Friday, June 30, 2017

Simplifying Big Data supercomputing

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, home to more than 100 supercomputers since the dawn of the computing era, elegance and simplicity of programming are highly valued but not always achieved. In the case of a new product, dubbed “Charliecloud,” a crisp 800-line code helps supercomputer users operate in the high-performance world of Big Data without burdening computer center staff with the peculiarities of their particular software needs.

“Charliecloud lets users easily run crazy new things on our supercomputers,” said lead developer Reid Priedhorsky of the High-Performance Computing Division at Los Alamos. (Full story)

Medical Imaging Researcher, Optical Equipment Industry Leader Selected for High Honors by SPIE

A medical imaging research scientist from Los Alamos National Lab and the president of precision motion systems manufacturer Physik Instrumente USA have been selected for top awards by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. Ken Hanson of LANL and Brian Lula of PI have been invited to receive the SPIE 2017 Directors’ and President’s awards, respectively, during SPIE Optics + Photonics in August.

The two have been invited along with other honorees to accept their awards at a banquet in San Diego, California, on Aug. 9 (Full story)

James M. Boncella, Los Alamos Actinide Chemist, named fellow in American Chemical Society

James M. Boncella, deputy group leader in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Inorganic, Isotope and Actinide Chemistry group

James M. Boncella, deputy group leader in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Inorganic, Isotope and Actinide Chemistry group, has been selected as a 2017 Fellow in the American Chemical Society (ACS). The ACS Fellows Program recognizes members who have both made exceptional scientific contributions and who have provided excellent volunteer service to the ACS community.

Boncella was selected as Fellow for his seminal discoveries in actinide chemistry and for his long and distinguished history of service to the ACS, including serving as Chair of the Division of Inorganic Chemistry. 

His research in actinide organometallic chemistry led to the discovery of the [bis(imido)U(VI)]2+  ion, which is the nitrogen analogue of the uranyl ion (UO2) 2+. (Full story)

Seaborg's americium dispute put to bed 60 years later

After pioneering American radiochemist Glenn Seaborg voiced his suspicions that the elements after and including uranium constitute a distinct post-actinium series that he called the actinides, he had another hunch. In 1954 he suggested that americium – the next-heaviest element after plutonium and discovered by Seaborg’s team at the University of California at Berkeley in 1944 – uses its 5f orbitals to form partly covalent bonds with chlorine.

Whether Seaborg was right has been hotly debated by actinide chemists ever since. Now a team at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico claims to have clear evidence that the americium–chlorine interaction does indeed have some covalent character, owing to the mixing of chlorine’s 3p orbitals with both the 5f and 6d orbitals of americium. (Full story)

Atomic City: Secret no longer

Photo: Kit Bernardi, USA Today

During World War II, scientists at the isolated, clandestine laboratory complex atop the volcanic Pajarito Plateau in the Jemez Mountains designed and built the world’s first nuclear weapons as part of the historic Manhattan Project. (The city of Los Alamos itself was built after World War II, to support the people who worked at the lab.)

Because we were in Santa Fe on a family vacation, the Rio Grande separating that artsy town from science-oriented Los Alamos like the fissure between right and left brains, we drove my aspiring physicist 45 minutes northwest of Santa Fe to the “town that never was” so that he could explore the New Mexico segment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, added to the list of national parks in 2015. (The other two sections are in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Richland, Wash.) (Full story)