Friday, February 25, 2011

Conference explores how intelligence computes

Average IQ might have gone up a few points in Santa Fe this week thanks to a temporary profusion of gray matter at an international gathering of neuroscientists.

Meeting at La Posada for four days, 100 brain researchers and theorists shared current findings and pointed to new research directions.

Conference organizers said they were hoping to answer current challenges, including whether the discipline was close to an understanding of how the brain processes its information.

"There is a revolution coming in neuroscience and our embarrassing ignorance of how the brain works as an organism is primed to be replaced by some sort of understanding of how neural systems compute," said Garrett Kenyon, a staff member in biology and quantum physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. . . . (full story)

Predicting the next terrorism hot spots

WASHINGTON — In the decade since 9/11, the U.S. government has used every tool in its arsenal to hunt down terrorists and prevent them from striking U.S. soil.

American military and intelligence powers account for the bulk of the effort, but increasingly, computer modeling is being used to help anticipate potential hotbeds of terrorist activity.

The information helps various federal agencies work to neutralize the threats. Los Alamos National Laboratory and its Center for the Scientific Analysis of Emerging Threats is an integral part of the effort.

On Sunday, as part of the Albuquerque International Association's lecture series on terrorism post 9/11, the center's director, Edward P. MacKerrow, will discuss how computers can help us understand the motivations for terrorism and who might engage in terrorist actions in the future (full story).

Visiting North Korea: Q&A with Siegfried Hecker

Metallurgist Siegfried S. Hecker is probably the leading US expert on the chemical and physical capabilities of plutonium. He is a former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory (1986–97) and now codirector of Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation. Hecker's expertise has been widely sought both within and outside the US government.

Last October, Hecker was privately invited by the North Korean government to view a new uranium enrichment plant. Shortly after his trip, Physics Today's Paul Guinnessy asked Hecker about his findings, which he published in a recent report (full story).

Los Alamos radio station features TA-21 pollution prevention

LANL's Al Chaloupka and radio host Gillian Sutton talk about environmentally friendly OREX suits on KRSN-AM (Los Alamos).

Chaloupka, program manager for the Material Disposal Area B cleanup project, was interviewed about his team's use of OREX protective suits (full story).

LANL infrastructure specialist testifies at Roundhouse on natural gas disruption

Speaking before the New Mexico House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Feb. 16, LANL scientist Loren Toole offered a technical overview of the “conceptual underpinnings” of New Mexico’s recent natural gas outage, an event that threw several thousand New Mexico households into a winter deep freeze for days (full story).

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Friday, February 18, 2011

LANL fights back against cyber security threats

Federal Lab Consortium illustration.

New technologies represent a paradigm shift in practical cryptography. Unlike current cryptography techniques, which rely on the difficulty of mathematical problems to generate security, quantum encryption techniques rely on the laws of quantum mechanics.

LANL has filed two separate patents for intellectual property related to the secure quantum communications, and a call for technology commercialization partners has been announced. The work supports the Laboratory’s Global Security mission. (Full Story)

LANL creates flu laboratory

Lance Green of Biosciences Division tests an earlier version of a modular influenza laboratory. LANL photo.

Even after the first New Mexicans were sickened by pandemic H1N1 in April 2009, state health officials had no way of identifying the flu strain without first shipping a handful of samples to Atlanta for testing.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratories have developed an automated lab they say can analyze thousands of flu samples in days, offering health officials a fast, detailed picture of an emerging pandemic. (Full Story) Read more about it from United Press International Science News.

Lawmakers grill New Mexico gas company


NM Gas Company officials and other experts testify at a NM Legislative Committee hearing. Story features LANL's Duncan McBranch of the Science, Technology, and Engineering directorate. (Full Story)

Obama seeks big boost for labs

The 2012 Federal Budget Document.

The Obama administration Monday called for spending increases for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including a nearly $700 million budget hike in New Mexico.

Department of Energy spending provides the largest single chunk of federal cash flowing into New Mexico — $4.1 billion in 2010, much of it for nuclear weapons work at the labs. (Full Story)

STI meets customer current carrying requirements

Schematic of a typical superconducting wire. LANL illustration.

Superconductor Technologies Inc. has met a customer's requirements for current carrying performance for a second generation (2G) High Temperature Superconducting wire sample.

"STI and Los Alamos National Laboratory Reactive Co-Evaporation technology is both technologically innovative and potentially commercially enabling for new HTS machines." (Full Story)

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Dig reveals Manhattan Project pieces

KRQE anchorman Dick Knipfing introduces the story.

The federal government is spending $94 million of stimulus money to clean up the landfill, which was used to store remnants of the effort to create a nuclear bomb.

Waste, some of it contaminated with plutonium, was put into the dump between 1944 and 1948, said Gordon Dover, a deputy executive director of environmental programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

How tough is it to build a dirty bomb?

Members of the LANL Offsite Source Recovery program conduct a field recovery. From LANL video.

Science correspondent Miles O'Brien examines the threat that radioactive "dirty bombs" could pose to cities in the U.S., and what's being done to prevent a radiological attack from happening. Read the transcript Watch the story

LANL pathogen-mapping system could take mystery out of flu

ffering a new weapon against infectious diseases, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory announced another step in a multi-year project to build an automated surveillance network for mapping influenza and other pathogens.

Working toward dramatic improvements in surveillance information, a technical and biological team at LANL has partnered with the University of California, Los Angeles to build and test a system of small, self-contained High-Throughput Laboratory Network units capable of rapidly processing and analyzing large quantities of infectious materials from around the world. (
Full Story)

Suits save money, protect environment

An excavator operator wearing an OREX protective suit.

Los Alamos National Laboratory will save more than $800,000 and reduce the amount of material sent to a landfill by expanding the use of protective clothing made from a recyclable fabric.

Called OREX, the fabric is an organic polymer that is sent to a treatment facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where it can be dissolved and returned safely to nature. That saves both disposal costs and space in landfills. (Full Story)

Key hydrogen storage molecule unraveled

Diffraction studies provided the insights needed to understand key molecules in hydrogen storage. From R&D.

For nearly a century, nobody knew how the little molecule that’s in the middle of many of today’s hydrogen storage and release concepts was organized.

Thanks to an interdisciplinary team of scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the structure of a molecule known as DADB has been determined. (Full Story)

UCLA in collaboration with LANL, implements automated bio-surveillance system

Artists' representation shows how a HTLN might look when fully developed. LANL illustration.

UCLA and LANL, as part of their development of the High Throughput Laboratory Network (HTLN) for infectious disease surveillance, have selected HighRes Biosolutions to automate a high-throughput extraction and screening system. (Full Story)

Lincoln Interactive students chat live with Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher

Microscopic view of green algae. LANL photo.

Cutting Edge Science Club students learn about algae for biofuel research in an online video chat with Dr. Scott Twary, a leading plant physiologist and algae researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Dr. Twary answered a wide range of questions from participating students on topics from the physiology of algae to potential applications of algae as a biofuel and as a power plant emission scrubber. (Full Story)

HPC symposium co-hosted by Los Alamos National Lab and NVIDIA

Ben Bergen, research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said, "The growing success of GTC makes it a natural venue for co-hosting the Accelerated HPC Symposium. This event draws senior scientists from national research labs across the globe, and their interests in hardware and software development make for a perfect match with GTC." (Full Story)

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Friday, February 4, 2011

LANL to certify automated influenza surveillance system

Lance Green of Biosciences Division tests an earlier version of a modular influenza laboratory. LANL photo.

compact, self-contained, automated system for surveillance and screening of potential pandemic strains of influenza and other deadly infectious diseases is a step closer to reality.

Researchers from LANL and the UCLA School of Public Health will test and certify a critical component of the High-Throughput Laboratory Network (HTLN) to be built by HighRes Biosolutions. (Full Story)

NNSA highlights cutting-edge nuclear science facilities

The DARHT second axis accelerator hall. LANL photo.

DAHRT consists of two large x-ray machines that produce freeze-frame radiographs (high-powered X-ray images) of materials that implode at speeds greater than 10,000 miles an hour. (Full Story)

LANL scientists develop 3D tracking microscope

In an early demonstration, this instrument was used to follow three-dimensional dynamics of key proteins involved in the human allergic response and associated biological signals. (Full Story - Note: The Los Alamos Monitor now requires a subscription to view online content.

Also from the Monitor this week:

LANL completes TA-15 landfill excavation

Rubble from Material Disposal Area N awaits disposal. LANL photo.

LANL subcontractor crews last month completed an environmental milestone: excavation at another former material disposal area.

It’s the eighth disposal area to be excavated, or otherwise completed, of 26 across the Lab slated for remediation. (
Full Story - Note: The Los Alamos Monitor now requires a subscription to view online content.

LANL, county bomb teams join forces

LANL Bomb Squad robot picks up a "suspicious" looking briefcase during a demonstration. (Inset) The briefcase contained "fake" explosives. LANL photo.

n effort has been underway to re-establish the partnership that existed between the Los Alamos Police Department and Los Alamos National Laboratory bomb teams.

“The LAPD has been working on rejoining forces with the lab’s bomb team for the last four or five months,” said Lt. Preston Ballew, commander of the LAPD Bomb Squad. (Full Story Note: The Los Alamos Monitor now requires a subscription to view online content.)

LANL scholarships aid returning students

dults in northern New Mexico who want to return to college after taking a break from their educational pursuits could benefit from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation's new $1,000-per-year scholarship program. (
Full Story)

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