Friday, March 23, 2012

Curiosity, NASA’s laser-blasting Mars robot

Sometime this August, a six-wheeled, sedan-size mars rover named Curiosity should begin rolling across the surface of the Red Planet. The vehicle, carried to its destination aboard the Mars Science Laboratory, will start its journey on the floor of Gale Crater.

Each time ChemCam’s infrared laser hits rock, the impact point will erupt into a tiny ball of plasma, explains principal investigator Roger Wiens of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

Magnetic field researchers shatter world record during six-experiment pulse

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory's biggest magnet facility today met the grand challenge of producing magnetic fields in excess of 100 tesla while conducting six different experiments. The hundred-tesla level is roughly equivalent to 2 million times Earth's magnetic field.

"This is our moon shot, we've worked toward this for a decade and a half," said Chuck Mielke, director of the Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos. (full story)

Scientist: North Korea likely has more nuclear facilities

North Korea has more uranium enrichment facilities than it has admitted to previously, a U.S. scientist charged Thursday.

Prof. Siegfried Hecker, director emeritus of Los Alamos National Laboratory, now at Stanford University, told CNN his conclusion is based on his study of recent satellite images and other research, and what he saw when he was invited by North Korea to visit its Yongbyon nuclear power plant in 2010 to see its secret uranium enrichment program. (full story)

Postdoc or not?

A postdoctoral fellowship at federal labs in Europe and the United States may sometimes lead directly to a full-time permanent position. Mary Anne With, a postdoctoral adviser at Los Alamos National

Laboratory in New Mexico, says that 80–90% of the lab's technical positions are filled by former postdocs. (full story)

LANL scholarships aid returning students

Avery May's getting some help from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation to pay some of her costs. May is one of 10 "non-traditional" students to receive a $1,000 scholarship from the foundation.

May, now 27, is studying for an associate's degree in biological science at Santa Fe Community College and plans eventually to go to medical school. (full story)

Will space battles be fought with laser weapons?

For certain niche scenarios, lasers might prove themselves ideal. It seems unlikely, however, that they will ever outright replace missiles and bullets, as they do in so much sci-fi warfare.

"No conventional weapon is a panacea," said Douglas Beason, former associate lab director at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "Why would we expect directed-energy weapons to be any different?" (full story)

Los Alamos conference reaches out to girls

“Pulling out DNA from your own cheek cells!,” “Ooey, Gooey, Polymers” and “Minerals in Makeup” were just some of the hands-on classes to choose from during the 33rd annual Expanding Your Horizons conference in Los Alamos.

Empowering young women to pursue learning in science and math was the goal of the conference and approximately 100 high school girls from all over Northern New Mexico piled into the Crossroads Bible Church to attend.

Conference Registrar Georgia Pedicini said the conference not only encourages young women to attend, but also invites young men to attend. She said Los Alamos is one of the only EYH organization in the state to do so. However, Pedicini said the two young men that registered this year did not attend. “It’s a time when they realize life is approaching,” she said. (full story)

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