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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Ribosome research may offer insights

    A groundbreaking study of the human ribosome is revealing that the tiny molecular machine is more versatile than previously understood.
    Minor changes in its sequencing can change its operation, allowing it to adapt to a changing environment, as described in a paper published Wednesday in Cell.
    “From a practical standpoint, these first studies of the atomistic mechanism of the human ribosome open a window into a range of diseases, from anemia, to cancer, to Alzheimer’s,” said researcher Karissa Sanbonmatsu of Los Alamos National Laboratory. The new publication shows the first study of decoding the genetic code by human ribosomes in atomic detail.
    “Cracking the mechanism of human ribosomes will have applications to a variety of diseases, so we are now seeing the real payoff of over a decade of computer simulations of the ribosome,” Sanbonmatsu said.
    For more than a decade, LANL has been involved in applying computational approaches for modeling the structure and dynamic aspects of large and biologically important molecular machines such as the ribosome.

  • Night drilling in Mortandad Canyon

    Faint light may be visible in the night sky during the next month as Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Corrective Actions Program drills a well in Mortandad Canyon as part of a groundwater remediation project.
    The work began July 4 and will continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the work is complete in mid-August.
    “Due to its remote location, the nighttime drilling should not have noise or light impacts, but we wanted local residents to be aware of the project in case they notice our light plants,” said Project Manager Stephani Swickley.
    Access to Mortandad Canyon is limited to project traffic due to construction activity, Swickley said, and pedestrian and other traffic is restricted.
    For more information, contact envoutreach@lanl.gov.

  • 'Voices of Manhattan Project' now online

    The Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) just released never-before-heard audio interviews with top Manhattan Project military leaders and scientists, including Gen. Leslie R. Groves and J. Robert Oppenheimer, on the “Voices of the Manhattan Project” website.
    Sixty-nine years after the Trinity test on July 16, 1945, the public can listen to the voices of those whose atomic achievements changed the course of world history, politics, science and society.
    The interviews provide novel insight into the minds of the men and women who built the world’s first atomic bombs. Groves explained, “I knew it was an impossible task, but my feeling was that while I very much disliked the assignment, as long as that was my assignment, we were going to make it go. This is going to succeed, it’s got to succeed, and we’re going to make it succeed.”
    Oppenheimer recalled, “I was more worried about the campaign in Africa and the campaign in Russia when I went to New Mexico than I was about the Germans making a bomb. I thought they might very well be winning the war.”

  • LANL launches student app

    Los Alamos National Laboratory recently launched its new student mobile app that students and postdoctoral candidates can use to learn about employment opportunities, science research, education programs and more. The Los Alamos Students mobile app is free and can be downloaded from iTunes and Google Play (for android platforms).
    “The laboratory’s new Student App is a great way for students and post-docs to make contact with the lab and learn about all the exciting opportunities available and the work the laboratory does in service to the nation,” said Carolyn Zerkle, Los Alamos’ associate director for Business Innovation.
    LANL typically employs more than 1,200 part- and full-time students and post-docs in a given year.
    The Student App has introductory information about Los Alamos’ Student Programs Office, life at the laboratory, a link to the official laboratory employment application and the student selection process, an interactive, fun quiz to challenge students on their knowledge of the lab’s research and development programs, and how the lab is making contributions to the nation through its scientific research.

  • Reports detail Area G troubles

    The Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Report site reports have added some insight to what was happening at Area G in relation to the radiological leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad the past couple of months.
    On the week of June 6, LANL management announced it will not complete the 3706 Campaign on schedule and is working to relocate all remaining campaign wastes (i.e., combustible and dispersible forms) into Dome 230 for storage under fire suppression. In addition, Area G management suspended all legacy transuranic waste repackaging, treatment, and remediation activities.
    This suspension excludes drum venting, replacement of degraded components, non-destructive assay, and similar actions that improve the safety posture. That week, Area G personnel conducted a tabletop exercise involving the nitrate wastes that resulted in the identification of several important improvements. Area G and Chemistry Division personnel have also initiated development of a “safing” process to treat the nitrate salt wastes using a water addition followed by eventual cementation.
    NMED spokesman Jim Winchester said “all of the consequences of the missed Framework Agreement deadline are yet to be determined. “

  • LANL devices honored by magazine

    R&D Magazine today announced the winners of its annual “R&D 100” competition, and two technologies from Los Alamos National Laboratory and its partners are among the honored innovations.
    “These awards recognize the tremendous value of our national labs, “ said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Research and development at the national labs continues to help our nation address its energy challenges and pursue the scientific and technological innovations necessary to remain globally competitive.”
    “I am pleased that our laboratory has the outstanding talent to be consistently recognized by these prestigious awards,” said Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charles McMillan.
    “These types of awards are an indication of the breadth of scientific capability we exercise for our national security mission. I congratulate the recipients and their partners for their work, not only on these innovative projects, but also for advancements made in their fields that will foster next-generation science and technology excellence.”
    And the Winners Are

  • LANL, Sandia, Cray set to build NNSA Supercomputer

    The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Cray, Inc., have entered into a contract agreement for a next generation supercomputer, called Trinity, to advance the mission for the Stockpile Stewardship Program.
    Managed by NNSA, Trinity is a joint effort of the New Mexico Alliance for Computing at Extreme Scale (ACES) between Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories as part of the NNSA Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program. Trinity will be used by Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories and will be housed at Los Alamos’ Metropolis Computing Center. Trinity will be sized to run the largest and most demanding simulations of stockpile stewardship, assuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear deterrent without the use of underground testing.
    “Trinity will serve the needs of the men and women who play an important role in solving extremely complex calculations that underpin the success of our nation’s Stockpile Stewardship Program,” said Bob Meisner, NNSA ASC program director. “A very powerful mission-computing system, Trinity begins the transition to new exascale architectures. How well we make that transition has huge impacts on the future of stockpile stewardship.”

  • New LA approach may be key to quantum dot solar cells with real gains in efficiency

    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.
    “Typical solar cells absorb a wide portion of the solar spectrum, but because of the rapid cooling of energetic (or ‘hot’) charge carriers, the extra energy of blue and ultraviolet solar photons is wasted in producing heat,” said Victor Klimov, director of the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP) at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    Getting two for the price of one
    “In principle, this lost energy can be recovered by converting it into additional photocurrent via carrier multiplication. In that case, collision of a hot carrier with a valence-band electron excites it across the energy gap,” Klimov said. “In this way, absorption of a single photon from the high-energy end of the solar spectrum produces not just one but two electron-hole pairs, which in terms of power output means getting two for the price of one.”

  • LAFO employee wins DOE Award

    The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded Chris Fischahs of Los Alamos its annual Safety System Oversight (SSO) Award. At the time of the award, Fischahs was a SSO staff member of the Safety Evaluation Team at the Nationals Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office.
    The award is national recognition of the extensive safety systems oversight Fischahs performed in 2013 and the resulting improvements in operational safety at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). His operational awareness and oversight activities consistently provided Los Alamos Field Office managers with accurate, objective information on the performance of safety systems.
    “We are proud and fortunate to have Chris on the field office team,” said Los Alamos Field Office Manager Kim Davis Lebak.
    Examples of his oversight activities in 2013 were the completion of four vital safety systems assessments that led to implementation of safety improvements; input to a federal integrated project team that led to improved safety systems designs. 

  • Laboratory to close east side of 'Y' parking lot

    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Environmental Programs will close the east side of the parking lot at the White Rock “Y” at the interchange of N.M. 4 and N.M. 502 from Monday to Wednesday, July 2.
    The closure is necessary for crews to safely close three water monitoring wells, part of a multi-year program to plug and abandon characterization boreholes and wells.
    Plugging and abandoning boreholes and wells that are no longer needed keeps the remaining holes from turning into pathways to groundwater.
    “Our program uses wells to characterize and monitor groundwater so we can help protect New Mexico’s water supply,” said Corrective Actions Program Director Dave McInroy.
    “It is as important to close wells appropriately as it is to construct them in a way that is protective of the environment.”