Friday, August 29, 2008

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

Venture capitalist today look far and wide for start-ups

While others toiled in the technology mecca of Silicon Valley, Trevor Loy—a former Intel manager and Stanford University-trained engineer—pursued the digital road not taken. Nearly a decade ago, he moved to the New Mexico desert to co-found a small venture-capital firm called Flywheel Ventures.

His aim: to find the next generation of start-ups
where few others were looking. Tapping into the wealth of technology talent and research in the region surrounding the Sandia and Los Alamos federal research labs, Flywheel Ventures has invested $34 million in 19 companies in solar, biofuel and other sectors. (Read all about it here.)

Scientists observed coexistence of magnetism and superconductivity

Physicists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, along with colleagues at institutions in Switzerland and Canada, have observed, for the first time i
n a single exotic phase, a situation where magnetism and superconductivity are necessary for each other’s existence. (Check out the details here.)

Scientists seek storage options for renewable energy

There's a dam blocking the flow of renewable energy from wind fields and solar farms to the consumer, and its name is energy storage. Albert Migliori, a Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist, and a host of other scientists around the world are looking for new ways to burst
that dam—and in the process enable alternative energy sources to play a dominant role in energy production. (Find the full New Mexican Story here.)

Wind power: What politicos should know Guest column by LANL's Loren Toole

In 1982, as a field engineer in California's wind farms, I believed we were about to fundamentally change the way electricity was being generated and distributed.

In those days, generous federal renewable-energy tax credits were available, America was smarting from OPEC's oil embargo and interest in alternative energy was growing rapidly. But, reality often redirects wild-eyed idealists. I was one of them. (The entire text of Toole's column can be found here.)

Los Alamos Year in Review for 2007-2008 now available in print

The past year has been both challenging and rewarding for the Laboratory.

Commitments were met, milestones marked, and successes celebrated. To learn about some of these achievements, read the 2007-2008 Year in Review both online and in print.

This document highlights accomplishments tied to the Lab's institutional goals, from safety, security, environmental stewardship and nuclear deterrence to threat reduction, operations, communications, and community involvement.

To order a printed version of this informative publication, please contact the Laboratory Communications Office at 667-7000.

Giving Day: Lab celebrates gifts of time and money

The elements smiled on Los Alamos National Laboratory’s United Way employee giving campaign Wednesday.

After recent years of wind, rain and even snow, the annual kickoff for the lab’s United Way campaign, now including a volunteer recognition event, met with mild conditions and plentiful sunshine.

“We’ve always run these programs separately,” said Debbi Worsonick, community programs officer and lab lead for the United Way and LANL Volunteer program.

“But we saw there was a real interconnectedness between volunteer time and contributed money and we wanted to showcase all the employee giving programs at one event,” she said.

Along with direct donations, the community program raises about $100,000 from special events, including food booths, auctions, raffles and a share of sales raised from the Books are Fun fair, which ends today in the Otowi building. (Check out the full Monitor story here.)

Area nonprofit agencies receive funds tied to Lab volunteer efforts

More than 130 nonprofit organizations in nearby communities are receiving $52,700 from Los Alamos National Security, LLC through the Laboratory's Volunteer Match program. Los Alamos National Security operates Los Alamos National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. (Read all about it here.)

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Friday, August 22, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for August 18 - 22

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Drilling for Hot Rocks: Google Sinks Cash
into Advanced Geothermal Technology

Geothermal power plants use the Earth's heat to make electricity - stock photo

For $1 billion over the next 40 years, the U.S. could develop 100 gigawatts (a gigawatt equals one billion watts) of electricity generation that emits no air pollution and pumps out power to the grid even more reliably than coal-fired power plants, according to scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Now - the charitable wing of the search
engine giant - has chipped in nearly $11 million for this renewable resource: so-called geothermal power, or tapping the Earth's heat to make electricity.

Mastering geothermal drilling is why also invested $4 million into Potter Drilling, a Redwood City, Calif., enterprise built from EGS drilling work done at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico during the last oil crisis in the 1970s. Drill into the whole story here!

DOE invests $15.3 million in hydrogen storage for vehicles

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced on August 14 that it has selected 10 hydrogen storage research and development projects to receive $15.3 million over the ne
xt 5 years, subject to annual appropriations.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, N.M.) - Up to $2.3 million for novel concept using an electric field to increase the hydrogen binding energy in hydrogen adsorbents. Read the
whole story here.

LANL, Sandia win wind-power grants

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories were among seven labs awarded a total of more than $4 million in federal money last week to solve challenges in integrating wind energy into the U.S. electric grid.

The money was awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind and Hydropower
Technologies Program. The labs will use the money to fund research and industry collaboration on wind-energy integration.

The major areas of research are how large amounts of wind energy would impact the operations, reliability and economics of operating the grid; studies on how wind generation is impacted by
turbine hub heights and improving wind forecasts; and addressing environmental concerns with wind-turbine siting. More about this windy story here.

Also From the New Mexican this week:
Taos campus looks to sun for power

The University of New Mexico campus in Taos is going solar with the largest photovoltaic system in the state. Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, UNM officials and others held a groundbreaking Wednesday afternoon for the 500-kilowatt solar panel system.

It is part of a planned 1.1-megawatt photovoltaic ground-mounted system distributed among several sites and all tied into the conventional electric grid. Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories helped the cooperative identify the best kind of photovoltaic system. See the sunny story here.

Ancho Fire prompts 'significant' changes

Ancho Canyon burned area (center) LANL photo

Analysis of a 17-acre fire near a weapons test facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory has led to some changes to prevent recurrence. "They are significant," said Jay Dallman, who heads the division in charge of detonation testing at the laboratory.

"We've learned from this issue that we had and we're going to be making more changes." Among the changes, he said, was that future tests during "extreme" or "red flag" conditions must be specifically approved at a higher management level and the Los Alamos County Fire Department must be on site.

Also, an engineering study will review the containment-confinement systems to develop additional suitability standards. Read more about it here.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

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

Ancient galactic magnetic fields stronger than expected

Mining the far reaches of the universe for clues about its past, a team of scientists including Philipp Kronberg of Los Alamos National Laboratory has proposed that magnetic fields of ancient galaxies like ours were just as strong as those existing today, prompting a rethinking of how our galaxy and others may have formed. Read the entire story.

Networks of the future: Extending our senses into the physical world

The picture of a future with wireless sensor networks "webs of sensory devices that function without a central infrastructure" is quickly coming into sharper focus through the work of Los Alamos National Laboratory computer scientist Sami Ayyorgun.

Go to Physorg and read the entire story with the click of a link!

Colossal Carbon Tubes Above the Nanoscale

A new type of carbon tube has emerged that is thousands of times larger than carbon nanotubes.

Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory in
the US and Fudan University in China recently created the colossal carbon tubes, which are 40 to 100 µm in diameter and are centimeters long, which makes them visible to the naked eye.

Why not use your naked eye to check out the whole story?

DOE announces $15.3m for hydrogen storage research and development

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Under Secretary Clarence H. "Bud" Albright, Jr. announced on Thursday the selection of 10 cost-shared hydrogen storage research and development projects, which will receive up to $15.3 million over five years, subject to annual appropriations...

The organisations selected for negotiation of awards include: Los Alamos National Laboratory "up to $2.3 million for novel concept using an electric field to increase the hydrogen binding energy in hydrogen adsorbents."

Read the entire story here.

LANL Foundation hosting fundraiser

The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation will host its 12th annual fundraising banquet on Friday [this evening] at the Ohkay Casino Resort Hotel north of Española, with this year's event honoring retiring U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M. All proceeds will support the Los Alamos Employees Scholarship Fund.

In 2008, the LANL Foundation established the Sen. Pete Domenici Endowed Scholarship Fund. The fund is d
edicated to providing college scholarships to northern New Mexico high school seniors who exhibit academic excellence and outstanding leadership.

Through donations and proceeds raised from the banquet, the LANL Foundation plans to endow one $10,000 scholarship in each of the seven northern New Mexico counties of Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe and Taos.

Here's where you can find the entire story.

LANL: Domenici hailed by lab

It was a mutual admiration society Monday as Sen. Pete Domenici and senior officials, past and present, of Los Alamos National Laboratory exchanged memories and appreciation. Domenici, who is retiring at the end of this year, met with senior managers, took a tour of the laboratory's Roadrunner supercomputer and held a meeting with Laboratory Fellows before speaking at an all-employee meeting in the classified space of the National Security Science Building, the laboratory reported this morning.

Get full details here.

Hyperion Power receives first purchase order

Hyperion Power Generation has received its first letter of intent by a customer to purchase the Hyperion Power Module - a small, compact, transportable nuclear power reactor. Los Alamos-based Hyperion licensed the technology for the nuclear units from Los Alamos National Laboratory. The units use energy generated by low-enriched uranium fuel. The company eventually expects to build 4,000 units for sale worldwide.

Get the scoop.

Video marks placement of final beam in first phase of CMRR Project

The Laboratory posted a short video about a major facility milestone—the first-phase "topping out" of LANL's Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project.

Or watch the video here.

Biographer recounts life, times of first lab director

J. Robert Oppenheimer, the first director of the Los Alamos laboratory, did not quite come to life Monday night, but his shadow cast by a master storyteller had a haunting and unusual presence.

The prize-winning co-author of an acclaimed biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer performed a powerful feat of ventriloquism, placing his subject squarely in his own time while speaking directly to our own.

Martin Sherwin, along with Kai Bird, won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2006, for their acclaimed biography, "American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer."

The full Monitor story is here.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for August 4 - 8

Carbon tubes, but not nano

Much larger than carbon nanotubes, colossal carbon tubes are visible to the naked eye and have an unusual structure.

Take solace, all ye who've grown weary of carbon na
notube promises: The latest tubes are anything but nano.

While trying to grow better, longer nanotubes, researchers accidentally discovered a new type of carbon filament that's tens of thousands of times thicker.

Recently at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, materials scientist Huisheng Peng and his collaborators were trying to tweak the conditions inside a vacuum oven to grow "forests" of long nanotubes from carbon gas. When Peng opened the vacuum-sealed door, he saw a scene that could be compared to the floor of a barber's shop: Thin, black hairs were scattered everywhere. See the colossal carbon tube story here.

Science’s Awesome Challenge:
Creating Artificial Life

A model ’protocell’ assembled by artificial life researcher
Jack Szostak at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute inBethesda, Maryland. Janet Iwasa photo.

Scientists are advancing slowly toward one of the most audacious goals humans have ever set for themselves: creating artificial life.

Steen Rasmussen, a physicist at the Los Alamos
National Laboratory in New Mexico, heads a "Protocell Project." Its goal is to build lifelike artificial cells that are "self-reproducing and capable of evolution; self-containing, thereby possessing individual identity; self-sustaining in that they can maintain their complex structure." The whole proto-story is right here.

Service of a scientist

Waltham, MA—"My story has to do with the end of World War II," Henry Linschitz said as he reflected on his role in Manhattan Project.

For the 89-year-old Waltham man, [August 6] i
s a day to reflect upon his role in World War II. A former Brandeis professor, Linschitz was part of an assembly team that created the plutonium bomb that decimated Nagasaki, Japan, effectively ending World War II. "We were putting together the nuclear bombs that finished Hiroshima and Nagasaki," the Riverside Drive resident said. Read the story here.

FDA Reviewing Cancer Screening Study

Biomoda, Inc., a
development stage medical diagnostics company, submitted to the FDA a pre-IDE (Investigational Device Exemption) protocol for a clinical study using Biomoda's proprietary assay for detection of early lung cancer in veterans.

The non-invasive test, originally developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, allows clinicians to identify cancerous or aberrant cells extracted from samples of lung sputum; cancerous cells in the sputum exposed to the assay glow red under fluorescent light and can be detected under a
microscope. See the story here.

The Secret Lives of Supercomputers

Supercomputers able to carry out enormous amounts of calculations per second have long been tied to some rather heady tasks -- playing humans in chess and modeling
genomes, for instance.

But as costs have fallen, businesses and government organizations have turned to supercomputers to solve all sorts of practical problems, from evaluating nuclear warheads without detonating them to designing the perfect potato chip.

The world's most powerful supercomputer, Roadrunner, was clocked with a sustained processing rate of a whopping 1.026 petaflops (one quadrillion floating point operations per second).

Located at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Roadrunner is based on IBM QS22 blades and powered by Opteron and advanced versions of the Cell chip, the microprocessor found in Sony's PlayStation 3 video game console.
Learn more about the supercomputer's secret life here.

Agencies strive to meet ambitious
energy conservation goals

There are a number of things managers can do to reduce energy consumption at data centers, said Anil Karmel, a solutions architect at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

By using server virtualization technology, Karmel and his colleagues were able to decommission 105 of 400 servers at Los Alamos, saving about 873,000 kilowatts of energy use per year.

That translated to savings of about $605,000 in the first year, and is expected to result in $1.4 million in annual savings in the future, he said. More of this story, here.

August Currents now available

The latest issue of Currents features a cover article on the decommissioning of the Laboratory's Milagro facility, a tera-electron volt galactic mapping telescope in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico.

Also featured in the issue is James Maxwell, one of the Laboratory's newest R&D 100 Award winners, who was honored for his 3-D Tracking Microscope.

You can read the entire August edition of the Laboratory’s monthly magazine Currents right here.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for July 28-Aug. 1, 2008

Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2007-2008 Year in Review

The Laboratory has
launched a new Web site to highlight achievements during the second full year of management by Los Alamos National Security, LLC

See it here.

Scientist Makes Tough Materials

A Los Alamos scientist is perfecting a method for weaving and braiding some of the toughest materials known to man, to make fabrics and ropes that might one day be used in bulletproof vests or even to lift an elevator into space.

"Everyone needs stronger cable," Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist James Maxwell said in an interview last week.

The technology is named Laser-Weave for the bright laser beam that, when focused into a chamber of gas, can literally grow inorganic fibers while simultaneously intertwining them together.

Bang for the Buck

Much of the nearly $3 billion the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends on HIV/AIDS research each year supports basic studies that may not yield insights for decades.

But three relatively modest inve
stments continue to advance the field in ways large and small, year after year. Working on GenBank, the genetic sequence database at Los Alamos, Gerald Myers in 1986 became fascinated by the genetic differences between HIV variants. He soon emerged as a world expert on HIV genetic diversity, building a public database that has helped researchers trace the origin of the epidemic

Myers handed off the project more than a decade ago to immunologist Bette Korber, who added an immunology database that offers some of the most detailed, comprehensive in
formation available about how the virus interacts with immune cells.

Read all about it!

Magnetic Fields Forever: LANL Astophysicist Battles a Mystery

A distinguished colleague, Stirling Colgate, once called him “Mr. Magnetic Fields in
the Universe,” and Philip Kronberg continues to live up to that reputation.

Monday, Los Alamos National Laboratory announced Kronberg’s participation in a newly publis
hed paper that has turned around another theory about magnetic fields.

The findings, published as a letter in the journal Nature July 17, strengthen the idea that galactic magnetic fields have not grown up over billions of years, as some have thought, but were there from an early age.

Get the whole story

Sky Eye Offers Airborne Security

Although still somewhat under wraps, a project known as Angel Fire has been mentioned enough recently to arouse some curiosity.

Described formally as a “wide field of view persistent surveillance aerial collection asset,” in an Air Force document, it is also less formally described by Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio as technology for real tim
e situational awareness on the battlefield.

Want to know more? Click here

Building 'The Matrix'
Simulating the complexity of quantum physics would quickly overwhelm even the most advanced of today's computers

If The Matrix really existed, it would probably have to be a quantum simulator. The fictional
computer in that story can create virtual worlds indistinguishable from the real one and project them into people's minds. But the real world includes quantum phenomena, something ordinary computers can't fully simulate.

Now physicists have created a rudimentary prototype of a machine that sim
ulates quantum phenomena using quantum physics, rather than using data kept in a classical computer. "This is pretty important that they've been able to demonstrate the principle," says John Chiaverini of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

This way to the truth, Mr. Anderson....

LANL, Arizona Firm Ink Solar Tech Agreement

RoseStreet Labs Energy Inc. has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agree
ment with Los Alamos National Laboratory to integrate new solar technology into RoseStreet products.

LANL developed a process called ENABLE that uses an energetic neutral atom beam to make high-quality thin films for photovoltaics. The technology could make solar cells more efficient, said Wladek Walukiewicz, RoseStreet's chief technology officer, in a news release.

Read about it here.

General Automotive Announces High-Temperature Sealing System for Fuel Cells

General Automotive Company today announced that its joint venture with SenCer Inc. has developed a high-temperature glass/ceramic sealing system for fuel cell and oxygen sensor applications.

David Burt, President of SenCer and Chief Technology Officer of the joint venture, explained, "The development is an extension of a core glass developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory for space-based atmospheric re-entry.

In addition to the Lab's core national security mission, its work advances many other fields such as materials science. By building on the Lab's years of research, we can accelerate the development of commercial solutions for these complex problems."

Here's the scoop.

Senate Resolution Lauds Laboratory, IBM on Roadrunner

New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici on Thursday introduced a resolution (pdf format) in Congress recognizing the Laboratory and IBM for its supercomputing achievements with the new Roadrunner high performance computer.

The Roadrunner high-performance computer is now the fastest in the world. The computer, developed in partnership with IBM and housed at the Laboratory, recently reached a petaflop of sustained performance.

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