Friday, July 27, 2012

Mars Rover ‘Curiosity’ Readies For Tricky Landing, With Laser In Tow

NASA’s most advanced Mars rover, Curiosity, is a little under two weeks away from its scheduled landing on the Martian surface.

Onboard the 10-foot-long, 9-foot-wide, 7-foot-tall rover (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory notes it is about the size of a compact SUV), are 10 different instruments, among them a military-grade laser designed to vaporize rock samples to better analyze their composition.

The 20-pound laser and telescope known as the Chemical and Camera instrument, or “ChemCam,” is due to be fired-up on around August 10, according to scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where the instrument was originally developed (full story).

President honors lab researcher

A young Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist, Amy J. Clarke, is among the honorees that President Obama named as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

“Discoveries in science and technology not only strengthen our economy, they inspire us as a people,” Obama said. “The impressive accomplishments of today’s awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead.”

Read the White House announcement here! (Full story)

This story also appeared in the Albuquerque Journal and Big News dot Biz

Duke-led consortium to focus on inducing neutralizing antibodies for HIV-1 prevention

Two Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists are among the team recently funded to explore ways tocreate the precise immune factors needed for effective vaccines against HIV.

The Duke University-led consortium will largely concentrate on inducing broadlyneutralizing antibodies that can prevent HIV-1 infection, as well as on generating protective T-cell and innate immune system responses (full story).

This story also appeared in R&D
Silver Nanoclusters Spot Single-Base Mutations In DNA

A new inexpensive method based on fluorescent silver nanoclusters can quickly detect and identify base switches in a gene (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja3024737)

If doctors know the sequence of a mutated gene, they not only can diagnose disease but also find the best medication to treat it, says James Werner of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Currently, detecting single-base mutations involves either multistep enzymatic reactions or DNA probes that bind specific gene sequences. While these probes can spot a gene with a mutation, they can’t tell which single base has replaced the original one (full story).

LANL Fuel Cell Research and Partnership with Chevron - Tour

Energy security for the United States is a rapidly growing mission of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  After the breakfast meeting, a group of community members were given a tour of two areas of the lab devoted to the energy security mission.

The first stop on the lab tour was the Fuel Cell Laboratory where Research Scientist Tommy Rockward described his current research into improving fuelcell efficiency (full story).

Wallace speaks to community leaders

Terry Wallace, the principal associate director for global security at the Los Alamos NationalLaboratory, briefs community leaders at a breakfast at the lab Tuesday. Juan Griego, the deputy director at the Los Alamos Site Office, also gave a briefing. Afterward, leaders went on numerous tours at the lab (full story).

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Friday, July 20, 2012

LANL Team Claims Record

While athletes will be shooting for world records at the Summer Olympic Games in London later this month, a team of scientists based at Los Alamos National Laboratory expect an equivalent achievement to be recognized by a U.K.-based authority in coming weeks.

Frank Merrill, team leader of LANL’s neutron science and technology group, said an article announcing a new world record for the largest neutron beam ever created by a short-pulse laser is being prepared for publication in Nature Physics magazine (full story).
This story also appeared in Phys.Org

LANL scientists share research funds to fight HIV

Two Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists are part of a team that has received federal funding to help find effective vaccines against HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

The two, Bette Korber and Alan Perelson, are part of a Duke University-led consortium that will concentrate on inducing antibodies that can prevent HIV-1 infections, LANL said in a news release (full story).

This story also appeared In the Los Alamos Monitor

It also appeared In BioSpace
Old frog, new tricks: The rise of magnetic biofuels

Of all the many contributions that the English have made to the study and advancement of biofuels, it may be that one day that the appearance of an unusual bacterium back in the last days of the dinosaurs – amongst the organisms that eventually formed the White Cliffs of Dover – that we may remember best.

The bacterium was first observed in the 1960s, but their role in the future of energy took a significant step forward last year, when a group of Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers genetically engineered “magnetic” algae to investigate alternative, more efficient harvesting and lipid extraction methods for biofuels (full story).
Molecules exhibit switch ‘handedness’ at speed of light

A multi-institutional team of researchers including scientists with Los Alamos National Laboratory (of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration) has created the first artificial molecules whose chirality can be rapidly switched from a right-handed to a left-handed orientation with a beam of light on them.

Switchable molecules hold possibilities for the application of terahertz technologies across a wide range of fields, including biomedical research, homeland security and ultrahigh-speed communications (full story).
LANL and ReconRobotics Enter Research Collaboration

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and ReconRobotics have entered into a new partnership to promote intelligence advancement to miniature robots.

According to LANL’s Technology Transfer division leader, David Pesiri, this partnership will revolutionize the shift from laboratoryideas to real-world technology enhancements. ReconRobotics has a long-term history of providing quality services to clients including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps (full story).

This story also appeared on CNN
Sandia, Los Alamos National Labs win small-bizhonor

A small business assistance program run by New Mexico’s two national laboratories has been named the Manufacturing Advocate of the Year by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program offers businesses free technical help from scientists and engineers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. Each laboratory can provide up to $2.4 million a year in assistance to businesses (full story).

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Friday, July 13, 2012

LANL smartening danger-zone throwbots

Los Alamos National Laboratory is going to help make tiny military and police robots smarter and better. Recon robotics already has hundreds of its throwbot micro robots working for troops in Afghanistan and for police elsewhere. They can easily be thrown into a dangerous area and be driven by remote control. They can also transmit live video (full story).

ReconRobotics invests in R&D with Los Alamos National Laboratory

ReconRobotics announced today a partnership with the high-profile Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) that should lead to exciting new developments in autonomous reconnaissance robots.

The companies have signed a cooperative research and development agreement to “identify, evaluate and develop a range of mutually beneficial technologies,” efforts that will assist LANL in its mission-related activities for the U.S. Department of Energy and create value for ReconRobotics shareholders. Among the areas of research are systems related to sensing technologies, communications and autonomy (full story).

World record neutron beam at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Using a one-of-a-kind laser system at Los Alamos National Laboratory, scientists have created the largest neutronbeam ever made by a short-pulse laser, breaking a world record. Neutron beams are usually made with particle accelerators or nuclear reactors and are commonly used in a wide variety of scientific research, particularly in advanced materials science (full story).

This story also appeared in R&D Magazine
Metamolecules switch handedness at light speed

A multi-institutional team of researchers that included scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory has created the first artificial molecules whosechirality can be rapidly switched from a right-handed to a left-handed orientation with a  beam of light.

“The switchable chirality we can engineer into our metamaterials provides a viable approach towards creating high performance polarimetric devices that are largely not available at terahertz frequencies,” says LANL co-author Antoinette Taylor (full story).

This story also appeared in Laser Focus World

Quantum cryptography for security challenges to be topic of Frontiers in Science lectures

LANL scientist Richard Hughes discusses the basics of cryptography and quantum physics and the ways LANL researchers use them to address security challenges in an increasingly networked world at a Frontiers in Science series talk.

“Anyone who uses a credit card, computer or smartphone relies on cryptography,” said Hughes, of LANL’s Applied Modern Physics Group (full story).

Paint-on lithium-ion batteries put your walls to good use

One day, your walls might be able to power your laptop: Researchers at Rice University have developed a new type of spray-on lithium-ion battery that can be literally painted on nearly any surface.

The team’s research appears in a paper published in Nature co-authored by Rice University’s Charudatta Galande, Akshay Mathkar, Arava Leela, Mohana Reddy, Andrea Miranda, and Alexandru Vlad, and Los Alamos National Laboratory postdoctoral researcher Wei Gao.

LANL and Sandia scientists collaborate with Artists

Scientists/Artists Research Collaborations (SARC) will match artists with scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Sandia to explore how a creative approach can inform scientific discovery and make the science accessible to a broader audience. The collaborations will also investigate the aesthetics of their respective research areas (full story).

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Las Conchas: One year later
Las Conchas Fire.  KOB video.
It has been a year since the 155,000-acre Las Conchas fire threatened Los Alamos and surrounding communities.
At the time, it was the largest fire in New Mexico's history until this year's Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire.
KOB Eyewitness News 4 reporter Eddie Garcia shows us the long-lasting impact the Las Conchas fire had on the Santa Fe National Forest.  See the story here.

Scientists sorting out beetle-fire relationship

Fire retardant drop during the 2011 Las Conchas firefighting effort.  LANL photo.
Inside university laboratories andgovernment research facilities across the country, scientists are playing with dozens of variables — mixing and matching and rearranging — to gain a better understanding of what makes wildfire go.
Researchers at Colorado State University, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Rocky Mountain Research Station are working on new models that will help managers deal with fire and beetles. Read the story here.

Lab ramps up cleanup schedule
Last year’s Las Conchas Fire – at the time the largest recorded wildfire in the state’s history – burned more than 156,000 acres and destroyed 63 homes and 49 other buildings near Los Alamos.
It also sparked increased efforts by Los Alamos National Laboratory, federal agencies and the state to eliminate radioactive waste stored above ground on LANL property.  Read the story here.

Measuring the uncertainties of pandemic influenza

Avian influenza virus. UCLA image.
A major collaboration between U.S.research centers has highlighted three factors that could ultimately determine whether an outbreak of influenza becomes a serious epidemic that threatens national health.     
"It has become critical to assess the potential range of consequences of a pandemic influenza outbreak given the uncertainty about its disease characteristics," explains Jeanne Fair of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Read the story here.

Lab Breakthrough: Asteroid Killer Simulation

A supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory is helping scientists understand how a nuclear detonation might affect an incoming, Earth-threatening asteroid.
Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Bob Weaver took some time recently to talk about how his research would help avert a catastrophic asteroid impact; saving the world from complete destruction and rescuing humans from mass extinction.  See the video and interview here.

 Labs grab research and development 'Oscars'

New Mexico's pair of national labs landed a half-dozen "Oscars of Innovation," better known as R&D Magazine's 2012 R&D 100 Awards, for technology advances that include rapid identification of pathogens and new reagents to help with disposal of nuclear waste
Los Alamos National Laboratory's three R&D100 awards were for developing UTurn, a method that produces two new uranium iodide reagents, Sequedex, a software package for processing DNA, and a shared award for Valveless Laser Processing.  Read the whole story.

Photos: LANL celebrates 1,000th TRU waste shipment to WIPP

LANL director Charlie McMillan at the June 26 event. Monitor photo.
See a collection of Los Alamos Monitor photos from the June 26, 2012 event celebrating the 1,000th shipment of Transuranic waste from Los Alamos to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, N.M.   See the photo gallery here.

Also from the Monitor this week:

VIDEO: Robot Rodeo 2012 at LANL

 N.J. State Police robot races through an event. LANL video.

Bomb Squads from across the U.S. wrangled their bomb squad robots at the sixth annual Robot Rodeo beginning Tuesday, June 19 at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Eight teams participated in the three-day competition that featured 12 events. The Laboratory — along with Sandia National Laboratories, the Region II International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, REMOTEC, U.S. Technical Working Group and QinetiQ — sponsor the Robot Rodeo. This year's winner, the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office. Watch the video here! 

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