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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Funsten to speak about deep space

    Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellow and physicist Herb Funsten will explore the edge of the solar system and anticipate its future as it moves through our galactic neighborhood in a series of three Frontiers in Science lectures beginning Wednesday in the Duane Smith Auditorium at Los Alamos High School.
    The talks, “Beyond Pluto: The Search for the Edge of the Solar System,” will focus on the heliosphere — the region of space under the Sun’s influence — that extends far beyond Pluto and forms a protective cocoon that shields us from cosmic radiation.
    “In this talk, we will travel to the edge of the solar system, peer into the structure and dynamics of the outer heliosphere as it interacts with the interstellar medium, and anticipate the future of the solar system as it moves through our galactic neighborhood,” said Funsten, of Los Alamos’ Intelligence and Space Research Division.
    Funsten will make two other appearances as well, those scheduled for Aug. 11 at the Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque and Aug. 14. at the James A. Little Theater, on the campus of the New Mexico School for Deaf, in Santa Fe.
    All Frontiers in Science talks begin at 7 p.m.

  • Trio of businesses stand out at DisrupTech

    Three potential business partnership projects emerged from the 2015 DisrupTech competition at Los Alamos National Laboratory with winning proposals.
    “The goals of the DisrupTech forum were two-fold, to expose industry to potentially world-changing, disruptive, early-stage technologies developed by Los Alamos scientists,” said David Pesiri, Director of the Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation.  “We also wanted to spark the entrepreneurial spirit in our scientists, giving them a chance to present their technologies outside of an academic setting.  We hope the experience might give them a new perspective on the end use of their technology.”
    An audience of more than 100 entrepreneurs, business executives, investors and government leaders from across the country listened intently as each of eight candidates gave a “Shark Tank”-like presentation.
    A panel representing some of Los Alamos’ industry partners, including Alion Science and Technology, Allied Minds, Chevron Energy Technology Company, Ernst & Young, Moon Express and State Science and Technology Institute, evaluated the presentations and provided feedback to the scientists on pitching a disruptive technology as a market solution.

  • Canyon side cleanup completed

    The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced today that the EM’s Los Alamos Field Office recently completed a steep canyon-side cleanup of mercury-contaminated soil on DOE property just south of a shopping center here.
    The project was finished successfully in about five weeks, which was approximately three weeks ahead of schedule, according to the DOE.
    The field office, management and operations contractor Los Alamos Nuclear Security, LLC, and subcontractor TerranearPMC completed the work.
    “We are committed to reducing the laboratory’s historical footprint and intend to continue to make progress on environmental legacy cleanup,” said Christine Gelles, the field office's acting manager.
    Experts used a specialized telescoping crane and spider excavator to remove 160 cubic yards of mercury-contaminated soil from the rugged canyon side.
    The contaminants derived from Manhattan Project and early Cold War era operations at Solid Waste Management Unit 32-002(b2) at the former Technical Area 32, which was the site of a small medical research facility.
    After results of the excavation sampling confirmed that the human health and environmental risk at the site was fully addressed, the team restored the site.

  • Hazmat Challenge returning to LANL

    A dozen hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Missouri and Nebraska will test their skills in a series of graded, timed exercises at the 19th annual Hazmat Challenge July 27-31 at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    “The challenge provides hazardous materials responders the opportunity to test their skills, share best practices with other response agencies and learn new techniques through realistic hazardous materials release scenarios in a safe, non-hazardous environment,” said Chris Rittner of the laboratory’s Security and Emergency Operations Division.
    Held at Los Alamos’ Technical Areas 16 and 49, the event requires participants to respond to simulated hazardous materials emergencies involving an aircraft, clandestine laboratories, various modes of transportation, industrial piping scenarios, a simulated radiological release and a confined space event.
    The finale of the Hazmat Challenge is a skills-based obstacle course.
    Teams are graded and earn points based on their ability to perform response skills through a 10-station obstacle course while using fully encapsulating personal protective equipment.
    LANL began the Hazmat Challenge in 1996 as a way to hone the skills of its own hazmat team members.

  • IG: Safety issues not addressed

    A new audit from the Department of Energy’s Office of the Inspector General was critical of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s actions to implement nuclear safety management measures.
    The report, “Nuclear Safety: Safety Basis and Quality Assurance at the Los Alamos National Laboratory,” was released on Thursday.
    According to the audit, which was conducted in February, LANL has taken steps to improve nuclear safety, specifically mentioning seismic-related risks at PF-4, the lab’s plutonium facility and taken some other steps, but LANL “continued to have problems in fully implementing a number of critical nuclear safety management requirements.”
    Among the findings of safety shortcomings, the audit said LANL had fallen short in developing safety basis documents that met the National Nuclear Security Administration’s expectations in regard to nuclear hazards and mitigation controls, it hadn’t adequately resolved issues for two nuclear facilities — WETF and WCRRF — and hadn’t resolved other “long-standing” deficiencies.
    The report noted that NNSA management was in general agreement with IG’s findings.

  • Hintze will head EM at field office

    The Department of Energy’s Office of Emergency Management announced Monday that Douglas E. Hintze will be the new manager as the manager of the new EM Los Alamos Field Office (LAFO).
    Hintze comes to Los Alamos after serving as the assistant manager for Mission Support at the DOE Savannah River Operations Office since September 2012.
    “Doug’s experience in helping to manage work at one of our largest cleanup sites makes him an excellent choice to head up (Emergency Management at LAFO) as we continue to assume direct responsibility for the remaining legacy cleanup activities at the Los Alamos National Laboratory,” acting EM Assistant Secretary Mark Whitney said.
    EM established the EM-LA Field Office in March as part of transitioning direct responsibility for the remaining legacy cleanup at the laboratory from the National Nuclear Security Administration to EM.
    The work includes transuranic waste disposition, soil and groundwater remediation and decommissioning and demolition of aging facilities.
    Christine Gelles, EM associate deputy assistant secretary for Waste Management, headed the office in an acting capacity before Hintze was named manager.

  • Some still seek help 70 years after test

    LOS ALAMOS (AP) — An unknown blast shook the desolate New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, unsettling the historic Hispanic village of Tularosa.
    Most residents lacked phones and radios, so they relaxed when Army officials said it was just an ammunition explosion — despite the raining ash.
    They didn’t learn scientists from the then-secret city of Los Alamos successfully detonated the first atomic bomb at the nearby Trinity Site until after the U.S. announced it had dropped the weapon on Japan a month later, helping end World War II.
    “It was a source of pride,” Tina Cordova, a former Tularosa resident whose father was 3 years old during the Trinity Test.
    It became a source of anger after many residents developed cancer and blamed it for their health problems.
    Thursday marks the 70th anniversary of the test that took place as part of the Manhattan Project, the secretive World War II program that provided enriched uranium for the atomic bomb. While the state holds commemorative events, Tularosa residents press for acknowledgement and compensation from the U.S. government.

  • 'Missing' plutonium magnetism found

    OAK RIDGE, Tennessee – Groundbreaking work at two Department of Energy national laboratories has confirmed plutonium’s magnetism, which scientists have long theorized but have never been able to experimentally observe.
    The advances that enabled the discovery hold great promise for materials, energy and computing applications.
    Plutonium was first produced in 1940 and its unstable nucleus allows it to undergo fission, making it useful for nuclear fuels as well as for nuclear weapons.
    Much less known, however, is that the electronic cloud surrounding the plutonium nucleus is equally unstable and makes plutonium the most electronically complex element in the periodic table, with intriguingly intricate properties for a simple elemental metal.
    While conventional theories have successfully explained plutonium’s complex structural properties, they also predict that plutonium should order magnetically. This is in stark contrast with experiments, which had found no evidence for magnetic order in plutonium.

  • LANL Foundation breaks fundraising record

    Los Alamos National Laboratory employees pledged a record $356,550 to the 2015 Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund (LAESF) drive, the lab announced this week.
    The drive encourages LANL employees, retirees and subcontract personnel to donate to a fund that awards college scholarships to northern New Mexico students.
    Additionally, more employees participated in this year’s campaign than in past years, LANL announced.
    “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 Steve Girrens, LANL associate director for Engineering Sciences, this year’s LAESF scholarship drive champion. “This scholarship program provides an opportunity for employees, contractors and retirees to play a valuable role in helping our region’s high school and college academic stars attain their higher education goals.”
    Coupled with $250,000 in matching funds from Los Alamos National Security, the total amount contributed in this year’s campaign is nearly $607,000.
    Scholarships are awarded on the basis of grade-point average, test scores, diversity, financial need, academic rigor, leadership and community involvement.

  • 'DisrupTech' will be at golf course

    A showcase of disruptive technologies developed by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory will take place Thursday at the Los Alamos Golf Course Event Center.
    “The purpose of our event, called ‘DisrupTech,’ is to expose entrepreneurs, investors, business people, and other leaders to potentially world-changing, disruptive, early-stage technologies developed by Los Alamos scientists and promote the innovation culture at the laboratory,” said David Pesiri, head of the LANL’s Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation. “This showcase, and the energy that we anticipate in the interaction between science and industry, is only possible through the partnership and ideas that the New Mexico Angels have brought. We are happy to work with the New Mexico Angels to help get these ideas into the marketplace,” he said.
    DisrupTech will feature eight technology presentations in the areas of sustainable fracking, solar cell materials, biofuels, tamper forensics, neutralization of toxic chemicals, biotechnology, water treatment and industrial process improvement.