Friday, May 18, 2018

‘Explosive’ eruption at Hawaii volcano’s summit shoots ash more than five miles high

Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates. WaPo photo.

Thursday's event was, if not the big one, then certainly a big one, researchers said. As the molten rock dropped below the level of the water table, it's likely that water in the surrounding rock began pouring into the vacated chamber — much the way water rushes to fill a recently dug well, said Charlotte Rowe, a geophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The water would then flash into steam, “and steam as we know is a very powerful source of energy, a very powerful propellant,” Rowe said.

Kilauea has erupted in this manner before. In May 1924, the Hawaii Volcano Observatory reported more than 50 explosive events over the course of two-and-a-half weeks at the volcano's summit.  (Full Story)

Will NASA go nuclear to return to the Moon?

A Kilopower unit on Mars, NASA illustration.

NASA and DoE officials say the reactor is safer than previous generations because of how it works. The fission chain reaction is passively controlled and can even be stopped, using boron control rods and beryllium reflectors. Atom-splitting would not begin until after the reactor is far from Earth.

According to Patrick McClure, Kilopower project lead at the DoE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Under all worst-case situations, we don’t believe there is any chance the reactor would come on accidentally during a launch accident,” he says. (Full Story)

Wallace: Plutonium decision big vote of confidence for Los Alamos National Laboratory

Director Terry Wallace, LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Dr. Terry Wallace told Lab staff today in an internal memo obtained by the Los Alamos Daily Post that the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) has given the Lab “a big vote of confidence”.

“They are investing an additional $3 billion in new mission space, which includes people, infrastructure and equipment. This is a significant opportunity to continue contributing to the nation’s security by drawing on our unique expertise in plutonium science,” he said. (Full Story)

Neutrons measured with unprecedented precision using a 'magneto-gravitational trap'

The UNCtau 'bottle' trap at LANSCE. LANL photo.

"This is a significant improvement compared to previous experiments," said Chen-Yu Liu, who is a leader on the UNCtau experiment, which uses neutrons from the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center Ultracold Neutron source at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. "The data is far more accurate than what we've had before."

The work required five years to design, fabricate, test and install their equipment at the neutron source in Los Alamos, after which the team began to run experiments and collect data. (Full Story)

Also from Space Daily

Los Alamos researchers map how Ebola, Zika attack host cells

Section of Ebola virus forming “spikes” during “pre-fusion” or infection of a host cell. LANL image.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) recently used computer modeling to map the process by which the Ebola and Zika viruses infiltrate host cells.

The researchers, who published their work in the journal Biomolecules, aimed to understand the specific structure-function relationship of the Ebola glycoprotein (EBOV GP) and Zika envelope (ZIKA E) proteins, which enable fusion with the host cell. This improved understanding could aid in the development of vaccines and therapeutic medicines. (Full Story)

Also from Medical News Net

A missing piece in the neutrinoless beta-decay puzzle

Short-range interactions in models of neutrinoless double-beta decay, APS illustration.

The observation of a nuclear process called neutrinoless double-beta decay might help researchers figure out what gives neutrinos their mass and why there’s far more matter than antimatter in the Universe. While this hypothetical decay has never been observed, experiments have placed constraints on the maximum rate at which it could occur.

Now Vincenzo Cirigliano of Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, and colleagues show that previous calculations of neutrinoless double-beta decay might have neglected a contribution that is critical for interpreting experimental data. (Full Story)

Long-range Wireless Sensor Network hardware

LRWSN hardware, LANL image.       

The Long-range Wireless Sensor Network developed by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and West Virginia University easily, efficiently, and affordably collects, processes, and transmits data in all kinds of rugged and remote outdoor environments.

This invention grew out of the Laboratory’s decades of experience in developing rugged, low-power satellite components for a really remote and harsh environment: space. Now the Lab has applied this expertise to develop these novel long-range wireless sensor networks for harsh environments and low resource situations on earth. (Full Story)

Also from the New Mexican this week:

Los Alamos scientist’s patented radiation detector could boost worker safety

“Lighthouse” radiation detector tested at Trinity Site, LANL photo.    

Jonathan Dowell, who specializes in engineering physics, has patented a radiation-detection device that could make places like the Los Alamos lab safer for workers and also has applications for emergency first responders, security authorities and hospitals.

The small, 11-pound cube, dubbed a “lighthouse” radiation detector, uses a sweeping beam to zero in on radiation sources in seconds to reduce worker exposure. About the size of a jar of peanut butter, the detector can be sent into potentially contaminated areas on hazmat robots and also works as a hand-held device. (Full Story)

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