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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Software shows molecules in 3-D

    Scientists are making it easier for pharmaceutical companies and researchers to see the detailed inner workings of molecular machines.
    “Inside each cell in our bodies and inside every bacterium and virus are tiny but complex protein molecules that synthesize chemicals, replicate genetic material, turn each other on and off, and transport chemicals across cell membranes,” said Tom Terwilliger, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist. “Understanding how all these machines work is the key to developing new therapeutics, for treating genetic disorders, and for developing new ways to make useful materials.”
    To understand how a machine works you have to be able to see how it is put together and how all its parts fit together. This is where the Los Alamos scientists come in.
    These molecular machines are very small — a million of them placed side by side would take up less than an inch of space.
    Researchers can see them however, using x-rays, crystals and computers. Researchers produce billions of copies of a protein machine, dissolve them in water, and grow crystals of the protein, like growing sugar crystals except that the machines are larger than a sugar molecule.

  • LANL employees give back to the community

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation has had a busy year, but took a little time to celebrate last week as some of those who benefit from its work stopped by.
    The LANL Community Programs Office hosted an open house, an annual affair, for northern New Mexico residents and others who wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
    “We like to look at ourselves as a way to reach the community,” said Carole Rutten, deputy director at the CPO. “This has special meaning to us, building morale.”
    On the day of the open house, those stopping by included some of the direct beneficiaries of LANL’s generosity. That included the Ohkay Owingeh’s Boys and Girls Club, which sent a delegation to collect toys and other holiday donations to the kids the club serves.
    “This fulfilled a lot of wishes for us,” said club representative Maggie David.
    The club, located on the reservation, includes about 60 kids between the ages of 5 and 13, many of them who were in need this holiday season.
    Immediately following their pick-up at the CPO, members of the Ohkay Owingeh club were already preparing a Christmas celebration to distribute the donated gifts.

  • One million Curies found

    Los Alamos National Laboratory expertise helped the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (DNN) Radiological Material Removal Program’s Off-Site Source Recovery Project (OSRP) recover more than 1 million curies of radioactive sources since 1999.
    The accomplishment represents a major milestone in protecting our nation and the world from material that could be used in “dirty bombs” by terrorists.
    “Taking disused, unwanted and, in limited cases, abandoned nuclear materials out of harm’s reach supports the laboratory’s mission of reducing global nuclear danger,” said Terry Wallace, principal associate director for global security at Los Alamos. “This milestone represents tremendous progress in removing a potentially deadly hazard from all corners of the globe. Los Alamos helped usher in the nuclear age, so it’s quite appropriate that this laboratory continues to use its nuclear expertise to assist the DOE in stewardship of nuclear materials.”
    Off-Site Source Recovery Project personnel recovered several high-activity sealed radioactive sources from a Maryland facility in November, which pushed the total recovered radioactivity above 1 million Curies.

  • Los Alamos names new laboratory Fellows for 2014

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows list expanded by five this week as a new group of high achievers was named.
    The honorees this year are Christopher L. Fryer, Herbert O. Funsten, John C. Gordon, Jaqueline L. Kiplinger and David S. Moore.
    “The sustained scientific excellence demonstrated by the work of Chris, Herb, John, Jaqueline and David exemplifies the outstanding people and capabilities we apply to today’s national security mission, and positions the laboratory to be prepared to meet future challenges,” said laboratory director Charlie McMillan. “I applaud each of them for being recognized by their peers for considerable high-level achievements and congratulate them for this very distinguished and honorable career milestone.”
    The committee ranked this year’s nominations on several factors, including sustained, high-level achievements in programs of importance to LANL, fundamental or important discoveries that have led to widespread use, having become a recognized authority in the field, including outside recognition and an outstanding record of publications.

  • Surplus sale canceled

    Los Alamos National Laboratory's monthly surplus property sale which was scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled. Weather permitting, the next scheduled surplus property sale is Jan.15.

  • Tools stolen from secure LANL site

    Thefts from a secure area at Los Alamos National Laboratory are raising concerns about security at the federal facility.
    The lab reported tools stolen on at least three occasions from Technical Area 54, the largest waste disposal zone on the lab’s campus in northern New Mexico.
    Police reports obtained by The Santa Fe New Mexican say impact wrenches, weed trimmers and other tools were reported stolen between May and August and remain missing.
    A national expert on radiation exposure says the tools likely pose little health risk but could be dangerous if they were exposed to toxic chemicals present in the area where the tools had been used.
    Los Alamos police were forced to close the case because the lab refused to give investigators the names of workers who had access to the area.

  • Lab physicist honored for national security work

    Associate Director for Experimental Physical Sciences Mary Hockaday of Los Alamos National Laboratory was the recipient of two significant honors this week.
    Hockaday earned a 2014 fellowship from the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and also a Distinguished Alumni Award from the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Alumni Association.
    “I have been truly surprised, humbled and honored by these awards,” Hockaday said. “I greatly appreciate the folks who took to undertake my nominations.”
    Hockaday’s AAAS recognition comes for “exemplary leadership at Los Alamos National Laboratory in support of the nation’s nuclear security and in realizing the technologies to foster that security,” according to the AAAS awards committee site.
    The accomplishments of the new Fellows will be celebrated at the 2015 AAAS annual meeting, convening next year under the theme “Innovations, Information, and Imaging.”
    At the Annual Meeting, the new Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin Feb. 14 at the AAAS Fellows Forum in San Jose, California.
    Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers.
    Fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.

  • Udall: DOE fines 'appropriate'

    There were plenty of reactions across the board at the news the Department of Energy was being tagged with hefty fines by the New Mexico Environment Department.
    The two senators from New Mexico both felt the move by the NMED was justified, while a watchdog group wondered if the actions would go far enough.
    DOE has been under fire from state and federal authorities since February after an incident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, one that was linked to Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    Tom Udall, who is a former Representative from northern New Mexico prior to running for Senate, found the move to be “appropriate.”
    “The investigation by the state of New Mexico found that the accident last February put at risk the health of workers and the nearby community,” Udall said in a statement.
    “…I have long fought for state environmental authority over waste operations. WIPP and LANL are a vital part of New Mexico’s economy and our national security, and with such high stakes, there is no room for error or denial,” Udall said.
    On Saturday, the NMED announced it was hitting the DOE with more than $54 million in penalties for violations of state hazardous waste permits for both the WIPP site and LANL.

  • LANL and WIPP get fined for violations

    SANTA FE — Saturday, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) notified the U.S. Department of Energy of violations of state hazardous waste permits for both the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and Los Alamos National Laboratory relating to DOE’s handling of transuranic (TRU) waste that contributed to two significant incidents at WIPP earlier this year.
    “New Mexico is proud of our national labs and cutting-edge scientific facilities, and we have important rules in place to protect those facilities, the people who work there, and all New Mexicans,” said Gov. Susana Martinez. “The health and safety of New Mexicans will always be our priority and we have to hold federal agencies accountable for safe operations in the state of New Mexico. The federal Department of Energy is a strong partner with us, and we will continue to work with them closely to ensure their success in our state.”
    Following a comprehensive and intense investigation through more than nine months, NMED found multiple violations at both WIPP and LANL and has issued two Administrative Compliance Orders (ACO).
    The ACO identified 24 violations at LANL, resulting in civil penalties of approximately $36.6 million, along 13 violations at WIPP, resulting in penalties in excess of $17.7 million.

  • Feds detail cleanup changes at LANL

    Federal officials said Wednesday that they plan to issue a temporary contract for the removal of nuclear waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory to the same contractor that failed to meet previous cleanup goals.
    The officials said they made the decision to avoid any disruption while oversight of the cleanup work is shifted from the National Nuclear Security Administration to the Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management.
    Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz ordered the cleanup program moved from the National Nuclear Security Administration to the Energy Department division after a barrel of waste packed at Los Alamos leaked and forced the closure of the government's underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico.
    On Wednesday, agency officials said they plan to award the short-term contract to lab manager Los Alamos National Security to maintain stability during the interim.
    Watchdog groups quickly criticized the proposal, saying the Energy Department would essentially be rewarding the contractor for its previous failures to meet cleanup goals and for lapses that led to the leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.