Thursday, January 31, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Jan. 28-31

Press Release:
Los Alamos National Laboratory to Begin DARHT 2 Operations
Hydrodynamic testing at the frontier of science

The Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) facility has officially become "dual" with authorization to begin full power operations of Axis 2, adding both new capability and higher energy to the unique accelerator facility. Los Alamos National Laboratory has received authorization from the National Nuclear Security Administration to begin operating Axis 2, an important diagnostic instrument that helps ensure the integrity of the nation's nuclear stockpile without nuclear testing. Scientists and engineers at DARHT can now begin test firings of the second axis electron beam as early as this week. The first truly dual axis hydrodynamic test should take place in early summer 2008. LANL News Release

LANL X-Ray Back in Business (Albuquerque Journal)

By John Fleck
Los Alamos National Laboratory could begin firing a massive nuclear weapons X-ray machine at full power as soon as this week, lab officials announced Tuesday. The announcement marks a successful turnaround for the project, which ran into trouble in 2003 when lab scientists realized the recently completed machine did not work. "It's running beautifully," said Ray Scarpetti, who headed up the rescue mission to get the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrotest machine working. Located on a wooded Los Alamos mesa, the big machine creates two massive X-ray beams. Hitting the target at right angles, the two beams are designed to create a three-dimensional image of a mock nuclear weapon as it is detonated. Full Story Subscription Required

Read all about the DARHT facility in the Laboratory's
science and technology magazine 1663.

Dream Jobs (IEEE Spectrum)
Sigrid Close: Star Struck

By Sarah Adee
“A hundred billion,” says Sigrid Close. That's how many meteors collide with the Earth's atmosphere every day. Most are whittled away in the ionosphere, and Close spends her days studying exactly how they disintegrate. That's right: she gets paid to watch shooting stars. Close is the resident expert in ionospheric and near-Earth phenomena at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Her work regularly takes her to places like India, China, Puerto Rico, and the Marshall Islands, where she uses the most advanced space surveillance telescopes and radar to study the uppermost reaches of the atmosphere, some 85 kilometers above the Earth's surface. Full Story

Magnet Lab shows the value of investing in
assee Democrat)

By Gregory S. Boebinger
The state of Florida recently announced it will give $60 million to Oregon Health and Science University to create a branch of its Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute on Florida's east coast. The institute joins Germany's Max Planck Institute, the Burnham Institute, Torrey Pines and Scripps Florida, wooed since 2003 with hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars. As director of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, a consortium among Florida State University, the University of Florida and Los Alamos National Laboratory, let me use as an example the laboratory I know best - the one described as " ... truly a jewel in the crown of U.S. science" by the National Science Foundation review committee that most recently visited the magnet lab. We received a similar assessment from our external advisory committee, whose membership consists of scientific heavyweights from around the nation, including two winners of the Nobel Prize. Full Story

LANL Daily NewsBulletin
UNM Los Alamos receives funds from LANS New technician training program

University of New Mexico Los Alamos Executive Director Cedric Page (center) receives a ceremonial check to support a new technician training program during Monday's UNM-LA Advisory Board meeting. Joe Scarpino (right) and Nelson Hoffman (left), representatives from Los Alamos National Security, LLC and the Laboratory, presented the check for $100,000 to UNM-LA for the new applied sciences program in the in the areas of manufacturing and nanotechnology. Full Story

Friday, January 25, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Jan. 22-25
See Los Alamos Report on-line at:

Meeting of minds (Santa Fe New Mexican)
Cafe Scientifique offers forum for youth to come together and talk science
By Eli Garduno

Dozens of Santa Fe teens poured into a classroom Jan. 17 at Santa Fe Community College, drawn by the promise of free food, money for carpooling and, most important, a chance to learn about and discuss one of the most important scientific issues of our time, the race for an HIV vaccine. It was the birth of Santa Fe Café Scientifique. At the Jan. 17 meeting, teenagers representing a variety of Santa Fe middle and high schools attended and to listen to speaker Ruy Ribeiro, who has his Ph.D. in mathematical biology from the Oxford University andwho works at Los Alamos National Laboratory, researching different viruses and creating models and simulations based on experiments. The turnout exceeded the expectations of the youth leaders. See story here

Free search tool scans net alerts (Techworld)
By Bryan Betts

Start-up software developer Packet Analytics is offering a free downloadable search engine, designed to collect network and system alerts, and help admins and security analysts dig through them. Called Net/FSE, for network forensic search engine, the browser-based tool requires a standard x86 server running Linux or Unix. It is based on work done at the US Los Alamos National Laboratory to detect intruders on its network, and can aggregate data from a range of sources, including NetFlow (v5 only), syslogs, Snort and Cisco PIX. See story here

MESSENGER Snaps Pix of Mercury,
Messenger of the Gods

The MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft performed its first fly-by of Mercury on January 14, passing within 125 miles of the planet's surface. Los Alamos provided the conceptual design for the neutron spectrometer sensor on the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) instrument on MESSENGER and contributed to its calibration. The spacecraft produced unprecedented close-up images of a large portion of the planet's surface. Los Alamos scientist David Lawrence, who recently left the Laboratory's International, Space & Response Division, is a member of the GRNS team. MESSENGER will perform two more fly-bys of Mercury (in Oct. 2008 and Sept. 2009) before settling into orbit around the planet in March of 2011.


Uranyl Ion Persuaded To React
(Chemical & Engineering News)

Rigid framework makes normally inert (UO2)2+ reactive
By Elizabeth Wilson

The frustratingly unreactive oxygen atoms in the water-soluble uranyl ion (UO2)2+ have now been shown to be capable of powerful chemistry - in the right environment. The discovery has potential for helping to solve problems of pervasive uranium contamination around nuclear power plants and might be generalized to include the uranyl ion's cousins, the radioactive plutonyl and neptunyl ions. "This represents a sea change in uranium chemistry," notes James M. Boncella, an inorganic chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. See story here

Climate change work wins supercomputer time

(Los Alamos Monitor)
By Roger Snodgrass

One of the largest allocations of supercomputer time under a Department of Energy program will go to a multi-lab project on climate change that includes Phil Jones, a team leader in the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s theoretical division. The project, titled, “Climate-science Computational End Station Development and Grand Challenge Team,” is headed by Warren Washington of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, with co-investigators from five DOE laboratories, along with NASA and Georgia Tech University. The award bestows a total of 18,026,000 processor-hours on three DOE high performance supercomputers to help improve climate models. Los Alamos Monitor

LANL Daily NewsBulletin

Congressman Udall addresses employees
Pledges support for Laboratory

New Mexico Congressman Tom Udall told Laboratory employees Thursday that he is "staunchly behind them" and pledged to work with Laboratory managers to ensure that Los Alamos's important role is not diminished. "I will be doing all I can in the coming years to protect funding the Lab's core mission," said Udall, D-New Mexico. See story here

Thursday, January 17, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Jan. 14-18

A Weaker, Cheaper MRI (IEEE Spectrum)

By Neil Savage --

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have made what they say are the first images of a human brain using magnetic fields a hundred-thousandth the strength of conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), paving the way for lower cost medical images that might be better at detecting tumors. Though the resolution is much lower than that in conventional MRIs, the images "show we have a potential for pretty good results," says Vadim Zotev, a researcher in Los Alamos’s applied modern physics group. MRI works by subjecting the human body to a strong magnetic field, which causes the proton in the nucleus of each hydrogen atom in the body to line up along the magnetic field’s lines of force. An RF pulse briefly knocks the protons out of alignment. As they snap back into position, the protons emit an RF signal that can be used to construct a three-dimensional image. Most MRI machines have a magnetic field of about 1.5 teslas, strong enough to yank metal objects out of the hands of the unwary.

Read the whole story here

National labs need vision and money, official says (Government Executive)

By Heather Greenfield --

Scientists at national laboratories will be critical to post-Cold War national security solutions, but they need a clearer vision and financial commitment from the government, according to the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Lab Director Michael Anastasio spoke Tuesday to scientists and reporters at the Woodrow Wilson Center about the security challenges of the 21st century. Anastasio said more than a half-century ago, Los Alamos headed the president's call to make sure the United States had a safe, reliable nuclear deterrent. Since then, research at national labs on pathogens like anthrax led to the understanding to build anthrax detectors, which Anastasio said were deployed when anthrax was discovered in a letter delivered to Congress.

Read the whole story here

New Understanding For Superconductivity At High Temperatures (Science Daily)

An international research team has discovered that a magnetic field can interact with the electrons in a superconductor in ways never before observed. Andrea D. Bianchi, the lead researcher from the Université de Montréal, explains in the January 11 edition of the journal Science what he discovered in an exceptional compound of metals -- a combination of cobalt, indium and a rare earth -- that loses its resistance when cooled to just a couple of degrees above absolute zero. "This discovery sharpens our understanding of what, literally, holds the world together and brings physicists one step closer to getting a grip on superconductivity at high temperatures. Until now, physicists were going around in circles, so this discovery will help to drive new understanding," said Prof. Bianchi, who was recruited to UdeM as a Canada Research Chair in Novel Materials for Spintronics last fall and performed his experiments at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, in collaboration with scientists from ETH Zurich, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Birmingham, U.K., the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Read the whole story here

LANL NewsLetter
Two careers in service to the nation

Doug Anson is a senior military adviser to the Lab’s Threat Reduction Defense and Intelligence program office. He also is a newly promoted brigadier general in the United States Army Reserves and the Commanding General of the 3rd Brigade, 75th Division, based in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. In addition to his threat reduction and military service, Anson has served as group leader of the former Military Systems Analysis and Simulations and deputy group leader of Simulation Science and Information Sciences. Anson was awarded his new rank in a ceremony last month at Fort Sheridan, accompanied by his wife, Mija, and sons
Byron and Davis, as well
as family from across the country and well wishers from the Laboratory. Discussing the challenge of maintaining two careers, thousands of miles apart, Anson said, “This country is at war. As someone who wears the uniform and has been trained as a soldier since my college days, I feel a responsibility to answer the call to war. I also share the values of the military institution and enjoy leading soldiers.”

See the latest edition of the LANL Newsletter here

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Jan. 7-11

Scopes Assist Space Hunters; Lenses Search Deep Space for Changes (Sky &

Tom Vestrand's time machine, at first glance, looks more like one of those backyard sheds you build because there's no room in the garage for the riding mower. The similarity evaporates, though, as the roof opens at dusk to reveal a rack of lenses pointed skyward. As night falls over Fenton Hill in the mountains west of Los Alamos, Vestrand's RAPTOR-T telescopes go to work, peering into the deepest space. RAPTOR-T is part of a new tool kit for peering into the nurseries where our universe's first stars were born.

LANL director: Layoffs not needed (Associated Press)

Los Alamos National Laboratory's work force has been r
educed by more than 550, and the lab's director says there's no need for layoffs. The Northern New Mexico nuclear weapons lab announced in November that it must trim between 500 and 750 jobs because of expected federal budget cuts, flat revenue and higher operating costs under the lab's new corporate manager.

Anastasio tells employees no involuntary staff reductions
No Laboratory employees will be asked to involuntarily leave their jobs as part of Los Alamos's workforce restructuring effort, Director Michael Anastasio said Tuesday. The announcement drew applause from employees at an all-employee meeting in the National Security Sciences Building. Anastasio’s All-Employee memo is available here.

Science to make you shiver

NOVA series to focus on ‘the Conquest of Cold’

A two-part program on the PBS science series NOVA explores the quest of scientists worldwide to attain absolute zero (zero degrees Kelvin or minus 273 degrees Celsius), the temperature at which all molecular motion ceases. Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold premiers at 8 this evening on KNME Channel 5. How cold is absolute zero? According to the NOVA series, absolute zero “is a temperature so cold that the physical world as we know it transforms completely, electricity and fluids flow without resistance, and the speed of light can be reduced to 38 miles per hour.” Click here for LANL Newsbulletin story.

Laboratory hosts New Mexico congressman

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, left, talks with Glenn Mara, principal associate director for weapons programs, on Tuesday outside the Director's Office in the National Security Sciences Building. Pearce, R-New Mexico, was at the Laboratory Tuesday, January 8 for a series of briefings on Laboratory programs.