Thursday, December 23, 2010

Senate ratifies nuke pact, delivering win to Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the New START treaty in April 2010.

he administration had addressed a major concern - budgeting adequate funds for the nation's nuclear arsenal and the laboratories that oversee them. The administration pledged $80 billion to maintain the nuclear arsenal over the next 10 years, then added $5 billion more.

Early in December, a letter from the directors of the three major laboratories at Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia, in which they expressed satisfaction with the projected budget, broke the dam of opposition. (Full Story)

Treaty 'good news for labs' in N.M.

he New START arms-control treaty slated for a final Senate vote and expected passage today would trigger new project money for Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories in New Mexico.

As part of the debate over the treaty, the Obama administration has committed to spending $85 billion over the next decade to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, which includes the national laboratories in New Mexico. (Full Story)

New Start treaty boosts national labs

he U.S. Senate's ratification Wednesday of a disarmament treaty with Russia paves the way for a dramatic budget boost in the nuclear weapons program at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (
Full Story)

NASA's next Mars Rover to zap rocks with laser

Researchers prepare for a test of the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument that will fly on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

rock-zapping laser instrument on NASA's next Mars rover has roots in a demonstration that Roger Wiens saw 13 years ago in a colleague's room at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on the rover Curiosity can hit rocks with a laser powerful enough to excite a pinhead-size spot into a glowing, ionized gas. (
Full Story)

Los Alamos Lab lists top achievements

os Alamos National Laboratory has released a list of its top 10 science and technology developments of the year. The list includes achievements by the northern New Mexico federal lab in such areas as bioscience, astrophysics and metallurgy. (
Full Story)

Los Alamos to help track Santa's trek

Los Alamos scientists use the FORTE satellite, seen here, and the Cibola Flight Experiment satellite to help track Santa. LANL illustration.

iddies - and adults - who want to see Santa's progress on Christmas Eve will get some help from scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Visit beginning at 6 a.m. Friday to follow it.

Los Alamos is supporting trackers at North American Aerospace Defense Command, who've been following Santa on his Christmas journey since 1955. The program hit the Internet in 1998 and receives millions of visitors from hundreds of countries around the world. (Full Story)

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Monday, December 20, 2010

LANL researchers awarded honors

A team of researchers responsible for enabling "time travel" for the World Wide Web has received the 2010 Digital Preservation Award from the Institute for Conservation and Digital Preservation at a ceremony held at the Royal Institute in London.

Los Alamos National Laboratory computer scientist Herbert Van de Sompel and colleagues Robert Sanderson, Lyudmila Balakireva and Harihar Shankar of LANL's Research Library joined Old Dominion University researchers Michael Nelson and Scott Ainsworth in winning the top honor. (Full Story)

Nuke-the-asteroid idea revived to protect earth

Researchers speculate a giant asteroid fragment smashed into Earth 65 million years ago, creating the Chicxulub crater off the coast of the Yucatan. Credit: Don Davis

A new study has injected new life into the old idea of dealing with a potentially threatening space rock by nuking it. The new analysis suggests that a nuclear blast could safely destroy even a relatively large asteroid.

"It would be blown to smithereens," said study lead author Bob Weaver of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who presented the findings here Dec. 13 at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. (Full Story)

Future Darwinism - evolution as physics

LANL scientist Wojciech Zurek.

This comes on the heels of another recent paper on Quantum Darwinism by Wojciech Zurek, a theoretical physicist at the US Los Alamos National Laboratory.

He developed a proof based on the Darwinian model, which provides a rigorous interpretation of the emergence o
f classical reality from quantum states and at the same time offers a key element in the proof needed to realise a Unified Theory of Evolution. (Full Story)

D'Agostino: Unprecedented commitment to modernize

NNSA Administrator Tom D’Agostino.

he debate over New START has ushered in a new consensus on the need to modernize our nuclear deterrent and the resources required to get the job done. (
Full Story)

LANL has a record cleanup this year

os Alamos National Laboratory finished 12 months worth of environmental cleanup by breaking LANL records in several areas as fiscal year 2010 ended.
Los Alamos personnel conducted more field investigations and cleanup campaigns than ever and completed a record number of lab shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). (Full Story)

Newly discovered phase helps explain materials’ ability to convert waste heat to electricity

Scientists have discovered that a class of materials known to convert heat to electricity and vice versa behaves quite unexpectedly at the nanoscale in response to changes in temperature. The discovery--described in the December 17 issue of Science--is a new "opposite-direction" phase transition that helps explain the strong thermoelectric response of these materials.

It may also help scientists identify other useful thermoelectrics, and could further their application in capturing energy lost as heat, for example, in automotive and factory exhaust.

The scientists [including those from Los Alamos National Laboratory] . . . were studying lead chalcogenides (lead paired with tellurium, selenium, or sulfur) using newly available experimental techniques and theoretical approaches that allow them to "see" and model behavior of individual atoms at the nanoscale, or on the order of billionths of a meter. (Full Story)

Los Alamos National Laboratory selects LATA for $8M project

ngineering, environmental and technical services company Los Alamos Technical Associates Inc., has won an $8 million contract for cleanup work at LANL's plutonium processing lab.

Under the contract, which runs through 2014, LATA will remove more than 5,000 linear feet of underground waste pipes, excavate contaminated soil, and demolish concrete slabs from torn-down buildings. (
Full Story)

Los Alamos tearing down old administration building

Watch the video here!

Built in 1955, the old LANL Administration Building is a 316,000 square foot office and mixed laboratory structure made primarily of concrete and re-bar that's been largely vacant for several years. In an 18-month project the Laboratory is demolishing the old building - and in the process recycling just about everything.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Outstanding, superlinear cities

New York City seems pretty extraordinary, but according to LANL mathematician Luís Bettencourt, New York is actually quite average, given its size. For a really exceptional place, swap coasts and look at San Francisco.

The apparently unusual qualities of New York are actually natural and unsurprising products of its size, argues Bettencourt, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Santa Fe Institute, both in New Mexico. (
Full Story)

Using new materials to make more reliable nanoelectromechanical systems

Simple carbon nanotube structure. SNI image.

Given their outstanding mechanical and electrical properties, carbon nanotubes are attractive building blocks for next-generation nanoelectromechanical devices. Researchers at Northwestern University, the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, and Binghamton University have found a way to dramatically improve the reliability of carbon nanotube-based nanoelectromechanical systems. (Full Story)

Los Alamos linear proton accelerator gets upgrade

Steve Wender of the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center examines the fission ion chamber. LANL photo.

Starting in early 2011, repair and upgrade work will begin at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE), one of the most powerful linear proton accelerators in the United States. Its capability to support experiments and tests will be effectively doubled once work is completed. (Full Story)

LANL begins energy-saving project

Chris Sharp installs energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs. LANL photo.

Federal officials say an energy-savings project under way at Los Alamos National Laboratory is expected to save $28 million over 20 years.

The National Nuclear Security Administration projects the program will save $1.2 million annually in electrical, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning costs at the northern New Mexico lab.

The first phase of the effort will replace light fixtures in 28 buildings — including 2,300 light fixtures and 1,900 retrofit light boxes. (
Full Story)

LANL spending buoys business

Sixty-three percent of all purchases were from small businesses in fiscal year 2010

Los Alamos National Laboratory purchased nearly $1 billion in goods and services in the 2010 fiscal year ending September 30, 2010. The $925 million in purchases was helped in part by funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act the Laboratory received for environmental remediation and basic research. The Laboratory also exceeded its goals for purchases made by small businesses in Northern New Mexico, the state and the country. (Full Story)

Buckman board: Water safe

The Buckman Direct Diversion water-treatment plant during the first test of the system. Santa Fe New Mexican photo.

The joint city and county Buckman Direct Diversion Board again tried to reassure Santa Fe residents that the water soon to enter the drinking-water system from the Rio Grande downstream from Los Alamos National Laboratory meets or exceeds all safe drinking-water standards.

The board issued a statement after a Tuesday night public meeting where ChemRisk scientists hired to review data about the water quality gave their final report. More than 100 people turned out for the meeting. (
Full Story)

What I found in North Korea
Pyongyang’s plutonium is no longer the only problem

On a visit to North Korea last month, I was amazed by the scale and sophistication of the country’s uranium enrichment program.

With tension rising on the Korean peninsula, it was more urgent than ever that Washington do whatever it can to limit Pyongyang’s nuclear programs. . . .

By Siegfried Hecker, codirector of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and, from 1986 to 1997, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Scientists Ratchet Up Understanding of Cellular Protein Factory

Inverse-color close-up representation of the transfer RNA binding regions in a bacterial ribosome. LANL image.

heoretical biologists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have used a New Mexico supercomputer to aid an international research team in untangling another mystery related to ribosomes -- those enigmatic jumbles of molecules that are the protein factories of living cells. (
Full Story)

Mercury serves up a nuclear surprise

Physicists had assumed that atomic nuclei split into equal sized pieces. But studies of unstable nuclei are revealing a very different picture. Nature Illustration.

he observation of an unexpected nuclear reaction by an unstable isotope of the element mercury has thrown up a rare puzzle. The enigma is helping theorists to tackle one of the trickiest problems in physics: developing a more complete model of the atomic nucleus.

Theorist Peter Möller of Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, thinks that he has an explanation. He has used a nuclear model that he and his colleagues developed [that] considers the stability of the differently shaped nuclei that occur as mercury-180 divides. (
Full Story)

Biomagnetics Reports the Identification of a Second Biomarker

his is a significant milestone in the cooperative research agreement that was signed between Los Alamos National Laboratory and Biomagnetics, representing a major step in the development of a new point-of-care diagnostic system. In parallel, development of assays for two different tuberculosis biomarkers and the Cholera toxin is currently in progress. (
Full Story)

Solid storage solution

Diammoniate of diborane contains a high weight fraction of hydrogen. Image from Spectroscopy Now.

Scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Thomas Proffen of the Lujan Neutron Scattering Center, at Los Alamos National Laboratory, explain how there has been a resurgence of interest in hydrogen-rich boron compounds. (Full Story)

LANL workers make pledge to United Way

Los Alamos National Laboratory employees have pledged a record $1.5 million to United Way and other eligible nonprofit programs.

Los Alamos National Security LLC, which operates the Laboratory, plans to apportion its $1 million match, according to the preferences of its employees, bringing the total donation to $2.5 million.

The laboratory employee contributions will fund a number of United Way agencies and programs as well as other eligible nonprofit organizations. (
Full Story)

LANL Debuts Hybrid Garbage Truck

Los Alamos National Laboratory has begun using a diesel-hydraulic hybrid truck for daily garbage pickup, improving fuel efficiency by 30 percent and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by even more. The truck employs a system that stores energy from braking and uses that pressure to help the truck accelerate after each stop—a key feature in the stop-and-go life of a garbage truck. Traditional trucks lose that energy as heat during braking. (Full Story)

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