Friday, August 28, 2015

Particles from the edge of space shine a light on Fukushima

Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, from NPR.

Los Alamos physicist and Laboratory Fellow Christopher Morris and other researchers think a subatomic particle called a muon can help answer the question of what happened to the nuclear fuel inside the Fukushima plant.

If muons can penetrate a subway tunnel, they can certainly pass through a nuclear reactor. That's why Morris thinks they can help at Fukushima.

"You can make something that looks like an X-ray, so you can take a picture of what's inside the reactor," he says. (Full Story)

Consultants seek to bridge ‘Valley of Death’ to stop hacking

For the first time, cybersecurity technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico will be made available to private companies by the New York consulting firm Ernst & Young LLP.

The relationship between Los Alamos and EY is unique in that cybersecurity technology being developed and used at the lab hasn’t easily reached the private sector.

The U.S. spends about $1 billion a year on unclassified cybersecurity research. However, it often goes unnoticed in the private sector because federal researchers don’t have expertise in marketing and communicating to companies. (Full Story)

Quantum dot solar windows go non-toxic, colorless, with record efficiency

The luminescent solar concentrator could turn any window into a daytime power source, LANL illustration. 

A luminescent solar concentrator is an emerging sunlight harvesting technology that has the potential to disrupt the way we think about energy; It could turn any window into a daytime power source.

"In these devices, a fraction of light transmitted through the window is absorbed by nanosized particles (semiconductor quantum dots) dispersed in a glass window, re-emitted at the infrared wavelength invisible to the human eye, and wave-guided to a solar cell at the edge of the window," said Victor Klimov. (Full Story)

Also from International Solar Magazine

Entrepreneurs, Los Alamos scientist seek fusion of another sort

David Fox, a LANL biochemist, with jars of “SCOBY," Journal photo.

With help from a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist, three young Santa Fe entrepreneurs are trying to brew a better beer – one that combines the professed health effects of kombucha fermented tea with the enjoyment derived from drinking an ice-cold adult beverage.

“It’s going to be a new class of beers,” said David Fox, a biochemist at LANL. “It’s still being defined, but what I think you’ll see in the end is a unique classification of beers … one you’re really going to like.” (Full Story)

Riboregulator controls gene expression

Molecular "dimmer" switch to control cellular metabolism, LANL image.

Recent work by Los Alamos National Laboratory experimental and theoretical biologists describes a new method of controlling gene expression. The key is a tunable switch made from a small non-coding RNA molecule that could have value for medical and even biofuel production purposes.

"Living cells have multiple mechanisms to control and regulate processes—many of which involve regulating the expression of genes," said lead project scientist Clifford Unkefer of the Laboratory's Bioscience division. (Full Story)

Also from PhysOrg

The race for the unbreakable password is almost over

QkarD and engineered at Los Alamos National Laboratory. LANL image.

The bandwidth issue could take years to fix. Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are not only working on ways around it, but on how to reinforce our current data security with quantum mechanics. Last autumn, Los Alamos struck the biggest deal in its history with Richard Moulds’ parent company Allied Minds to commercialize these products.

Earlier this month, it unveiled a quantum-based generator that creates random numbers — the same random numbers that fuel passwords and other current forms of digital security. (Full Story)

Red Fireworks Might Not Contain Carcinogens

Red fireworks over Moscow, from Smithsonian.

“Training areas get fallout [from flares] over and over again,” David E. Chavez, a chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, tells Everts. “It can be an issue for environmental clean-up.”

But making a less-toxic firework is one thing; getting manufacturers to change how they make their explosives is another. “It’s very challenging to go from something that works on the bench to something  that works on a large-scale,” Chavez tells Everts. (Full Story)

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Methane rules could have big impact in New Mexico

The Four Corners methane hot spot, LANL image.

Northwestern New Mexico’s San Juan Basin, a major natural gas and coal production area, could be a chief target of a proposed federal regulation aimed at dramatically cutting methane gas emissions.

A team of scientists recently found a methane hot spot half the size of Connecticut in the Four Corners area, The hot spot “accounted for 10 percent of all oil- and gas-related methane emissions from the U.S.,” said Manvendra Dubey, one of the Los Alamos climate scientists involved in the study. (Full Story)

A surprisingly elegant formula for molecular aggregates

Molecular aggregate system, from Asian Scientist.

Joint research by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory has discovered a way to predict the emerging structures and bulk properties of molecular aggregations. Their discovery has significant technological implications in manufacturing new functional materials.

In real life bulk systems, it is the degree of molecular aggregation that defines the resulting material’s eventual properties. The OIST researchers ran 2D simulations involving tens of thousands of particles. (Full Story)

DOE selects Los Alamos for carbon storage research

DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory has selected Los Alamos National Security, LLC to receive funding to research new CO2 storage technologies devoted to intelligent monitoring systems and advanced well integrity and mitigation approaches through DOE’s Carbon Storage Program.

Los Alamos National Security LLC (Los Alamos, NM) will research technology to identify, characterize, and monitor leakage pathways using acoustic probes that use 3-D scanning of barrier systems to identify fracture defects in wellbore cement. (Full Story)

Also from the Daily Post this week:

Young, Jupiter-like planet discovered

Jupiter-like planet, LANL image.

“The exploration of very young planetary systems that will evolve to look like our own has just begun,” said Didier Saumon of Los Alamos National Laboratory, whose role was theoretical modeling and data analysis for the project.  “The Gemini Planet Imager is amazing new technology that has quickly discovered the first extrasolar analog of Jupiter, but much younger,” Saumon said. (Full Story)

Descartes Labs is now off and running

Steven Brumby.  

The story of startup tech company Descartes Labs reads like something from the heyday of Silicon Valley. A group of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists strike out on their own. They leap bureaucratic hurdles to acquire licensing for technology developed at the lab and manage to secure venture capital.

“The fact that a group of scientists from Los Alamos could start their own company and within seven months of opening have a first product to start to sell to industry is an unusual thing,” said co-founder and Chief Technical Officer Steven Brumby. (Full Story)

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