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Today's News

  • TV scientist teaches with a German flavor

    Joachim Hecker loves science. He also loves talking about science. And since he’s from Germany, he often talks about science in his native language.

    Friday he combined his love of science with German and presented both to the combined German classes of Los Alamos High School.

    “(The presentation is) meant to be done in the German language so they learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and the language, because the language is nothing but a tool for doing other things,” Hecker said.
    Hecker is a television scientist in Germany. His May 4 visit to Los Alamos High School was financed by the German

    Embassy in Washington, D.C., and supported by the Central Agency for German Schools Abroad.

    He kept the students’ attention throughout the demonstration with not only his engaging sense of humor, but also by using everyday items to perform several experiments that produced flames, unique sounds and even what he called “real fake snow,” which students were allowed to scoop into sandwich bags and take home with them.

    And he took every opportunity to use his native language, teaching the students the German names of each item used in the experiments while bracing them for the culmination of each experiment by having them count down from 10 in German.

  • Fire dept. offers free homeowner fire prevention program

    Severe drought conditions may  have made the woodlands and canyons of Los Alamos County a giant fire hazard, but a phone call to the Los Alamos County Fire Department can go a long way toward keeping brushfires out of county neighborhoods.

    The Los Alamos County Fire Department has a program where fire officials can assess a resident’s property for fire hazards. The program is voluntary and free.

    “The biggest goal for the home assessment program is to educate homeowners to the hazards they may or may not have around their homes, and to provide them with a little bit of knowledge on a smaller scale to increase that defensible space around their private property,” LAFD Wildlands Division Captain Kelly Sterna said.

    The data the fire department acquires from the property visit  is only shared with the homeowners.

    The logic behind the program is if residents are informed about fire hazards, giving residents the information they need to correct them can protect a neighborhood from wildfires, and make the fire department’s job of monitoring and remediating fire hazard areas within the county easier.

  • Secret City app, Manhattan Project National Park hit snags

    Reports of the demise of an app that enhances the Manhattan Project National Historical Park experience are greatly exaggerated.

    While it’s true the app is not running at 100 percent, it is still operational and able to provide additional information to visitors taking part in the park’s walking tour of the 16 sites in Los Alamos that played integral parts in the Manhattan Project.

    The app is called “Los Alamos: The Secret City of the Manhattan Project,” and was created by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s VISIBLE Team. It was made available to the public in June 2016.
    The app was created mainly as a companion piece to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which was designated by Congress in 2015.

    Even though many of the sites from the Manhattan Project are gone or have been radically transformed, visitors using the app could simply point their phones at the signs around town that mark where the sites were and that site’s information would appear on their phone looking as it did in the early 1940s.

    The app also contained a scavenger-hunt type game, as well as basic information about the sites for those on the walking tour.

    The app has received more bad reviews than good on the Apple App Store, as well as an overall 2.4 rating (out of five).

  • House bill would revive mothballed Nevada nuclear waste dump

    House bill would revive mothballed Nevada nuclear waste dump

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Thursday approved an election-year bill to revive the mothballed nuclear waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain despite opposition from home-state lawmakers.

    Supporters say the bill would help solve a nuclear-waste storage problem that has festered for more than three decades. More than 80,000 metric tons of spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants sit idle in 121 communities across 39 states.

    The bill would direct the Energy Department to continue a licensing process for Yucca Mountain while also moving forward with a separate plan for a temporary storage site in New Mexico or Texas.

    The House approved the bill, 340-72, sending the measure to the Senate, where Nevada's two senators have vowed to block it.

    "The House can vote all they want to revive #YuccaMountain, but let's be clear - any bill that would turn Nevadans' backyards into a nuclear waste dump is dead on arrival," Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto tweeted. "Yucca will never be anything more than a hole in the ground."

  • Locals react to Iran deal withdrawal

    In an 11 minute speech Tuesday from the White House, President Donald Trump dismantled the United States’ 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, calling Iran “the leading state sponsor of terror,” and that the deal with Iran created under the Obama Administration was “defective at it’s core.”

    Dr. Siegfried Hecker, a former Los Alamos National Laboratory director and senior fellow with the Center for International Security and Cooperation, told the Stanford News Service Tuesday that in spite of Trump’s announcement, there’s still a chance Iran will honor the deal – with or without U.S. approval.

    “I don’t see Iran making a mad dash for nuclear weapons to respond to the U.S. withdrawal,” Hecker told the Stanford News Service. “The country has too much to lose. Tehran could decide to keep the essence of the deal with the other countries and isolate the U.S. It may find that it will get adequate sanctions relief from the other countries in spite of U.S. pressure. That may be sufficient for Iran to continue to honor its nuclear deal commitments for now.”

    T. Douglas Reilly, a retired Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist who worked at the lab for 38 years, was devastated by the news Tuesday.

  • Hawaii volcano could spew boulders the size of refrigerators

    By SOPHIA YAN and SETH BORENSTEIN, Associated Press

    PAHOA, Hawaii (AP) — If Hawaii's Kilauea volcano blows its top in the coming days or weeks, as experts fear, it could hurl ash and boulders the size of refrigerators miles into the air, shutting down airline traffic and endangering lives in all directions, scientists said Thursday.

    "If it goes up, it will come down," said Charles Mandeville, volcano hazards coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey. "You don't want to be underneath anything that weighs 10 tons when it's coming out at 120 mph."

    The volcano, which has been spitting and sputtering lava for a week, has destroyed more than two dozen homes and threatened a geothermal plant. The added threat of an explosive eruption could ground planes at one of the Big Island's two major airports and pose other dangers. The national park around the volcano announced that it would close because of the risks.

    "We know the volcano is capable of doing this," Mandeville said, citing similar explosions at Kilauea in 1925, 1790 and four other times in the last few thousand years. "We know it is a distinct possibility."

  • Results unclear as federal money flows to New Mexico schools

    SANTA FE (AP) — Federal financial support for New Mexico public schools is on the rise, but isn't necessarily boosting student academic performance, according to an evaluation released Thursday at the state Legislature's nonpartisan budget committee.

    The report from the Legislative Finance Committee provides an exhaustive catalog of more than a half-billion dollars in annual federal funding that supports about 6 percent of the state's public school teachers.

    Major channels of federal education funding have increased for the current fiscal year that runs through the end of June, including money for schools with high numbers or percentages of children from low-income families.

    Federal support varies by school district, and the evaluation found little evidence of a correlation between school performance and per-pupil federal funding. Much of the federal funding for New Mexico schools goes toward discounted or free school meals.

    "There was a weak relationship between per-student federal funding and low-income student proficiency in English and math," the evaluation stated.

  • Libertarians hash out campaign strategy

    The Libertarian Party of New Mexico met with former Libertarian presidential candidate and New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson Saturday to hash out strategy and get some real world perspective on what it’s like running for office.

    “Gary’s perspective is that of someone who has actually run. It’s unique. He also has a lot of experience in government, fundraising and politics”, New Mexico Libertarian Party Chair Chris Luchini, of Los Alamos, said. “Most of our candidates don’t have experience as elected officials or candidates.”

    Luchini is running for Los Alamos County Sheriff.

    Johnson said Saturday that judging from his own experiences, the candidates had a fight on their hands when it comes to going up against the Democrats and Republicans.
    Johnson was a guest of the first Libertarian Party Retreat, which was held at The Lodge in Santa Fe.

    He told those gathered that their races were not going to be pretty, especially if they were running a statewide race or for Congress.

    Johnson, who was a presidential candidate in 2016 against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, said it was tough competing with candidates that had more money and could afford to hire consultants skilled at manipulating what people see on the internet.

  • Libertarian Party targets legal pot, no state tax

    Behind their campaign for marijuana legalization, direct funding for public education and abolishment of state and federal taxes, there is a philosophy that Libertarian Party members think will appeal to the disenfranchised.

    According to A. Blair Dunn, Libertarian candidate for New Mexico attorney general, the Libertarian Party’s basic party line is to stay out of the daily lives of citizens.

    “The core beliefs all Libertarians share is that the proper role of  government is not to interfere in everybody’s daily lives,” Dunn said.

    “That means lowering the financial burden that the government places on individuals and lowering the amount of personal burden that the government places on the lives of individuals.”

    Legalization of marijuana, giving parents more control over funding for their children’s education, and abolishing the current federal and state and local tax systems in favor of a consumption-based tax system are the issues the New Mexico Libertarian Party will be campaigning for in this year’s election.

  • Air Force: Use of training device started Kirtland wildfire

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The Air Force says an investigation has determined that use of a military training devise that simulates the noise and visual flash of ordnance explosions started a March wildfire on a Kirtland Air Force Base range.

    Base officials say training procedures have been changed so that ground burst simulators aren't used or are replaced by non-hazardous equipment during periods of high fire hazard.

    Also, when ground burst simulators or similar devices are used, Air Force personnel must have fire prevention and containment equipment on hand.

    The fire occurred March 4-5 it burned over 100 acres.