Friday, March 13, 2015

The fate of trees: How climate change may alter forests worldwide

Scientists Williams, McDowell and Allen (from left) Rolling Stone photo.

Dr. Nate McDowell, a Los Alamos National Laboratory expert on mechanisms of tree death, is conducting experiments on conifers in the wild. He's erected a series of clear Plexiglas cylinders around individual piƱon pines, and systematically heated and dried them while monitoring their vital signs. Simulating climate conditions for the remainder of the century, McDowell could see in his Plutonian chambers what Park Williams had foreseen. "The Southwest is going to be a grassland, with the occasional rare tree," McDowell says. "It's going to be a different place. And there's reason to think that's the same for big chunks of the world." (Full Story)

Muons probe Fukushima’s ruins

Elena Guardincerri, right, and Shelby Fellows prepare a lead hemisphere inside a muon tomography machine. LANL photo.

Two groups of physicists, including a joint LANL-Toshiba team, are planning to use muons to produce x-ray-like images to pinpoint uranium inside Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant.

In units 2 and 3, fuel is likely scattered throughout the core, pressure vessel, and containment vessel. For that more challenging imaging assignment, TEPCO is turning to the Los Alamos team. Work on muon detectors there began in the 1990s, when physicist Christopher Morris led ateam looking for noninvasive ways to inspect nuclear weapons.
 (Full Story)

LANL boosts light-water reactor research
Volume fraction of a bubble phase in fuel rod bundle. LANL image.

Hard on the heels of a five-year funding renewal, modeling and simulation technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory as part of the Consortium for the Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) will now be deployed to industry and academia under a new interinstitutional agreement for intellectual property. (Full Story)

Solar as cheap as coal… Why not cheaper?

Wanyi Nie creates large crystal structures in a glove box.  LANL video.

By the way, if you’d like to see another example of taxpayer-funded low-cost solar cell manufacturing, check out a nifty little video of a new perovskite-based process under way at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The Los Alamos team was able to resolve that problem and fabricate large-area perovskite solar cells using a “hot casting” method, as neatly described in a video ambitiously titled “SUPER efficient Solar — Low-Cost Solar-Based Global Energy Solution” (Full Story)

LANL provides shoes to Los Alamos Public School students

LANL’s Amanda Martinez, presents coupons for shoes to Dr. Gene Schmidt. LANL photo.
epresentatives from the Community Programs Office provided 10 gift coupons to purchase shoes to Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt, as part of the annual LANL Laces program.

This marks the fourth year that Amanda Martinez on behalf of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Programs Office has been a part of the giving program. This year, 162 LANL Laces gift cards were distributed to needy students throughout northern New Mexico. (Full Story)

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