Friday, July 12, 2013

Wildfires may have bigger role in global warming, study says

Wildfires such as the Yarnell Hill blaze in Arizona may be warming Earth’s atmosphere far more than previously thought, according to a study by Los Alamos National Laboratory. (whole story)

This story also appeared in the Albuquerque Journal, the Cleveland Leader, Red Orbit, Science Daily and many other places

Also appearing this week in the Los Angeles Times:

Solar system's tail is clover-shaped, NASA's IBEX finds

Scientists working on NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer mission have nabbed their first direct glimpse of the so-called heliotail, the long trailing edge of the solar wind. Much to their surprise, three years of data from IBEX, as the Earth-orbiting craft is known, showed that the tail has a sort of clover shape, with separate "lobes" of faster- and slower-moving solar wind.

During the media event, astrophysicist Brenda Dingus of the Los Alamos National Laboratory said that IBEX's findings would help researchers studying cosmic rays. (whole story)

Megafires Are Becoming the New Normal in Hard-Hit Southwestern Forests

If you doubt that climate change is transforming the American landscape, go to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Sweltering temperatures there have broken records this summer, and a seemingly permanent orange haze of smoke hangs in the air from multiple wildfires.

"The majority of forests in the Southwest probably cannot survive in the temperatures that are projected," one of the study's co-authors, Park Williams, a bio-climatologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, told Environment 360. (whole story)

Solar system has a tail shaped like a four-leaf clover

Lucky us! Our solar system has a tail reminiscent of a four-leaf clover, according to new observations of the plasma bubble that shields the solar system from the rest of the galaxy. The discovery should help us better understand how our star interacts with the Milky Way, including how harmful cosmic rays from interstellar space manage to sneak through the solar system's magnetic barrier.

The heliotail could also be letting cosmic rays in, says Brenda Dingus of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who is not on the IBEX team. The magnetic field of the heliosphere protects us from the bulk of these galactic high-energy particles. (whole story)

A version of this story also appeared in CNN

Auto industry steel project to boost efficiency, safety

Higher-strength, lighter-weight steels could be coming to a car near you in the near future as part of a U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) advanced manufacturing initiative. LosAlamos National Laboratory and Colorado School of Mines (CSM) researchers are lending their expertise to a three-year, $1.2-million project to develop a new class of advanced steels for the automotive industry, materials that will be produced using cleaner manufacturing methods and eliminating the traditional heat-treatment and associated costs and hazards of the process. (whole story)

This story also appeared in Albuquerque Business First

There’s Alien Gas Flowing Through New York City’s Subways

Starting today, New York City authorities will be releasing perfluorocarbon gas into several subway stops, some above and some below ground. Sounds scary, but isn't: perfluorocarbon is a harmless gas, odorless and colorless, and it's being used in the largest airflow experiment ever undertaken.

Perfluorocarbon tracers, or PFTs, are used because they're artificial and do not occur in nature, so a very small amount can be detected fairly easily. The work of detection will be done by a large team from three national labs: the Brookhaven, Argonne, and Los Alamos National Laboratories. About 100 interns in addition to professionals from the labs will be constructing and monitoringsmall black-and-grey boxes in dozens of locations all around the city, all dedicated to checking the air for these tracers. (whole story)

This story also appeared in NBC News

X-ray Imaging, Spacecraft Nuclear Fission and Cosmic Ray Contraband Detection Score R&D 100 Awards

R&D Magazine today announced the winners of its annual “R&D 100” competition, commonly known as the “Oscars of Innovation,” and three technologies from Los Alamos National Laboratory and itspartners are among the honorees. (whole story)

Sandia, LANL recognized in ‘Oscars of innovation’

Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers have scored several R&D 100 Awards, known as the “Oscars of innovation.” Annually, R&D Magazine recognizes researchers involved in the year’s 100 most impressive advances. The winners will be recognized in the September issue of R&D Magazine. (whole story)

This story also appeared in the Los Alamos Monitor

Also this week in the Monitor:

LANL Beats Waste Shipping Goals

Los Alamos National Laboratory, which broke its waste shipping records in 2012, has exceeded last year’s mark with three months left to go in fiscal year 2013. During the past nine months, Los Alamos shipped 1,074 cubic meters of transuranic (TRU) andmixed low-level waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and other approvedwaste disposal facilities, exceeding last year’s record of 920 cubic meters. (whole story)

Highly portable X-ray imaging system developed

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Tribogenics have developed the MiniMAX (Miniature, Mobile, Agile, X-ray) camera to provide real-time inspection of sealed containers and facilities.MiniMAX is an alternative to the large, expensive, and fixed facilities presently required for security inspections using X-ray imaging. The complete MiniMAX portable radiography system weighs less than five pounds. (whole story)

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