Friday, January 3, 2014

DNA evidence sentences nuclear waste to billion-year prison term

High-activity nuclear bomb waste is being shipped to the deep geologic repository at WIPP. DOE photo.

250 million-year-old DNA has been recovered intact from a nuclear waste disposal site in New Mexico and provides ample evidence that the waste will be imprisoned for life, but likely prison time will top a billion years.

Forensic teams of scientists at UNC, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico State University and others, carefully culled the evidence from original fluid inclusions in the massive salt rock at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad. (Full Story)

Effect of ocean temperature on southwestern US climate analyzed

NOAA image depicts sea surface temperatures around Greenland from October 2010.

Petr Chylek of LANL's Space and Remote Sensing group led the scientists to perform multiple linear regression analysis of surface air temperature and precipitation records provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climate Data Center.

The analysis assumed historical radiative forcing and natural variability as predictors for temperature and precipitation trends. The archived data reveal a general trend toward a warmer climate but with a nearly unchanged rate of precipitation over the past 118 years. (Full Story)

LANL research helps improve solar cells

Schematic of the quantum dot sensitized solar cell (QDSSC) architecture. LANL image.

Solar cells made with low-cost, non-toxic copper-based quantum dots can achieve unprecedented longevity and efficiency, according to a study by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sharp Corporation.

“For the first time, we have certified the performance of a quantum dot sensitized solar cell at greater than 5 percent, which is among the highest reported for any quantum dot solar cell,” said Hunter McDaniel, a Los Alamos postdoctoral researcher. (Full Story)

Also from the Monitor this week

Nearly $2 million pledged in LANL 2014 campaign

Nearly $2 million has been pledged by Los Alamos National Laboratory employees to United Way and other eligible nonprofit programs during the laboratory’s 2014 Employee Giving Campaign. Los Alamos National Security, LLC plans to prorate its $1 million match among the selected nonprofit organizations, bringing the total donation to nearly $3 million. (Full Story)

NNSA says it needs New Mexico's labs

In its 2013 wrap-up, the National Nuclear Security Administration, which runs both Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the two labs were critical to the agency meeting several of its goals.

NNSA also recognized New Mexico researchers who garnered four of “Popular Science” magazine’s 100 best innovations from 2013, which came from LANL and Sandia. (Full Story)

Top 10 things you didn’t know about Los Alamos National Laboratory

Technicians check out ChemCam, a LANL instrument aboard Mars Curiosity rover.  LANL photo.              

Known only as site Y when it opened in 1943, Los Alamos National Laboratory had just one original mission: to build an atomic bomb. In the years since, the Lab’s mission has expanded to include a range of energy security, nonproliferation and other scientific research, though national security science remains core to the Lab’s mission. (Full Story)

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