Friday, February 26, 2010

Extract algal oil with sound

Solix Biofuels is working with Los Alamos National Laboratory's patented acoustic technology, employing sound waves to concentrate their harvested algae mixture and extract the oil from algae cells. (full story)

TMS installs new president: George T. "Rusty" Gray III

"During my term as president I hope to positively impact TMS' value to members in the areas of international liaisons, leadership development and the fine-tuning of our 'value' proposition by meeting the ever-changing needs of our diverse membership," Gray said. (full story)

Letter: Regain lab's leadership

By Don Winchell -- Regarding the Feb. 7 editorial, "Lab boost a blessing - but a mixed one": It's important to clarify what the proposed budget means for Los Alamos. (full story)

Also this week in the New Mexican:

LANL Laces program

Los Alamos National Laboratory's LANL Laces Program delivered brand-new sports shoes to children participating in the United Way of Santa Fe County’s Santa Fe Children's Project. (full story)

Making use of neutrons

Doubling of capacity is a goal at LANL, although the funding for that has not yet been secured, says Alan J. Hurd, director of LANL's Manuel Lujan Jr. Neutron Scattering Center. Hurd notes that all of the neutron centers in the U.S. tend to have twice the requests for experiment time than they can accommodate. (full story)

Automating viral RNA genotyping

Designed and built for researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratories and UCLA - the new BioCel PCR Viral Genotyping System provides rapid, reliable and efficient automated genetic sequencing of viruses. (full story)

What radioactive plutonium feels like

Sitting in a cold conference room, Siegfried Hecker was asked by his North Korean hosts if he would like to see their "product." "Yes," Dr. Hecker replied. "Do you mean plutonium?"

Hecker, former director of the U.S. weapons lab at Los Alamos and familiar with the hazardous properties of plutonium, was surprised when two technicians carried a small red metal box into the room. . . . (full story)

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Remarks of Vice President Biden at National Defense University

Unfortunately, during the last decade, our nuclear complex and experts were neglected and underfunded. Tight budgets forced more than 2,000 employees of Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore from their jobs between 2006 and 2008, including highly-skilled scientists and engineers. And some of the facilities we use to handle uranium and plutonium date back to the days when the world's great powers were led by Truman, Churchill, and Stalin. The signs of age and decay are becoming more apparent every day. (Full Text)

Biden to Push Test-Ban Treaty

Vice President Joe Biden.

Anti-nuclear activists say the 4.7% increase for infrastructure spending at nuclear-weapons facilities such as New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory won't buy GOP support for arms-control treaties. But Mr. Biden will make the case that the government must spend money on its aging nuclear-weapons laboratories and plants even as it pursues arms reduction. (Full Story)

The Human Family's Earliest Ancestors

Hunting for hominid fossils in Ethiopia, researchers "collect every piece of bone, every piece of wood, every seed." Photo from Smithsonian Magazine.

The Ardi research also challenged the long-held views that hominids evolved in a grassy savanna, says Middle Awash project geologist Giday WoldeGabriel of Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Ardi researchers' thorough canvassing indicates that Ardi lived in woodland with a closed canopy, so little light reached grass and plants on the forest floor. (Full Story)

New principles disclosed

D'Agostino says budget request reflects role in national security agenda -- Speaking at the second annual Deterrence Summit today, NNSA Administrator Tom D'Agostino highlighted the President's FY2011 budget request that includes an increase of 13 percent over last year's budget. (
Full Story)

Can We Dispose of Radioactive Waste in Volcanoes?

PopSci illustration

Dumping all our nuclear waste in a volcano does seem like a neat solution for destroying the roughly 29,000 tons of spent uranium fuel rods stockpiled around the world. But there's a critical standard that a volcano would have to meet to properly dispose of the stuff, explains Charlotte Rowe, a volcano geophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

LANL model checks arctic warming

A flourescent image of fresh water methanotrophs from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. DOE image.

The methane is caged in ice lattices, or clathrates, which are thought to be particularly vulnerable to release in the rapidly warming waters of the arctic. Some climatologists blame runaway events like the Great Dying, 250 million years ago, the worst extinction event in Earth's history, on the sudden release of methane clathrates buried under the cold ocean floors. (Full Story)

Son of Perhapsatron

The AFRL pulsed-power machine “Shiva Star,” which is about the size of two basketball courts, AFRL photo.

Aiming for an April test date, Glen Wurden, the fusion team leader at LANL, said the current effort makes use of the AFRL pulsed power machine, "Shiva Star." The machine delivers an enormous amount of power in tiny fractions of a second. (Full Story)

Postdoc fellow aims to create marketable products based on own research

Bart Raeymaekers, the Lab’s first Entrepreneurial Postdoctoral Fellow, LANL photo.

Often there’s a gap between research conducted at DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and what is needed to turn that research into useful technology. Bart Raeymaekers’ job is to fill that gap, according to Dipen Sinha, Acoustics and Sensors team leader and Raeymaekers’ supervisor. (Full Story)

When squeezing hydrogen out of ammonia borane, the packaging matters

Packing ammonia borane into mesoporous silica leads to a remarkable enhancement of the hydrogen storage properties. This image shows the molecular configuration of the packed ammonia borane. Image from PhysOrg.

When it comes to squeezing hydrogen out of ammonia borane, the packaging matters, according to scientists from three national labs. Ammonia borane releases hydrogen with heating by a multi-step reaction, but the nominal heating required to release that hydrogen requires additional energy, decreasing the overall efficiency. The study was done by an interdisciplinary team from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory. (Full Story)

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Robotic security

A Sandia Labs robot tracks Jason Anderson during a demonstration Wednesday for Home- land Security Officials (Journal photo).

Twenty five officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ... were attending two days of meetings at Sandia and Los Alamos National Lab to discuss the department's technology needs and some of the research being done at the New Mexico labs. (Full Story)

Optical refrigeration expected to enhance airborne and spaceborne apps

The first-ever cryocooler that can be applied to airborne and spaceborne sensors. UNM photo.

Under an USAF Office of Scientific Research, multi-university grant, a team has created the first-ever all-solid-state cryocooler that can be applied to airborne and spaceborne sensors. [The team is headed by] UNM's department of Physics and Astronomy in collaboration with researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Pisa, Italy. (Full Story)

Los Alamos ramps up WIPP shipments

Los Alamos National Laboratory is nearly doubling its number of weekly shipments to the federal government's underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico. (Full Story)

LANL takes safety precautions

Los Alamos National Laboratory is taking steps to reduce the risk of a potentially catastrophic radiation release should a major earthquake occur, according to a Feb. 2 letter from Energy Secretary Steven Chu to federal safety auditors. (Full Story)

From the classroom to the real world

There is a link between school and the real world and the eighth annual Discover E event will prove it. The objective behind the program, Partha Rangasamy said, "Is to let students know what engineering is all about and meet some of the people who work at Los Alamos National Laboratory." (
Full Story)

Are airport full body scanners a danger?

The evidence that terahertz radiation damages biological systems is mixed. "Some studies reported significant genetic damage while others, although similar, showed none," said Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (
Full Story)

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Defusing the Methane Greenhouse Time Bomb

Methanotrophs like the ones pictured here might be able to prevent a massive "burp" of methane from the Arctic Ocean. LANL image.

o investigate Arctic ice more carefully, Scott Elliott, a biogeochemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, used the Coyote supercomputer to model the complex interplay of physical and biological systems that govern the fate of methane released from Arctic clathrates during the first few decades of projected future global warming. (

Ten Serious Nuclear Fusion Projects Making Progress Around the World

Neon glow discharge in the target fusion machine. LANL photo.

FRX-L (USA) - Under study at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Air Force Research Laboratory, the FRX-L uses magnetized target fusion. (more)

Soft intelligence for hard decisions

An approach to decision making based on soft metrics could allow problems to be solved where no definitive "yes-no" answer is possible in fields as diverse as healthcare, defense, economics, engineering, public utilities and science. Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Defence Support Systems Mihaela Quirk of Los Alamos National Laboratory explains how. (more)

Obama budget seeks 13.4 percent increase for the NNSA

sident Obama's fiscal 2011 budget blueprint calls for an increase in funding of more than 13 percent for the agency that oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, a greater percentage increase than for any other government agency. (more)

Nuclear security given high priority

A rationale for increases in the nuclear weapons area was spelled out by Vice President Joe Biden in an op-ed piece Friday in the Wall Street Journal, where he declared that the budget would reverse a decade-long decline in which "our laboratories and facilities have been under-funded a
nd undervalued." (more)

Also from the Monitor this week:

Lab trains African scientists

IAEA Ghanaian Fellows talk with LANL host Alex Feldman during a workshop. LANL photo.

Scientists from Ghana are visiting Los Alamos National Laboratory this week, participating in the lab's international threat reduction program. Under a fellowship with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Eric Akortia and Nyarku Mawutorli are looking at how the local program works. (more)

Peering inside an artificial sun

"The quest to achieve fusion ignition is one of the hardest scientific problems ever tackled," said Nelson Hoffman, a plasma physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, "so looking at the problem with 'new eyes,' like MIT's proton radiographs, is crucial for detecting phenomena that don't show up any other way." (

Smokey Bear Now Studies Computer Science

The Cerro Grande wildfire, Forest Service photo.

Initially, scientists used FIRETEC, a physics-based model (created by LANL's Rod Linn) to simulate wildfire behavior, factoring in changing weather and the effects of complex terrain. (more)

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