Friday, February 24, 2012

More grapes, less wrath: hybrid antimicrobial protein protects grapevines from pathogen

A team of researchers has found a way to ensure that your evening glass of wine will continue to be available, despite the potential attack of Xylella fastidiosa (Xf), a bacterium that causes Pierce’s Disease and poses a significant threat to the California wine industry’s valuable grapevines.

Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Univ. of California at Davis (UCD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service have created specially engineered grapevines that produce a hybrid antimicrobial protein that can block Xf infection (full story).

This story also appeared in Laboratory Equipment

Nuclear reactors not needed to make the most common medical isotope

"This is wonderful for Canada," says Robert Atcher, director of the National Isotope Development Center at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. But Atcher questions whether the approach will work in the United States.

For starters, he says, most Canadians live in metropolitan centers near large hospitals that have cyclotrons. By contrast, the U.S. population is more diffuse, and many outlying hospitals don't have access to a cyclotron (full story).

MIT-LANL Awarded 2012 Federal Laboratory Consortium ‘Excellence in Technology Transfer Award’

Manhattan Isotope Technology, LLC, (MIT) is proud to announce that in partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory, was awarded the 2012 Federal Laboratory Consortium ‘Excellence in Technology Transfer Award' for "Recycling of Strontium-82 for Use in Medical Diagnostic Imaging." (full story)

Hyperion founders launch IX Power LLC

The new company created by Hyperion’s founders, pronounced “Nine Power,” will focus on commercializing energy and water technology from LANL, said John “Grizz” Deal, former Hyperion president and now CEO of IX Power.

Deal said he and his four partners left Hyperion last summer because of disagreements with Altira, which specializes in energy-related investments (full story).

No tritium found in Santa Fe wells

Alex Puglisi is the environmental compliance officer with the City of Santa Fe. And he knows there are people that don’t always buy the Los Alamos National Laboratory¹s story.

Puglisi, though, is confident the lab is right on this one.

Back in March of last year, samples at three of the wells at Santa Fe Buckman Water Supply Wells came back positive for tritium, which is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen (full story).

Los Alamos plans to step up security

Los Alamos National Laboratory announced Thursday that it is implementing several changes to its security procedures — including random vehicle inspections with bomb-sniffing dogs — as the result of a recent security assessment by the Department of Defense and Department of Energy.

The assessment team gave the lab a set of security enhancement recommendations, including expansion of random inspections of vehicles crossing the lab on West and East Jemez Roads and roadways leading to the main administrative area, Technical Area 3.

The lab will start the random vehicle inspections next month (full story).

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Friday, February 17, 2012

LANL researcher Roger Wiens discusses ChemCam

LANL’s Roger Wiens at a NASA news conference. From NASA.

Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher Roger Wiens discusses the ChemCam instrument on this video. ChemCam uses a laser to "zap" features of the Martian landscape and then uses a spectrometer to gather information about the composition of the sample. ChemCam will help the Curiosity Rover determine whether Mars is or was habitable. The Rover is expected to touch down on the Red Planet on August 5, 2012. (See the video here!)

New footage released from Manhattan Project

Laboratory historian Alan Carr. From KOAT-TV

Action 7 News sheds light on rare film of the scientist who came to Los Alamos to create an atomic bomb to end World War II.

Laboratory historian Alan Carr is interviewed about the cultural importance of this film that shows some of the everyday activities at Los Alamos in the 1940s. (
Full Story)

Scientists say nuclear bomb CAN save Earth from asteroid collision

Computer model that describes the effects of a nuclear energy source on a granular asteroid. LANL image.

It sounds like a plot fit for a disaster movie – but this is real life. Scientists say they have worked out a way to blast an asteroid into space dust using an atomic bomb.

Using one of the world's most powerful supercomputers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, physicists have calculated the effect of a nuclear blast on an incoming space rock.

Although NASA and other space agencies have mapped most nearby asteroids, the effect of one catching us by surprise would be catastrophic and, they believe, is worth preparing for. (Full Story)

LANL gets $239 million for cleanup

While most of the attention fell on the deferment of the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility, President Obama’s FY13 budget called for an increase in appropriation when it comes to cleanup.

The request is up $51 million from $188 million to $239 million, and will allow LANL to pursue cleanup in accordance with the consent order with the state. (Full Story)

Four New Mexico firms vie for $200 million in LANL contracts

The Laboratory's primary waste storage and handling facilities - Area G. LANL photo

Four small northern New Mexico companies have been authorized to bid on up to $200 million in waste-related services at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

LANL selected Environmental Dimensions Inc., North Wind Inc., Navarro Research and Engineering Inc. and Portage Inc. to compete on contracts to safely package Cold War-era waste for final disposal. (Full Story)

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Space voyages shouldn’t become politically incorrect

It's the kind of question a presidential candidate might ask: "Why should we spend money on space programs and going to Mars, when we need dollars so desperately here on Earth?"

“For thousands of highly-skilled jobs, and the knowledge to survive,” says Princeton physicist Gene McCall, former chief scientist of the Air Force Space Command and a fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory (full story).

Supercomputers help decode space weather

"When a storm goes off on the sun, we can't really predict the extent of damage that it will cause here on Earth. It is critical that we develop this predictive capability," says Homa Karimabadi, a space physicist at the Univ. of California, San Diego (UCSD).

Karimabadi's team, in close collaboration with William Daughton at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is currently using the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility's Cray XT5 Jaguar supercomputer, one of the most powerful in the world with a peak performance of 2.33 petaflops, to better understand the processes giving rise to space weather (full story).

Video: Open science rides LANL Mustang super

In this video, Bob Tomlinson from LANL describes the recently acquired Mustang supercomputer from Appro.

"The Mustang system has been supporting larger jobs as was intended and in just few months of use it has already offered 434 Million CPU hours for competitive, peer-reviewed, open science. According to the latest November 2011 Top500 list, Mustang was ranked as the 46th fastest supercomputer in the world supporting Climate, Environment, Electronic and many other science research projects. (full story)"

Quantum cryptography could be the real deal for smart phone security

Using smart phones for online banking and shopping has been promoted as the next big thing, but adoption has been slow, partly due to the fact that smart phones have security issues. Scientific American reports that this might change with the development of quantum cryptography.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have revamped quantum encryption to make it more viable for smart phone usage by developing a minitransmitter to hold the encryption key on one photon. If a hacker attempts to change the quantum information in the photon during a transaction, the transaction is cancelled (full story).

No tritium found in water system

Results from routine monitoring tests of the Santa Fe water system’s Buckman well field in 2010 came back with results showing traces of radioactive tritium, but Los Alamos National Laboratory and city officials now say the finding was erroneous (full story).

New facility boosts ability to ship transuranic waste

Construction has begun on a new facility that will help Los Alamos National Laboratory accelerate the shipment of transuranic (TRU) waste stored in large boxes at Technical Area 54, Area G.

“This facility will help us accelerate shipment of TRU waste,” said Waste Program and Services Project Director Andy Baumer. “Since the majority of our TRU waste inventory that is in large boxes can be processed in this facility, it’s going to be our workhorse.”

The new facility will contain a number of safety features. Construction is scheduled for completion in March 2012 (full story).

LANL Foundation announces its scholarship recipients

The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation through the Los Alamos Employees Scholarship Fund (LAESF) announces ten 2012 Regional College/Returning Student Scholarship Fund recipients.

This fund awards scholarships to students returning to formal education, after a hiatus for other pursuits. These scholarship candidates may have left formal education for business, the military, or other reasons, possibly for an extended period, and are now seeking to expand their opportunities with a certificate or a two-year degree through a program in the regional area (full story).

New from LANL

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Friday, February 3, 2012

“Alien” matter beyond solar system spotted by NASA probe

Color-coded full sky neutral atom map, as obtained with IBEX at energies where the interstellar wind is the brightest feature in the maps. NASA.

For the very first time, a NASA spacecraft has detected matter from outside our solar system — material that came from elsewhere in the galaxy.

The presence of less oxygen within interstellar material could indicate that the sun formed in a region with less oxygen compared to its current location, the researchers said.

"That leaves us with a puzzle for now: could it be that some of that oxygen, which is so crucial for life on Earth, is locked up in the cosmic dust?" asked Eberhard Möbius, a professor at the University of New Hampshire and a visiting professor at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

This same story also appeared on MSNBC

IBEX probe glimpses interstellar neighborhood

The IBEX probe. NASA image.

Space scientists, including researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, have described the first detailed analyses of captured interstellar neutral atoms—raw material for the formation of new stars, planets and even human beings.

The information was presented in Washington, D.C., at a press conference sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). (Full Story)

Quantum cryptography comes to smart phones

Quantum key device. LANL image.

60-Second Tech -- researchers at Los Alamos National Lab hope quantum encryption can help. Quantum encryption typically requires a lot of processing power and covers only short distances. But Los Alamos says it's developed a minitransmitter that encodes the encryption key on a single photon.

They call it the QKarD transmitter, short for Quantum Smart Card. Any change in the photon’s quantum information reveals an attempted hack and cancels the transaction. (Full Story and Podcast)

LANL honors four for leadership, research

Laboratory Director Charles McMillan and the Laboratory’s Fellows organization have awarded the 2011 Fellows Prize for Leadership in Science or Engineering to scientists John Gordon of LANL’s Inorganic Isotope & Actinide Chemistry group and Geoffrey Reeves of theLab’s Space Science & Applications group.

“This year’s Fellows Prize winners embody the excellence of the science that is so vital to completing our national security missions,” McMillan said. “I congratulate each of the four winners and salute their creativity and innovation.” (Full Story)

Also from the Monitor this week:

DOE to transfer tracts to county

By late 2010, a water tower and waste bins awaiting transport were all that was left at the DP West area of Technical Area 21. LANL photo.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration issued an amended Record of Decision to the Environmental Impact Statement for the conveyance and transfer of certain land tracts to Los Alamos County.

The tracts include the remaining acreage of Los AlamosNational Laboratory’s Technical Area 21 (about 245 acres) and the remaining acreage of the Airport Tract (about 55 acres). (Full Story)


Students build world’s first experimental super computer

Several local high school and undergraduate students including those from Los Alamos spent their summer assembling 2,500 computers at the New Mexico Consortium to create the world’s largest large-scale, low-level systems research facility.

The project (Parallel Reconfigurable Observational Environment, or PRObE) will be dedicated to systems research. The machines are retired large clusters donated by Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

National Academy picks UC administrator for top staff job

A jack-of-all-trades in the U.S. science policy arena, Bruce Darling says that becoming executive officer of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences will put him right exactly where he wants to be: in the middle of a "problem-rich environment" at an institution with the talent and resources to make a difference.

Bruce Darling, now vice president for laboratory management at the University of California, was named today to the job of overseeing day-to-day operations at NAS and its operating arm, the NationalResearch Council. (Full Story)

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