Friday, January 28, 2011

Navy reports breakthrough with "game changing" laser

The U.S. Navy has billed it as a game changing weapons project and now a research breakthrough at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico may mean that weaponization is no longer a theory.

The Free Electron Laser (FEL) program, as it's known, is designed to let Navy ships use laser beams to knock out enemy air and sea targets (full story).

New 3D tracking microscope allows scientists to follow individual molecules in live cells

Scientists with the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at LANL have developed a 3D tracking microscope to follow three-dimensional movement of individual protein molecules inside live cells.

In an early demonstration, this instrument was used to follow three-dimensional dynamics of key proteins involved in the human allergic response and associated biological signals (full story).

Science in a complex world: The science behind a thriving city

By Luís Bettencourt -- Looking at how wealthy or safe a city is on a per-person basis is a common way of deciding whether you'd like to live, work or open a business there.

My colleagues and I think there is a better, more scientific way, for determining what makes one place better or worse than another (full story).

City different finds its match

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Santa Fe Institute scientist Luís Bettencourt and two colleagues are looking for exceptionality in a more literal sense. They've created a model that ranks cities by specific economic and societal standards.

They've created a model that ranks cities by specific economic and societal standards, relative to their size, in an effort to determine "exceptionality." (full story—website may require viewing of an advertisement)

An astronomer's field of dreams

An innovative new radio telescope array under construction in central New Mexico will eventually harness the power of more than 13,000 antennas and provide a fresh eye to the sky.

The Long Wavelength Array project is led by UNM and includes Los Alamos National Laboratory, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and others (full story).

CTBTO inspection exercise in Jordan

Watch a video about an inspection of a simulated nuclear test site by United Nations specialists from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. A team of more than 35 international experts, including LANL's Ward Hawkins, took part in the exercise that was held 1-12 November 2010 in Jordan (click it!).

Opinion: Custodians of the arsenal

This week I visited the Los Alamos National Laboratory - Its number one job is to ensure the effectiveness and safety of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. The lab is responsible for making sure the devices would work the way they are supposed to, no matter how long they have been in the stockpile (full story).

LANL honored with awards in technology transfer

Los Alamos was recognized with two Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Awards for Excellence in Technology Transfer for supporting the development of Adaptive Radio Technology for Satellite Communications [and] Genie Pro (Genetic Imagery Exploitation) (full story).

Also from the Monitor this week:

LANL unveils new fund

The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation, through the Los Alamos Employees Scholarship Fund (LAESF), is launching a scholarship for students who plan to return to formal education after taking a break (full story).

Middle school science bowl

Co-sponsors of the event were the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Security, Department of Energy-Office of Science, and Sandia National Laboratories (full story).

New thin film material promises power generating windows

In what is considered to be a first in new materials science, a team of engineers at the Brookhaven and Los Alamos National Laboratories have created a light-absorbing material that efficiently generates charge and charge separation. What's more, these "films" are transparent, making them perfect for windows (full story).

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Breakthrough laser could revolutionize Navy's weaponry

Click here to watch an ONR produced video about the FEL program on YouTube

cientists with the Navy's Office of Naval Research have demonstrated a prototype system capable of producing from thin air the electrons needed to generate ultrapowerful, "megawatt-class" laser beams for the agency's next-generation system.

"The injector performed as we predicted all along," said Dinh Nguyen, senior project leader for the Free Electron Laser (FEL) program at the Los Alamos National Lab, N.M. "We were so happy to see our design, fabrication and testing efforts finally come to fruition." (Full Story)

Bingaman sees continued NM gain from federal money

Senator Jeff Bingaman

ew Mexico will continue to receive an economic boost from federal spending despite expected cuts by Congress in governmental programs, U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman said Thursday. (
Full Story)

Curiosity's mission to Mars

This NASA illustration catalogs Curiosity's many science instruments, including ChemCam at the upper left.

o what is ChemCam exactly? It is a rock-zapping laser instrument that can hit rocks with a laser powerful enough to excite a pinhead-size spot into a glowing, ionized gas.

ChemCam then observes the flash through a telescope and analyzes the spectrum of light to identify the chemical elements in the target. (Full Story)

Scrambling to close the isotope gap

Processing Mo-99 in hot cells. IOP photo.

o-98 neutron capture contain lower concentrations [which] would require larger columns, says Robert Atcher, a radiopharmacist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico who directs the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) virtual National Isotope Development Center. (
Full Story)

Jump starting prebiotic photochemistry

Hydrocarbons trapped in fatty membranes could have captured and stored energy from the sun in the first cell-like structures. Chemistry World illustration.

ames Boncella at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and colleagues have made vesicles and used them to mimic a possible primitive energy transduction (energy transfer) mechanism. (
Full Story)

Swift survey finds 'missing' active galaxies

The Swift spacecraft. NASA illustration.

wift, launched in November 2004, is managed by NASA Goddard. It was built and is being operated in collaboration with Penn State, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and General Dynamics. (
Full Story)

Will bugs warn of vineyard mildew?

Powdery mildew attacks a grape cluster. University of Kentucky photo.

very farmer knows of the importance of honeybees in fertilizing plants. Now researchers at the University of California, Davis, and Los Alamos National Laboratory find they also may help provide an early warning of powdery mildew.

They’re hoping this research will help them eventually develop a “smart nose” that can warn of the fungus and help both to destroy it in vineyards and reduce unneeded application of fungicides. (Full Story)

LANL selects architectural firm

Conceptual drawing of the planned transuranic waste staging facility at Technical Area 63.

os Alamos National Laboratory has selected an Albuquerque business, Weidlinger-Navarro Northern New Mexico Joint Venture, to perform architectural and engineering work for the lab's new transuranic waste staging facility. (
Full Story)

Chess league championship tests students' skills

Phillip Ionkov, 7, a student at Aspen Elementary
School in Los Alamos, waits for his turn during the
Northern Schools Chess League finals. Santa Fe
New Mexican photo.

he driving force behind the school chess league is Andy Nowak, 65, a retired Los Alamos National Laboratory chemist and flood-control engineer for the state. He began the league in 1978 in Los Alamos and has been at it ever since. (
Full Story)

B&W applauds clean-coal-technologies cooperation with China

he consortium [led by West Virginia University] includes The Babcock & Wilcox Co., several universities, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Energy Technology Laboratory, and others. (
Full Story)

LANL demolishes 24th building

Built in 1965, the 34,000-square-foot High Temperature Chemistry Facility was the hub of Project Rover, research into using nuclear reactors to propel rockets in space. (Full Story)

atch a
video story about the 24th building demolition on YouTube.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

The dark-horse lab that just might figure out fusion

It is the energy source that could change the world. It has eluded every effort to master it. But LANL physicist Glen Wurden thinks he knows how to tame the heart of the sun.

"My goal in life is to make fusion energy happen. Period," says Wurden. The control of nuclear fusion - the reaction that powers stars and hydrogen bombs - would permanently solve the world's energy problems, not to mention a few geopolitical ones (full story).

Rees awarded AAAS Fellow

William S. Rees, Jr. of Los Alamos National Laboratory has been awarded the distinction of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow.

Rees was elected as an AAAS Fellow for scientific and educational contributions to the field of materials chemistry, and for sustained policy contributions leading to enhancements in national security basic research (full story).

Also this week in the Los Alamos Monitor:

Anastasio addresses community leaders

Michael Anastasio, who announced his retirement as the head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory last week, addressed a Community Leaders breakfast hosted by LANL at Buffalo Thunder Casino and Resort Tuesday morning.

Anastasio said he plans to step down on June 1 and he has no specific retirement plans except to say he and his wife plan to stay in New Mexico (full story).

Wary of North Korea

Siegfried Hecker has toured North Korea's nuclear centers, and he does not think Kim Jong Il's Communist regime will be able to launch nuclear weapons into the United States within the next five years.

"If North Korea goes unchecked, it might get midrange missiles in five years," Hecker said Wednesday at a discussion hosted by the Santa Fe Council on International Relations (full story).

Hecker finds new nuclear activity in North Korea

On Nov. 12, former Los Alamos National Laboratory director Sig Hecker made a stunning observation at the Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea. He found a previously undisclosed, industrial-scale uranium enrichment facility.

He found a previously undisclosed, industrial-scale uranium enrichment facility with 2,000 advanced centrifuges, and a light-water nuclear reactor under construction (full story).

Explore once supersecret Los Alamos

History was changed by what went on in Los Alamos, whose existence wasn't acknowledged during World War II while scientists and thousands of support workers developed the bombs that eventually were dropped on Japan.

We were in New Mexico with a friend who's a rocket scientist, and he was eager to see the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Bradbury Science Museum (named for the laboratory's second director, Norris E. Bradbury.) (full story)

Labs offer free technical assistance to small businesses

The New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program is seeking small business owners who need technical assistance in 2011.

The program, run by state government in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory, connects scientists, engineers and others with local businesses to solve critical challenges and promote economic development (full story).

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Director of Los Alamos laboratory announces retirement

LANL Director Michael Anastasio.

ichael Anastasio, director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, has announced he will retire in June after a 30-year career with U.S. national security research facilities. Anastasio, 62, has been director of the nuclear-weapons lab in Los Alamos, N.M., since June 2006.

"I am both honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to lead two of the world's greatest laboratories, " Anastasio said in a statement on Wednesday. (
Full Story)

Open burning ban at LANL reconsidered

Open burn “flash pad” in use. LANL photo.

he New Mexico Environment Department will reconsider a ban on open burning for the disposal of some hazardous wastes at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The decision late last month by outgoing Environment Secretary Ron Curry puts on hold new rules that would have banned the lab's practice of outdoor burning to dispose of explosives residues. (
Full Story)

Statistical modeling could help us understand cosmic acceleration

Andromeda Island Galaxy. NASA image.

hile it is generally accepted by scientists that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate, there are questions about why this should be so.

"We are trying to investigate what could be behind the accelerated expansion of the universe," Katrin Heitmann, one of the Los Alamos scientists tells "Our technique is based on data, and can be used to evaluate different models." (
Full Story)

The votes are in: top 10 stories of 2010

Artist's impression of an anomalous X-ray pulsar. ESA Image.

Faster Than Light Pulsars Discovered -- "This is not science fiction, and no laws of physics were broken in this model," said John Singleton of Los Alamos National Laboratory at a press briefing at the American Astronomical Society meeting. (
Full Story)

IceCube completed

One of the detectors of the neutrino 'telescope' is lowered into place. NSF photo.

ceCube's size makes it ideal for understanding completely new physical phenomena, says Bill Louis, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and co-spokesman for the neutrino experiment MiniBooNE.

As neutrinos travel, they may oscillate between three known types — electron, muon and tau — but results published last October suggest that MiniBooNE may have observed muon anti­neutrinos turning into a fourth type, called a sterile neutrino. (Full Story

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