos National Laboratory accelerate the shipment of transuranic (TRU) waste stored in large boxes at Technical Area 54, Area G.

“This facility will help us accelerate shipment of TRU waste,” said Waste Program and Services Project Director Andy Baumer. “Since the majority of our TRU waste inventory that is in large boxes can be processed in this facility, it’s going to be our workhorse.”

The new facility will contain a number of safety features. Construction is scheduled for completion in March 2012 (full story).

LANL Foundation announces its scholarship recipients

The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation through the Los Alamos Employees Scholarship Fund (LAESF) announces ten 2012 Regional College/Returning Student Scholarship Fund recipients.

This fund awards scholarships to students returning to formal education, after a hiatus for other pursuits. These scholarship candidates may have left formal education for business, the military, or other reasons, possibly for an extended period, and are now seeking to expand their opportunities with a certificate or a two-year degree through a program in the regional area (full story).

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