Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Scanning advance could enhance airport security

    Los Alamos scientists have advanced a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology that may provide a breakthrough for screening liquids at airport security. They’ve added low-power X-ray data to the mix, and as a result have unlocked a new detection technology. Funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, the new system is named MagRay.

    The goal is to quickly and accurately distinguish between liquids that visually appear identical. For example, what appears to be a bottle of white wine could potentially be nitromethane, a liquid that could be used to make an explosive. Both are clear liquids, One would be perfectly safe on a commercial aircraft, the other would be strictly prohibited. How to tell them apart quickly without error at an airport security area is the focus of Michelle Espy, Larry Schultz and their team.

  • Lab employees donate during holiday season

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory is in the midst of its 2014 Employee Giving Campaign.

    As of Tuesday, employees have pledged $1.2 million in this year’s campaign. Los Alamos National Security, LLC, makes a pro-rated match up to $1 million. Last’s year campaign raised $3.1 million (including the LANS match).

    The lab’s giving campaign coincides with the United Way of Northern New Mexico and United Way of Santa Fe County campaigns.

    The lab just ended its food drive, which included a Bring a Turkey to Work Day on Tuesday.
    The lab partners with
    • San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen-Española
    • Taos Feeds Taos
    • Wings for Hope-Santa Fe
    • St Vincent de Paul, Abiquiu, San Juan, Chimayo, Española, Pojoaque
    • Knights of Columbus, Arroyo Seco
    • LA Cares-Los Alamos
    • St. Elizabeth’s Shelter-Española
    • The Food Depot, Santa Fe.

  • Remembering LANL's fallen

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory dedicated a bench and plaque at the Fuller Lodge Memorial Rose Garden Friday. The dedication is for fallen lab workers. Approximately 50 have died in accidents on lab property or in industrial or transportation accidents since 1943. About half of those fatalities occurred during the Manhattan Project. 

  • Black hole birth captured by cosmic voyeurs

    Intelligent telescopes designed by Los Alamos National Laboratory got a front row seat recently for an unusual birth.

    “Los Alamos’ RAPTOR telescopes in New Mexico and Hawaii received a very bright cosmic birth announcement for a black hole on April 27,” said astrophysicist Tom Vestrand, lead author of a paper appearing Nov. 21 in the journal Science that highlights the unusual event.

    “This was the burst of the century,” said Los Alamos co-author James Wren. “It’s the biggest, brightest one to happen in at least 20 years, and maybe even longer than that.”

    The RAPTOR (RAPid Telescopes for Optical Response) system is a network of small robotic observatories that scan the skies for optical anomalies such as flashes emanating from a star in its death throes as it collapses and becomes a black hole — an object so dense that not even light can escape its gravity field. This birth announcement arrived from the constellation Leo in the form of an exceptionally bright flash of visible light that accompanied a powerful burst of cosmic gamma-ray emissions.

  • Tru-Waste progress

      The progress in repackaging and shipping legacy waste has resulted in another record-setting year for the EM program at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    With less than eight months to go in an accelerated campaign to remove 3,706 cubic meters of transuranic (TRU) waste from Area G, the laboratory’s waste management site, EM’s TRU Waste Program surpassed its fiscal year 2013 goal of 2,600 cubic meters, removing 2,745 cubic meters and shipping twice as much waste in fiscal year 2013 as it did in fiscal year 2012.

  • Community leaders breakfast

    Community leaders spent Tuesday morning at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe, having breakfast with Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists and getting an update on the status of the lab. 

  • Nuclear arms talk scheduled for Wednesday

    A talk on “A Long-Term View of Nuclear Arms Control” will be given by Stephen M. Younger, a leading weapons-complex manager, author, and former LANL Associate Director for Nuclear Weapons, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at an open meeting of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security.
    The public is invited to attend Younger’s talk which will be in the Lounge at the Education Building of the United Church, 2525 Canyon Road in Los Alamos.
    Every president since Truman has proposed the elimination of nuclear weapons. Significant reductions in the nuclear stockpile have occurred since the end of the Cold War, but there are still thousands of weapons in the United States, Russia, and other countries. More troubling, the threat of proliferation continues to cloud the future.
    What role do nuclear weapons play in the 21st century? How many do we need, if any? What are the prospects for future arms control treaties and what are the challenges associated with their verification? How does proliferation complicate future reductions, or make them more compelling? These and other topics will be examined in a broad discussion of the challenges and opportunities associated with future arms control. 

  • Coss' LANL resolution gets mixed reaction

    Last week, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, in his role as chairman of the Regional Coalition of Los Alamos National Laboratory Communities, presented a draft City of Santa Fe resolution at their monthly meeting calling for LANL’s consideration of other alternatives to their proposed Technical Area 54, Area G remedial action plan, as submitted to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED).

    The LANL plan leaves nuclear waste buried in pits and trenches at the laboratory’s (TA)-54, Area G.

    “Full cleanup of Area G would be a win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting our precious groundwater and the Rio Grande while creating hundreds of high paying jobs for 20 years or more,” Coss said.

    Coss’ draft resolution has created a fair amount of reaction.

    A statement from the lab said “under the Consent Order, the final remedy at Area G will be decided by the state of New Mexico after receiving input from the public. As that process continues, our sampling and monitoring to date — the results of which are all public — have shown that the buried material is safe where it is, now and for the foreseeable future.

  • NNSA helps out Vietnam

    The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) last week conducted an International Consequence Management (I-CM) training course in Hanoi, Vietnam, as part of Vietnam’s preparation for building a nuclear power plant. In addition, NNSA is assisting Vietnam to set up an emergency operations center and graphic information system to assist with sharing information during an emergency.
    The course, hosted by the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (VARANS), had 15 participants representing VARANS, and other organizations who have responsibility for response to a nuclear/radiological incident/accident under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).
    “The training is part of the many positive steps Vietnam and VARANS are taking in establishing a nuclear and radiological emergency management system prior to building a nuclear power plant,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations Joseph Krol. “I am pleased that NNSA is able to continue our partnership with Vietnam in helping to improve its emergency management structure.”

  • Comments sought on draft assessment plan

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council recently announced the release of the Draft LANL Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan, the beginning of a 30-day public comment period, and the date and location of a public meeting regarding the LANL Natural Resource Damage Assessment.

    The LANL Trustee Council is composed of representatives of the State of New Mexico, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Pueblo of Jemez, the Pueblo de San Ildefonso, Santa Clara Pueblo, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

    A Natural Resource Damage Assessment evaluates the impacts of releases of hazardous substances on natural resources and the services provided by those resources.

    Unlike the ongoing environmental remediation process, which focuses on removal of contaminants that pose a threat to human health and the environment, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process focuses on the restoration of resources and their services to the condition they would have been in absent the release of the contaminants.

    A major goal of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment is to compensate the public “for injury to, or loss of, natural resources” and the services provided by those resources.