Friday, April 24, 2015

Atomic labs across the U.S. race to stop Iran

Los Alamos National Laboratory.  LANL photo.

When diplomats at the Iran talks in Switzerland pummeled Department of Energy scientists with difficult technical questions — like how to keep Iran’s nuclear plants open but ensure that the country was still a year away from building a bomb — the scientists at times turned to a secret replica of Iran’s nuclear facilities built deep in the forests of Tennessee.

The classified replica is but one part of an extensive crash program within the nation’s nine atomic laboratories — Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and Livermore among them — to block Iran’s nuclear progress. (Full Story)

Portable MRI could aid wounded soldiers and children in the third world

Second generation “unshielded” MRI system at Los Alamos. LANL image.          

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are developing an ultra low-field MRI system that could be low power and lightweight enough for forward deployment on the battlefield and to field hospitals in the World’s poorest regions.

"MRI technology is a powerful medical diagnostic tool," said Michelle Espy, the Battlefield MRI (bMRI) project leader, "ideally suited for imaging soft-tissue injury, particularly to the brain." (Full Story)

Also in R&D Magazine & Watch the video on YouTube

Infrasonic sound waves could help detect Venusian seismic activity

Illustration shows how scientists might detect an earthquake on Venus. Keck Institute image.

Detecting an "earthquake" on Venus would seem to be an impossible task. The planet's surface is a hostile zone of crushing pressure and scorching temperatures.

In recent years, says Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher Stephen Arrowsmith, infrasonic observations have undergone a renaissance of sorts, especially as a relatively inexpensive way to monitor atmospheric nuclear weapons tests.

Arrowsmith and colleagues say that barometric pressure changes might be detected with a series of balloons in the Venus cloud layer at 55 kilometers above the surface. (Full Story)

Landscapes we don’t want to lose: New Mexico’s Jemez mountains

The changing landscape of the Jemez Mountains, from The Guardian.              

As Earth Day turns 45, share your story about the natural – or urban – landscape you want to save. Here, Nate McDowell, a tree physiologist in New Mexico, explains how a warming climate is irreversibly altering an ancient ecosystem.  McDowell has been researching how and why trees die at Los Alamos National Laboratory for many years, and is working with other scientists across the planet to better understand the connection between drought, climate change, and forest mortality. (Full Story)

Earth Day: Biophysics research on biofuels

Cellulose bonds, LANL image.            

In honor of Earth Day, we spoke with Biophysical Society member Gnana S. Gnanakaran of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) about his research on biofuels and the role of LANL in pioneering biofuel research.

What is the connection between your research and biofuels?

Cellulose, an assembly of glucose polymers, is a vital renewable energy resource originating from plants. A major barrier for biofuel production is the efficient extraction of cellulose fibers from biomass and their degradation to glucose. (Full Story)

Just your typical New Mexico image recognition startup

Genie software. LANL image.

The company in question is Descartes Labs, and there's a very good reason why it's in Los Alamos. It aims to commercialize image-recognition technology developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) under the supervision of Steven Brumby.  He joined the Laboratory in 1998 and co-invented GENIE, an image-analysis software that was capable of identifying elements such as water and beaches in satellite photos. (Full Story)

Monte del Sol duo win top award at Supercomputing Challenge

Katelynn James (left) and Meghan Hill, LANL photo.

Two Santa Fe students took top honors Tuesday at the 25th annual New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a project exploring how tiny robots could kill cancer cells.

Meghan Hill and Katelynn James, both 18 and seniors at Monte del Sol Charter School, won out over 240 other students from 64 teams and schools across the state. It was the first time the duo had entered the Supercomputing Challenge. (Full Story)

Future Supercomputers Grow Out of File Systems, Into DAOS

Los Alamos National Laboratory was the originator of the burst buffer concept to boost I/O on large supercomputers, but the plan was always to see this storage tier as something that could tie off other data movement bottlenecks and find real use within applications.  Gary Grider, head of high performance computing at Los Alamos, says that exascale systems simply will not use file systems at all. (Full Story)

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Promising future of quantum dots explored in conference

Quantum dots under ultraviolet light, LANL image.

"This research, which started two decades ago with a handful of fragments of semiconductor-doped colored glasses, has evolved into a wide-ranging program spanning different areas of quantum dot science from synthesis and spectroscopy to theory and devices," said Victor Klimov, the NanoTech team's leader and the founder of the Laboratory's quantum dot program. Klimov gave a special introductory address at the conference with his personal perspective on the field's evolution. (Full Story)

Watch the video on YouTube

New NNSA supercomputers highlight evolving HPC demands

The entire fleet of supercomputers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), across both classified and unclassified divisions, totals between two and three petaflops, according to the center’s head of high performance computing, Gary Grider. But of course, this will change significantly when the massive Trinity machine comes online at Los Alamos in 2016, which will bring the lab’s capacity to between forty and sixty petaflops. (Full Story)

Decision Sciences completes testing of cargo scanning system

The Freeport container facility, from FCP.

Decision Sciences International Corporation, today announced it has recently completed the final phase of the five phase system characterization of its Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS) located at the Freeport Container Port (FCP) in the Bahamas.

Based on technology originally invented at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the commercially available Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS) was then developed with considerable private sector investment. (Full Story)

Gamma-Ray method used to flag nuclear stashes

A typical American port, from U.S. Customs Service.

Although the nuclear reaction that produces these γ-rays was demonstrated as early as the 1950s, for decades, no one had tested it for use in nuclear inspection, says Richard Sheffield, a physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico who was not involved in the latest work. Sheffield calculates that the method could decrease the radiation needed to detect nuclear materials by more than ten times, and calls the work “a significant advance." (Full Story)

Also in Scientific American

Mining Wikipedia for health data

Sara Del Valle, LANL photo.

A paper by researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the universities of Utah and Iowa suggests that data from Wikipedia can be vacuumed to track both infections and public health responses.

The use of internet media to track the wavefronts of fast-moving infections such as the flu is a successful strategy. About a decade ago, it was noticed that search engine queries concerning a disease accurately followed its progress on the ground much faster and more accurately than data reported by the public health system. (Full Story)

Supercomputing impacts deep water oil safety

Drilling rig model, LANL image.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory used advanced simulation software to help improve the safety of ultra-deep floating oil rigs by studying how the surrounding currents affect the motion of the platform. As highlighted in a recent article, the project responsible for carrying out these computational fluid dynamics (CFD) numerical simulations was recognized as an ANSYS Hall of Fame finalist. (Full Story)

Also from HPCwire this week:

Supercomputing Challenge draws more than 200 students to LANL

“One of the goals of the year-long competition is to teach student teams how to use powerful computers to analyze, model and solve real-world problems,” said David Kratzer of the Laboratory’s High Performance Computer Systems group, LANL’s coordinator of the Supercomputing Challenge. “Participating students improve their understanding of technology by developing skills in scientific inquiry, modeling, computing, communications and teamwork, and have fun doing it.” (Full Story)

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Friday, April 10, 2015

70 years on, crowd gets close to the birthplace of the atomic bomb

Visitors at Trinity Site, from the NYT

As the 70th anniversary of the test approaches in July, interest in Trinity Site has surged, bringing more visitors to places — test sites, bunkers, museums — connected to the weapons.

As home to the testing site and the laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico also takes considerable state pride in the nuclear program. “It felt, for me, like a pilgrimage,” said Janet Gagliano, 54, from Albuquerque.  (Full Story)

A potential Rosetta Stone of high temperature superconductivity

An international team led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory has demonstrated that the compound CeCoIn5 with incredibly high purity and the highest superconducting temperature for a cerium based material could serve as an ideal system to investigate the effect of disorder in the materials. Magnetic fluctuations, a driver for unconventional superconductivity, are indeed observed in pristine CeCoIn5. (Full Story)

Today in photos: A trillion-particle cosmic simulation

Photo #3  A team of astrophysicists and computer scientists, including Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers, completed the first-ever complete trillion-particle cosmological simulation and have made an initial 55 Tbyte (trillion bytes) public data release. A primary goal of this project is to adopt some of the fundamental concepts of the open source community, and translate them to open data for state-of-the-art cosmological simulations. (Photo)

This stunning image shows us the future of climate models

This technicolour swirl may look like an artist’s acid trip, but what you’re actually looking at is the next generation of high-resolution climate models.

Warmer colours represent hotter temperatures and ripples indicate eddy currents in this stunning visualization, which was released last week by Los Alamos National Laboratory.

It was produced by a simulation called the Model for Prediction Across Scales Ocean (MPAS-O). MPAS-O is a variable resolution model, meaning researchers can sharpen the simulation on regional scales where more data exists. (Full Story)

Nanoscience showcase at Los Alamos’ Bradbury Science Museum

Bradbury Science Museum, LANL photo.

Nanoscience is in the spotlight this week at the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos, where a range of programs will demonstrate the special and unexpected properties found at the nanoscale. KSFR's Tom Trowbridge spoke with Gordon McDonough, one of two “science evangelists” at the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos about “Nano Days,” and asked him to tell us what’s going on during the event. (Full Story)

Randy Fraser named Security Professional of the Year

Randy Fraser.  LANL photo.                

The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) announced on Thursday that Randy Fraser has been awarded the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Security Professional of the Year award for 2014.

Fraser is employed by the LANL Security, Safeguards and Emergency Response Directorate, as a program manager for the Strategic Security Infrastructure program. (Full Story)

Two LANL organizations receive recognition

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Nuclear Material Control and Accountability Group and the Quality and Performance Assurance Division received 2014 Performance Excellence Recognition awards from Quality New Mexico and will be recognized at QNM’s annual learning summit and awards ceremony in Albuquerque. (Full Story)

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Major new research project to study how tropical forests respond to climate change

The Amazon rain forest. Photo by Hugo Glendinning.

The project is called the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments-Tropics, or NGEE-Tropics.

The effort includes collaborators from Berkeley, Brookhaven, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Pacific Northwest national laboratories. The study also includes researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA, and several institutions from other nations, including Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research. (Full story)

Cosmic-ray muon technology to be used to image debris inside Fukushima Daiichi reactors
Toshiba Muon Detector, from PhysOrg.

Toshiba Corporation and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) today announced the development of a muon-based technology for imaging and mapping nuclear fuel debris inside the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Toshiba and IRID have adapted a novel technology for measuring the scattering behavior of muons penetrating objects, building on techniques originally developed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in the United States. (Full story)

Verdesian can help plants Take-Off

At Commodity Classic, Verdesian Life Sciences was showcasing nitrogen enhancement technology developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) that can really help plants Take-Off.

According to Kurt Seevers with Verdesian technical services, Take Off® crop nitrogen assimilator helps improve photosynthesis by increasing carbon flow into a plant’s metabolism. (Full story)

Using magnetic fields to understand high-temperature superconductivity

Brad Ramshaw at the National High
Magnetic Field Lab, LANL photo

Taking our understanding of quantum matter to new levels, scientists are exposing high-temperature superconductors to very high magnetic fields, changing the temperature at which the materials become perfectly conducting and revealing unique properties of these substances. At this point, all devices that make use of superconductors, such as the MRI magnets found in hospitals, must be cooled to temperatures far below zero with liquid nitrogen or helium, adding to the cost and complexity of the enterprise. (Full story)

Did 'iron rain' bypass the Moon to fall mostly on Earth?

Moon-forming collision.  NASA illustration.

Experiments indicate that the velocity of the iron rain droplets will have been greater than the escape velocity on the moon, but below that of Earth. Earth would therefore have captured the metal cores of colliding asteroids, while the moon will have failed to. William Anderson of Los Alamos National Laboratory, US, said: “The moon may have received, but not retained, a significant portion of the late veneer.”

The results could imply that models for estimating the time scales of Earth’s core formation could be out by as much as a factor of ten, with the core forming much earlier in Earth’s history than previously recognized. (Full story)

Improving plutonium identification

TES-based devices sitting on one key of a
computer keyboard. NIST photo.

A collaboration between NIST scientists and colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has resulted in a new kind of sensor that can be used to investigate the telltale isotopic composition of plutonium samples — a critical measurement for nuclear non-proliferation efforts and related forensics, as well as environmental monitoring, medical assays, and industrial safety. (Full story)

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