Friday, July 16, 2021

Why the U.S. once set off a nuclear bomb in space

Artificial aurora created by the Starfish Prime nuclear test in 1962, from NatGeo.


In the unlikely event another nuclear bomb goes off in space, Geoff Reeves, a research fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, has been working on a quick way to get rid of radiation belts made from nuclear blasts. In his design, a transmitter mounted on a satellite hits the trapped radiation with specialized AM radio waves, which nudge the charged particles lower into the atmosphere, where they would be harmlessly absorbed.


“So now, if you had a Starfish belt and you had the right technology in space,” Reeves says, “you could get rid of that belt in a couple of weeks.” (Full Story)


LANL joins effort to track bird-borne pathogens with pandemic potential


Ornithologist Jeanne Fair, New Mexican photo.


Migratory birds can fly great distances, enabling them to spread an infectious disease to far-flung areas of the world.


Los Alamos National Laboratory is supplying its expertise in genetic research to a consortium that will study birds migrating along a flyway stretching from Africa across the Mediterranean and Black seas to the Arctic, in part as a pandemic-prevention effort.


Named the Avian Zoonotic Disease Network, the consortium seeks to detect bird-borne illnesses — especially ones with pandemic potential — to better understand how they originate, how they can be transferred to livestock and people, and how to prevent their spread. (Full Story)


For the birds


Jeanne Fair and feathered friend, LANL photo.


In early June, China reported a 41-year-old man had been infected with H10N3—a type of avian influenza—marking the first case of human infection from that particular strain.  For scientists like Jeanne Fair, the event emphasizes the fortuitous timing of a new initiative kicking off this fall: the Avian Zoonotic Disease Network.


A scientist with Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Biosecurity and Public Health division, Fair’s career has focused on epidemiology and animal disease ecology. As part of that work, she spent three years as the regional science manager in the Middle East and Central Asia region for the US Department of Defense’s Biological Threat Reduction program, which is supplying the grant for the new avian project. (Full Story)


Neutron-clustering effect in nuclear reactors demonstrated for first time


Nicholas Thompson helps to set up the neutron clustering measurements at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, LANL photo.


For the first time, the long-theorized neutron-clustering effect in nuclear reactors has been demonstrated, which could improve reactor safety and create more accurate simulations, according to a new study recently published in the journal Nature Communications Physics.


"The neutron-clustering phenomenon had been theorized for years, but it had never been analyzed in a working reactor," said Nicholas Thompson, an engineer with the Los Alamos Advanced Nuclear Technology Group. "The findings indicate that, as neutrons fission and create more neutrons, some go on to form large lineages of clusters while others quickly die off, resulting in so-called 'power tilts,' or asymmetrical energy production." (Full Story)


Also from the Los Alamos Reporter


D-Wave, Los Alamos isolate emergent magnetic monopoles using quantum-annealing computer


Testbed to examine the behavior of emergent magnetic monopoles. LANL graphic.


Using a D-Wave quantum-annealing computer as a testbed, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have shown that it is possible to isolate so-called emergent magnetic monopoles, a class of quasiparticles, creating a new approach to developing “materials by design.”


“We wanted to study emergent magnetic monopoles by exploiting the collective dynamics of qubits,” said Cristiano Nisoli, a lead Los Alamos author of the study. “Magnetic monopoles, as elementary particles with only one magnetic pole, have been hypothesized by many, and famously by Dirac, but have proved elusive so far.” (Full Story)


Also from the Los Alamos Reporter


Will DeltaFS become the file system of Exascale's future?


Los Alamos National Lab storage and HPC leads, Gary Grider and Brad Settlemyer are well known in the world of supercomputing I/O with innovations ranging from burst buffers, computational storage, file system enhancements and more. They have been developing the new exascale file system, dubbed DeltaFS, in conjuction with the Parallel Data Lab at Carnegie Mellon (with PanFS creator, Garth Gibson) among other institutions. This lends the effort some serious credibility of the gate and the open source approach further solidifies the potential role of DeltaFS in some upcoming extreme-scale HPC environments. (Full Story)


Also from Next Platform this week:


QCI bridging quantum, classical divide at Los Alamos


Sue Mniszewski has been a research staff member at Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) for over forty years and in that time has watched several novel architectures come and go.


LANL was one of the first sites to install a D-Wave quantum annealing machine and also has access to other quantum offerings through the various cloud interfaces of IBM and others. But for Mniszewski, the hardware is not the interesting part of the conversation just now, it’s seeing just how quickly she sped through toy problems on early devices—blowing past the capabilities of current limited-qubit machines. (Full Story)


LANL Exascale computer cooling project earns DOE Secretary’s Award


Piping installed as part of the Exascale Class Computer Cooling Equipment Project, LANL photo.


The winning ECCCE team successfully completed a project to bring 5,200 tons of cooling capacity to support new exascale computing equipment in the Strategic Computing Complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The project was executed within a secure classified facility and was required to minimize disruption of ongoing operations. Led by NNSA’s John Gallegos, the team completed this project $20 million under budget and 10 months ahead of schedule.


These awards are a testament to NNSA’s commitment to project excellence whose policies and organizational realignment in 2012 has successfully completed over $2.5 billion in projects under budget and on schedule. (Full Story)


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