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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Moniz to visit WIPP

    CARLSBAD (AP) — Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation have announced that U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will visit Carlsbad on Aug. 12 to discuss the government’s underground nuclear waste dump.
    The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been indefinitely shuttered in the wake of a Feb. 14 reaction that sent radioactive particles into the air above the repository and contaminated 22 workers with low levels of radiation. The release is still under investigation.
    Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Steve Pearce last month invited Moniz to visit the facility. They want to talk with him about recovery funding, how the money would be spent and why it’s needed.
    The facility is the nation’s only permanent repository for plutonium-contaminated gloves, tools and clothing from the federal government’s nuclear facilities.
    “We believe that the recovery is now at a stage where it would be important for you to observe the efforts directly,” the lawmakers wrote Moniz in June. “The workers and the community would also appreciate hearing firsthand the Department’s plans for returning WIPP to full operation. We look forward to hosting you in Carlsbad.”
     

  • Lab to close 'Y' parking lot next week

    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Environmental Programs will close the east side of the parking lot at the “Y” at the interchange of N.M. 4 and N.M. 502 from Monday to Aug. 4.
    The closure is part of resumption of work necessary for crews to safely close three formerly used monitoring wells, part of a multi-year program to properly 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.
    “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we complete this important work,” said Corrective Actions Program Director Dave McInroy.
    “It is as important to close wells safely as it is to construct them in a way that is protective of the environment.”
     

  • Acoustics to be featured in Frontiers in Science series

    Dipen Sinha of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Materials Synthesis and Integrated Devices group will discuss acoustics and its applications, including how it is possible to use sound to solve problems in health, national security and for industry, in a series of Frontiers in Science Lectures beginning July 29 at Crossroads Bible Church in Los Alamos.
    “I take advantage of the nature of sound waves and often manipulate these waves to solve technically challenging problems related to energy and national security,” Sinha said. “How an object vibrates also tells a lot about it. Sound can exert force on objects. By carefully manipulating acoustic forces it is possible to create novel structures and even unique materials that are otherwise not possible with conventional fabrication processes.”
    People are immersed in a universe filled with sound and experience it daily through hearing and vibration, according to Sinha. Sound is created by vibration and travels as waves through any medium in a number of ways. Observing how these waves interact with any medium can help researchers identify the medium even if it is hidden inside sealed containers, he added.
    All Frontiers in Science lectures begin at 7 p.m. at the following locations:
    • Tuesday at the Crossroads Bible Church, 97 East Road, Los Alamos

  • Hazmat Challenge set for next week

    Fourteen hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma will test their skills at the 18th annual Hazmat Challenge July 29 through Aug. 1 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 Area 49, the event requires participants to respond to simulated hazardous materials emergencies involving a rail car, a clandestine laboratory, 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.

  • Creedon confirmed as NNSA deputy administrator

    Madelyn Creedon was confirmed by the Senate Wednesday as the Department of Energy’s Principal Deputy Administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
    “Madelyn Creedon’s confirmation comes at a critical point for the National Nuclear Security Administration,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “She is well-prepared for her new role at the Department as it follows a long career of public service in national security, including at the Department of Defense, with the Senate Armed Services Committee, and, previously, at the Department of Energy. NNSA Administrator Klotz and I thank the Senate for their attention to Madelyn’s nomination, and look forward to working with her.”
    As NNSA’s Principal Deputy Administrator, Creedon will support NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz in the management and operation of the NNSA, as well as policy matters across the DOE and NNSA enterprise in support of President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.

  • LANL scientists honored

     Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists Allison Aiken, Bette Korber and Alan Perelson have been named to Thomson Reuters list of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.”
    “To have three of our premier scientists recognized on this list is a great honor and attests to the intellectual vitality that feeds the breadth of disciplines essential to our national security mission,” said Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charles McMillan.
    “The fact that one of those named is a former student and postdoctoral researcher makes me confident that our pipeline programs are actively inspiring future generations of scientific excellence.”
    Alan Perelson
    “It is an honor to have the value of my work recognized and to be included in this list,” Perelson, of the Laboratory’s Theoretical Biology and Biophysics group, said. “However, the real success in my area of modeling infectious disease only comes when the work has an impact on treating diseases such as HIV, influenza and hepatitis and ultimately in saving lives.”

  • ScienceFest is seeking entries

    Organizers of Los Alamos ScienceFest, a weeklong celebration of science, are seeking innovative presentations from passionate people with a love of innovation.
    “TechRev Day, a ScienceFest event, will showcase a series of 15-minute presentations from students, educators, scientists, engineers, bloggers, inventors and other creative types who are just bursting at the seams to share their contagious enthusiasm about innovation or innovation-related topics,” said Shandra Clow of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation, and organizer of the TechRev Day event. “Richard Feynman had an uncanny ability to enthusiastically and enjoyably convey technical topics to the layman, and we’re looking for individuals with enthusiasm in doing the same, to wow and entertain ScienceFest attendees with a topic about which they are extremely passionate.”
    Potential TechRev Day presenters have until Aug. 8 to apply.
    Presenters should submit a tentative title of the presentation, a 140-character description of it, and a short bio and headshot to Clow at clow@lanl.gov. Final selections will be made by Aug. 22, with presenters being notified the same day.

  • 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.”