Friday, March 29, 2013

The glorious boneyard: A report from our starting line

Woldegabriel in a NatGeo video.  From National Geographic.

A friendly, athletic man from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Giday WoldeGabriel is the team’s chief geologist: a connoisseur of the stacked volcanic tuffs that the bone prospectors employed to date their finds.

I asked him why, geologically speaking, this improbably discrete patch of the Rift was the Klondike of the fossil hominid world. It turned out to be complicated. A combination of biochemistry and tectonics. But WoldeGabriel circled back to the common ingredient in both life and death. (Full Story)

Los Alamos researchers help forecast how melting ice will affect sea levels

Stephen Price is also studying the effects of melting ice sheets on sea levels. From the New Mexican.

At a conference in Hobart, Tasmania, last month, Los Alamos National Laboratory climate scientist Phil Jones addressed one of the outstanding unknowns in global warming — the problem of projecting and quantifying how fast and how high sea levels will rise in the future. His presentation, representing the recent work of a team of researchers at the laboratory, focused on Greenland and Antarctica, and how quickly water that is locked up in ice sheets and glaciers might be released into the surrounding oceans. (Full Story)

LANL wants students’ glimpse of lab’s future

What kind of issues will scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory be addressing 70 years from now? That’s a question lab officials are posing to sixth- through 12th-grade students in northern New Mexico in an online contest.

The Los Alamos STEM Challenge asks students to envision the next 70 years of discovery and create a poster, video, written essay or an idea for an application software that communicates what they foresee. (Full Story)

Online Competition Challenges Northern New Mexico Students

As part of Los Alamos National Laboratory's 70th anniversary of service to the nation, LANL is sponsoring an online science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) challenge for Northern New Mexico students in grades six through 12. LANL's STEM Challenge invites students to learn the history of the Laboratory and the work currently being performed and then design a poster, create a video, write an essay or design an app on their version of a LANL science or technology in the year 2083. (Full Story)

Scientists examine proton radiography of brain mockup

Proton radiograph of a high-fidelity mockup of a human head. From Medical Xpress.

Los Alamos researchers and German collaborators have investigated the application of giga-electron volt energy proton beams for medical imaging in combination with proton radiation treatment for cancer.

The use of such a high-energy proton beam is ideal for imaging small tumors within patients for targeted proton therapy. Proton radiography, which was invented at Los Alamos, employs a high-energy proton beam to image the properties and behavior of materials. (Full Story)

Has Curiosity found Martian rock varnish?

Before and after image of a rock lasered by Curiosity. The surface of the rock has darkened around the spot hit by the laser. NASA image.

Scientists studying data from the Curiosity rover have found another interesting puzzle, one which may easily have gone unnoticed were it not for one diligent researcher in particular, Nina Lanza of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The ChemCam's laser is one of the most important tools Curiosity has to study the composition of Martian rocks. It vapourizes a tiny spot on a rock's surface, and the resulting sample can then be analyzed by the spectrometer. (Full Story)

Laser empties atoms from the inside out

An international team of plasma physicists has used one of the world's most powerful lasers to create highly unusual plasma composed of hollow atoms.

Lead author Dr James Colgan, from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said: “The conditions under which the hollow atoms were produced were highly non-equilibrium and the production mechanism was quite surprising. (Full Story)

Also from PhysOrg this week:

Under the hood of the ribosome

A computerized depiction of the e. coli ribosome. From PhysOrg.

With macroscopic machines, getting under the hood is a straightforward process, but when it comes to the molecular machines driving biological functions inside our cells, things get a lot more complicated, according to Paul Whitford, an assistant professor of physics.

Collaborators from Cornell Medical School, UC Berkeley, and Los Alamos National Laboratory present a computational framework that estimates those random kicks for the molecular machine known as the ribosome. (Full Story)

Cloud storage with OpenStack Swift

A team from Los Alamos National Laboratory has revealed how they used the Swift Object Store from OpenStack as their disk-based cloud storage system. For the team, Swift has provided an “open source software for creating redundant, scalable object storage using clusters of standardized servers to store petabytes of accessible data.” (Full Story)

Documenting Stone Age cleverness by tool development

Ancient stone tools showing the pace of remarkable technological enhancements over time. LANL image.

Stone Age man’s gradual improvement in tool development, particularly in crafting stone handaxes, is providing insight into the likely mental advances these early humans made a million years ago. Better tools make for better hunting, and better tools come from more sophisticated thought processes.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellow Giday WoldeGabriel and a team of Ethiopian, Japanese, American and German researchers recently examined the world’s oldest handaxes and other stone tools from southern Ethiopia. (Full Story)

Officials optimistic over stopgap spending measure’s effect on lab

Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan talks with Ray Chavez of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. LANL photo.

Top officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory are optimistic that a stopgap spending bill signed Tuesday by President Barack Obama won’t significantly decrease funding for the lab’s operations.

“The continuing resolution is basically funding the government at the 2012 budget level, said LANL Director Charles McMillan during a community outreach breakfast at the Ohkay Casino Resort. (Full Story)

Scott Runnels of Computational Physics to Teach at West Point

Scott Runnels.  Courtesy photo.

Under an agreement between Los Alamos National Laboratory and the U.S. Military Academy, Scott Runnels has been selected for a two-year faculty post in the Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering at West Point.

"We're looking forward to having someone with Scott's academic, industry, and national laboratory experience join the faculty of our department," said Col. Edward Naessens Jr., Professor and Head of the Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering. (Full Story)

Council Honors LANL’s 70 Years with Proclamation

LANL Director Charlie McMillan presents Lab highlights to the Los Alamos County Council. From the Post.

The Los Alamos County Council Tuesday evening presented a proclamation to Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charles McMillan honoring the Laboratory on its 70th Anniversary.

WHEREAS: In 1943, the U.S. Army and the University of California joined together in Los Alamos and created one of the most influential projects of the 20th century: the Manhattan Project. (Full Story)

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