Friday, February 14, 2014

What the toothpaste terror threat means for future airport security

MagRay engineer Larry Schultz loads a liquid into the MagRay scanner.  LANL image. 

Recently DHS provided funding for another project that could vastly improve liquids screening at airports. Dubbed the MagRay, the technology is being developed at the Los Alamos laboratories in New Mexico, where scientists are working on ways to combine X-ray and MRI techniques to create  3-D images with a far more detailed breakdown of a container's contents, including proton content and density.

They're also aiming to make it user-friendly: TSA screeners would insert the bottle into the machine and, without having to input any data, would get a green or red light on a display. Early lab tests have reportedly shown promising results. (Full Story)

Volcano eruption behind mass death of dinosaurs: scientists

Sedimentary features of laval flows in China. From Nature.

Research jointly conducted by Chinese and American scientists has found that a volcanic eruption in the Cretaceous Era may have caused the mass death of dinosaurs in northeast China.

Jiang Baoyu together with four scientists from Nanjing University, Ken Wohletz of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the American Museum of Natural History, began the research in 2011 and published their findings in the scientific journal "Nature Communications" on Feb. 4. (Full Story)

2013 AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy goes to Siegfried Hecker

Sig Hecker. LANL photo.    

Siegfried Hecker, director emeritus of Los Alamos National Laboratory has been chosen by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to receive the 2013 Award for Science Diplomacy.

Hecker was honored by AAAS for his "lifetime commitment to using the tools of science to address the challenges of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism and his dedication to building bridges through science during the period following the end of the Cold War." (Full Story)

Guest Column: LANL program shares cutting-edge technology

Mariann Johnston. LANL photo.        

Los Alamos National Laboratory has a stockpile of patents covering technologies with untapped commercial potential, and it wants to simplify the process of sharing these innovations – as well as its portfolio of copyright-protected software – with businesses that can translate this wealth into private-sector jobs.

The lab’s Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation in August launched the Express Licensing program to fast-track the licensing of technologies and software with a simple online application. (Full Story)

Your next fridge could keep cold more efficiently using magnets

GE scientists make a magnetic refrigeration breakthrough.  GE image.

Such magnetic refrigeration systems were developed as far back as the 1930s, and researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico successfully achieved a few degrees of refrigeration in the 1980s. However, the technology has failed to make it into household refrigerators  as it relies on superconducting magnets that themselves need to be cooled to extremely low temperatures, making it not cost- or energy-efficient for household use. (Full Story)

Nuclear waste solution seen in desert salt beds

Underground at WIPP. NYT photo.

Half a mile beneath the desert surface, in thick salt beds left behind by seas that dried up hundreds of millions of years ago, the Department of Energy is carving out rooms as long as football fields and cramming them floor to ceiling with barrels and boxes of nuclear waste.      

The process is deceptively simple: Plutonium waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory and a variety of defense projects is packed into holes bored into the walls of rooms carved from salt. (Full Story)

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