Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Collaboration drives achievement in protein research

    When this week’s print issue of the journal Science comes out, a collective cheer will go up from New Mexico, Montana and even the Netherlands, thanks to the type of collaborative effort that is more and more the norm in these connected times.
    The research will produce innovations in biology, medicine, biotechnology and agriculture. It could save lives, and it happened because this scientist talked with that one, that one knew another one, and they overcame geographic distance to advance human understanding.
    “It is tremendously exciting working with researchers around the world, helping them apply the software and algorithms that we have developed to see the inner workings of molecular machines,” said Thomas Terwilliger, a senior Los Alamos scientist and Laboratory Fellow.
    In this case, researchers at Montana State University have provided the first blueprint of a bacterium’s “molecular machinery,” showing how bacterial immune systems fight off the viruses that infect them. By tracking down how bacterial defense systems work, the scientists can potentially fight infectious diseases and genetic disorders. The key is a repetitive piece of DNA in the bacterial genome called a CRISPR, for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.

  • LANL conducts experiment in Nevada

     Los Alamos National Laboratory has successfully fired the latest in a series of experiments at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).
“Leda is an integrated experiment that provides important surrogate hydrodynamic materials data in support of the Laboratory’s stewardship of the U. S. nuclear deterrent,” said Bob Webster, Associate Director for Weapons Physics.
The experiment, conducted on Aug. 12, 2014, consisted of a plutonium surrogate material and high explosives to implode a “weapon-relevant geometry,” according to Webster.
Hydrodynamic experiments such as Leda involve non-nuclear surrogate materials that mimic many of the properties of nuclear materials. Hydrodynamics refers to the physics involved when solids, under extreme conditions, begin to mix and flow like liquids. Other hydrodynamic experiments conducted at NNSS use small amounts of nuclear material, and are called “sub-critical” because they do not contain enough material to cause a nuclear explosion.

  • New exhibit to open at Bradbury

    The Bradbury Science Museum unveils a new interactive exhibit at 4 p.m., Wednesday featuring the rich history and current research into archaeology, wildlife biology, local climate and sustainability efforts at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    “Our role is to support the mission of the laboratory while being good stewards of the environment,” said Jen Payne, a team leader in the laboratory’s Environmental Stewardship Services Group and exhibit curator. “The National Historic Preservation Act requires us to share our knowledge of cultural resources with the public. This new exhibit helps us to do public outreach and provide virtual access to some of the unique archaeological sites situated on laboratory property.”
    The exhibit is titled “Environmental Research and Monitoring.” Opening remarks start at 5 p.m., and a talk on the laboratory’s annual Environmental Report is scheduled for 6 p.m. During the evening, two of the Bradbury’s Scientist Ambassadors will be “Scientists in the Spotlight,” with engaging face-to-face materials prompting conversations about fresh water and sea ice. Attendees also can play the “Thirst for Power” game that explores the nexus of energy, water and climate.

  • LA couple settles with LANS

    A settlement has been reached in the district court case involving a Los Alamos couple against Anthony Stanford, a former Emergency Operations division leader, and Los Alamos National Security, LLC, according to the couple’s attorney John Day on Monday.
    “We can’t discuss the terms,” Day said. “The lab asked to keep it confidential. The Gormans are incredibly happy with the result and are happy it’s over. They are looking forward to continuing their successful careers at the lab.”
    The lab said in a statement, “the laboratory is pleased that the matter has been settled. Terms of the settlement are being kept private. And, due to employee privacy, we do not discuss specific personnel actions.”
    Stanford retired with full benefits in 2013 from the lab before criminal charges were filed.
    The Gormans decided to file a civil complaint after it was determined that the most Stanford would face if convicted of the assault and battery charge would be probation, according to Day in an earlier article in the Los Alamos Monitor.

  • DNFSB outlines PF-4 concerns

    The Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board recently sent a letter to NNSA administrator Frank Klotz, commemorating his 100 days in office.
    But that was not the main thrust of the letter.
    Also included was a rundown of each of the NNSA sites. And DNFSB chair Peter Winokur had plenty to say about the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    Front and center was the Plutonium Facility.
    “The board draws your attention to the Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which analysis shows may be vulnerable to collapse as a consequence of a design basis seismic earthquake, and the many challenges brought on by aging infrastructure across the nuclear weapons complex,” Winokur wrote.
    Here are the highlights on Los Alamos provided by the DNFSB to Klotz:
    • Continued dialogue with NNSA is necessary to fully resolve issues regarding adequate protection of public health and safety in the event of an earthquake affecting LANL’s Plutonium Facility (PF-4). The design basis seismic accident scenario for PF-4 results in unacceptably large offsite dose consequences to the public.

  • Scholarship committee evaluates its priorities

    Newly elected Los Alamos Employee’s Scholarship Fund Chair Phil Tubesing led the Advisory Committee’s self-assessment retreat recently at the LANL Foundation offices in Española.
    The committee annually evaluates outreach practices, criteria and selections, fundraising and summer job placement at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in addition to welcoming new volunteer members.
    Tubesing, who has been a donor since the scholarship campaign began in 1998, said serving on the committee is one of the most rewarding things he does.
     “It was an easy choice to support and participate in the funding and distribution of scholarships in a place I’ve called home for over 20 years. We’ve awarded nearly 1,000 scholarships to amazing students.”
    Serving on the 2014–15 Committee are Eve Bauer, Julie Bremser, David Bowman, Michael Cai, Immediate Past Chair Rebecca Chamberlin, David Chavez, Norman Delamater, Randy Erickson, Greg Erpenbeck, Bryan Fearey, LANL Foundation Scholarship Program Officer Tony Fox, Phil Goldstone, Elaine Jacobs, Leon Lopez, Wendy Marcus, Rebecca Martinez, Stephanie McReynolds, Anne Menefee, Evelyn Mullen, Carole Rutten, Andrea Salazar, Tania Sanchez, Toni Taylor, Donald Thorp, Patrick Trujillo, Phil Tubesing and Clare Webber.

  • WIPP cleanup plans expected in two weeks

    CARLSBAD (AP) — Officials working to reopen the federal government’s troubled nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico say they are making significant progress and will detail their recovery plans in two weeks.
    Tammy Reynolds, who is leading the effort at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, told a community meeting Thursday evening that there are more than 7,000 pieces to the plan for cleaning up radiological contamination and resuming operations after a mysterious February leak that contaminated 22 workers.
    Officials have said it could be three years before WIPP completely reopens.
    It’s still unclear exactly what caused the leak from a barrel of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    WIPP is the government’s only permanent repository for legacy waste such as contaminated gloves, tools and clothing from decades of nuclear bomb building.

  • Secure Computing for the 'Everyman'

    The largest information technology agreement ever signed by Los Alamos National Laboratory brings the potential for truly secure data encryption to the marketplace after nearly 20 years of development at the nation’s premier national-security science laboratory.
    “Quantum systems represent the best hope for truly secure data encryption because they store or transmit information in ways that are unbreakable by conventional cryptographic methods,” said Duncan McBranch, Chief Technology Officer at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “This licensing agreement with Whitewood Encryption Systems, Inc. is historic in that it takes our groundbreaking technical work that was developed over two decades into commercial encryption applications.”
    By harnessing the quantum properties of light for generating random numbers, and creating cryptographic keys with lightning speed, the technology enables a completely new commercial platform for real-time encryption at high data rates.
     For the first time, ordinary citizens and companies will be able to use cryptographic systems that have only been the subject of experiments in the world’s most advanced physics and computing laboratories for real-world applications.

  • Grand Canyon awaits LANL scientist

    Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist, Pawel Listwan, has always liked a challenge — like leaving his home country of Poland at the age of 19, living, studying and exploring Australia for nearly twenty years and arriving in Los Alamos eight years ago where he settled with his wife Dorota Listwan and their three children.
     In November 2012, together with his business partners, Patrick Mockler-Wood, Catherine Mockler and his wife Dorota, they opened the Pajarito Brewpub.
    Now Listwan has set his sights on a new challenge. On Sept. 24, Listwan will join Albuquerque attorney, Matthew Vance, at the Grand Canyon to step off the South Rim in pre-dawn darkness for a 48-mile “Feat for Justice” fundraising hike to support New Mexico Legal Aid’s Veterans Justice Project.
    They will hike “rim-to-rim-to-rim,” from the South Rim to the Canyon floor, up to the North Rim, back down and up to the South Rim again, all in 22 hours or less.

  • C-130 makes way to LANL

    Los Alamos National Laboratory finally received a C-130 airplane from Kirtland Air Force Base Thursday. The fuselage of the plane will be used for emergency response training purposes. The plane, which is surplus from Kirtland Air Force Base, has been demilitarized and will be located at the laboratory’s emergency response training area at Technical Area 49. The transport was delayed a day.