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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Ex-lab employee requests new lawyer

    A defense lawyer says a former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear physicist who admitted communicating classified nuclear weapons data may try to withdraw his guilty plea.
    Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni and his wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, were accused of offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela through dealings with an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of the Venezuelan government.
    The couple pleaded guilty in June in federal court in Albuquerque, but a Nov. 27 court filing by a federal public defender says Pedro Mascheroni may seek to withdraw his plea.
    The filing was made in connection with Mascheroni’s pending request to obtain new court-appointed lawyers.
    The public defender, Richard Winterbottom, said it was a “future possibility” that Mascheroni would change his plea but did not elaborate.
    In the filing, Winterbottom asked a judge to keep confidential a 35-page letter that Mascheroni had written the judge to express dissatisfaction with his current lawyers and to ask for appointment of new ones.
    Release would disclose Mascheroni’s defense strategy, Winterbottom wrote.
    Federal prosecutors have yet to respond to Mascheroni’s request that they not be allowed to see his letter.

  • NNSA awards funding

      The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration announced this week the award of a cooperative agreement that accelerates the dual objectives of eliminating the use of proliferation-sensitive highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the production of medical isotopes and establishing reliable domestic supplies of Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) to meet U.S. patient needs.
    Mo-99 is used frequently in common medical diagnostic procedures. The cooperative agreement with NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, LLC provides support toward NorthStar’s Mo-99 production capability using neutron-capture technology, which it is pursuing in partnership with the University of Missouri Research Reactor.
    “This cooperative agreement demonstrates that the government and commercial industry can work together to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation while providing stability to an important part of the medical radioisotope market,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington.
    “The development of commercial technologies to produce Mo-99 without the use of HEU will ensure that patients have access to the care they need while supporting global nuclear nonproliferation objectives.”
     

  • Lab launches podcast, webinar series

    Podcasts and webinars are among the new communications tools being rolled out by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Community Programs Office to reach a broader audience.

    The first podcast discusses economic development and the Northern New Mexico 20/20 Campaign, a program spearheaded by the Regional Development Corporation of Española that recognizes high growth businesses in the region.


    “We’re thrilled to be able to better connect with more people in our community through the new podcasts, webinars and other social media venues we have planned,” said Kurt Steinhaus, director of the laboratory’s Community Programs Office.

    Steinhaus interviewed Regional Development Corporation Executive Director Kathy Keith for the initial podcast. The podcast is available via iTunes and other online venues.

    All of the podcasts will be archived at soundcloud.com/lanl-cpo/ and blogtalkradio.com/lanlcommunity.



    The second podcast, currently in production, focuses on the work that United Way is doing in the community and features Craig Strong of United Way of Santa Fe County and Kristy Ortega of United Way of Northern New Mexico, as well as Los Alamos National Laboratory’s 2014 Employee Giving Campaign, now under way.
 

  • Ex-lab worker may change plea

    A former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear physicist accused of communicating classified nuclear weapons data is trying to get new court-appointed defense lawyers and may seek to withdraw his guilty plea.

    Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni and his wife were accused of offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela through dealings with an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of the Venezuelan government.

    Mascheroni, 78, meanwhile, is back in jail under an order of federal district judge William P. Johnson.

    More on this story in Thursday’s Los Alamos Monitor.
     

  • LA continues work creating national park

    LOS ALAMOS (AP) — Tucked away in one of northern New Mexico’s pristine mountain canyons is an old log cabin that was the birthplace not of a famous person, but a top-secret mission that forever changed the world.

    Pond Cabin, along with a nearby small and stark building where the second person died while developing the nuclear bomb, are among a number of structures scattered in and around the modern day Los Alamos National Laboratory that are being proposed as sites for a new national park commemorating the Manhattan Project.

    It’s an odd place for a national park, many admit. Besides the fact that some of the sites are behind the gates to what is supposed to be one of the most secure research facilities in the world, nuclear critics have called the plan an expensive glorification of an ugly chapter in history.

    “It is a debasement of the national parks idea,” anti-nuclear watchdog Los Alamos Study Group co-founder Greg Mello said when the Interior Department two years ago recommended creating national parks at Los Alamos; Hanford, Wash.; and Oak Ridge, Tenn.

    He remains opposed to the plan, saying it will not provide a comprehensive picture of the Manhattan Project, and he notes that extensive interpretative museums concerning development of the nuclear bomb already exist.

  • HIV virus studied through computer modeling

    Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are investigating the complex relationships between the spread of the HIV virus in a population (epidemiology) and the actual, rapid evolution of the virus (phylogenetics) within each patient’s body.

    “We have developed novel ways of estimating epidemics dynamics such as who infected whom, and the true population incidence of infection versus mere diagnoses dates,” said Thomas Leitner, principal investigator.

    “Obviously, knowledge about these things is important for public health monitoring, decision making and intervention campaigns, and further to forensic investigations.”

    The team models the uninfected population using traditional differential equations on the computer; this is done for computational speed, because an agent-based component is much more demanding. Once a person is infected, he/she becomes an “agent” in computer modeling terms, and the model starts following their behavior individually, as well as the viral HIV evolution within the person.

    Agent-based Modeling Clarifies Infection History

  • 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.