Friday, October 10, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Oct. 6-10

Making a pitch for nuclear warhead program

Continued study and development of a new generation of nuclear weapons and modernization of the aging manufacturing infrastructure needed to build them are necessary to maintain "the ultimate deterrent capability that supports U.S. national security."

That is the conclusion of a nuclear policy paper released quietly last month by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

The secretaries warn that without the Reliable Replacement Warhead program, which Congress has delayed, the United States will have to keep an inventory of older, non-deployed nuclear warheads (Read all about it here.)

A new explosive: Melt-castable nitrate ester with high explosive energy

Since the discovery of nitroglycerin in 1846, the nitrate ester group of compounds has been
known for its explosive properties. A whole series of other nitrate esters have been subsequently put to use as explosives and fuels.

A research team led by David E. Chavez at Los Alamos National Laboratory has now developed a novel tetranitrate ester.

As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the compound has a particularly interesting characteristic profile: it is solid at room temperature, is a highly powerful explosive, and can be melt-cast into the desired shape. (Get the whole story!)

In quantum channels, zero plus zero can equal nonzero

Physicists have discovered a strange characteristic of quantum communication channels. If two quantum channels each have a transmission capacity of zero, they may still have a nonzero capacity when used together.

This effect, which has no classical counterpart, reveals a new complexity in the fundamental nature of quantum communication.

The coauthors of the study, Graeme Smith of the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, and Jon Yard of Los Alamos National Laboratory have published their research in a recent issue of Science. (Want to know more?)

Nuclear weapons complex changes advance

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Energy Department moved ahead Thursday on further restricting the nation's most dangerous nuclear material, part of a plan to scale back and modernize management of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. . . . The plan would concentrate manufacture of plutonium triggers and other plutonium research at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Here's the scoop.)

LANL awarded Patriot Award for Guard support

Melvin Borrego dodged incoming rockets and survived routine threats of daisy-chained roadside bombs in Iraq.

He’s a sergeant first-class for the 1115th transportation company of the New Mexico National Guard. His company has also been called up for humanitarian missions in the states for hurricanes Katrina and Rita and snow-disaster relief in Chama last winter.

His regular job is working as a research tech supervisor at the Lujan Neutron Scattering Center, where he customizes instruments, machines vacuum applications and stages pretty much whatever neutron experimenters need to conduct their tests at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

On Tuesday, Monitor Publisher Ralph Damiani, chairman of the Los Alamos Chapter of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, presented the organization’s Patriot Award to Alan Hurd, group leader of the Lujan center, for supporting Borrego through the thick and thin of his military duties. (Read it here.)

Lockheed Martin and Los Alamos sensors aboard IBEX mission

NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission -- the first designed to globally image the extreme edge of our solar system -- is ready for launch on a Pegasus rocket from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, on October 19.

IBEX-Lo is one of two sensors on the spacecraft that will measure the interaction of the solar wind with interstellar medium -- the gas, dust and radiation environment between the stars.

The energy bands are split into two ranges, one measured by IBEX-Lo and the other by IBEX-Hi, built by a team at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Southwest Research Institute. (Click here for more information.)

Lab grants license for muon tomography technology
Los Alamos National Laboratory has granted Decision Sciences Corporation an exclusive worldwide license to commercialize muon tomography, a Lab-developed technology to detect and identify concealed nuclear threat materials. (More information available here.)

DHS designates port-security system an anti-terrorist technology

A system developed by Cargotec Port Security, LLC has been awarded Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology Designation from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. . . . Cargotec Port Security uses the Monte Carlo N-Particle Transport Code software package developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Cargotec Port Security radiation isotope database . . . is based on the Los Alamos Monte-Carlo nuclear simulation tool. (Know the whole story.)

Chevron visit fosters successful alliance
Lab technology tested in company’s oil fields

High-tech solutions to some of Chevron’s biggest challenges are the product of a five-year relationship with the Laboratory, called the Alliance for Advanced Energy Solutions. Last month, 17 Chevron Corporation executives got a first-hand look at just how the alliance works as they toured the Lab to view technologies soon to be used in the
company’s oil fields and rigs. (Learn more.)

Science subverted in AIDS dispute

In March 1987 the question of whether scientists at the Pasteur Institute of Paris or the National Institutes of Health had invented the blood test for the virus known as HIV seemed settled.

Just days later, at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico, a scientist specializing in the genetic analysis of viruses sent senior officials at the National Institutes of Health a confidential memo warning that "a double fraud" had been perpetrated on the scientific community.

The Los Alamos scientist, Gerald Myers, had compared the genetic codes of the French and American AIDS viruses and determined they were not independent discoveries but had undoubtedly come from the same patient. (Click here for more information.)

Latest issue of Actinide Research Quarterly online

Plutonium processing at Los Alamos’s Technical Area 55 is the topic under discussion in the latest issue of Actinide Research Quarterly. The work at TA-55 supports a wide range of national programs, including stockpile stewardship, nuclear materials stabilization, materials disposition, and nuclear energy; all of the programs revolve around plutonium. (Click for the latest isssue.)

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