Friday, July 26, 2013

LANL offers tour of once-secret underground nuke vault

A tunnel and vault dug into a canyon wall in Northern New Mexico that for decades provided the federal government with a secret and secure place to store nuclear material and conduct research during the Cold War this week became a tour stop.

Los Alamos National Laboratory says the top-secret facility known as the “tunnel vault” has been declassified and is being shown on lab tours for the news media and for families of laboratory workers. Thetours are part of the lab’s celebration of its 70th anniversary. (full story)

Top-secret Los Alamos tunnel declassified

A secret tunnel recently revealed underneath Los Alamos has an important national security mission. Built into the side of the mountain, almost 250 feet deep into the rock, are five vaults of historical significance.

The heavily guarded chamber was the first place the U.S. stored nuclear waste materials during the Cold War. "It's weapons-grade nuclear material," Los Alamos National Lab buildings historian Ellen McGhee said. "(It's) definitely secure, very safe and very stable down here." (full story)

This story also appeared on KRQE-TV, the Albuquerque Journal, on the PhysOrg website, and in Gizmodo

as well as the Laboratory’s YouTube Channel

How Earth Accelerates Electrons to 99.9 Percent of Light Speed

As the Sun's churning surface letsloose a belch of white-hot flame, it sends out a storm of radiation that washes over the solar system. Luckily for us, Earth's magnetic field shields us from most of these deadly rays. But overhead, something strange and lethal is happening when the solar wind bombards the Earth. A band of radioactive particles circling the planet, called the outer Van Allen belt, starts to charge up like a rail gun. It whips electrons along on its circular racetrack at a breakneck pace—near light speed. The powerful band ebbs and flows with solar radiation, but until today, nobody could be sure how it was creating such swift and energetic particles.

"This is like watching a natural particle accelerator in space," says Geoffrey Reeves, a magnetic field researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

This story also appeared in Science, Space dot Com, and ABC Science, while similar versions of the story could be found all over

Biofuels take center stage

“Algae to Biofuels: Squeezing Powerfrom Pond Scum” is brainchild of Olivares of LANL and Dr. Richard Sayre of NMC and LANL.

The exhibits highlight the work of the NMC and algae researchers at LANL, UNM and NMSU to create an informative, educational, interactive exhibit to display at the Bradbury Museum. (full story)

Also appearing this week in the Monitor:

Two new exhibits to open at Bradbury

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Bradbury Science Museum is opening two new exhibits Friday as part of the laboratory’s 70th Anniversary celebration. (full story)

As well as:

Community leaders breakfast

LANL Director Charlie McMillan spoke with Meralys Stephens and Lucretia Jenkins of the Santa Claran Hotel and Casino, and at Wednesday’s Community Leaders Breakfast at LANL. McMillan then updated the crowd on what has been happening at the lab, which is holding avariety of activities to celebrate its 70th anniversary. (full story)

Van Allen probes pinpoint driver of speeding electrons

Researchers believe they have solved a lingering mystery about how electrons within Earth’s radiation belt can suddenly become energetic enough to kill orbiting satellites. Thanks to data gathered from an intrepid pair of NASA probes roaming the harsh space environment within the Van Allen radiation belts, scientists have identified an internal electron accelerator operating within the belts.

“For years we thought the Van Allen belts were pretty well behaved and changed slowly,” said Geoffrey Reeves of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Intelligence and Space Research Division. “With more measurements, however, we realized how quickly and unpredictably the radiation belts change, and now we have real evidence that the changes originate from within the belts themselves.” (full story)

Also appearing this week in R&D Magazine:

Decision Sciences, LANL win 2013 R&D 100 Award

Decision Sciences International Corp. (DSIC) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) announced they have been recognized by R&D Magazine as a 2013 R&D 100 award winner for theirMulti-Mode Passive Detection System Technology.

Muon Tomography uses naturally occurring cosmic ray muons to safely and securely scan all types of vehicles and cargo containers to detect shielded and unshielded nuclear and radiological threats. (full story)

Hurricane season: Predicting in advance what could happen

The DHS’s National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center, jointly housed at Sandia and Los Alamos, studies how hurricanes and other disasters disrupt critical infrastructure,such as roads, electricity and water systems.

NISAC has two jobs: conducting annual "hurricane swath" analyses of probable impacts on the Gulf Coast and East Coast and providing quick analyses of crisis response. (full story)

Duo create air-powered motor for extra ‘umph’

Aviad Cahana and Trever Skilnick are the inventors of a two-pound pneumatic motor that can be installed on any bicycle and help cyclists pedal uphill, into a headwind or just provide a little boost when the rider is tired.

The process of getting the device into production was recently given a boost, thanks the Venture Acceleration Fund, which granted the company $60,000 in seed money. The fund is sponsored by Los Alamos NationalSecurity and Los Alamos County. (full story)

International Team to Study Demand Response Impacts at New Mexico Utility

Toshiba and Landis+Gyr have teamed up with Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), the University of Kyoto, and Los Alamos County to study demand response pricing programs. Utilizing smart meters and customer volunteers, the partners will study how consumers respond to variable pricing per kilowatt hour and how this impacts their electric demand during the summer months. The research will begin in late July and run through September.

The demand response pricing research is a component of the U.S.-Japan Demonstration Smart Grid Project in Los Alamos. Constructed for a consortium of partners representing NEDO, Los Alamos County, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the smart grid test bed demonstrates high penetration of renewable energy on an electric grid to meet a residential community’s needs. This includes understanding what influences customers to reduce electric consumption during peak-times when electricity is more expensive and not always available from renewable resources. (full story)

Los Alamos National Laboratory upgrades Its Powerwall theater

Los Alamos National Laboratory hasselected visualization leader Christie® for an extensive upgrade to its Powerwall Theater, an innovative facility that enables researchers to view the complex models and simulations they have created using some of the world’s fastest supercomputers. The new theater will feature a total of 40 ChristieMirage WU-L WUXGA DLP® 3D LED projectors in a 5 wide by 4 high node grid configuration with double-stacked projectors in each node onto a new ultra high fidelity glass Stewart Filmscreen. (full story)

This story also appeared in Digital Journal, R&D Magazine and numerous other outlets

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