Friday, June 8, 2018


Cosmic ray showers crash supercomputers. Here's what to do about it

Neutron detectors for the supercomputing center. LANL photo.

After Seymour Cray first built this computer, he gave Los Alamos National Laboratory a six-month free trial. But during that half-year, a funny thing happened: The computer experienced 152 unattributable memory errors.

Los Alamos has had to adapt since the Cray 1, having its engineers account for space particles in its hard- and software. “This is not really a problem we’re having,” explains Nathan DeBardeleben of the High Performance Computing Design group. “It’s a problem we’re keeping at bay.” (Full Story)

Evidence Builds for a New Kind of Neutrino

MiniBoone photodetectors, Fermilab photo.

Physicists have caught ghostly particles called neutrinos misbehaving at an Illinois experiment, suggesting an extra species of neutrino exists. If borne out, the findings would be nothing short of revolutionary, introducing a new fundamental particle to the lexicon of physics that might even help explain the mystery of dark matter.

Undeterred by the fact that no one agrees on what the observations actually mean, experts gathered at a neutrino conference this week in Germany are already excitedly discussing these and other far-reaching implications. (Full Story)

Mysterious neutrino surplus hints at the existence of new particles

MiniBoone photodetectors, Fermilab photo.

A particle detector has spotted a puzzling abundance of the lightweight subatomic particles and their antimatter partners, antineutrinos.

The new study was conducted with a neutrino detector called MiniBooNE, while the previous neutrino excess was found with a different apparatus, the Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector, which operated in the 1990s at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “We have two very different detectors … and we have the same results,” says MiniBooNE physicist En-Chuan Huang of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

A major physics experiment just detected a particle that shouldn't exist

LSND, LANL photo.

Back in the mid-1990s, the Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector (LSND), an experiment at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, found evidence of a mysterious new particle: a "sterile neutrino" that passes through matter without interacting with it. But that result couldn't be replicated; other experiments simply couldn't find any trace of the hidden particle. So the result was set aside.

Now, MiniBooNE -- a follow-up experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located near Chicago -- has picked up the hidden particle's scent again. (Full Story)

Big news from the magnetosphere

Twin Van Allen probes in orbit, NASA image.

It’s an exciting time for space weather research. NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes have recently completed their third circuit of Earth measuring the radiation and charged particles that stir up space weather. Data from the mission has upended our understanding of the Van Allen Radiation Belts and the particles zipping around in them.

So far, the big news has been that the Van Allen belts are not always, as scientists once thought, two concentric, well-formed donuts wrapping around Earth. Since the 1960s, scientists have believed that only the outer belt interacted with solar storms and coronal mass ejections, and only the worst of those. (Full Story)

Double oxadiazole could replace TNT

The new melt-castable explosive, ARL photo.

Trinitrotoluene (TNT) has been a standard explosive used in munitions for more than 100 years, but the military is looking to phase out its use due to its toxicity. A new 24-atom molecule has ignited the interest of chemists as a possible TNT replacement.

David E. Chavez of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Jesse J. Sabatini, of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory via the Joint Munitions Program, created bis(1,2,4-oxadiazole)bis(methylene) dinitrate based on a similar molecule they’d previously made that had one fewer nitrogen atom in each of the compound’s rings. (Full Story)

New route to +3 oxidation state of neptunium

Neptunium halide complex, illustration from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Scientists based in the US have made a neptunium complex that can act as a precursor for neptunium(III) chemistry. The complex is made from a readily available aqueous stock solution of neptunium(IV) so saves the need to use scarce neptunium metal.

Andrew Gaunt, at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Suzanne Bart, at Purdue University, and their co-workers have made a complex that can provide new insights into the redox behaviour of neptunium in an organic solvent. (Full Story)

Los Alamos National Laboratory Employees Donate $400,000 Toward Scholarships for Local Students

Viviana Martinez Espiricueta, 2018 graduate of The MASTERS Program will attend St. Edwards University. LANL Foundation photo.

For 20 years, employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory have taken the lead in funding scholarships for students in surrounding communities.

This year during the recent internal fundraising campaign, more than 800 LANL employees pledged $400,000 for scholarships, and the numbers continue to grow. LANS again made a $250,000 contribution for a total of $650,000 in new funding.

“A contribution to the Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund is an investment worth making,” said Kathy Keith, Director of the Community Partnerships Office at LANL. “When employees and the surrounding communities come together to support scholarships, we strengthen Northern New Mexico.” (Full Story)

In the Lab: High-impact, hands-on materials scientist

Thompson is a team leader in Materials Science in Radiation and Dynamics Extremes. LANL photo.

George “Rusty” Thompson Gray III is a tactile person. As a Los Alamos materials scientist, he uses high-powered gas guns to subject materials to dynamic forces, examining the resulting damage patterns to understand why materials fail.

“I sometimes wonder what my life would’ve been like in academia. But I wanted to defend the country and contribute to national security as well as publish papers and do research,” said Gray, a team leader in Materials Science in Radiation and Dynamics Extremes (MST-8). “I like science, engineering and being able to lead science that helps the Lab.” (Full Story)

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