Friday, November 16, 2018

Using sound to ‘see’ through solid objects

Guest column's author, Christian Pantea, LANL image.

To foil supervillains, Superman relies on his X-ray vision to see through shielded objects to expose dangerous items, such as explosives laced with kryptonite. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, a team of scientists in the Materials Synthesis and Integrated Devices group have invented a technology that works somewhat like Superman’s X-ray vision.

Instead of eye beams, this new technology, known as ACCObeam (Acoustic Collimated Beam), uses a new type of sound beam to pierce through physical barriers such as cement, rock and metal and produce high-resolution images of what lies beyond, be it an explosive hidden in a suitcase or an unstable oil well deep in the earth that could fracture and collapse at any given moment. (Full Story)

Los Alamos, NNSA and Cray deploy Arm supercomputer

Cray XC50, Cray image.

“For too long, the community has been driving for peak operations per watt, while mission-critical, national security applications have extracted fewer usable operations per peak FLOPS (floating-point operations per second) even after spending enormous time and energy revamping applications to mate to machines on this peak FLOPS quest,” Gary Grider, leader of the HPC Division at Los Alamos, said.

“Our focus is on fostering efforts and systems that enable efficient mission-focused computing at extreme scale. The simulations run at Los Alamos use highly irregular data structures that require high-fidelity, multi-physics applications that utilize petascale datasets and workflows for the security of the nation.”(Full Story)

The secret history of plasma weapons

Pre-prototype proof-of-concept PIKL laser, 1992, from Popular Mechanics.

Twenty-five years ago, inside a classified facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, researchers test-fired a new type of laser. The target: a piece of wet chamois leather meant to simulate human skin. The intense laser pulse lasted just a few microseconds, but created a brilliant flash and a loud bang, as though the leather had been hit by an explosive projectile.

Those early 1990s tests were part of the Pentagon's plan to develop a more effective nonlethal way to engage a target—an area where the services have experienced chronic shortcomings. (Full Story)

Quantum computing companies to watch

Super-cooled quantum chip, Rigetti photo.

Founded in 2013, Berkeley startup Rigetti Computing offers a “hybrid quantum computing platform” that’s available now – well, as an invite-only beta. So what have people been doing on the Rigetti platform? Los Alamos National Lab also used the Rigetti platform to learn a quantum algorithm primitive called the SWAP test. It’s detailed in a paper titled “Learning the quantum algorithm for state overlap” which also makes mention of “IBM’s quantum computers." (Full Story)

Physicist Donald Sandoval is a master of the loom

Donald Sandoval is a fifth generation weaver, LANL photo.

Donald Sandoval, of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Primary Physics group, stands before a loom made by his father and weaves a tapestry. The weaving process itself is not too complicated but does take time, so Sandoval’s mind tends to wander. His thoughts often venture to his day job as a mechanical engineer supporting the Lab’s national security mission. Sandoval said he has often solved complicated engineering and mathematical problems while working at the loom. (Full Story)

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