Friday, March 27, 2009

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for March 27

Heart of lab now named for Domenici

A ceremony Tuesday afternoon completed the process of naming three buildings at the center of Los Alamos National Laboratory in honor of one of the lab's leading patrons, former Sen. Pete Domenici. Domenici was on hand Tuesday to receive the plaudits of laboratory leaders and staff in the auditorium of the National Security Science Building (NSSB). (Read and grow wiser!)

Nuclear Security Official Hints at Leaner, Less Costly Weapons Complex

Plans are underway to close the Chemical and Metallurgy Research Building at Los Alamos, which dates from the 1950s and handled plutonium research and production, and build a replacement.

NNSA Administrator Tom D'Agostino said this was part of an effort to limit where sensitive nuclear materials, such as plutonium, are stored. "The thing I wan
t to do is actually reduce the amount of plutonium capability in the country by shutting down plutonium capability at Lawrence Livermore and bringing it to Los Alamos," he added. (Read all about it!)

Energy Secretary Serves Under a Microscope

Dr. Chu came to Washington after serving as director of the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, a civilian research organization with 4,000 employees and a $600 million annual budget. Before that, he was a professor and research scientist at Stanford and Bell Laboratories. He shared the 1997 Nobel in physics for his work on cooling and trapping atoms with laser light. (Examine the entire story here.)

LANL: From bombs to biofuels

What struck me the most was the fine line between national security and renewable energy development. LANL is first and foremost a defense and weapons lab, created to protect the nation from mass destruction. So it is not surprising that they are now throwing huge resources into what truly is the greatest threat to national security - climate change. (The blog entry is here.)

Nation's only nuclear waste repository now 10 years old

A top scientist for the federal government's only nuclear waste repository recalls the scene a decade ago when the first shipment rolled through the gates - 300 to 400 area residents and workers gathered in the predawn cold in the middle of nowhere, cheering.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in the salt beds of southeastern New Mexico turns 10 on Thursday, with its supporters hailing it as pointing the way for the future of radioactive waste disposal in America. (Read the
full story.)

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Friday, March 20, 2009

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for March 20

Map of Knowledge

A new map of knowledge based on electronic data searches. LANL image.

A new map of knowledge has been assembled by scientists at the research library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

It is based on electronic data searches in which users moved from one journal to another, thus establishing associations between them. Map your way to the
New York Times story here.

Labs' Staff Called 'Key to Our Future'

he head of the nation's nuclear weapons program told Congress on Tuesday that the national laboratories can operate "a smaller, safer, more secure" stockpile, but that scientists with increasingly rare skills should not be placed on the budget chopping block. Read the
story here. A subscription may be required.

Lab safety officer honored

he Chief Electrical Safety Officer of Los Alamos National Laboratory has won high national recognition for outstanding leadership in electrical safety.
Lloyd Gordon is an experimental researcher in high-energy, pulsed power engineering and plasma physics.

Among his many contributions in his parallel career as a national authority in the field of electrical safety, Gordon has developed a measuring stick for comparing the severity of electrical accidents. Safely read the
story here.

High-temperature superconducting explained?

The newest high-temperature superconducting material is a metal called iron pnictides with alternating layers of iron and arsenic. Illustration from EE Times.

Superconductors transport electrons with zero resistance by synchronizing their movement through changes in the internal structure of materials. Hence, no physical collisions occur.

The key to high-temperature superconductors, according to the new theory, is their different "quantum phases," which are similar to the difference between solids and liquids, according to researchers from Rice University, Rutgers University, Zhejiang University and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Show no resistance to the story here.

Cornering the Terahertz Gap

A material made up of micrometer-sized structures, each formed to function as both an electric and magnetic dipole, is shown up close. Image from Science News.

In April 2008, collaborators from Boston University and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico published work in Nature Photonics that showed how nonchiral, semiconducting, split-ring resonator metamaterials could interact with light to absorb and reemit T-rays.

Link Reporting online in the same journal on February 22, the team showed that its latest version of a hybrid structure of metallic split-ring resonators could allow increasingly precise manipulation of terahertz radiation. Fill in the story gap here.

Structure of enzyme against chemical warfare agents determined

The LANSCE facility at Los Alamos, home of the Lujan Neutron Scattering Center. LANL photo.

A detailed understanding of the mechanism by which enzymes catalyze chemical reactions is necessary for efforts aiming to improve their properties.

A group of researchers at the University of Frankfurt, the Bundeswehr Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology in Munich, and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, USA, have successfully determined the structure of DFPase using neutron diffraction.
Read about it here.

Shifting sound to light may lead to better computer chips

A plasma is generated by a laser pulse similar to how sound is converted to light. LLNL image.

y reversing a process that converts electrical signals into sounds heard out of a cell phone, researchers may have a new tool to enhance the way computer chips, LEDs and transistors are built.

To do it, lead researchers Michael Armstrong, Evan Reed and Mike Howard, LLNL colleagues, and collaborators from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Nitronex Corp., used a very high frequency sound wave - about 100 million times higher frequency than what humans can hear - to generate light. Convert this story into
full text here.

Forum Highlights Needed U.S. Actions To Fight Cyberwar

A consortium of IT companies called the Secure Enterprise Network Consortium (SEN-C) formed in October "to help the United States address its cyber security needs," and Tuesday's forum was its first public event. SEN-C's members are Accenture, CA, Cisco, Sun Microsystems and the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory. SEN-C the story here.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for March 13

Scientists stick close to their specialties

A first "map" of science journal use highlights how social sciences such as psychology, anthropology and economics, bridge the natural sciences, say researchers. Looking at about 1 billion "clicks" on science study databases by scientists over the last two years, a team led by Johan Bollen of Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory analyzed how researchers travel to and from studies when they retrieve information. (The USA Today entry is here.)

Web usage data outline map of knowledge

or the study, Johan Bollen and his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico negotiated access to anonymized server log data covering 35,000 journals from 2006 to 2007. The data came from the University of Texas, the California State University system, and major science journal gateways including Thomson Reuters' Web of Science and Elsevier's Scopus database. (The full Nature news story is here.)

Scientists search cosmos for new worlds

Some New Mexico scientists are now working with NASA to find planets outside of the solar system. Four Los Alamos National Lab researchers are on an international team using a new NASA satellite. KRQE's Bob Martin reports. (Probe deep into the cosmos of KRQE right here.)

LANL scientists seek magnetars' secrets

You might not think you have anything in common with the supermassive, high-power magnetic star remnants that astrophysicists call magnetars.

But when it comes to aging, we all might slow down in a similar way - with declining bursts of energy and exhaustion washing over us until we finally peter out.

David Palmer, a Los Alamos scientist, is coming to that conclusion after taking a closer look at magnetars through NASA's Swift satellite, which detects and investigates X-ray and gamma ray bursts through software that Palmer helped develop. (Take a closer look at the magnetar story here.)

Quantum Dots Could Boost Solar Cell Efficiency

Over the past five years, several research groups used quantum dots in their attempts to recreate the Los Alamos findings, but without success. "There's been a lot of controversy as to whether this [multiple excitation] actually occurs," said PULSE researcher Kelly Gaffney.

"Not everyone agreed that it's even real." Working with researchers at PULSE, Stanford University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Gaffney used a slightly different experimental method to confirm that a single photon can indeed excite more than one electron in a quantum dot. (Illuminate this topic right now!)

Lab’s Bradbury Science Museum engages students in astronomy

The Santa Fe New Mexican recently produced this short video about International Year of Astronomy activities at the Bradbury Science Museum in downtown Los Alamos. (Whose turn is it now? That's right, Pepper is going to choose a video! What will it be pepper? This one right here? Okay.)

Safety-minded cleanup of Area B resumes

The site is shaped like a boomerang. Several discrete areas of shallow pits are scattered along a strip of land on the southern side of DP Road. Buckled pavement covers most of it, where an old trailer park used to sit.

Material Disposal Area B is about to get busy again. After two years of public silence, with only a few visible changes across the road from a row of small businesses, one of Los Alamos National Laboratory's major environmental cleanup projects is shifting gears. (Monitor the Monitor
story with a single click!)

KRSN-AM 1490

The manager in charge of cleaning up Los Alamos National Laboratory’s waste disposal area B, which operated from 1944-1948, was interviewed Thursday morning on Los Alamos radio station KRSN-AM.

To hear the interview of LANL’s Al Chaloupka, please click here. (The Daily NewsBulletin story is here.)

Historical landmarks right in our backyard

Sure, you can learn about the Manhattan Project through countless books, photographs and articles, but there is another way to be exposed to this significant period of time. There are actual physical artifacts, right here in Los Alamos, which can transport you back through history and into the era of the atom bomb. (The entire story is here.)

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Friday, March 6, 2009

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for March 6

Little-known U.S. agency hunts down radioactive castoffs

A container holding an encased vial of plutonium 238 is prepared for removal from a company in Silicon Valley that makes security inspection systems. LA Times photo.

he four-man government disposal team arrived Monday from Los Alamos, N.M., to take away the small canister of plutonium.

Weighing just 1.3 grams, the plutonium-238 isotope had been owned by a Silicon Valley company for nearly 30 years and was stored safely in a 10-foot hole in the ground.

But in the wrong hands, federal officials say, the highly radioactive isotope could pose a serious threat to public safety and conceivably provide terrorists with material for a dirty bomb. Read the Los Angeles Times story

See another Offsite Source Recovery story in
USA Today.

And view a
video about Los Alamos National Laboratory’s role.

Search for Earth-like planets includes LANL star analysis

The primary mirror of the Kepler telescope. The craft’s mission is to discover Earth-like planets in Earth-like places. Ball Aerospace photo – from The New York Times.

Four stellar seismologists at the Laboratory are part of the Kepler Asteroseismic Science Consortium, a large, multi-national team that will analyze the vast quantity of data expected from the mission.

Using Kepler, NASA expects to answer a very fundamental question: do planets the size of Earth exist in orbit around other stars? The Kepler Spacecraft is equipped with a large telescope that will measure the variations in brightness of 170,000 stars simultaneously and continuously for a period of at least 3.5 years.

The mission will not only be able to search for planets around other stars, but also yield new insights into the parent stars themselves. Kepler’s measurements of changes in stellar brightness can also be used to study stars and their interiors. Read the LANL news release.

See a related story about the Kepler Mission in The New York Times.

Forensic seismology

A seismograph is used to measure Earth’s vibrations. Agence France Presse photo.

n the mid 1990s, Terry Wallace, now at America's Los Alamos National Laboratory, was part of a team studying earth movements in the Andes Mountains along the border between Bolivia and Chile.

Occasionally, one of the seismometers would record strange micro-earthquakes, less than 1.0 on the Richter scale. Small temblors are common, but these occurred only late at night in a remote plain, 4,000 metres above sea level. See the
story here.

Swift Satellite records early phase of gamma ray burst

Illustration of a gamma ray burst. NASA image.

UK astronomers, using a telescope aboard the NASA Swift Satellite, have captured information from the early stages of a gamma ray burst - the most violent and luminous explosions occurring in the Universe since the Big Bang.

The work was published on Friday 27th February in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical society. Swift, a medium-class Explorer mission was built in collaboration with national laboratories and universities including the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Read more about it

os Alamos National Laboratory this week posted on its YouTube channel a new video about a technology for making industrial quantities of a high-temp superconducting tape.

The tape carries 300 times the capacity of an equivalent copper cable. The tape is flexible and easy to install—and stands to save billions of dollars. See the
video here.

Foundation comes to aid of kids who need a lift

he Friends Forever Foundation offers a family emergency fund, which is funded through Los Alamos National Laboratory, where MaryAna Eames is employed. The group also offers a
Link bereavement fund to help families who have lost a loved one. Read the story here.

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