Friday, September 7, 2012

Self-defense for the self-driving car

Click on the image to see videos of a textbook police PIT maneuver and a robotic PIT maneuver.      

David Mascarenas, a researcher who studies cyber-physical systems at Los Alamos National Laboratory, says that as more robots venture out on their own, their creators are already struggling with how to protect them.

In a more futuristic threat, Mascarenas says that thieves could see vehicles with no human drivers as defenseless targets. So now, before this problem arises on the road, he’s working in the lab on ways to make sure would-be robbers get the bad end of an encounter with unmanned trucks. (Full Story)

For more, visit the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s National Security Education Center

Los Alamos provides HOPE for radiation belt storm probes

Artist's rendering showing twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes that will study the sun and its effects on Earth. Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.            

Los Alamos National Laboratory expertise in radiation detection and shielding is poised to help a national team of scientists better understand a mysterious region that can create hazardous space weather near our home planet.

The radiation belt — also known as the Van Allen belt in honor of its discoverer, James Van Allen — is a donut-shaped soup of charged particles that surrounds Earth and occupies the inner region of our planet’s magnetosphere. (Full Story)

Also from the Monitor this week:

LA researcher named ACS Fellow

Kristin Omberg

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Kristin Omberg was named as an American Chemical Society (ACS) Fellow for her contributions to national security as a “technical leader in detecting and mitigating biological threats.”

Omberg is the acting division leader of the Decision Applications Division and the laboratory’s project leader for the Department of Homeland Security’s BioWatch Program. (Full Story)

Wild fire computer model helps firefighters

Click on the image to see the video.

A high-tech computer model called HIGRAD/FIRETEC, the cornerstone of a collaborative effort between U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station and Los Alamos National Laboratory, provides insights that are essential for front-line fire fighters. The science team is looking into levels of bark beetle-induced conditions that lead to drastic changes in fire behavior and how variable or erratic the behavior is likely to be. (Video Here)

Photo: DAWN spacecraft leaves Vesta

NASA image, from the Los Angeles Times.

The elemental composition of the Vesta asteroid is measured with the Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector, or GRaND, developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. This instrument uses a total of 21 sensors with a very wide field of view to measure the energy from gamma rays and neutrons that either bounce off or are emitted by a celestial body. More about DAWN's scientific instruments.

Halo of neutrinos alters physics of exploding stars

Hubble space telescope image of an exploding star.  NASA photo.

Sparse halos of neutrinos within the hearts of exploding stars exert a previously unrecognized influence on the physics of the explosion and may alter which elements can be forged by these violent events.

John Cherry, a graduate student at UC San Diego is lead author and Joe Carlson and Alexander Friedland of the Los Alamos National Laboratory are co-authors. (Full Story)

Startup uses LANL tech 

A new, homegrown New Mexico technology to clean dirty industrial water – more efficiently and less expensively than most other systems, according to the company – could soon be deployed in oil and gas operations worldwide.

IX Power Clean Water Inc. to begin marketing the “OrganiClear” water treatment system, which Los Alamos National Laboratory developed with help from New Mexico Tech and the University of Texas. (Full Story)

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