Friday, June 27, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for June 23 - 27

See the whole story in the LANL Daily NewsBulletin

2007-2008 Achievements Video on YouTube

A Laboratory-produced video, shown during DMichael Anastasio’s all-employee talk on June 26, outlines the challenges and successes of the past year. The video is available for download from the Daily NewsBulletin story (above) and can be viewed on the Laboratory’s YouTube channel.

Diversification Eyed

Los Alamos National Laboratory needs to reach beyond the nuclear weapons program to find the money to support its national security work, lab director Michael Anastasio said Thursday. At a time of shrinking nuclear weapons budgets, the lab must pursue work outside the weapons program to support the lab's scientific base, according to Anastasio. Anastasio's comments came during a briefing Thursday morning for lab employees and in subsequent news media briefings. See the Albuquerque Journal story here. (Subscription Required).

Planetary science: Tunguska at 100

The fact that, by the 1960s, various craters around the world had been accepted as meteorite strikes meant that the anomalous lack seemed all the more confusing. In 1993 that confusion was allayed, at least for most people, by Chris Chyba, Kevin Zahnle and Paul Thomas.

With the help of computer simulations derived from nuclear weapons' tests they showed that a solid, stony object about 50 metres across — the most likely sort of thing in that size range to hit the Earth — would not be expected to reach the ground.

A similar explanation was arrived at by Jack Hills, working at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico with Patrick Goda, and both teams had been to some extent pre-empted by a Soviet team led by V. P. Korobeinikov, the work of which had not been widely appreciated in the West. These various models led to an estimate that the blast was equivalent to about 15 megatonnes of high explosive - bigger than all but the very largest thermonuclear weapons. Read the Nature News story here.

The Top 500 Super Ranking
Now Counts Watts as Well as Flops

Click here to see the Roadrunner video on YouTube

The 31st edition of the semi-annual Top 500 listing of supercomputers in the world was announced last week at the International Supercomputing Conference 2008 event in Dresden, Germany, and the list will be noteworthy for two reasons First, this will be the first time that a supercomputer of any make, vendor, or architecture has broken through the petaflops performance barrier, a feat accomplished by the "Roadrunner" hybrid Opteron-Cell machine created for the U.S. government's Los Alamos National Laboratory by IBM. And second, and perhaps foremost, this will be the first ranking where watts are being counted for big machines in a manner that is as consistent as the Linpack Fortran benchmark that is the touchstone for performance. Read the Roadrunner story here.

Scholarship recipient Salazar is big on community involvement

“Go Aggies” is a cheer that soon will be all too customary for Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund Platinum scholarship winner Alicia Salazar. Salazar plans to attend New Mexico State University this fall to study chemical engineering. “I absolutely love chemistry, and chemical engineering will allow me to apply chemistry in a way that will impact the world in a positive way,” Salazar said. “NMSU has an excellent reputation for engineering.” See the LANL Daily NewsBulletin story here.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for June 16 - 20

On Past a Petaflop

The world’s fastest computer, as measured b
y the ability to solve an array of linear equations, is a Los Alamos National Laboratory supercomputer, assembled from components originally designed for Sony PS3 video game machines. In the twice-annual rankings called the Top 500 list, published on Wednesday morning, the machine dubbed Roadrunner reached a long-sought-after computing milestone by processing more than 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second. Read John Markoff's story here.

Roadrunner Top Business, Technology Story for Second Week

The IBM/Los Alamos supercomputer is officially ranked #1 in the world on the TOP500 list. The announcement made on June 18th in Dresden, Germany keeps Roadrunner story at the top of both business and technology news worldwide. A full listing of Roadrunner stories can be found using Google News. Other major stories include two from The Wall Street Journal, one that outlines Roadrunner technology, the other focuses on videogame technology. The Roadrunner #1 ranking garnered several business-focused stories from CNN Money, Forbes Magazine, BusinessWeek, and from the computing press, HPC Wire, ComputerWorld, and PC World.

LANL: Computer just might reveal
the secrets of the brain

There's a language hiding somewhere in the neurons and synapses between the eyes, the front of the brain and the back of the brain. Scientists know it's there, but speaking it and understanding it is a problem of monumental scale. Nobody really knows how it works. All they know is that it absorbs shapes, light and colors and defines them for us as objects such as "beer," "burrito" or "green chile." That may change in coming years though, as Roadrunner, the new extremely fast supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, starts the complex task of unlocking that language by simulating the brain's inner-workings, said Steven Brumby, a Los Alamos scientist. Read Sue Vorenberg's science story here.

Supernovae blasts kickstarted stars
in early galaxies

The first galaxies have always been considered rather dull creatures, but they may be due for a makeover - thanks to supernovae. Protogalaxies present 100 to 200 million years after the big bang were thought to have had only a handful of stars each, as elements heavier than hydrogen and helium were scarce. These heavier elements, which are forged in stars, help clumps of gas contract to form more stars. Now a computer simulation by Daniel Whalen of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and colleagues shows blast waves from the first supernovae mixing heavier elements into the surrounding gas and breaking it into clumps ripe for forming stars. "An entire new generation of stars may form directly in the debris," says Whalen. This could have led to protogalaxies glittering with hundreds of stars. Read the story and link to the research here.

Community leaders share a big day at the lab

Wednesday was a red-letter day for Los Alamos National Laboratory, a favorable occasion for community leaders to visit for a briefing and a rare tour behind the security perimeter.
“Good news,” Deputy Laboratory Director Jan Van Prooyen called it as he began a status report on the laboratory. 
Across the Atlantic Wednesday morning, after a meeting in Dresden, Germany, the lab’s Roadrunner computer was named top of the heap, “king of the (computer) world” – the pacesetter for the new petaflop generation of supercomputing. Read Monitor Editor Roger Snodgrass' coverage here.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for June 9 - 13

Scientists develop fastest computer

Scientists unveiled the world's fastest supercomputer on Monday, a $100 million machine that for the first time has performed 1,000 trillion calculations per second in a sustained exercise. The technology breakthrough was accomplished by engineers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and IBM Corp. on a computer to be used primarily on nuclear weapons work, including simulating nuclear explosions. See the Associated Press story here.

Roadrunner Petaflop/s record makes major news

The Roadrunner Petaflop/s announcement on June 9, 2008 generated hundreds of news stories worldwide, from the New York Times, Reuters News Service, the BBC and many others. For much of the day the story was the number one science and technology story on Google News. The Laboratory made stories and materials available on the Internet including a fact sheet and a video that’s featured on YouTube. Some of the more popular links include: The New York Times, Reuters, ComputerWorld, a message from Senator Domenici, the Los Alamos Roadrunner Fact Sheet, the Roadrunner website, and the Laboratory’s YouTube video.

LANL Press Release

Roadrunner supercomp
uter puts research at a new scale
Code run on the machine mimics brain mechanisms underlying human sight

Less than a week after the Laboratory’s Roadrunner supercomputer began operating at world-record petaflop/s data-processing speeds, Los Alamos researchers already are using the computer to mimic extremely complex neurological processes. Welcome to the new frontier of research at Los Alamos: science at the petascale. See the press release here.

Thermal Explosions on Film

Some explosions begin with a bang, and some begin with a whimper. Unlike the triggered explosions used in mining or bombs, a thermal explosion occurs at an unpredictable time, after an explosive is heated gradually--as in a munitions factory fire. In the 6 June Physical Review Letters, a Los Alamos National Laboratory research team reports on the first direct, real-time look at how a thermal explosion unfolds and releases its energy. The team synchronized the explosion with pulses from a proton accelerator and made a high-speed movie of the blast. They hope their new technique will result in more accurate modeling and safer explosives. See the story here.

Neutron Science Center, its founder celebrate another fine year

For the past 36 years, the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center has provided physicists worldwide with a unique user resource. And early this month, like clockwork, LANSCE resumed beam operations for another year, with a number of experiments waiting in the wings to provide researchers with important answers to fundamental questions. Read the Daily NewsBulletin story here.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for June 2 - 6

Students, satellites could aid
in study of space

An object the size and shape of a third of a loaf of bread could bring space-science opportunities to college students across New Mexico. They aren't edible like bread, but the objects, little satellites called cube sats, are feeding and growing lots of little science projects across the country that would never have made it to space even five years ago. And Los Alamos National Laboratory wants in on the action. Read the whole story here.

Venture catalyst

Los Alamos National Laboratory is looking for a full-time visitor with a sharp eye for hot technology. LANL officials held a bidder briefing for a new entrepreneurial initiative that they hope to begin with the new fiscal year in October. The program, called the Los Alamos Venture Accumulation Initiative (LAVA), is worth up to $1 million over three years to the right company and maybe more. The funds are intended to defray a portion of the company's costs, which would include one or more "on-site" company representatives and direct expenses for each deal. Invest in this story here.

Fellowship to Aid UCSB Student in
Studying Population Activity

In recognition of research in modeling and simulation resolution for homeland security, Kriste Henson, a doctoral student in the geography department at the UCSB, has recently been awarded three prestigious grants and fellowships. As a member of the technical staff in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Decisions Applications Division, Henson works on projects dealing with homeland security. Henson is developing a Structural Equations Model, which is a statistical technique to measure changes in relationship variables. See the story here.

LANL Foundation establishes Domenici endowed scholarship

Laboratory employees can contribute to a new Senator Pete Domenici Endowed Scholarship and at the same time help raise money for Los Alamos Employees' Scholarship Fund scholarships. The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation plans to honor New Mexico's senior senator during a banquet August 15 at Ohkay Owingeh Convention Center north of EspaƱola. Funds raised at the banquet will be used to underwrite seven new yearly scholarships, one for each of seven New Mexico counties near the Laboratory. Read the LANL Daily NewsBulletin story here.

June Issue of Currents now available online

The Laboratory’s monthly employee magazine features articles on the many programs at the Bradbury Science Museum, a feature article on the Laboratory’s sign language interpreter, and several pieces about safety at the Laboratory. Enjoy the June issue of Currents here.

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