Friday, August 30, 2013

Magnetic charge crystallization directly visualized in artificial spin ice material

3-D depiction of the honeycomb artificial spin ice topography. UI image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory staff scientist Cristiano Nisoli explained, "The emergence of magnetic monopoles in spin ice systems is a particular case of what physicists call fractionalization, or deconfinement of quasi-particles that together are seen as comprising the fundamental unit of the system, in this case the north and south poles of a nanomagnet." (Full Story)

Homeland Security takes on tech’s ‘Valley of Death’

Death Valley National Park.  From BusinessWeek.

PathScan: This project out of Los Alamos National Lab takes a counterintuitive approach. Instead of keeping online attackers out, the software lets them in so it can trace in real time the path of hackers, learn their techniques and pinpoint machines that are likely compromised so technicians can take those offline. The technology is already running on the lab's 20,000-computer unclassified network. (Full Story)

Mystery revealed, weapons vault declassified

FOX correspondent Will Carr and photographer Lloyd Gottschalk. LANL photo.

A crew from the FOX News Channel spent the better part of two days at the Laboratory last week doing a story about the Cold War site, the TA-41 tunnel vault.

The crew interviewed Lab historian Ellen McGehee and toured the site on day one. The next day, Aug. 21, the correspondent, Will Carr, went live with the story throughout the day on FOX News. Carr recently worked at KOAT-TV in Albuquerque. (Watch the video)

Compact, lightweight X-ray scans

LANL MiniMAX.  LANL image.

X-ray scanners are, even after decades of development, bulky, heavy, expensive and not always reliable. Los Alamos National Laboratory, with the help of several industry experts in optics, has introduced an x-ray device, MiniMAX that overcomes these limitations. MiniMax (Miniature, Mobile, Agile X-ray system) is light, portable, relatively inexpensive and robust. (Full Story)

Navy tests next generation sequencing to gather DNA information

DNA sequence illustration. From Global Biodefense.

Naval Medical Research Center researchers are working with scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to test the deployment of the NGS technology called “Edge Bioinformatics.” NMRC researchers are identifying the logistics required to gather the necessary bioinformatics information, specifically DNA sequence information about thousands of organisms from E. coli to Ebola virus. (Full Story)

New insights on wildfire smoke could improve climate change models

FES electron microscope images of different categories of soot particles. MichTech image.

A Michigan Tech team that includes alumnus Kyle Gorkowski of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, along with other LANL scientists, looked at two types of particles captured during the 2011 Las Conchas fire in New Mexico: soot, not unlike that found in diesel exhaust; and tar balls, tiny round blobs that are abundant in biomass smoke and composed largely of carbon and oxygen. (Full Story)

Los Alamos honors team for work with P&G

Harry Martz, left, and Michael Hamada with their Feynman Prizes.  LANL image

Los Alamos National Laboratory has given its first Richard Feynman Prize for Innovation Achievement to researchers at the lab in recognition for their work with Procter & Gamble.

Michael Hamada, Harold Martz and their colleagues worked with Procter & Gamble for years developing a concept known as Reliability Technology — a statistical method that P&G has used to streamline its manufacturing processes. (Full Story)

Record set for LANL scholarship fund

This year’s Los Alamos National Laboratory Employees’ Scholarship Fund broke past fundraising records, raising a total of $563,827.

Scholarship awards went to 73 students in a seven-county region. Winners received their checks, ranging from $20,000 to $1,000 at a recent ceremony at the LANL Foundation office courtyard in EspaƱola. (Full Story)

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Friday, August 23, 2013

New Gamma-Ray observatory begins operations at Sierra Negra Volcano

The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma Ray Observatory has begun formal operations at its site in Mexico. HAWC is designed to study the origin of very high-energy cosmic rays.

"The HAWC observatory will search for signals from dark matter and to study some of the most extreme objects in the universe, such as supermassive black holes and exploding stars," said Brenda Dingus, principal investigator and a research fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

Also from PhysOrg this week:

3-D Earth model more accurately pinpoints source of earthquakes, explosions

Under the sponsorship of the National Nuclear Security Administration's Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation R&D, Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory have partnered to develop a 3-D model of the Earth's mantle and crust called SALSA3D, or Sandia-Los Alamos 3D.

The purpose of this model is to assist the US Air Force and the international Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna, Austria, more accurately locate all types of explosions. (full story)

New Gamma-Ray Observatory Begins Operations at Sierra Negra Volcano

The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma Ray Observatory has begun formal operations at its site in Mexico. HAWC is designed to study the origin of very high-energy cosmic rays and observe the most energetic objects in the known universe. This extraordinary observatory, using a unique detection technique that differs from the classical astronomical design of mirrors, lenses, and antennae, is a significant boost to international scientific and technical knowledge.

“The HAWC observatory will search for signals from dark matter and to study some of the most extreme objects in the universe, such as supermassive black holes and exploding stars,” said Brenda Dingus, principal investigator and a research fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dingus is a Fellow of the American PhysicalSociety, and in 2000 was a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. (full story)

Fukushima may use cosmic rays to assess nuclear reactor damage

Back in 2011, a nuclear reactor inFukushima melted down due to the after effects of a tsunami. When a nuclear reactor melts down, that leaves quite a bit of radiation floating around as well as hazards — like pools contaminated with spent fuel rods — which make it difficult to assess the full extent of the damage. In turn, that also makes it difficult to figure out exactly how to handle the cleaning process. A team from Los Alamos NationalLaboratory (LANL) is now working with Fukushima officials to use cosmic rays to see into the reactor to provide a clear picture of the damage. (full story)

This scientist helped quietly save the world from Soviet nukes

When the Soviet Union broke apart at the end of the Cold War, several of its military and science facilities fell into disrepair. One of them, the Semipalatinsk Test Site, just happened to be a nuclear test site the size of New Jersey and filled with leftover nuclear material.

A former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Siegfried Hecker became interested in Semipatalinsk after Kairat Kadyrzhanov, director of the Kazakh Institute of Nuclear Physics, visited Los Alamos. (full story)

Neutron study aims to improve HIV drugs

A neutron study of a common component of HIV drugs has revealed that the component is not as good at bonding as had been thought.

Anna Llobet, an expert in neutron scattering at Los Alamos National Laboratory says that the latest ILL study is one of just a handfulthat have used neutrons to examine the effectiveness of drug interactions with disease targets. (full story)
Cosmic Rays may reveal damage to Fukushima’s nuclear reactors

Technology capable of harnessing the high-energy muon particles comes from the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Shortly after 9/11, the U.S. lab developed a muon detector that could spot uranium or plutonium nuclear weapons hidden inside cargo containers.

“It sounds pretty outrageous if someone says, ‘I can see through that 2 meters of concrete and 8 inches of steel and see the core of the reactors with detectors sitting outside your building,’” said LANL physicist Christopher Morris. (full story)

NMSP bomb tream trains with fake traps

Chris Ory, part of LANL’s Hazardous Material Team, has set up 10 devices in the two-room home. The front room is meant to be a meth lab, while the back room is staged as a lab for making homemade explosives.

"Some of the devices I used today were used in Afghanistan or Iraq and then there were other ones that were real simple that are normally used in drug labs throughout the United States," Ory said. (full story)

Meltwater from Greenland’s ice sheet less severe than earlier feared

The effects of increased melting on the future motion of and sea-level contribution from Greenland’s massive ice sheet are not quite as dire as previously thought, according to a new study.

“Scientists have been looking into this mechanism for about a decade now, as a means by which the Greenland ice sheet might decayfaster than expected,” said co-author Stephen Price of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Climate Ocean and Sea Ice Modeling Project team. (full story)

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Promise and perils of hyperloop and other high-speed trains

Artist's concept of a hyperloop capsule. From NOVA.

Today, we have high-speed rail andmagnetic levitation trains that are speedy, efficient, and—perhaps most important—proven.

“It’s still too far out there in terms of being shown to be viable,” says Dean Peterson, a senior scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and former director of the Super Conducting Technology Center there, where he worked on maglev trains. “It has potential,” he adds, “but some of his concepts still need further work.” (Full Story)

Mystery particle to make devices even tinier

Skyrmions get close to each other without interfering with one another, University of Hamburg image.

A strange, newly discovered particle could shrink a laptop computer's hard drive to the size of a peanut, the particle, called a skyrmion, is more stable and less power-hungry than its conventional, magnetic cousin.

Skyrmion-based electronics wouldn’t just be smaller and more stable — they’d use less power, noted Avadh Saxena, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Cosmology in the lab using laser-cooled ions

The picture shows ytterbium ions in an ion Coulomb crystal, taken with an EMCCD camera. From PhysOrg

Scientists from Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt with colleagues from Los Alamos National Lab, the University of Ulm, and Hebrew University have demonstrated topological defects in an atomic-optical experiment in the laboratory.

Topological defects are errors in the spatial structure which are caused by the breaking of the symmetry when particles of a system cannot communicate with each other. (Full Story)

LANL team lends helping hand in Fukushima

The LANL team in Japan. LANL photo.

The team was in Japan to lend credence to their research that muon imaging may offer the best hope of assessing damage to the reactor cores and locating the melted fuel.

Muon imaging, which utilizes naturally occurring muons created in the atmosphere by cosmic rays to image dense objects, should solve the problem of determining the spatial distribution of the reactor fuel in the short term, the LANL team said. (Full Story)

Udall floats plan to streamline tech transfer

Sen. Tom Udall.

New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall, whose state is home to the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, is proposing a plan to speed the commercial use of technology developed under government auspices.

Udall's bill, which he said he will introduce in the fall, is tentatively called the Technology Transfer Invention, Innovation, and Implementation Act. (Full Story)

LANL Scholarship Fund tops $560K

Nan Sauer, campaign chair.

This year’s Los Alamos National Laboratory Employees’ Scholarship Fund broke previous fundraising records, raising a total of $563,827. Of that, 601 LANL employees, visiting scientists and friends of the lab contributed $313,000. Los Alamos National Security LLC, which manages the lab, provided a $250,000 match.

Campaign chair Nan Sauer said the amount raised from employees topped the Scholarship Advisory Committees’ goal of $300,000. (Full Story)

New Mexico State University Receives DOE Funding For Continued Algae Biofuels Research

NMSU Prof. Peter Lammers.  LANL photo.

The principal investigator of the project, entitled REAP: Realization of Algae Potential, will be Peter Lammers, director of the NMSU Algal Bioenergy team.

Lammers will coordinate efforts at partner institutions that include Los Alamos, Argonne and Pacific Northwest national laboratories; Washington State and Michigan State universities and four companies, Phycal, Algenol Biofuels, Pan Pacific Technologies and UOP-Honeywell. (Full Story)

IX Power introduces solution for toxic produced water from oil & gas

IX Power Illustration.

IX Power Clean Water, has acquired the patent rights to OrganiClear(TM) from Los Alamos National Laboratory and begun commercialization of the technology to filter toxic hydrocarbons in “produced water.”

The OrganiClear machine cleans water to the point that it can be safely used for agriculture and livestock and, with additional processes, can also be used for community water systems. (Full Story)

Image-processing 1,000 times faster is goal of new $5M contract

U-M Illustration.  

Wei Lu, U-M associate professor of electrical engineering is leading a project to build alternative computer hardware that could process images and video 1,000 times faster. Collaborators include Garrett Kenyon of the Los Alamos National Lab.

Lu has been awarded an up-to-$5.7 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to design and fabricate a computer chip based on so-called self-organizing, adaptive neural networks. (Full Story)

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Lab celebrates 70 years of research, looks ahead

Ross McDonald speaks about magnetic coils at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. New Mexican Photo.
The lab celebrated its 70th anniversary last week with nostalgic memories, memorable talks, community visits and employee reunions. LANL Director Charles McMillan opened the first day of an anniversary conference (the second day was devoted to classified subjects) by recalling the grim circumstances of the lab’s beginning in the early days of World War II. But he also invited an open discussion of the decades to come. (
Full Story)

Lab celebrates 70th

Lab director Charlie McMillan talks to the crowd on Saturday.  LA Monitor Photo.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory let the public get a small peek behind the curtain this weekend as it wrapped up its week-long 70th anniversary celebration on the grounds of Los Alamos High School Saturday.

Throughout the week, the public was treated to lectures from prominent scientists and government officials, such as U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill and deputy administrators from the National Nuclear Security Administration, Anne Harrington and Don Cook. (Full Story)

Extended coverage from the Los Alamos Monitor this week:

McMillan talks of lab’s past, present, future

Los Alamos National Laboratory director Charlie McMillan offered a bit of a history lesson this week when the lab hosted a series of lectures and tours to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

McMillan cited the first Los Alamos Primer, which came out in 1943 and made up a second primer, which came out this week. (Full Story)

Guest Column: LANL Family Day builds community relationships

This week, I wanted to offer my personal kudos to Los Alamos National Laboratory, for a wonderful Family Day. The event was obviously the result of many hours of planning and lots of effort by both staff and volunteers. The result was a success. (Full Story)

Governor attends LANL’s 70th Anniversary family day

LA Daily Post Photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan introduces New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez who spoke at Saturday’s 70th anniversary celebration for Lab employees, families, alumni and retirees.

The event included a picnic, family activities and visits to Lab facilities.

Dignitaries at Saturday's event included Rep. Stephanie Garci Richard, center, and Los Alamos County Council Chair Geoff Rodgers. (Full Story)
Also from the Daily Post this week:

LANL announces express licensing program

KIVA code simulation of an experimental engine, software available for express licensing. LANL image.

With the launch of a new "Express Licensing” program, access to innovative technology invented at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has gotten easier.

“The Express License program offers an additional licensing resource for local entrepreneurs as well as national collaborators,” said David Pesiri, director of LANL’s Technology Transfer Division. (Full Story)

Ultrasound measurements reveal a long-sought phase transition in superconducting cuprates

Arkady Shekhter.  LANL Photo.

More than a quarter century has passed since the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity in a class of copper oxide compounds, and in many ways the materials remain as confounding as ever.

Among the biggest puzzles in superconductivity is the origin of the pseudogap state. Now Arkady Shekhter, Albert Migliori, and their colleagues at the NHMFL at Los Alamos National Laboratory have found that signature. (Full Story)

Van Allen probes pinpoint driver of speeding electrons

An artist's rendering of a mechanism within the Van Allen radiation belts. LANL illustration.

“For years we thought the Van Allen belts were pretty well behaved and changed slowly,” said Geoffrey Reeves of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Intelligence and Space Research Division. “With more measurements, however, we realized how quickly and unpredictably the radiation belts change, and now we have real evidence that the changes originate from within the belts themselves.” (Full Story)

Also from the Monitor this week:

Exhibits open at Bradbury

Watch the biofuels video on YouTube.

LANL employees, friends, family, and community members come together to take a first look at two new Bradbury Science Museum exhibits: Nanotechnology and Algae Biofuels. The crowd explored the newly installed exhibits, which took 18 months to prepare. and tackle subjects such as detecting cancer with nanoparticles and the possible invention of invisibility cloaks. (Full Story)

Top-secret super-secure vault declassified

One of five vault rooms at the TA-41 site. LANL image.

Once one of the most secret and secure locations in the United States, it is the original post-Second World War nuclear stockpile storage area. Located in Los Alamos canyon, the Tunnel Vault was built between 1948 and 1949.

At the end of the tunnel is a large alcove room with a single bank vault door. Through that door is a vault built inside a vault with five storage areas, all protected with identical bank vault doors. All these features can be seen on a video that tours the recently declassified, historically significant facility available on the Los Alamos National Laboratory YouTube channel. (Full Story)

Long-range tornado prediction: Is it feasible?

UCAR Photo by Greg Thompson.

An innovative model could help serve as a bridge between large-scale seasonal forecasts and potential tornado outlooks. The Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS), whose development is based at Los Alamos National Laboratory and NCAR, includes atmosphere and ocean components. MPAS was made available to the research community at large in June. (Full Story)

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