Friday, October 19, 2012

Cosmic rays could aid nuclear reactor cleanup

Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory say have devised a method to use cosmic rays to gather detailed information from inside the damaged cores of nuclear reactors damaged by the earthquake in Japan last March.

The reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were heavily damaged by the tsunami that followed the earthquake on March 11, 2011. Researchers at Los Alamos say their scattering method for cosmic-ray radiography shows tremendous promise for pinpointing the exact location of materials within the Fukushima reactor buildings. (full story)

This story also appeared in New Mexico Business Weekly

Curiosity rover finds rock unlike any seen on Mars

A rock on Mars being studied by NASA's Curiosity rover is unlike any Martian stone ever seen, and is surprisingly similar to an unusual, but well-known, kind of rock on Earth.

“It was the first good-size rock that we found along the way,” Roger Wiens, principal investigator for Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam)instrument at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

Los Alamos reports a new monitoring technique for Fukushima

Los Alamos National Laboratory published their press release today about the use of muon detectors/muon radiography at the Fukushima nuclear disaster site. The technique generatedsome excitement at Homeland Security some years ago (2007/8) re. the detection of contraband nuclear materials. It was exciting because the technique and gadgets involved could detect the presence of concealed plutonium and uranium. It was believed to be the most effective radioactive material finding technique due to something known as muon scattering.

This detection and monitoring work is relevant to the Fukushima disaster site inthat it removes some of the potential radiation exposure to human workers. However, the muon detectors themselves are sensitive to the Fukushima radiation environment and must be shielded. Adequate shielding appears to be provided by "50 cm of concrete" for the devices. Though no size of the detectors and components were directly reported a search of our slideshow suggests they may be "table top" size. (full story)

World's Largest Subwoofer: Earthquakes 'Pump' Ground to Produce Infrasound

Earthquakes sway buildings, buckle terrain, and rumble -- both audibly and in infrasound, frequencies below the threshold of human hearing. New computer modeling by a team of researchers indicates that most of the low-frequency infrasound comes from an unexpected source: the actual "pumping" of Earth's surface. The researchers confirmed their models by studying data from an actual earthquake.

"It's basically like a loudspeaker," said Stephen Arrowsmith, a researcher with the Geophysics Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, who presents his team's findings at the 164th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), held Oct. 22 -- 26 in Kansas City, Missouri. (full story)

This story also appeared in Science Codex

NMSU College of Engineering graduate leads research team to prestigious award

New Mexico State University College of Engineering alumni Jessie Nichols and Pete Pittman have led a team of researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in collaboration with Y-12 National Security Complex, to a R&D 100 Award for Valveless Laser Processing.

R&D 100 Awards have been called the "Oscars of Innovation," recognize the top 100 technologically significant accomplishments of the past year, and are awarded annually by R&D Magazine.

"This gives engineers and designers the capability to use another process, something else on their tool belt they can implement and be able to use to reduce theweight of systems, reduce the cost of production and increase the lives of systems, and also, in the long run, reduce the need for valves," Nichols said. (full story)

Editorial: Nuke arsenal essential

It can reasonably be argued that the most important role of government is defending its citizens and ensuring their welfare and liberty. To that end, nations maintain armies and weapons.

The U.S. nuclear arsenal has reached a point where billions must be spent to maintain its integrity. Estimates place upgrading and maintaining its 5,113warheads, replacing aging delivery systems and renovating facilities at $352 billion over the coming decade (full story).

Los Alamos PRObE center allows computer scientists to test super-computing and big data systems software scale

The New Mexico Consortium (NMC), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have partnered to create the PRObE Center (Parallel Reconfigurable Observational Environment), a one-of-a-kind computer systems research center located at the Los Alamos Research Park. A grand opening celebration is scheduled from 1-3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18. (full story)

Also from the Daily Post this week:

LANL's contributions to Curiosity power source wins DOE Secretary Award

A small team of Los Alamos National Laboratory employees received the Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award for their contributions on the thermoelectric generator that provides electrical power and heat to the Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover.

The award was presented by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to Craig Van Pelt, Alejandro Enriquez, Diane Spengler, John Matonic and David Armstrong Oct. 4 in Washington D.C. (full story)

This story also appeared in the Los Alamos Monitor

SFCC gets $1.1M for green program

The program is expected to serve 60 Santa Fe County youths over a three-year period. The grant was developed and written through a partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Security (full story).

Also from the Journal this week:

Pueblo joins LANL group

Ohkay Owingeh has joined the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, participating as a full voting member.

“We are extremely pleased to be the first pueblo to join. … We look forward to participating and supporting this most worthwhile effort,” said Ohkay Owingeh Gov. Ron Lovato in a press release (full story).

Continued Droughts Spell Bad News For Trees And Agriculture

A research team, led by a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, geography professor has evidence suggesting that recent droughts could be the new normal. This is not good news for our nation’s forests and agricultural lands.

The research team, which included scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Arizona and Columbia University, studied tree ring data to evaluate how drought affects survival and productivity in conifer trees of the American Southwest. The results of their study are published in this month’s “Nature Climate Change.” (full story)

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