Friday, December 1, 2017

Terry Wallace named new director of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Terry Wallace, LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory will soon be under direction of a home town boy — Terry Wallace, who grew up in Los Alamos, worked at the lab as an undergraduate student and has held various high-ranking positions at LANL since 2003.

The lab announced Tuesday that Wallace will become the 75-year-old lab’s 11th director — and the first actually from Los Alamos — as of Jan. 1, succeeding retiring director Charles McMillan. (Full Story)

Tiny license plates could help us steer clear of our space junk

Prototype laser-powered license plate to fit on satellites headed for space, LANL photo.

With so many new flying objects being sent into orbit and beyond, many scientists say, we could be in for some dangerous collisions. One group at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico is trying to fix that with something ubiquitous among cars, but currently nonexistent for space mobiles: A license plate.

But don’t things just float around up there like a giant game of bumper cars? Not even close, explains David Palmer, an astrophysicist at Los Alamos. While there have only been two really substantial space crashes, he says, one crash is all it takes to trigger catastrophe. (Full Story)

NIH and partners launch HIV vaccine efficacy study

An HIV-infected T cell. NIAID image.

NIAID provided funding for preclinical and early phase clinical development of the mosaic-based vaccine, which was initially developed by the laboratory of Dan H. Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, together with Janssen and other partners. The mosaic immunogens incorporated in the vaccine were designed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In preclinical studies, regimens with mosaic-based vaccines protected monkeys against infection with an HIV-like virus. Findings from two early-stage human clinical trials suggest that these vaccines are well-tolerated and can generate anti-HIV immune responses in healthy adult volunteers. (Full Story)

NASA, DOE testing ‘Kilopower’ space nuclear reactor

Kilopower demonstration unit. NASA photo.

Patrick McClure, project lead on the Kilopower work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said that a space nuclear reactor could provide a high-energy density power source with the ability to operate independent of solar energy or orientation, and the ability to operate in extremely harsh environments, such as the Martian surface.  Additionally, the Kilopower team believes the technology could be applicable to multiple NASA missions.

“We ultimately hope that this is the first step for fission reactors to create a new paradigm of truly ambitious and inspiring space exploration,” said David Poston, chief reactor designer at Los Alamos. (Full Story)

All missions on board for NASA heliophysics research

Illustration of space-based sensors.  From PhysOrg.

Scientists have been studying the near-Earth environment for the better part of a century, but many mysteries -- like where the energetic particles that pervade the area originate and become energized -- still remain. In a new type of collaborative study, scientists combined data from 16 separate NASA and Los Alamos National Laboratory spacecraft to understand how a particle phenomenon in the magnetic environment around Earth occurs. These events, called substorms, can cause auroras, disrupt GPS communications and, at their most intense, damage power grids. (Full Story)

 Quantum dots amplify light with electrical pumping

Quantum dot laser, LANL image.

Los Alamos achieves light amplification with electrically stimulated quantum dots, critical step towards solution-processible laser diodes

In a breakthrough development, Los Alamos scientists have shown that they can successfully amplify light using electrically excited films of the chemically synthesized semiconductor nanocrystals known as quantum dots. (Full Story)

How a meteor-like shock turns silica into glass

Shocked silica glass, SLAC image.

"We were able for the first time to really visualize from start to finish what happens in a material that makes up a major portion of the Earth's crust," said Arianna Gleason of the DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the principal investigator for the study, which was published Nov. 14 in Nature Communications. (Full Story)

Scalable clusters make HP R&D easy as Raspberry Pi

Trinity supercomputer, LANL image.

Housed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Trinity is the third-fastest supercomputer in the world, by one measure. But the Department of Energy and the lab didn’t design it to top the speed list. They wanted it to solve specific – and huge – physics problems that would bring any other machine to its knees while sucking in megawatts of power from the electric grid.

Trinity came fully on line in 2017 as the latest in a string of world-class supercomputers supporting Los Alamos’s mission of ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. (Full Story)

Los Alamos National Laboratory Trinity supercomputer lands on two top-10 lists

The Trinity Supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory was recently named as a top 10 supercomputer on two lists: it made number three on the High Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG) Benchmark project, and is number seven on the TOP500 list. (Full Story)

Research group finds thick skin of atomic nucleus

Crab Nebula in the constellation Taurus, NASA image.

Calcium-48 is a quirky material, with this particular study taking Washington University chemists Robert J. Charity and Lee G. Sobotka from Duke's Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory to the Department of Energy's Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory.

"The Los Alamos experiment was critical for the analysis we pursued. In the end—because it has this additional set of neutrons—it gets us to information that helps us to further clarify the physics of neutron stars, where there are many more neutrons relative to protons,” said co-author Willem H. Dickhoff. (Full Story)

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