Friday, July 11, 2014

Cray to Develop New Supercomputer to Manage Nuclear Stockpile

Illustration from Cray Inc.
Cray Inc will develop a supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration. The deal, worth $174 million, is one of the largest contracts in Cray’s history.

The supercomputer, named Trinity, is projected to be one of the fastest in the world when it’s built at the Los Alamos National Laboratories. The NNSA, part of the Department of Energy, manages the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, a responsibility that includes running virtual simulations testing the stockpile’s safety, security, reliability and performance. (full story)

This story also appeared in ABC News, PC World, HPC Wire, US News, Albuquerque Journal and many other outlets

Imaging the Fukushima Daiichi reactors with cosmic-ray muons

Reactor building at Fukushima plant.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, US, will team up with Toshiba Corporation to use muon tomography to safely peer inside the cores of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. The initiative could reduce the time required to clean up the disabled complex by at least a decade, and greatly reduce plant personnel exposure to radiation. (full story)

Earth-crushing pressure? This electron spin doesn’t care

Magnetic diffraction in a high-pressure
diamond anvil cell.  From PhysOrg
To fully understand something, it is often instructive to view it at its extremes. How do materials behave when their bits are forced much closer together than is comfortable? How do electrons accommodate proximity? What normal behaviors break down?

The researchers in this study, from Argonne; The University of Chicago; Los Alamos National Laboratory; the NSF; the University of Tennessee; and Oak Ridge calculated the ranges of energy that an electron may assume. (full story)

A new TV series highlights the legends of the “Manhattan Project”

Los Alamos office at 109 E. Palace Ave, Santa Fe.
From KOAT.
It was the 1940s, and people on the outside could only wonder what was going on “up on the hill.” What was the top-secret mission? “The Manhattan Project was arguably history’s largest, most secret scientific effort.”

Only the best and brightest scientists knew the magnitude of the assignment in the remote desert, today's Los Alamos.  Los Alamos was really the ideal location.  That's where the world's first atomic bomb was developed, ending world war two.

LAPD competes in Robot Rodeo

Robots Rodeo, LANL photo.
Even though the title has as the word “rodeo” in it, it was all business at the 2014 Western National Robot Rodeo. The event took place June 23-27 inside the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 49.

This year, five bomb squads from New Mexico and their bomb-diffusing robots participated, as well as two teams from Colorado and one team from the United Kingdom. (full story)

Los Alamos National Security gives grants to local businesses

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) employees pledged a record $327,000 during the recently completed scholarship fund drive. More employees donated to the fund this year than in past years.

“Our employees know first-hand that education can unlock opportunity for these talented students who hold the promise to be future leaders in government, industry, or the nonprofit sector,” said Los Alamos’ Environmental Programs Director Jeff Mousseau. (full story)

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Gates says fixing education toughest challenge

Bill Gates with Charlie McMillan (left) and Gary Grider at the Laboratory's Metropolis Computing Center. LANL photo.

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates says eradicating malaria is easier than fixing the United States’ education system. But what he really wishes he could do is write a check to eliminate biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

Gates made the comments in a 45-minute talk Monday to employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was in northern New Mexico for a private tour of the nation’s premier nuclear weapons facility. (Full Story)

Bill Gates talks health, education in LANL visit

Gates speaks to Lab employees.  LANL photo.               

The world’s richest man said he saw some great science during a brief visit Monday to Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Obviously, I believe in science and innovation,” said Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates was introduced by LANL Director Charles McMillan, who identified lab interns in the audience who were recipients of Gates Foundation scholarships. (Full Story)

Also in the Albuquerque Journal and Los Alamos Monitor

Scientists ignite aluminum water mix

Bryce Tappan ignites a small quantity of aluminum nanoparticle water mixture. LANL photo.

Research by Los Alamos National Laboratory explosives scientist Bryce Tappan, published as the cover story in the prestigious German journal of chemistry Angewandte Chemie, for the first time confirms that chemical kinetics—the speed of a chemical reaction—is a primary function in determining nanoaluminum combustion burn rates.

Tappan and his co-authors, Matthew Dirmyer of Los Alamos, and Grant Risha of Penn State University, made this discovery by looking for the “kinetic isotope effect” in nanoaluminum particles. (Full Story)

In virus hunt, Saudi Arabia suspects African camel imports

Somali camels are seen before being exported to Middle East countries. Reuters photo.

Lisa Murillo, an expert in virology and affiliate scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States, said she had analyzed data on human MERS cases in the Middle East and camel imports from the Horn of Africa - and found striking correlations that cry out for further investigation.

As a result of her findings, Murillo says she has developed what she acknowledges is a "very speculative hypothesis" - that the number of MERS cases in Arabian Peninsula countries is related to the number of camels imported into those countries. (Full Story)

Record $327,000 pledged by LANL employees in 2014 scholarship drive

2014 Los Alamos Employees' Scholarship recipient Nicolette Gonzales, right, talks with Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan. LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory employees pledged a record $327,000 during the recently completed 2014 Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund (LAESF) drive.

Coupled with $250,000 in matching funds from Los Alamos National Security, LLC, which manages and operates the Laboratory, the total amount contributed in this year’s campaign is more than $577,000. (Full Story)

Ten local companies win funding from Los Alamos Venture Acceleration Fund

Ten New Mexico companies have been awarded funds from the Los Alamos Venture Acceleration Fund.

Los Alamos National Security, which manages Los Alamos National Laboratory, has invested approximately $3 million via the Venture Acceleration Fund in 49 companies in New Mexico. (Full Story)

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Scientist highlights the importance of teachers

Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan
(Courtesy Photo)
The leader of the federal science lab founded to create the atomic bomb said here Monday said that having more citizens educated in science “will create a better democracy.”

Science and technology have become such driving forces in society that having a population of voters who understand the issues “will make a better society,” Charles F. McMillan, director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said Monday at the 4th annual EXSEED Conference at Loma Linda University. (full story)

Science Matters: LANL group working on improving solar cells

Quantum dot LSC devices under ultraviolet illumination
(LANL Photo)
One of the tours offered to community members this month at Los Alamos National Laboratory took them behind the security fence to the Center for Advanced Photophysics. There, bent over spectroscopes, reaching into glove boxes and turning on high-powered lasers in darkened rooms, free of dust and ambient vibrations, a team of about 30 people are working to realize a more perfect solar cell. (full story)

This story also appeared in Compound Semiconductor, Laser Focus World, Photonics dot com, and the Los Alamos Monitor

Researchers Review Studies on Nanotwinned Metallic Materials

Bright-field transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images
of magnetron sputtered (a) epitaxial nanotwinned (NT) Cu,
(b) epitaxial NT Ag (20), (c) polycrystalline NT 330 stainless
steel films (arrows indicate the location of twin boundaries),
and (d) electrodeposited (ED) NT Cu (14). (e) EBSD image of
a defective twin boundary in sputtered NT Cu (X indicates a
twin boundary that has defects—the so-called defective twin
boundary). ( f ) Extremely fine twins in ED NT Cu nanopillars.
(g) NT Au nanowires. (Courtesy Image)
Dr. Xinghang Zhang and his colleagues, Irene J. Beyerlein and Amit Misra from Los Alamos National Labs, reviewed studies on nanotwinned metallic materials. Nanotwins were shown to induce numerous unique properties in metallic materials, including high strength and ductility, high temperature thermal stability and superior radiation tolerance. (full story)

Robot Rodeo Underway at Los Alamos National Lab

A competitor at the annual Robot Rodeo tests his skill
(LANL Photo)
Eight teams from around the Southwest will be putting their bomb squad robots to the test as part of a three-day competition at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

This story also aired twice on KRQE (story 1, story 2) and on KOAT

Probing Fukushima with Cosmic Rays Should Speed Cleanup

Los Alamos National Laboratory postdoctoral researcher Elena
Guardincerri, right, and undergraduate research assistant Shelby
Fellows prepare a lead hemisphere inside a muon tomography
machine, which can peer inside closed containers and provide
detailed images of dense objects such as nuclear materials or
other items of interest. (LANL Photo)
Los Alamos National Laboratory will partner with Toshiba Corporation to use a Los Alamos technique called muon tomography to safely peer inside the cores of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors and create high-resolution images of the damaged nuclear material inside without ever breaching the cores themselves. The initiative could reduce the time required to clean up the disabled complex by at least a decade and greatly reduce radiation exposure to personnel working at the plant. (full story)

Nvidia, ARM Team Up to Tackle Supercomputing

Three computer makers have signed on to use Nvidia graphics processors and ARM-based CPU cores to launch the world's first 64-bit ARM development systems for high performance computing (HPC).

In addition, Nvidia is working with Los Alamos National Laboratory to "explore how we can unite GPU acceleration with novel technologies like ARM to drive new levels of scientific discovery and innovation," said Pat McCormick, senior scientist at the lab. "We aim to leverage the latest technology advances, both within and beyond the HPC market, to move science forward in entirely new ways." (full story)

Observations and simulations improve space weather models

NASA's Van Allen Probes sample the Earth's magnetosphere.
(LANL Image)
Los Alamos researchers and collaborators used data from NASA's Van Allen Probes to demonstrate an improved computer model to help forecast what is happening in the radiation environment of near-Earth space—a place seething with fast-moving particles and a space weather system that varies in response to incoming energy and particles from the sun, potentially threatening satellites that orbit there. The work was published in a pair of articles in a special section on early results from the Van Allen probes in the Geophysical Research Letters. (full story)

Photosynthesis research project wins $14.4m funding from US Department of Energy

A research project aimed at understanding and learning from the natural process of photosynthesis to advance the development of clean energy has received further funding from the US Department of Energy totaling $14.4m.

The PARC collaboration is hosted and administered by Washington University whose partners include investigators from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, North Carolina State University, Northwestern University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, University of California-Riverside, University of Glasgow, University of New Mexico, University of Pennsylvania, University of Sheffield,, Princeton University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Penn State. (full story)

Multi-fuel power generation gets boost with NICTA deal

NICTA’s Hugh Durrant-Whyte (Courtesy Photo)
The global demand for efficient ‘multi-fuel’ electricity generation has brought together some of the world’s leading computer scientists in an R&D effort aimed at creating systems to connect and manage electricity and natural gas supplies on a shared platform.

As part of a deal announced today the work will take place under a twelve-month Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between NICTA and Los Alamos National Laboratory, announced today. (full story)

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Assessing Fukushima damage without eyes on the inside

Workers outside the Fukushima plant. From the NY Times.

A particle that barely ranks as a footnote in a physics text may be about to lift the cleanup of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan over a crucial obstacle.          

To clean up the reactors, special tools must be custom-made, according to Duncan W. McBranch, the chief technology officer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the tools “can be much better designed if you had a good idea of what’s inside.” (Full Story)

LANL technology to examine Fukushima damage

Christopher Morris explains how the detectors work. From KRQE

About 5,900 miles away in New Mexico, LANL researchers were working on technology they now believe may show Japanese nuclear power plant workers exactly how bad the failed reactors are on the inside.

“They are much too radioactive to go in and look at things,” said Christopher Morris, the lead researcher on the project. The LANL device instead sends particles called muons through the damaged reactor cores. (Full Story)

How scientists will look inside Fukushima’s radioactive cores

A Fukushima reactor building.  From Gizmodo

The Los Alamos National Laboratory and Toshiba are putting the finishing touches on a muon-powered imaging device that they believe will let them see deep inside the reactors without putting any workers in danger or risking further radiation leaks. The technology basically spots muons when they go in one side of the reactor and checks to see if they bumped into any atoms inside and were diverted on the way through. Over time, this will help them map out the inside of the reactor. (Full Story)
Also in The Verge, Homeland Security Newswire, and the Los Alamos Monitor

Nanoengineering boosts carrier multiplication in quantum dots four-fold

Core/shell PbSe/CdSe quantum dots. LANL illustration.

Los Alamos researchers have demonstrated an almost four-fold boost of the carrier multiplication yield with nanoengineered quantum dots. Carrier multiplication is when a single photon can excite multiple electrons. Quantum dots are novel nanostructures that can become the basis of the next generation of solar cells, capable of squeezing additional electricity out of the extra energy of blue and ultraviolet photons. (Full Story)

Also in R&D magazine, and EE Times

What’s in that bottle?

It says lime juice, but is it really?

Imagine you have to quickly figure out just what liquid is inside a bottle. The container might be opaque, or even metal. You can’t open it, and you can’t trust what is on the label. That scenario is faced in airports, at border crossings, and in response to hazardous-material or bomb scares. Moreover, the need to accurately identify liquids is common in quality control of everything from medicine to cosmetics to foods. (Full Story)

Los Alamos National Laboratory installs new HPC system

The Wolf Supercomputer. LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory recently installed a new high-performance computer system, called Wolf, which will be used for unclassified research.

Wolf, manufactured by the Cray Inc., has 616 compute nodes each with two 8-core 2.6 GHz Intel “Sandybridge” processors, 64 GB of memory and a high speed Infiniband interconnect network. It utilizes the Laboratory’s existing Panasas parallel file system as well as a new one based on Lustre technology. (Full Story)

Also in Government Computer News

Taking pictures with protons

One of the first proton test images is the internal workings of a wristwatch.  LANL image.

A new facility for using protons to take microscopic images has been commissioned at the ring accelerator of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany.

The proton microscope is an international collaboration consisting of Los Alamos National Laboratory, GSI, the Technical Univ. Darmstadt and the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, Russia. (Full Story)

How tiny algae could be the big future of carbon-free fuel

Chemist in front of algae fuel processing tubes, from Take Part

José Olivares, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who runs the NAABB consortium, said the tiny algae they’re creating potentially could yield 1,000 gallons to 4,000 gallons per acre per year.

While algae is typically 99 percent water by weight, the strains the scientists are developing contain up to 40 percent lipids by weight. “We need to provide organisms that are robust, and provide the most lipid content possible,” said Olivares. (Full Story)

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