Friday, September 30, 2016

Carter meets with Google CEO during Los Alamos visit

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter with Lab Director Charlie 
McMillan (right) and Bob Webster (left), Principal Associate Director for Weapons Programs, LANL photo.

Joining Secretary of Defense Ash Carter this week on a trip to the Los Alamos National Laboratory was Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google parent company Alphabet who is also the head of the Defense Innovation Board.

Los Alamos is home to Plutonium Facility 4, the US government’s science, technology and manufacturing center for plutonium. Press were not invited to visit the lab, but a Los Alamos press release said Carter visited the pit casting area, “where molten plutonium is shaped into a pit, the plutonium core of a nuclear weapon." (Full story)

Arctic river flood plains are home to hidden carbon

The Colville River runs across northern Alaska. Nat Geo photo.     

A preliminary study of ten Arctic rivers suggests that they cycle roughly three to seven times more carbon through their flood plains than eventually exits the river into the ocean, says Joel Rowland, a geomorphologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The fate of that flood-plain carbon isn’t known. It may be respired into the atmosphere, or be redeposited on riverbanks farther downstream. Either way, it represents an important chunk of the Arctic carbon budget that researchers do not yet understand, Rowland says. “There’s a lot of action going on that’s been ignored." (Full story)

Feeling the burn: Understanding how biomass burning changes climate

Each year, during the dry season, a large swath of the African countryside goes up in flames. During two distinct seasons—October through March in the northern hemisphere, and June through November in the southern hemisphere—fires are set to clear land, remove dead and unwanted vegetation and drive grazing animals to less-preferred growing areas.

Aerosol research at Los Alamos began decades ago, stemming from a need to better understand nuclear fallout, specifically the feedbacks between particles, clouds, land-atmosphere interactions, and the hydrological cycle—the infamous “nuclear winter.” It’s interesting to think that the work to understand the harmful impacts of a very modern technology is now helping us understand the harmful impacts of a tool as old as civilization itself: fire. (Full story)

How Los Alamos is learning to track disease outbreaks around the World


Despite the ancient origins of biosurveillance, there is little agreement over how best to pursue it. Consequently, the field is plagued with difficulties over how to define diseases, their symptoms, infectious agents, their carriers, and so on.

Now that looks set to change thanks to the work of Ashlynn Daughton at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and few pals who have come up with a new method for describing disease that is designed to bring this disparate field together and gain international traction. Their new system of classification is called the Anthology of Biosurveillance Diseases, and they have set up an online database to support it. (Full story)

Deep Moonquakes reveal thickness
of lunar crust

Charlotte Rowe of Los Alamos National Laboratory's Geophysics group and collaborators from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have reported the first use of the seismic interferometry technique applied to study the internal structure of the Moon. 

Rowe and collaborators applied body-wave seismic interferometry to the data to study clusters of deep moonquakes (hypocenters at depths between 700 and 1200 km). Seismic interferometry creates new seismic responses by cross-correlating seismic observations from multiple, nearly co-located sources, at each of several different receiver locations. (Full story)

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