Friday, February 29, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Feb. 25-29

From the LANL Daily NewsBulletin
Community leaders learn about complex transformation
Breakfast meeting called best so far

Community leaders learned about the proposed of the nation’s nuclear weapons transformation complex and the Laboratory’s proposed role at a regional leaders breakfast Tuesday in Pojoaque. The keynote speaker was Joe Martz of the Lab’s weapons program, who spoke about what he called the “sea of change in our philosophy” that the National Nuclear Security Administration’s proposed complex transformation presents for the Laboratory. (Read the full story here.)

Hecker recounts recent visit to North Kore
a Former director talks at Lab
Former Laboratory Director and senior Fellow Sig Hecker discussed his recent trip to North Korea during a talk at the Lab this week. Speaking to a full auditorium, Hecker discussed the private trip he made earlier this month with a former State Department representative and a U.S. Senate staff member. Now a professor and co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, Hecker spent four days in North Korea to assess compliance with a six-party agreement addressing the country’s nuclear facilities. (Read all about it.)

New Technologies in Flow Cytometry Improve Disease Diagnosis (R&D Magazine)

Accoustic waves, diffraction gratings, and digital data acquisition systems bring about great
er throughput, higher sensitivity, and higher resolution cytometry systems.

It’s more compact than a conventional flow cytometer, more powerful than traditional hydrodynamic focusing, and able to bypass fluidics systems in a single bound. The world’s first portable acoustic cytometer (PAC) harnesses acoustic waves to focus cells into a tight, centered stream for analysis. The PAC, developed by researchers Gregory Kaduchak, Steven Graves, Gregory Goddard, John Martin, Robert Habbersett, Mark Naivar, and Michael Ward with the National Flow Cytometry Resource (NFCR) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), N.M., is the latest of six R&D 100 Awards won by the flow cytometry team at LANL. (Find out more!)

N.M. Scientists Explore Laser Uses, Tech Spinoffs (Associated Press)

Nancy McMillan, head of New Mexico State University's geo
logical sciences department, had found herself at a dead end. McMillan now has a chance to further her research thanks to an ultra-short pulse laser that developers, Raydiance, Inc., say will change the way people do things — all while putting New Mexico's intellectual capital to work and spurring economic development in the state. Raydiance has partnered with universities, hospitals and private businesses around the country to develop potential uses for the laser. In New Mexico, the team includes NMSU, New Mexico Tech, the University of New Mexico and Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. (Full story)

Spotlight on Los Alamos — Louis Rosen: Father of t
he linear accelerator (Los Alamos Monitor)

Senior Laboratory Fellow Emeritus Louis Rosen led the way at Los Alamos National Laboratory in developing the world’s most powerful linear accelerator, which cemented the laboratory’s leadership role in nuclear physics. The linear accelerator first powered up in summer 1972. When it reached full energy, it generated pulses of 800-million-electron-volt protons at a repetition rate of up to 120 per second and an average current of one milliampere. Rosen’s renowned scientific efforts led to the construction of the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility (LAMPF) at LANL, which is known today as the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE). He served as director of the facility from its inception to 1986. (See the full story via the Los Alamos Monitor archives.)

Scientists looking skyward for fuel

Los Alamos researchers discover way to mak
e gasoline by recycling carbon dioxide in the air (Santa Fe New Mexican)

Carbon dioxide is a rebellious chemical. There's too much of it in the air, where it acts as a greenhouse gas, and not enough of it in the ground, where it's mined and used to make gasoline, said Jeff Martin, a scientist
at Los Alamos National Laboratory. But Martin and Los Alamos Engineer Bill Kubic have come up with an idea to bring pesky carbon dioxide to task—and mine it from a place its never been mined before: the atmosphere. (Read the rest of reporter Sue Vorenberg's article.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Feb. 18-22

Scientists Would Turn Greenhouse Gas
Into Gasoline

By Kenneth Chang
If two scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are correct, people will still be driving gasoline-powered cars 50 years from now, churning out heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - and yet that carbon dioxide will not contribute to global warming. In a proposal by two scientists, vehicle emissions would no longer contribute to global warming. The scientists, F. Jeffrey Martin and William L. Kubic Jr., are proposing a concept, which they have patriotically named Green Freedom, for removing carbon dioxide from the air and turning it back into gasoline. The idea is simple. Air would be blown over a liquid solution of potassium carbonate, which would absorb the carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide would then be extracted and subjected to chemical reactions that would turn it into fuel: methanol, gasoline or jet fuel. See story here

DHS To Test MRI At Albuquerque

By John M. Doyle
The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to test magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to screen air travelers' baggage for liquid explosives, the head of the department's research and development unit says. The ultra-low level MRI technology, developed by scientists at New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory, is able to differentiate among "probably 200 different" liquids and gels, classifying them as hazardous, non-hazardous or uncharacterized, says Rear Adm. Jay Cohen (ret.), DHS undersecretary for Science & Technology. Story here

Breaking News:

Los Alamos National Laboratory
launches “YouTube” Channel

The Laboratory joined the “YouTube” phenomenon this week with the start of its own YouTube channel, a place to view short videos about the Laboratory and link to other videos about science and technology. The site is available to everyone here.

The initial posts include short videos that depict past and present experiments and tests involving high explosives at the Laboratory and the Nevada Test Site, nighttime training for Laboratory guards, and recent tests using a mini-helicopter to gather stress and strain data from structures like highway bridges. When viewing any YouTube video, be sure to click on ► About This Video.

Fire and ice: Café talk discusses big 'what if?'
(Los Alamos Monitor)

By Carol Clark
Joyce Ann Guzik of Los Alamos National Laboratory spoke about the sun to more than 80 teenagers at the Bradbury Science Museum Wednesday evening. Guzik's presentation - titled "What if the Sun Stopped Shining?" - covered everything from the sun's suspected origin to its projected demise. The fast-paced, information packed talk was part of the rapidly expanding Café Scientifique program for youth, brought to Los Alamos and three other Northern New Mexico cities by Science Education Solutions President Michelle Hall. "These kids are just amazing," Hall said, describing the youths' mature demeanor and intelligent questions. Guzik agreed, saying she thoroughly enjoys talking with high school students and is impressed by their questions. See the Los Alamos Monitor story here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Feb. 11-15

Federal Lab Says It Can Harvest Fuel From Air

By Andrew Revkin

In the category of things that sound so good they have to be checked out more thoroughly (so stay tuned) is th
is news out of Los Alamos National Laboratory: Scientists there say they have developed a way to produce truly carbon-neutral fuel and useful organic chemicals at large scale using water and carbon dioxide removed from the air as raw materials. There are plenty of schemes brewing to capture carbon dioxide, both directly from the atmosphere and from the stacks of power plants. All of them, for the moment, are costly or hard to envision at the billion-tons-a-year scale that would be needed to blunt the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere coming mainly from fuel burning. See story here

Read the press release from Los Alamos National Laboratory

Storing carbon: the options (Environmental Research Web)

By Julianna Fessenden
Currently, large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane are being released to the atmosphere through power plants, cement plants, car emissions, and changes in vegetation cover - from deforestation and human-guided agricultural practices. As might be expected, researchers are observing increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane all over the world. These increases are being observed in both air collection stations and also in air trapped in the upper ice fields or packed snow, known as "firn". This observed increase is greater than anything previously captured in ice cores dating from between 450,000 years ago and 1850. See story here

Note: Fessenden is a technical staff member in the Geochemistry, Geology, and Hydrology Group in the Earth Environmental Sciences Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

LANL Daily NewsBulletin
Mars ChemCam model delivered to NASA

The Engineering Model of the ChemCam Mars Science Laboratory rover instrument arrived at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on February 6, where the team was met by JPL laser safety officials. Bob Dingler of Space Data Systems and Bruce Barraclough of Space Science and Applications went out to support and assist in the initial testing, which went well, reports principal investigator Roger Wiens. The engineering model is being integrated into the rover test bed for the development and testing of the rover software. The actual flight model components are concurrently being assembled at Los Alamos and in Toulouse, France, and will be delivered to JPL in July. See story here

Laboratory wins Technical Communication awards

Laboratory communicators recently won 29 regional awards in the 2007 Society for Technical Communication competition. A Distinguished Technical Communication award in the Technical Art Competition went to the LANL team that produced a “history wall” exhibit for the Lab’s Bradbury Science Museum. Other winners include a LANL energy programs display. See story here

Editor’s Note: If you would like to add a subscriber to Los Alamos Report, or if you would like to unsubscribe, you can do so via e-mail at with the following commands: subscribe losalamosreport or unsubscribe losalamosreport.

Friday, February 8, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Feb. 4-8

Solar Energy: Can the Upstarts Top Silicon? (Science)
Several nascent technologies are improving prospects for turning the sun's rays into electricity. The success of any one of them could mean a big boost for solar power

These are bright days for backers of solar power. The exuberance that previously pumped up dot-coms and biotech companies migrated in 2007 to solar energy, one of the hottest sectors in the emerging market for clean energy. Four years ago, researchers led by Victor Klimov of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico reported the first spectroscopic evidence showing that multiple electron-hole pairs, known as excitons, were indeed generated in certain quantum dots.

Read the Science Magazine story here

To Kill a Killer — Targeting Anthrax
Los Alamos Researchers work to counter a bioterrorism threat

Autumn 2001 was a time of terror, some of it arriving in the mail. A still-unknown someone sent envelopes of anthrax spores (dormant cells, ready to come to life) to several news organizations and to the Washington, D.C., offices of two U.S. senators. Those few envelopes caused grief, fear, and a multi-million-dollar bill for response and cleanup. They also put us on alert. A deliberate biological attack could expose a large population and massively disrupt the economy.

See the whole article in the January issue of the Los Alamos Science and Technology Magazine, 1663

Lab’s top science official to be heard on Voice of America
Terry Wallace, principal associate director for Science, Technology and Engineering, outlined for Voice of America this week Los Alamos National Laboratory's unique scientific capabilities and how they can be applied to solve some of the world's most challenging problems. Wallace explained to reporter Marissa Melton how the Laboratory's foundations in multidisciplinary research during the Manhattan Project solved one of the most challenging problems known to mankind: harnessing the atom. This spirit of collaboration survives even today at Los Alamos:

• pursuing the next generation of energy production for a growing world

• using computer models to understand global warming
• scanning the heavens for insight into astronomical processes using satellites originally designed to keep an eye on clandestine nuclear tests
• keeping venues like the Super Bowl safe from terrorists using Los Alamos' extensive knowledge of bioscience.

The Voice of America story is scheduled to air in the coming weeks.

Press Release:

Los Alamos Wins 2008 Pollution Prevention Awards
Two Awards For “Best-in-Class” programs that protect the environment and save money

Los Alamos National Laboratory is a 2008 winner of two Best-in-Class Pollution Prevention awards and six Environmental Stewardship awards from the National Nuclear Security Administration. The competition for these awards included more entries this year than ever before from across the NNSA complex, and Los Alamos has more winners than any previous year.

Best-in-Class awards

Wastewater Recycling Saves Over $1 Million Annually
The Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility reduced the amount of reverse osmosis concentrate that needs treatment through evaporation. Instead of sending all of the concentrate directly to the evaporator, it is sent to an intermediate storage tank before being recycled and blended with influent. The amount of concentrate wasted is reduced fourfold, and total cost savings exceed $1.3 million per year.

Ultrapure Carbon and Carbon-Nitride Nano-Materials Development of new solvent-free methods to prepare ultrapure carbon and carbon-nitride nano-particles. The new methods are faster, involve less purification, and eliminate the need for high temperatures and pressures so that the preparation work is safer for employees. These very useful materials can now be produced without generating hazardous fumes or waste in the process.

Read about all the winning projects here.

Stable Budget Proposed for Labs (Albuquerque Journal)

The Bush administration Monday proposed a stable budget with no major changes for Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. But the spending plan does make clear that the two labs, which focus on nuclear weapons, are not in line for any significant part of a major increase being proposed for some areas of U.S. government energy research. The budget proposal for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which runs the labs, has several programs likely to raise red flags with Congress, which last year sought to rein in the nuclear weapons program. The administration asked for $10 million for the Reliable Replacement Warhead, which Congress in December voted to kill. The budget asks for $100 million next year for work on a new plutonium laboratory at Los Alamos.

See this story in the Albuquerque Journal, subscription required

LANL NewsBulletin
Hands-on science

Members of Girl Scout Troop 306 operate the control arms on a hot cell manipulator at the Isotope Production Facility at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center during a tour last Friday. The girls are eighth- and ninth-grade students from Los Alamos and White Rock who toured LANSCE to see how the beam line is generated and split for experiments and to learn about other LANSCE programs and research. The visit to LANSCE was part of the scouts’ requirement for earning a science badge and also to explore science and engineering as possible career choices. "This is awesome. I want to be a nuclear physicist," said Kristina Francisco (in pink) during a demonstration.

Read the Daily NewsBulletin here every day.