Friday, January 18, 2019

Editorial: LANL director wise to get New Mexicans on staff

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Director Thomas Mason

Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thomas Mason is the first to admit the work LANL does will never be popular with a significant portion of the population in New Mexico.

That’s one of the reasons he feels community relations is an important part of LANL’s agenda under new operator Triad National Security LLC.

“There are probably some people who are never going to like what we do because they don’t like nuclear weapons, which is actually understandable,” Mason said in an interview with the Journal. “It is kind of a weird thing to be working really hard on something you really hope will never be used.”

Mason pledges to be as open as possible with the communities with which the labs work. That’s a good start given the nature of the work done by the lab securing our nation’s nuclear arsenal. (Full story)

LANL economic impact is in the billions

Los Alamos National Laboratory had an average annual economic impact of $3.1 billion from 2015-17, according to independent research from the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research released Monday. The same entity pegged the lab’s economic impact at $2.3 billion in a similar 2011 report using 2009 data, said David Moore of the lab’s Community Partnerships Office.

The laboratory in the coming year intends to focus on stimulating new business growth and strengthening existing companies. It is doubling the local price preference from 5 to 10 percent given to contract bids from businesses based in the seven counties surrounding the laboratory, according to a news release. (Full story)

Why Did NASA, Lockheed Martin, and Others Spend Millions on This Quantum Computer?

Credit: Gizmodo

So why use bother with one of these devices? We posed that question to researchers using D-Wave computers at Lockheed Martin, Los Alamos National Lab, Volkswagen, and elsewhere. In short, D-Waves are in their early days, but these organizations are hoping to eventually use them to solve problems, like predicting elections, routing taxis in traffic jams, or picking crucial data out of background noise.

This is just something Los Alamos scientists do: They test high performance computers. “It’s an important but modest part of our entire high-performance computing strategy,” John Sarrao, deputy director for science, technology, and engineering at Los Alamos, told Gizmodo. “It is a technology that seems to be interesting, that quantum seems to play a role in, and is available for people who want to try things out. For us, that’s a enough to say it’s worth an exploration as part of a broader overall advanced computing strategy.” (Full story)

Micro-reactors As Cheap As Natural Gas Without Air Pollution

The Megapower micro reactor.

This article looks at the mid-2020 timeline for micro-reactors which has strong Department of Defense interest. Nextbigfuture has been interviewing the project lead, Venkat Rao, for what was the Los Alamos Megapower micro-reactor.

They are working on automated mass production of the heat pipes. Heat pipes are the critical technology for the reactor. They are looking to reduce the cost of heat pipes by ten times.

After the first reactors are built, they will scale up to factory mass production. They will be able to build complete units in one month or less. (Full story)

Five cool things you can do with an ‘atom smasher’

The LANSCE control room, LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory has several accelerators peppered throughout its 43 square miles. By far its largest is the accelerator at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE). The most powerful linear accelerator in the world when it opened in 1972, LANSCE speeds protons, one of the basic building blocks of atoms, to 84 percent the speed of light and energies as high as 800 million electron volts.

The protons traveling down the accelerator are moving a trillion times faster than a mosquito traveling down the same accelerator — that’s a pretty big deal. Protons are very light, so each one carries very little actual energy, but there are so many that together they deliver nearly a megawatt, one million watts, of average power to targets at the end of the accelerator. (Full story)

More stable light comes from intentionally ‘squashed’ quantum dots

Colloidal quantum dots (top) are formed of an emitting cadmium/selenium core, LANL graphic.

Intentionally “squashing” colloidal quantum dots during chemical synthesis creates dots capable of stable, “blink-free” light emission that is fully comparable with the light produced by dots made with more complex processes. The squashed dots emit spectrally narrow light with a highly stable intensity and a non-fluctuating emission energy. New research at Los Alamos National Laboratory suggests that the strained colloidal quantum dots represent a viable alternative to presently employed nanoscale light sources, and they deserve exploration as single-particle, nanoscale light sources for optical “quantum” circuits, ultrasensitive sensors, and medical diagnostics. (Full story)

Gary Grider from Los Alamos on the new Efficient Mission-Centric Computing Consortium

Gary Grider, LANL photo.

insideHPC: Gary, thanks for having me today. We haven’t seen each other for a while. I remember you and I were on a panel in Manhattan, I don’t know, something like 10 years ago at the Structure conference. Anyway, can you tell me more about this new organization you are part of?

Gary Grider: So we’re forming a consortium to chase efficient computing. We see many of the HPC sites today seem to be headed down the path of buying machines that work really well with very dense linear algebra problems. The problem is: hardcore simulation can often not be a great fit on machines built for high Linpack numbers. (Full story)

Also from Inside HPC this week"

Ramping up for Exascale at the National Labs

David Montoya, right, image from Inside HPC.

In this video from the Exascale Computing Project, Dave Montoya from LANL describes the continuous software integration effort at DOE facilities where exascale computers will be located sometime in the next 3-4 years.

A key aspect of the US Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project’s (ECP) continuous integration activities is ensuring that the software in development for exascale can efficiently be deployed at the facilities and that it properly blends with the facilities’ many software components. (Full story)

‘Realistic’ new model points way to more efficient and profitable fracking

Illustration of branching into densely
spaced hydraulic cracks, LANL image.

“Our model is far more realistic than current models and software used in the industry,” said Zdeněk Bažant, McCormick Institute Professor and Walter P. Murphy Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. “This model could help the industry increase efficiency, decrease cost, and become more profitable.”

Despite the industry’s growth, much of the fracking process remains mysterious. Because fracking happens deep underground, researchers cannot observe the fracture mechanism of how the gas is released from the shale. (Full story)

Venture fund helps with funding, technical aid

Bison Star Naturals owners Jacquelene
and Angelo McHorse with their 1-year-old
daughter, Judy. Photo from the Journal.

At the time of LANL’s management transition, more than $390,000 had been invested in the regional economy through the Native American Venture Acceleration Fund (NA VAF). Triad, LANL’s new manager, has vowed to retain most of the laboratory’s economic development initiatives – programs such as the NA VAF – although a spokesperson said some programs may look different going forward.

2018 recipients include Jacquelene and Angelo McHorse, owners of Bison Star Naturals, Jacqueline Gala Jewelry and PM Waterlily of Taos Pueblo, Butterfly Artist Market of Pojoaque Pueblo, Aguilar Consulting of San Ildefonso Pueblo, and the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council based in Ohkay Owingeh. (Full story)