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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Robot rodeo set for this week

    Bomb squads compete in timed scenarios at Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Hazardous devices teams from around the Southwest will wrangle their bomb squad robots at the eighth annual Robot Rodeo beginning Tuesday, June 24 at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    “The Robot Rodeo gives bomb squad teams the opportunity to practice and hone their skills in a lively but low-risk setting,” said Chris Ory of LANL’s Emergency Response Group.
    The rodeo gets under way at 8 a.m. in Technical Area 49, a remote section of Laboratory property near the entrance to Bandelier National Monument. Eight teams are scheduled to participate in the three-day competition. Teams scheduled to participate in this year’s event include New Mexico State Police, Los Alamos and Albuquerque Police departments, Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, Kirtland Air Force Base Explosives Ordinance Disposal team, Colorado Regional Bomb Squad, a team from the British army and a U.S. Army team from Fort Carson, Colo.
    The laboratory — along with Sandia National Laboratories, the Region II International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, REMOTEC, U.S. Technical Working Group, QinetiQ, WMD Tech, Tactical Electronics, iRobot, ICOR Technology Inc., NABCO, Mistral Security Inc., QSA Global and Stratom — sponsor the Robot Rodeo.

  • Helping clean up Fukushima

    Los Alamos National Laboratory today announced an impending partnership 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.
    “Our recent technical work has clearly shown that the muon scattering technique pioneered at Los Alamos provides a superior method for obtaining high-resolution images of nuclear materials inside structures, and this will allow plant operators to establish the condition of reactor-core material without the need to actually get inside,” said Duncan McBranch, Los Alamos’s Chief Technology Officer.

  • New supercomputer installed at LANL

    Los Alamos National Laboratory recently installed a new high-performance computer system, called Wolf, which will be used for unclassified research.
    “This machine modernizes our mid-tier resources available to laboratory scientists,” said Bob Tomlinson, of the laboratory’s High Performance Computing group.
    “Wolf is a critical tool that can be used to advance many fields of science.”
    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.
    The Wolf computing system operates at 197 teraflops per second. Collectively, the system has 9,856 compute cores and 19.7 terabytes of memory.
    It provides users with 86.3 million central processing unit core hours per year. Initial science research projects to utilize Wolf will include climate, materials and astrophysics modeling.
     

  • LAFD puts out small fire on LANL property

    Los Alamos Fire Department crews responded to a small brush fire near TA-8 and quickly put it out Friday afternoon.
    According to the Los Alamos National Laboratory EOC, a small brush fire reported near guard post 431. The lab confirmed the fire was in a tree and LAFD crews did knock down the tree after the fire was put out.
    TA-8 is off N.M. 501 (West Jemez Road).
    “It was very small, less than one acre,” lab spokesman Steve Sandoval said. “Not sure of cause but earlier this afternoon there was lightning over the Jemez. Don’t want to speculate if it was lightning because I don’t know.”
    Sandoval said no structures or employees were in danger. At press time, it could not be confirmed if lightning started the fire.
    Ironically, the fire happened on the same day that LAFD instituted Stage I fire restrictions. The following acts are prohibited until further notice:
    
• Building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire, campfire, charcoal or wood stove on all Los Alamos County lands.
    • Smoking is prohibited except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least 3-feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
     

  • LANL community breakfast
  • Lab scientist to speak at symposium

    Harshini Mukundan, of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy group, will talk about her team’s innovative research on integrative biosurveillance at the third annual Biosurveillance Symposium sponsored by Oak Ridge National Laboratory on June 12 in Baltimore.
    Biosurveillance requires the integration of complex data from a variety of sources. Mukundan, along with Ben McMahon, of the laboratory’s Theoretical Biology and Biophysics group, co-principal investigators of Los Alamos’ Integrative Biosurveillance project, has been conducting research for nearly nine months using data from Siaya, a small town in Kenya. This data is collected by a team of researchers led by Dr. Douglas J. Perkins, director of the Center for Global Health at the University of New Mexico.
    “Changing climate and demographics are creating dangerous virulent and drug-resistant pathogens in particular regions of the earth,” McMahon said. “Improvements in diagnostic technologies and epidemiological modeling have now made it feasible to systematically characterize these regions.”

  • Film director to lecture at Bradbury

    Peter Kuran will discuss the history and basics of photography, and Edgerton, Germeshausen, and Grier, Inc.’s role in filming the technical photography during the atmospheric testing years, during a talk at 5:30 p.m. June 11 at the Bradbury Science Museum.
    “I’ve been researching nuclear test photography now for more than 20 years since “Trinity and Beyond” and there is always something new to discover,” Kuran said.
    The talk, titled “Atomic Bomb Photography and the EG&G Film Project,” also will explore current projects involving researching, cataloging and scanning the EG&G Technical Film Collections.
    Kuran is the award-winning producer and director of “Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie,” an unsettling yet visually fascinating documentary presenting the history of nuclear weapons development and testing.
     In 2002, Kuran won an Academy Award in the Scientific and Technical Achievement category for Restored Color Imaging, a photochemical process he developed to restore original color negatives of government footage, including previously classified footage, of which portions were badly faded.
    Kuran started his career as an animator on the original “Star Wars” films in 1976 and has since worked on more than 300 theatrical motion pictures.

  • Herrera to retire from LANL Foundation

    Susan Herrera, the founding director of the 17-year-old Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation, has announced she is retiring at the end of this year, according to a news release.
    Now serving as its chief executive officer, Herrera has led the foundation, which invests in education in seven Northern New Mexico counties, since 1998. During this time, the LANL Foundation has awarded more than $50 million in grants to public schools and nonprofits and currently has an endowment of more than $70 million.
    Herrera first managed the fledgling foundation from the trunk of her car. Today the foundation owns its own office space in Española.
    The LANL Foundation is now an operating foundation, managing its own programs. Under Herrera’s leadership, it inaugurated an Inquiry Science program, which teaches hands-on science in 11 school districts; has raised $4.5 million for college scholarships; and has been instrumental in creating a coalition of foundations to launch First Born home visiting programs for first-time families in 14 of the state’s 35 counties. All programs at the LANL Foundation are measured for effectiveness and potential enhancements by independent evaluation firms, according to a news release.

  • Another criticality report at PF-4

    It’s closing in on a year that the Los Alamos National Laboratory paused full-time operations at its Plutonium Facility.
    LANL director Charlie McMillan stopped operations to address nuclear criticality safety concerns back in June of last year.
    The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board remains concerned and it wants the lab to take more time to address the criticality issues.
    DNFSB chair Peter Winokur wrote a letter to NNSA administrator Frank Klotz May 16, addressing the concerns.
    “During this pause, NNSA briefed the Board on a strategy to develop criticality safety evaluations (CSE) for higher-risk operations prior to resumption. The Board is aware that this plan has evolved such that the LANL Director intends to resume many higher-risk operations without first developing compliant CSEs.
    “Department of Energy directives and industry consensus standards require that CSEs unambiguously demonstrate how fissionable material operations will remain subcritical under both normal and credible abnormal conditions. These CSEs identify controls to ensure safe operation.
    “Therefore,, the Board requests a briefing from NNSA within 14 days on how the NNSA will ensure that adequate controls will be identified as the laboratory resumes higher-risk operations in the Plutonium Facility.”

  • Oppy scholarship winners announced

    Eleven college-bound high school students from Northern New Mexico have been selected for scholarships administered by the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee.
    The students are from Los Alamos, Pojoaque Valley and Santa Fe high schools.
    The JROMC has awarded nearly 180 scholarships and other awards totaling more than $359,000 since the program was begun in 1984.
    This year’s selected students are:
    Los Alamos High School
    Alexandr Wang: J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Scholarship supported by the committee, awarded to a student for outstanding promise in science and mathematics.
    Jing Xie: J. Robert Oppenheimer Scholarship in Memory of Mary and Harold Argo, awarded to a young woman for outstanding promise in the arts or sciences.
    Ju Hyun Lee: J. Robert Oppenheimer Scholarship funded by the Los Alamos National Bank, awarded for exceptional promise of future contributions to society.
    Charles Mielke: J. Robert Oppenheimer Scholarship supported by the committee, awarded for unusual qualities of creativity and scholarship.
    Daniel Ahrens: J. Robert Oppenheimer Scholarship in Memory of Juliamarie Langham Grilly, awarded to a resident of Los Alamos County for outstanding promise in the arts or sciences.