Friday, March 25, 2011

3-D microscope tracks travels of molecule within a cell

If you could peer deeply into a single live cell, the minute movements of its microscopic organelles, proteins and particles would look something like the frenzy of a New York street during rush hour.

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Jim Werner and his team at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies wanted a way to track the three-dimensional movement of a single molecule in a cell amid the frenetic activity (full story).

Researchers make advances in rechargeable solid hydrogen fuel storage tanks

Researchers have revealed a new single-stage method for recharging the hydrogen storage compound ammonia borane. The breakthrough makes hydrogen a more attractive fuel for vehicles and other transportation modes.

In an article appearing in Science, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Univ. of Alabama researchers working within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Chemical Hydrogen Storage Center of Excellence describe a significant advance in hydrogen storage science (full story).

This news was also covered by . . .

Los Alamos Monitor


And Fuel Cell Works

Mathematical models of urban characteristics

Luis Bettencourt of the Center for Nonlinear Science at Los Alamos and his colleagues devised several metrics for measuring and comparing the socioeconomic characteristics of cities and found some unexpected constants.

One of these is a 15% rule - as population grows, both negative and positive factors increase at a rate 15% faster than a linear growth rate (in other words, things like wages, traffic congestion, and crime all grow by 115% when the population of a city doubles rather than growing at the same rate as the population grows) (full story).

Also covered in the Los Alamos Monitor:

Future for nuclear fuel seen in refrigerator-sized reactor

Hyperion Power Generation Inc. in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is working on 25-megawatt, refrigerator-sized designs for $50 million each that could power remote locations or be used in hospitals and factories.

Hyperion CEO John Deal, 47, worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he says he got the idea to commercialize small nuclear technology, as "resident entrepreneur." (full story)

LANL taps Bechtel man for position
Paul Henry named principal associate director for capital projects

An internal restructuring at Los Alamos National Laboratory will combine project management and environmental cleanup functions under a new directorate.

Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio also has announced the creation of a new senior leadership position, principal associate director for capital projects (PADCAP), adding that Paul Henry of Bechtel has been chosen for that position (full story).

Expert addresses Korean nuclear issues

On Thursday, a Stanford professor who has held North Korean plutonium said [in a talk at Purdue University] that despite its clandestine nuclear program, North Korea is not such a hermit kingdom after all.

"The North Korean dilemma cannot be solved without understanding the people and the history," said Siegfried Hecker, a professor in the department of management science and engineering and director emeritus of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institute (full story).

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Obama discusses LANL, Sandia labs with ABC affiliate KOAT-TV

Watch the President's full interview at

In an exclusive one-on-one interview, President Barack Obama told Action 7 News that the country needs to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities, including Sandia National Laboratories and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Obama said the focus in America is on our plants and the labs that conduct vital nuclear research after the nuclear events in Japan over the last week. (Full Story)

LANL geophysicist analyzes massive quakes

Terry Wallace, LANL’s principal associate director of science, technology, and engineering.

While an 8.9 is currently the official measure of the enormous earthquake that hit near the east coast of Honshu, Japan Friday, geophysicist Terry Wallace predicts it will be a magnitude 9 when it’s all over.

Wallace knows about earthquakes and their ensuing tsunamis having spent 20 years as a professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona before coming to Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

LANL ready to assist in Japan's nuke crisis

The Fukushima nuclear power plant before last week's events. EPA photo.

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the nation's leading storehouses of knowledge about nuclear chain reactions, questions Monday about the dramatic events unfolding at a Japanese nuclear power plant were referred to federal authorities in Washington, D.C. (Full Story)

Also from the New Mexican this week:

'Black holes' nothing like movie portrayals

Artist's concept of a black hole. NASA illustration.

A conversation with Los Alamos National Laboratory theorist Emil Mottola on cosmology, black holes, gravastars, and quantum mechanics.

Nine years ago Mottola, in collaboration with Pawel Mazur of the University of South Carolina, offered a new definition of the dark stars that are so heavy that light cannot escape from them. (Full Story)

Hydrazine fuels hydrogen power hopes

Renowned as a rocket propellant, hydrazine could also push forward the development of hydrogen fuel cells for powering vehicles say US-based researchers.

Andrew Sutton from Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, and colleagues use the chemical to improve the regeneration of spent ammonia borane hydrogen storage material.

'It definitely makes the regeneration easier' explains Sutton, whose technique uses a few simple reagents to convert the spent material back to ammonia borane with high efficiency. 'That's a significant advance.' (Full Story)

LANL talks wind power on heels of Bernal Mesa vote

On the eve of San Miguel Board of County Commissioners' vote on a wind farm policy, a Los Alamos National Laboratories engineer working on wind turbine design tried to dispel myths about the technology's drawbacks.

LANL engineer Curtt Ammerman said the reason modern wind turbines are so large (200 to 300 feet tall) relates to a physics equation: when the diameter of a rotor is doubled, the power it puts out is quadrupled. (Full Story)

Sizing up small nukes

In the liquid metal reactor category, Hyperion has a design for a 25-megawatt reactor which is based on a Los Alamos National Laboratory design.

Though Hyperion’s reactor, which uses lead-bismuth alloy as a coolant, might face regulatory hurdles, they are confident in the design. "There are not too many technical challenges; we chose a design that was something that could be done in a reasonable amount of time." (Full Story)

Space laser proposed to zap space junk

What to do with all the space junk now in orbit around the Earth? Each year, that question grabs a headline or two before disappearing. But that doesn't mean the problem is getting any closer to resolution. . .

In a recent paper, James Mason, a NASA contractor at the Universities Space Research Association in Moffett Field, California, and his colleagues argue that such a system is feasible. . . .

William Priedhorsky of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, told Nature he thought the system would be ineffective when it came to pushing aside especially heavy objects. . . (Full Story)

Project manager: Proposed reactor not like Japan [opinion]

. . . In the shadow of this tragedy, one important passively safe nuclear reactor design needs to be moved to the forefront of future nuclear power reactor options: the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) like that planned for the HT3R (High-Temperature Teaching and Test Reactor) facility.

This HT3R facility is being proposed by the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and Los Alamos National Laboratory, to be located near Andrews as a prototypical “test and qualification” reactor for this nuclear reactor technology. It would provide design data needed to help usher in this advanced concept. (Full Story)

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Friday, March 11, 2011

LA Smart Grid project could have global impact

The Lab's Andy Erickson (left), Scott Backhaus, and Loren Toole are working on the Lab's portion of the smart grid project. LANL photo.

he Smart Grid Collaborative Demonstration Project is a partnership that includes Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities and a consortium of 19 Japanese companies otherwise known as NEDO. (
Full Story)

NNSA supercomputer cleared for classified work

The Cielo supercomputer features a scene from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. LANL photo.

he petascale supercomputer, based out of Los Alamos, performs advanced calculations on the working order of the nuclear stockpile through the use of simulations and modeling.

The Cielo platform is expected to aid efforts by Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to verify the reliability and safety of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. (Full Story)

Bulb crusher used throughout LANL

Worker crushes old light bulbs prior to the SM-43 demolition. LANL photo.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory this month expanded the use of a fluorescent bulb-crushing machine to handle waste bulbs Labwide. It's a move that could save tens of thousands of dollars in waste disposal fees and will prevent mercury from escaping into the environment. (Full Story)

LANL wins 6 pollution prevention awards

os Alamos National Laboratory has been recognized with pollution prevention awards for 2010 from the National Nuclear Security Administration. The northern New Mexico lab took six of the agency's 21 awards, including two for Best in Class. (
Full Story)

Editorial: Moving on at the Lab

The south wing of SM-43, the old administration building is torn down. LANL photo.

n the past year and a half, the lab has razed two dozen buildings, some of them older than the Administration Building and some also arguably more historically significant.

They include plutonium processing facilities that dated to the last days of the Manhattan Project and the site of research into using nuclear reactors to propel rockets for space exploration, and later nuclear fusion. Many had been empty or barely used for years, and most of the demolition was financed by economic stimulus funding and carried out in the name of environmental cleanup. (Full Story)

Also in the Albuquerque Journal this week:

Mystery Lab Jobs Remembered

Frank Osvath was building cars in Detroit in 1943 when he was recruited with a few others at the Ford plant there to work as machinists on the Manhattan Project, the top-secret World War II project in Los Alamos that created the atomic bomb. Osvath and three other Manhattan Project veterans swapped stories this week at Los Alamos's historic Fuller Lodge. (Full Story)

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Dry lake reveals evidence of southwestern 'megadroughts'

Research conducted at the Valles Caldera. LANL photo.

here's an old saying that if you don't like the weather in New Mexico, wait five minutes. Maybe it should be amended to 10,000 years, according to new research.

In a letter published recently in the journal Nature, Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers and an international team of scientists report that the Southwest region of the United States undergoes "megadroughts"—warmer, more arid periods lasting hundreds of years or longer. (
Full Story)

3 unique tours through U.S. nuclear history

Advanced computing platforms, like LANL's newest, "Cielo" are mainstays of the Stockpile Stewardship Program. LANL photo.

os Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico: In 1943, the U.S. established a secre
t laboratory in northern New Mexico with the goal of producing an atomic weapon to end World War II. Just two years later, researchers actually did it.

The making of the atomic bomb changed the course of the war and history; Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) changed, too. Today LANL also pursues bioscience, chemistry and environmental science, but maintaining nuclear security is still the lab's chief focus. (
Full Story)

Researchers create better ways to spot cancer cells

The original SQUID, or superconducting quantum interference device, used in early magnetoencephalography, or MEG, research. LANL photo.

dward Flynn [formerly of] Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and his colleagues are working with nanoparticles to detect breast-cancer cells. The technique involves attaching nanoparticles of iron oxide to certain antibodies, which are then injected into the patient. (
Full Story)

Using supercomputers to explore ice sheet dynamics

Los Alamos models predict a rapid decline in average September sea ice. LANL image.

ight now we don't know enough to predict the dynamics of the ice sheets," said ORNL scientist Kate Evans, who leads the SEACISM project. Included in the team are other scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and academia. (
Full Story)

Video: Neutron star hides superfluid heart

See a neutron star video. From USA Today.

e are very fortunate to have caught this star in its early rapid cooling epoch. It has been known for sometime that the neutrino production rates are sensitive to the existence of neutron superfluidity inside the neutron star," says astrophysicist Sanjay Reddy of the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Lab, commenting on the study. (
Full Story)

Intel team steps into the light

For a brief moment last week, the Department of Energy pulled back the curtain – ever so slightly – on a clandestine team that’s used to operating under the radar inside Los Alamos National Laboratory and across the globe. (Full Story)

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