Friday, February 27, 2009

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Feb. 27

Fuel cells transform cars

Fuel cells are similar to batteries; they convert chemical energy into electricity. However, unlike batteries, fuel cells use chemicals that are external to the fuel cell. The types of fuel cells LANL scientists develop convert hydrogen and oxygen (from air) into electricity and water.

The system utilizes a thin membrane and catalysts - often made of platinum - to electrochemically convert the hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. "Of course, environmentally we love fuel cells because hydrogen plus oxygen makes water," says Rod Borup, program manager for the Laboratory's fuel cell program in MPA-11, the Sensors and Electrochemical Devices Group. (Charge up your curiosity with the
full article!)

Team develops new metamaterial device

An engineered metamaterial proved it can function as a state-of-the-art device in the complex terahertz range of the electromagnetic spectrum, setting a standard of performance for modulating tiny waves of radiation, according to a team of researchers from Boston College, the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, and Boston University. (Capture the entire spectrum of information here.)

New Mexico's role in the development of smart grid promoted

Congressman discusses the work taking place in New Mexico, training students for jobs of the future and promoting the development of renewable energy technology. He also focused on New Mexico's potential to lead the way in Smart Grid technology. Los Alamos National Laboratory is already exploring and developing this technology. They are working to solve the problems that prevent wide-spread distribution of renewable energy. (Get the scoop

DHS to use more simulations in infrastructure protection

DHS will provide guidance on the testing of commercially available software tools, and look for opportunities for public-private partnerships, the plan stated. The principal modeling, simulation, and analysis organization is the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center, located at the Sandia and Los Alamos National laboratories in New Mexico and operated by the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection. (
Read and understand!)

Feds forge gold standard for cybersecurity

The Consensus Audit Guidelines project is led by John Gilligan, former US Air Force chief information officer and began last year in response to data losses in the US defense industry. Organisations involved include the National Security Agency, the US Department of Homeland Security, US-CERT, the US Department of Defense, the US Department of Energy Los Alamos National Lab and three other National Labs, among others. (Secure your understanding by reading the
full article.)

Spending bill includes money for NM

The bill includes more than $6 billion for maintaining the nation's nuclear stockpile and nearly $1.5 billion for nuclear nonproliferation work. Much of that funding will support work at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. The bill also includes more than $222 million for clean up at Los Alamos lab and more than $231 million for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. (Stimulate your need for more information

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Friday, February 20, 2009

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Feb. 20

As Dawn approaches Mars, scientists gear up for GRaND tests

NASA illustration of the Dawn spacecraft.

GRaND (the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Detector) was developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory, and key sensor components were manufactured by eV Products,

Eljen Technology, and Proteus, Inc. Planetary Science Institute is responsible for operating the instrument and analyzing data acquired during the post-launch, science phase of the mission.

Read more about the Dawn Mission here.

Research highlights potential for improved solar cell efficiencies

LANL’s Victor Klimov

To evaluate the influence of photoionization, the Los Alamos researchers conducted back-to-back studies of static and stirred solutions of nanocrystals. Stirring removes charged nanocrystals from the measured region of the sample. Therefore, when crystals are subjected to light, the stirring eliminates the possibility that charged nanocrystals will absorb a second photon. Read the story here.

Offsite source group gathers up the bad stuff

Americium-241 sources, each roughly the size of the tip of a pen, are readied for storage at Los Alamos, part of a shipment that represents the 15,000th recovered source. LANL photo.

The chances of U.S. radioactive sources falling into the hands of risky characters were reduced again last year with the help of a small team of scavengers at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The lab's Off-Site Source Recovery Project, under supervision of the National Nuclear Security Administration, recently passed an important domestic milestone for getting dangerous materials out of the way. See the whole recovery
story here.

NOTE: Learn (and see) more about LANL’s recovery of radioactive sources by watching
a brief video on YouTube.

Satellites crash, but only meteors burn this bright

Researchers photograph the Sept. 2008 controlled re-entry of the European Space Agency's “Jules Verne” spacecraft. NASA’s primary goal of the project was to study the spacecraft's re-entry and compare it to meteor fragmentation. NASA photo.

The meteor would have to have been as big as a pickup truck, and traveling somewhere between 15,000 and 40,000 miles per hour when it entered the atmosphere.

That's small time for a meteor -- astrophysicist David Palmer of the Los Alamos National Laboratory tells Popular Mechanics that such speeds are close to the minimum at which meteors enter Earth's atmosphere.
Meteors orbiting the sun at the opposite direction of Earth could enter our atmosphere at up to 150,000 miles per hour. See the recent daylight meteor here.

Out of the muck of Crim Dell

Working in early September at the upper end of Crim Dell, freshman researchers Kasi Hartman and Sam Harvey take samples of soil and muck.

A group of William & Mary freshmen has discovered what appears to be a previously unknown form of life.

Using state-of-the-art lab techniques, the William & Mary freshmen isolated phages and prepared the DNA of the samples for sequencing - or genetic blueprinting - at Los Alamos National Lab.

Preliminary results from Los Alamos indicate that one of the 10 phage samples sent from William and Mary is a novel strain, previously unrecorded. See the story here.

Scientists probe green comet

Photo of Comet Lulin by amateur astronomer Jack Newton (NASA)

Space scientists from the University of Leicester are keeping a close eye on a 'green comet' fast approaching the Earth -- reaching its nearest point to us on February 24.

Swift, launched in November 2004, is a NASA mission in partnership with the Italian Space Agency and the Science and Technology Facilities Council of the United Kingdom; Los Alamos National Laboratory provides gamma-ray imaging analysis. Read more about the 'green comet' here.

LANL channel one year old today

Today marks the first anniversary of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s channel on YouTube. More than a dozen Lab videos to date have racked up nearly 60,000 views since February 20, 2008.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Feb. 13

Big science role is seen in global warming cure

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, New York Times photo

The Energy Department is involved with efforts as varied as developing nuclear weapons and sequencing the human genome.

Steven Chu, the new secretary of energy said the department's nuclear weapons program, which the White House is considering moving to the Defense Department, should be more tightly coupled to science in critical tasks like safeguarding nuclear materials and detecting nuclear proliferation. Read the story here.

Glaciology: From the front

Greenland’s shrinking icecap. (NASA illustration)

The causes of recent dynamic thinning of Greenland's outlet glaciers have been debated

Realistic simulations suggest that changes at the marine fronts of these glaciers are to blame, implying that dynamic thinning will cease once the glaciers retreat to higher ground.

By Stephen Price, Fluid Dynamics and Solid Mechanics Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory. See more about the research here.

Trying to crack climate's impact
Work on model, study might offer tool to help manage global-warming issues

An arborist cuts up an ash tree that died from drought and a bark- beetle infestation. Los Alamos scientists and other experts are working to develop a tool that could help predict what will happen to the land- scape as the world tries to manage global warming and other environ- mental issues. (File photo)

LANL Scientists Nate McDowell and Todd Ringler are working with experts around the state and the country to develop a tool that could predict what will happen to the landscape as the world tries to manage global warming and other environmental issues. Learn more here.

LANL manager awards $265k to NM groups

The company that manages Los Alamos National Laboratory will give $265,000 in one-time grants to nonprofit organizations in northern New Mexico. Los Alamos National Security will provide Community Giving grants to 24 organizations in Los Alamos, Espanola, Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Carlsbad. The grants ranged from $1,000 to $25,000. See the story here.

Research highlights potential for improved solar cells

A team of Los Alamos researchers led by Victor Klimov has shown that carrier multiplication—when a photon creates multiple electrons—is a real phenomenon in tiny semiconductor crystals and not a false observation born of extraneous effects that mimic carrier multiplication.

The research, explained in a recent issue of Accounts of Chemical Research, shows the possibility of solar cells that create more than one unit of energy per photon. Get more details here.

LabStart spins out money-making tech

Los Alamos National Laboratory and investment partners celebrated the launch of LabStart, LLC, a revitalized program for getting lab technology out the door and into new businesses. Read about it here.

Detecting liquid bombs at airports

From "The Chemical Engineer Today" magazine

Researchers sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) have successfully tested a prototype scanner which can detect liquid explosives.

Working at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the researchers are developing the MagViz system, which makes use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to distinguish between different types of liquids, gels and lotions. Read more about it here.


Neutron star reveals split personality

NASA image

Distant explosions behaving strangely have created a buzz in the astronomical community and may resolve a cosmic case of mistaken identity. Two kinds of flaring stars, Anomolous X-Ray Pulsars and Soft Gamma Repeaters may actually be the same thing.

"It's like learning the giant beasts who leap out of the ocean and splash down on the surface are the same as the ones you have heard singing in the depths," said David Palmer, a Los Alamos astrophysicist who develops software for detecting gamma-ray bursts in the universe. Do some star gazing here.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Feb. 6

LANL scientists honored by national association

Two Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Carol Burns is the group leader for the Nuclear Radiochemistry Group at the northern New Mexico weapons lab. She is a worldwide leader in a type of chemistry called actinide chemistry.

Jeffrey Hay, who retired after 33 years at the lab, was recognized for his contributions in computational and theoretical chemistry. See the story here.

Good Liquid, bad liquid

A typical bin containing various liquid containers. Hazards are indicated by red dots while safe liquids are indicated in green.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have successfully tested a liquid explosive detection system that may eventually have many security applications around the country.

Machines ready for an operational environment remains a few years away, but the technology is promising to quickly detect liquid explosives within a few years. He says, "Los Alamos has done an outstanding job in a relatively short period of time," says Stephen Surko, Program Manager for at the Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate. See the DHS press release here.

Cosmology researcher to speak on 'dark' universe

Most of the universe remains mysterious to scientists and researchers everywhere. More than 90 percent of the universe is "dark," composed of dark energy and dark matter observed only by their gravitational interaction with both light and "normal" matter.

Understanding the nature of dark energy and matter is one of the most significant challenges in science -- one that researcher Salman Habib and his team at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are working to overcome. See the NASA press release here.

Stimulus package could speed LANL cleanup

There are some differences with special significance locally in the two versions of the stimulus package that is coming together in Washington.

The House passed an $816 million version of the measure on Wednesday, containing $500 million for nuclear waste cleanup, one of the most obvious sources of extra funds at legacy nuclear weapons sites, like Los Alamos, which has struggled with funding shortages in recent years. See the Los Alamos Monitor for more.

Latest issue of 1663 magazine posted online

This edition looks at the “X-Games” of contemporary science, the proposed Yucca Mountain repository, and a technology under development to create a new way for diabetics to conveniently test their blood sugar levels—and much more.

Link Why is the publication called 1663? During World War II, all that the outside world knew of Los Alamos and its top-secret laboratory was the mailing address -- P.O. Box 1663, Santa Fe, New Mexico. That box number, still part of our address, symbolizes our historic role in the nation’s service. See 1663 here.

Area children to get new shoes through LANL Laces program

Some 150 children in Jemez Pueblo, EspaƱola, Ohkay Owingeh, and Santa Fe are getting new shoes to finish the school year, thanks to the generosity of Laboratory employees who made donations to the LANL Laces program.

The Lab’s Community Programs Office is working with The Shoe Department in EspaƱola to have the children fitted for new shoes, said Tim Martinez of Community Programs, which manages the LANL Laces
program. Read all about it in the LANL NewsBulletin.

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