Friday, June 24, 2016

You Can Now Tour Secret WWII Lab with 'Manhattan Project' App

This October 1965 photo shows a "Fat Man" nuclear bomb of the type tested at Trinity Site, N.M.

The efforts during World War II to develop an atomic bomb were once shrouded in secrecy, but today, the story of the so-called Manhattan Project isn't just public — you can now visit the project on your smartphone. (Full story)

Also in the Albuquerque Journal

Robot Rodeo brings in bomb squads from all over U.S.

A robot practices removing a device at the Robot Rodeo. Photo credit Los Alamos Monitor.

Emergency bomb squads from all over the U.S. are teamed up at Los Alamos National Laboratory this week to compete and show off their skills.   

Called the Robot Rodeo, it’s one of the few events where these teams can show off their skills taking their unit’s bomb handling robots through many types of real life scenarios.
Opening suspicious packages, taking bombs off trains, and delivering packages are just some of the scenarios the teams in the competition practice.

The Robot Rodeo takes place at Sandia National Laboratory or Los Alamos National Laboratory. This year it was at LANL’s Tech Area 49, where teams from the Los Alamos Police Department, Colorado, California and elsewhere put their robots through their paces. (Full story)

DOE Aims to Help Commercialize 2 Energy Technologies From Los Alamos Nat’l Lab

Stock photo, Executive Biz

The Department of Energy has awarded $850,000 in funds to support groundwater restoration and fractured rock characterization projects at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico under DOE’s Technology Commercialization Fund.

DOE picked a total of 54 energy technology projects that involve collaboration between 12 national laboratories and 52 companies as part of an effort to help businesses move technologies from the lab to the market, LANL said Tuesday. (Full story)

Efficient hydrogen production made easy: Sticking electrons to a semiconductor with hydrazine creates an electrocatalyst

Efficient Hydrogen Evolution in Transition Metal
Dichalcogenides via a Simple One-Step Hydrazine Reaction

In the 2015 movie "The Martian," stranded astronaut Matt Damon turns to the chemistry of rocket fuel, hydrazine and hydrogen, to create lifesaving water and nearly blows himself up. But if you turn the process around and get the hydrazine to help, you create hydrogen from water by changing conductivity in a semiconductor, a transformation with wide potential applications in energy and electronics. (Full story)

To subscribe to Los Alamos Press Highlights, e-mail and include the words subscribe PressHighlights in the body of your email message; to unsubscribe, include unsubscribe PressHighlights.

Please visit us at

Friday, June 17, 2016

Science on the Hill: Fragile life underfoot has big impact on desert

Field study area, from the New Mexican.        

By decomposing organic matter, some of the biocrust microorganisms release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Others remove carbon dioxide from the air and fix it into biomass in the soil.

It is a nicely balanced system — except it’s under assault, according to recent research by a multidisciplinary team of biologists, geneticists and computational scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service. (Full Story)

Efficient hydrogen production made easy

Hydrazine reaction apparatus, LANL image.

New research from Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers, “Efficient Hydrogen Evolution in Transition Metal Dichalcogenides via a Simple One-Step Hydrazine Reaction,” not only presents one of the best hydrogen water splitting electrocatalysts to date, but also opens up a whole new direction for research in electrochemistry and semiconductor device physics. (Full Story)

The neutrino turns 60

Interior of the Los Alamos neutrino detector at LANSCE in the 1990s, LANL photo.

“At every turn, it seems to take a decade or two for scientists to come up with experiments to start to probe the next property of the neutrino,” says Keith Rielage, a neutrino researcher at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory. “And once we do, we’re often left scratching our heads because the neutrino doesn’t act as we expect. So the neutrino has been an exciting particle from the start.” (Full Story)

Kitware brings ray tracing to the visualization toolkit

Surface modeling using the VTK plug-in running on ParaView, from Kitware.

Kitware introduced a new capability to the Visualization Toolkit (VTK) to offer scalable, high-fidelity rendering functionality to next-generation high-performance computing platforms. “At Los Alamos, we are very excited that OSPRay is integrated with ParaView, and we look forward to applying it to our scientific problems of interest on Trinity,” said James Ahrens, Ph.D, the data science at scale team leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Also from WIS-TV

Genomics conference started when human genome sequencing finished

Chris Detter. Post photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, by virtue of its historic concerns about radiation effects on human cells, had a head start in collecting genetic information and would become a major producer and repository of genetic information.

A conference founder and LANL genomics researcher, Chris Detter said the idea for the convocation came up one day while he was walking across the Omega Bridge in Los Alamos and posed a question to a colleague: “How about we start bringing all the centers around the world together at one location and we have a meeting?” he wondered. (Full Story)

Los Alamos app allows users to visit 1940s ‘Atomic City’

Security gate on the outskirts of Los Alamos in 1955, LANL image.             

Los Alamos, a once secret city where scientists participated in the nation’s classified World War II nuclear development program, can now be experienced much like it was then with a new app.

The "Los Alamos: The Secret City of The Manhattan Project" iPhone app takes users through an "augmented-reality" while visiting the northern New Mexico city to see it in its 1940s character. The app was created by Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

To subscribe to Los Alamos Press Highlights, please e-mail and include the words subscribe PressHighlights in the body of your email message; to unsubscribe, include unsubscribe PressHighlights.

Please visit us at

Friday, June 10, 2016

Scientists at US national labs thrive on discretionary funding

Albert Migliori, LANL image.

The opportunity to follow their curiosity keeps researchers connected to the greater scientific community.“You can start a program out of thin air—the lab will back you for a while if your idea is compelling,” says Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Albert Migliori. “But you’d better have a compelling elevator speech.”

For one LDRD project, Los Alamos’s Chris Fryer and colleagues took computer algorithms they were working on for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Livermore and applied them to simulate photon emissions from supernovae. (Full story)

New tech fights fires before they start

The Lab's "Sim Table," LANL image.                  

Lyle Cary, division leader for security and emergency operations at Los Alamos, explains the use of the Simtable at the Laboratory to determine where fires are most likely to start and how they will behave.

"We can run dozens and dozens of simulations on this table," said Cary. Using the latest information about past fire behavior and current terrain and weather conditions, the device is used as a preventative tool. "It allows us to identify areas for treatment and mitigation in advance of an event," said Cary. (Full story)

 Unsafe material moved to LANL

Gov. Martinez at a Los Alamos news
conference. LANL image.   

A drum of highly radioactive material stood idle in a warehouse across from an elementary school on Santa Fe’s south side for more than 10 years, according to the state Environment Department, but state officials say that material is now safely at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The Environment Department announced at LANL’s J. Robert Oppenheimer Study Center that a drum with 2.1 grams of the synthetic radioactive element americium, which is typically used in household smoke detectors, was moved from a Thermo Fisher Scientific warehouse. (Full story)

State orders radioactive material removed from warehouse

A building owned by Thermo Fisher Scientific in
Santa Fe, New Mexican photo.

A drum containing radioactive material used in smoke detectors and other equipment was finally taken to Los Alamos National Laboratory in February.

The drum contained 2.1 grams of americium. “We are in the process of evaluating the material and will determine its final disposition at a later time,” a Los Alamos National Laboratory spokesman said about whether the lab will repurpose the americium and use it in research. (Full story)

Also on KOAT-TV

OptoSigma advanced optics for NASA’s new Mars rover

ChemCam, the forerunner of
SuperCam, LANL image.

The SuperCam is the result of a cooperation between teams led by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL, New Mexico, US) and the Astrophysics and Planetology Research Institute (IRAP, Toulouse, France).

The instrument will use remote optical measurements and laser spectroscopy to determine fine-scale mineralogy, chemistry, and atomic and molecular composition of samples encountered on Mars. To enable these measurements, SuperCam is, in fact, many instruments in one. (Full story)

To subscribe to Los Alamos Press Highlights, e-mail and include the words subscribe PressHighlights in the body of your email message; to unsubscribe, include unsubscribe PressHighlights.

Please visit us at

Friday, June 3, 2016

The hunt for high-energy photons on a mountaintop in Mexico

HAWC, from Smithsonian.

The goal of the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) observatory is to find the highest-energy phenomena in the cosmos; including exotic stars, supermassive black holes, and annihilating dark matter.

Completed in March 2015, the observatory just recently released its first year of data — a map of the sky revealing about 40 super-bright sources, many from within our Milky Way galaxy. “These are not run-of-the-mill stars,” said physicist Brenda Dingus of Los Alamos National Laboratory, spokesperson for HAWC. (Full Story)

Space technology can help sustain Earth

Agricultural corn yields mapped by Descartes Labs. From Descartes.

Descartes Labs, a startup spun off from Los Alamos National Laboratory, is using the influx of data from Planet Labs and other Earth imagery providers to predict corn crop yields faster and more accurately than previously possible by the USDA at a resolution of 1/500th of an acre. San Francisco startup Space Know is synthesizing thousands of images from these imagery companies to provide an objective means of assessing the health of manufacturing in China’s economy. (Full Story)

RNA simulations boost understanding of retroviral diseases

RNA folded into a tetraloop, LANL image.

New molecular dynamics research into how RNA folds into hairpin-shaped structures called tetraloops could provide important insights into new treatments for retroviral diseases.

"Ribonucleic acid, known as RNA, forms the genome of multiple viruses that afflict humans, including Ebola, HIV and Zika, which are active areas of research at Los Alamos," said Jacob Miner, a Los Alamos National Laboratory graduate student in the Center for Nonlinear Studies. (Full Story)

Unsafe material moved to LANL

“The threats of this material getting in the wrong hands are really the key safety risk from our perspective,” New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said. “While it was secure at the facility, there is no comparison to the security you have up here in Los Alamos. It’s not even close. There was not a threat posed to human health by the material where it was located, but that material in the wrong hands could be a significant danger to the public.” (Full Story)

Blu-Ray optical archives scale up, manned by robots

Blu-Ray cold storage devices. From DCF.

The initial foray into Blu-Ray was an experiment to help Facebook manage a flood of incoming data, with users now uploading more than 900 million photos every day. 

“LANL has evaluated the specifications of Sony’s Everspan optical storage library and are expecting to see significantly reduced recall times when dealing with extremely large files for analysis,” said Brett Hollander, LANL’s High Performance Computing Archive Lead. (Full Story)

To subscribe to Los Alamos Press Highlights, please e-mail and include the words subscribe PressHighlights in the body of your email message; to unsubscribe, include unsubscribe PressHighlights.

Please visit us at