Friday, April 26, 2013

LANL scientists asked to help save Italian landmark

Los Alamos visitors and Italian scholars at the top of the cupola of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence, Italy. Photo courtesy Yvonne Keller.

Can a national nuclear weapons laboratory find meaningful work helping to preserve one of the grand architectural treasures of the Renaissance?

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory recently hosted a delegation of Italian experts to brainstorm ways of using some of the laboratory’s technology to protect Brunelleschi’s dome, a UNESCO world heritage site in Florence, Italy. (Full Story)

LANL to help Italian Landmark

Dick Knipfing introduces a story about LANL expertise being employed to preserve a threatened cathedral.

Los Alamos Lab scientists have been asked to help save an Italian landmark. Brunelleschi's Dome has topped the Cathedral of Florence since 1426, but there's growing concern about its structural stability.

The dome has several cracks and the worry is that a big earthquake could bring it down. LANL hastechnology to create a high-resolution model of the dome and simulate what would happen if there is major quake. (Full Story)

Editorial: Tech transfer working

Revolutionary ideas that could benefit society soon are bubbling out of New Mexico’s national laboratories. University of New Mexico Medical Center will start clinical trials this summer to screen women for breast cancer using a new ultrasound three-dimensional technology developed at Los AlamosNational Laboratory. (Full Story)

Also appearing this week in the Albuquerque Journal:

Trees may get a dose of healing

The cottonwood trees at Alameda Park might get a new lease on life. The Alamogordo parks department is working with a Los Lunas-based company to purchase a soil conditioning product that will help flush accumulated salts from soil around the trees in an effort to restore them to good health, according to Parks Supervisor Erik Marion.

The city will try the product sold by Soil Secrets at Alameda Park. The product, called Terrapro, was developed and tested with the help of Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. (Full Story)

UCLA space scientists find way to monitor elusive collisions in space

Many collisions occur between asteroids and other objects in our solar system, but scientists are not always able to detect or track these impacts from Earth. The "rogue debris" created by such collisions can sometimes catch us by surprise.

UCLA space scientists have now devised a way to monitor these types of collisions in interplanetary space by using a new method to determine the mass of magnetic clouds that result from the impacts. The research was made possible by the acquisition of data by Pioneer Venus and by Venus Express missions, and received support from both NASA and the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. (Full Story)

Airborne Terrorist Attack Study To Be Conducted In Subways

Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers are involved in an effort to safeguard Americans from airborne terrorism. “Terrorist Balloon” by Vlad Nanca.

A multimillion-dollar airflow study will be conducted this summer to help authorities better understand the risks of airborne terrorist attacks on New York City and its subway system.

The study is "the first of its scale to study airflow in a dense, complex urban environment both below and above-ground." Researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, along with other meteorologists and engineers, will assist scientists from BNL as they "track the movement of harmless tracer gases" through the urban atmosphere. (Full Story)

La Cueva trio wins with words

Justin Sanchez of Albuquerque La Cueva High School during the finalist team judging at the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge. LANL Photo.

Not everyone has the aptitude to comprehend computer languages. But a group of astute La Cueva High School students who do came up with a way for computers to understand relationships between words in human language through statistical analysis,thereby winning the top prize at this year’s New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge.

In all, more than $49,000 in individual scholarships were awarded, including $28,0000 from LANL’s Computer, Computational and Statistical Sciences Division and Los Alamos National Security, which runs the Lab. (Full Story)

This story also appeared in the Los Alamos Monitor

LANL makes progress on tuberculosis

Tuberculosis bacteria. CDC Photo.

New work from Los Alamos National Laboratory shows promise for stemming the advance of tuberculosis (TB) by revealing how the bacterium interacts with its human hosts and thus providing a new pathway for early detection in patients.

A recent publication from the Los Alamos Biosensor Team describes the association of a key tuberculosis virulence factor, lipoarabinomannan (LAM) with human high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in blood. (Full Story)

Also appearing this week in the Los Alamos Monitor:

Wallace spells out seismic hazards

Terry Wallace, Principal Associate Director for Global Security. LANL photo.

One of the highlights at Friday’s meeting of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities was a presentation by Terry Wallace, principal associate director for global security at Los Alamos National Laboratory, on “The Seismic Hazard of New Mexico: Earthquakes & Building Codes.” (Full Story)

Scholarships given to 73 students

Los Alamos Employee Scholarship recipients Micaela Lucero, Kevin Gao and Danielle Harrier. Courtesy photos.

Seventy-three students from seven Northern New Mexico counties were announced this week as recipients of this year’s scholarships through the Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund.

Funding for the scholarships comes from $411,500 in donations from Los Alamos National Laboratory employees and Los Alamos National Security, LLC. (Full Story)

This story also appeared in the Los Alamos Monitor 

Los Alamos National Laboratory Employees Receive Pollution Prevention Awards

Molten plutonium in a crucible. LANL photo.

Nearly 400 Los Alamos National Laboratory employees on 47 teams received Pollution Prevention awards for protecting the environment and saving taxpayers more than $8 million. The employees were recognized at the Laboratory’s annual Pollution Prevention Awards ceremony on Monday (April 22), Earth Day. (Full Story)

This story also appeared in the Los Alamos Daily Post


Top BioEnergy Researchers to Establish U.S.-Israel Collaboration

Blue Green Algae.

Officials of the U.S. Department of Energy’s algae programs based at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Israeli government officials who coordinate aspects of their nation’s energy and technology commercialization programs also have flown in for the meetings. The delegation’s activities here follow two and one half days in Washington DC that included a briefing by senior White House staff and meetings with headquarters scientists. (Full Story)

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Friday, April 19, 2013


UNM to test early detection system

The University of New Mexico Hospital will begin screening women for breast cancer this summer with a new system some doctors say could revolutionize cancer-detection technology.

The breast cancer ultrasound tomography system was developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a $7.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. The system is being prepared for commercial markets by a newly formed company, Mustomo Inc., and UNMH will start clinical trials this summer on 200 women (full story).


LANL initiative spurs tech transfer

“LabStart has popped up as a model that works,” (LANL’s Tom) Brennan said. “We have an active ‘white paper’ into (the DOE) for funding to roll it out to additional laboratories.”

Karina Edmonds, the DOE’s technology transfer coordinator until her appointment ended on April 11, said LabStart has indeed raised eyebrows (full story).

Also from the Journal:

Editorial: Tech transfer working

Revolutionary ideas that could benefit society soon are bubbling out of New Mexico’s national laboratories (full story).

Students to descend on lab

More than 200 New Mexico students and their teachers will be at Los Alamos National Laboratory, April 21-23 for the 23rd annual New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge expo and awards ceremony (full story).

 Also from the Monitor:

LANL quality assurance division gets recognition

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Quality and Performance Assurance Division received Piñon Recognition from Quality New Mexico and will be recognized at QNM’s annual learning summit and awards ceremony April 22-23 in Albuquerque (full story).

The green supercomputer: Adaptive Computing is ensuring fast doesn’t mean wasteful

A week ago Roadrunner, the world’s first petaflop supercomputer and still capable of a staggering one quadrillion floating point operations per second, was tossed aside like an old shoe, or the PC you bought in 2007. Five years ago it was the fastest computer on the planet, running nuclear warhead degradation simulations for Los Alamos National Laboratory, today it’s yesterday’s news.

But speed wasn’t the only issue.

Rather, the race for better, smaller, faster supercomputers now includes an adjective that wasn’t nearly as common five years ago: greener. (full story)

Accurate pointing by Curiosity

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover targeted the laser of the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument with remarkable accuracy for assessing the composition of the wall of a drilled hole and tailings that resulted from the drilling. This graphic diagrams the pointing and shows the resulting pits created by the laser shots (full story).


Senate panel backs Moniz for energy chief

The Senate Energy Committee has overwhelmingly endorsed the nomination of physicist Ernest Moniz to lead the Energy Department. The energy panel voted 21-1 Thursday to endorse Moniz, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (full story).

Want a stable grid? Tune the generators, researchers say

Researchers have discovered that there's more to power grid synchronization than the transmission lines alone. According to a report on, researchers at Northwestern University, Stanford and Los Alamos National Laboratory found that "the leading factor for grid stability is not the network structure itself, which most previous studies have focused on, but the relation between the network structure, the state of the grid, and certain parameters of the generators."

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Acequia Madre students to show off ‘Ciri’ at robotics competition

Sixth-graders Carmen Bella Moses, Jun-Hong Chen and Graham Purvis worked with Los Alamos National Laboratory engineer Mike Schoemaker. New Mexican photo.

Mike Schoemaker, who works as an engineer for Los Alamos National Laboratory, has served as a volunteer mentor for the Robo Rave team since it started working on Ciri back in February.

“I just gave them a little advice,” Schoemaker said Friday morning as the kids demonstrated Ciri’s potential in a trial run. “They took the lead. They really did most of this on their own.” Though robots have fascinated kids for decades, robotics classes and competitions are becoming more popular among students today, he noted. (Full Story)

Lab kits inspire students

Chimayó Elementary students Justin Martinez (left) and Manny Martinez pick the bones of a rodent out of an owl pellet, part of a third-grade inquiry science kit. RG Sun photo.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation showed off its Science Resource Center to the community April 4. Housed at the Manzana Center in Chimayó, the Center acts as a distribution center for science experiment kits.

Students from kindergarten to sixth grade work on hands-on science projects ranging from electricity and magnetism to animal studies. (Full Story)

Carlsbad middle school students spend spring break prepping for robot wars

They hope their hands-on experience in building a mini Sumovore will net them a win today at the Los Alamos National Lab Foundation's STEM program robotics competition. (Full Story)

Lightning strokes can probe the ionosphere

NOAA image.

Thunderstorms, and the resulting partially ionized plasma of the ionosphere, can distort radio signals traveling to satellites important to communications, navigation or national security

Los Alamos researchers and a collaborator have made measurements during thunderstorms to study the affect of lightning on the lower ionosphere and radio frequency signals. (Full Story)

Remaining Martian atmosphere still dynamic

Maurice at the Curiosity landing event.  LANL image.

Dust distributed by the wind has been examined by Curiosity’s laser-firing Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, developed by scientists at Los Alamos and in France. Initial laser pulses on each target hit dust.

“We knew that Mars is red because of iron oxides in the dust,” said Sylvestre Maurice from the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in Toulouse, France. “ChemCam reveals a complex chemical composition of the dust.” (Full Story)

Antibody evolution could guide HIV vaccine development

HIV researcher Bette Korber. LANL photo.

Observing the evolution of a particular type of antibody in an infected HIV-1 patient, a study spearheaded by Duke University, including analysis from Los Alamos National Laboratory, has provided insights that will enable vaccination strategies that mimic the actual antibody development within the body.     

Patients early in HIV-1 infection have primarily a single “founder” form of the virus that has been strong enough to infect the patient, even though the population in the originating patient is usually far more diverse. (Full Story)

Also from the Monitor this week:

Packed house at Bradbury

U.S. Air Force Colonel Paul Tibbets IV at the Bradbury Science Museum in downtown Los Alamos.  From the Monitor.

Colonel Paul Tibbets, IV, the grand son of the Enola Gay’s pilot, shared personal remembrances of his grandfather’s military career at a lecture Wednesday night in front of a packed house at Bradbury Museum.

The lecture was the latest in a year-long series of talks at the Bradbury to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

New Mexico labs fare well in Obama budget

Los Alamos National Laboratory.  LANL photo.               

Los Alamos National Laboratory would see a 7 percent budget increase, while spending for Sandia National Laboratories would remain basically flat under the Obama administration budget plan unveiled Wednesday.

The Department of Energy spending proposal requests $1.96 billion for Los Alamos and $1.8 billion for Sandia in fiscal year 2014.

Total spending for cleanup of radioactive waste at Los Alamos would rise 16 percent, to $215 million. (Full Story)

$31.8M more for Lab Cleanup

TRU waste packaged in steel barrels, awaiting transport to WIPP. LANL photo.

The Obama administration’s proposed federal budget includes a $31.8 million increase for cleanup of radioactive and other wastes at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

For the 2014 fiscal year, Obama is asking for $219.8 million for “defense environmental cleanup” at LANL, including about $4 million for administration.

That’s up from $188 million in the current budget year. (Full Story)

Also from the Journal this week:

DOE nominee Moniz offers strong support for nuke weapons mission

Ernest Moniz at his confirmation hearing. U.S. Senate Photo.

Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Department of Energy, served up a strong statement in defense of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex at his confirmation hearing in Washington this morning.

“DOE expertise, to a large extent drawing on the knowledge skills and commitment of our national laboratory scientists and a technically versed intelligence group, is critical to our national defense,” Moniz told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. (Full Story)

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