Friday, January 22, 2016

North Korea nuclear test did not increase technical capability

Seismic waves observed in South Korea
originate in North Korea, Reuters photo.

North Korea's Jan. 6 nuclear test did not expand its technical capability, but the U.S. government is keeping a close eye on Pyongyang's efforts to develop a thermonuclear warhead capable of reaching the United States, the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Tuesday.

Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the test "will certainly allow North Korea to increase the sophistication of its nuclear arsenal - specifically, to make the nuclear bombs smaller and lighter."

NASA’s Van Allen probes revolutionize view of radiation belts

During geomagnetic storms, empty regions can fill with
lower-energy electrons. NASA image.                

About 600 miles from Earth’s surface is the first of two donut-shaped electron swarms, known as the Van Allen Belts, or the radiation belts. Understanding the shape and size of the belts, which can shrink and swell in response to incoming radiation from the sun, is crucial for protecting our technology in space.

"The shape of the belts is actually quite different depending on what type of electron you're looking at," said Geoff Reeves from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the New Mexico Consortium in Los Alamos, New Mexico, lead author on the study published on Dec. 28, 2015, in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Also from Space Daily

Machine learning helps discover the most luminous supernova in history

ASASSN-15lh was first observed by
telescopes in Chile. From Space Daily.

Machine-learning technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory played a key role in the discovery of supernova ASASSN-15lh, an exceptionally powerful explosion that was 570 billion times brighter than the Sun and more than twice as luminous as the previous record-holding supernova. This extraordinary event marking the death of a star was identified by the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN) and is described in a new study published in Science.

People are still trying to build a space elevator

 Arthur C. Clarke first wrote about space
elevators in “The Fountains of Paradise.”
From Smithsonian.

The new documentary film Sky Line explores why the notion of a space elevator has continued to persist despite major technological obstacles.

The idea of an elevator itself had been a topic of debate between the filmmakers, and looking further into it, they discovered two chief characters, Bradley Edwards and Michael Laine.

Edwards, a physicist with a deep history of work in astrophysics, including an 11-year stint at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has been working on a space elevator concept since 1998.

Santa Fe’s rich history in forgotten time capsules

Time capsule buried at SF Railyard in
2008. From the New Mexican.

The granddaddy of all Santa Fe time capsules was buried in the autumn of 1867 somewhere under the obelisk on the Plaza, formally known as the Soldiers Monument. City leaders forgot to look for it on its 100th anniversary, and an effort to unearth it a year later, in 1968, failed — despite the help of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists and famed architect John Gaw Meem.

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