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  • richardmitnick 12:17 pm on March 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Can our grid withstand a solar storm?, Geomagnetic storms, HuffPost, LANL,   

    From LANL via HuffPost: “Can our grid withstand a solar storm?” 

    LANL bloc

    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    HuffPost

    03/21/2017
    Jesse Woodroffe
    Michael Rivera

    1
    NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided courtesy of Chris Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center). Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Defense.
    A composite image of North and South America at night assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012.

    When the last really big solar storm hit Earth in 1921, the Sun ejected a burst of plasma and magnetic structures like Zeus hurling a thunderbolt from Mount Olympus. Earth’s magnetic field funneled a wave of electrically charged particles toward the ground, where they induced a current along telegraph lines and railroad tracks that set fire to telegraph offices and burned down train stations. As ghostly curtains of Northern Lights danced far south over the eastern United States, the fledgling electric grid flickered and went dark.

    Almost a century later, today’s grid is bigger, more interconnected, and even more susceptible to a solar storm disaster. No one knows exactly how susceptible, but one recent peer-reviewed study found that an epic solar, or geomagnetic, storm could cost the United States more than $40 billion in damages and lost productivity.

    Most geomagnetic storms are harmless. They regularly lash across Earth after a coronal mass ejection sprays electrons, protons, and other charged particles from the Sun. If they’re aimed just right, a few days later Earth’s magnetic field snares them. They accelerate and light up in another brilliant—and harmless—display of Northern Lights (or Southern Lights below the equator).

    But the less frequent, more severe kind of space weather—call it a 100-year storm—can fry technology and cripple the energy infrastructure. In 1921, it was lights-out across town. Today, heavy dependence on electric-powered technology makes society more vulnerable. In a scant few minutes, a major storm could blow out key components in the electric grid across wide swathes of the United States. Cascading failures could wreak havoc on the water supply, life-saving medical activities, communications, the internet, air travel, and any other grid-dependent sector.

    Mindful of the danger, the nation has developed a plan to support electric utilities in defending against these storms. As part of that plan, we’re researching the credible scenarios that could lead to large impacts. Los Alamos National Laboratory has been studying space weather for more than 50 years as part of our national security mission to monitor nuclear testing around the globe, and part of that work includes studying how the radiation-saturated environment of near space can affect technology and people.

    Now Los Alamos is mining decades’ worth of data from a global network of ground-based geomagnetic sensors, running statistical analyses, and generating computer simulations that model the magnitude, electrical and magnetic characteristics, and location of geomagnetic storms. Just like thunderstorms, solar storms vary, from the orientation of their traveling magnetic field to the kind of particles hurtling our way. The data shows that weaker storms tend to flare up closer to the planet’s poles. In the Northern Hemisphere, stronger storms dip farther south, so they’re more likely to threaten population centers, such as New York City or Chicago. But our models predict that the biggest solar storms don’t necessarily cause the greatest damage—location can trump storm intensity.

    Knowing what might happen, and where, is crucial for government and industry to assess the threats and weigh the risks. Then they can establish the procedures, practices, and regulations needed to withstand the worst solar storms. To support that work, Los Alamos will incorporate its space weather research into new software tools for suggesting industry investments in greater grid resilience and informing government requirements for utilities, such as where to site stations and what kind of transformers to install.

    Space weather scientists have a saying: When you’ve seen one solar storm, you’ve seen one solar storm. The key to grid resilience is knowing something about all possible storms. Armed with scientific analysis from Los Alamos about how frequently a major geomagnetic storm might strike, which regions of the country are most vulnerable, and how bad it might be, electric utility companies and government regulators can take the necessary steps to spare us all from the nightmare of days, weeks, or even months without power. That way, we can all keep the lights on the next time the Sun decides to toss an extra few billion trillion trillion charged particles our way.


    Access mp4 video here .

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    LANL campus
    Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

    Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s NNSA

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  • richardmitnick 12:31 pm on March 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Breaking the supermassive black hole speed limit, LANL,   

    From LANL: “Breaking the supermassive black hole speed limit” 

    LANL bloc

    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    March 21, 2017
    Kevin Roark
    Communications Office
    (505) 665-9202
    knroark@lanl.gov

    1
    Quasar growing under intense accretion streams. No image credit

    A new computer simulation helps explain the existence of puzzling supermassive black holes observed in the early universe. The simulation is based on a computer code used to understand the coupling of radiation and certain materials.

    “Supermassive black holes have a speed limit that governs how fast and how large they can grow,” said Joseph Smidt of the Theoretical Design Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, “The relatively recent discovery of supermassive black holes in the early development of the universe raised a fundamental question, how did they get so big so fast?”

    Using computer codes developed at Los Alamos for modeling the interaction of matter and radiation related to the Lab’s stockpile stewardship mission, Smidt and colleagues created a simulation of collapsing stars that resulted in supermassive black holes forming in less time than expected, cosmologically speaking, in the first billion years of the universe.

    “It turns out that while supermassive black holes have a growth speed limit, certain types of massive stars do not,” said Smidt. “We asked, what if we could find a place where stars could grow much faster, perhaps to the size of many thousands of suns; could they form supermassive black holes in less time?”

    It turns out the Los Alamos computer model not only confirms the possibility of speedy supermassive black hole formation, but also fits many other phenomena of black holes that are routinely observed by astrophysicists. The research shows that the simulated supermassive black holes are also interacting with galaxies in the same way that is observed in nature, including star formation rates, galaxy density profiles, and thermal and ionization rates in gasses.

    “This was largely unexpected,” said Smidt. “I thought this idea of growing a massive star in a special configuration and forming a black hole with the right kind of masses was something we could approximate, but to see the black hole inducing star formation and driving the dynamics in ways that we’ve observed in nature was really icing on the cake.”

    A key mission area at Los Alamos National Laboratory is understanding how radiation interacts with certain materials. Because supermassive black holes produce huge quantities of hot radiation, their behavior helps test computer codes designed to model the coupling of radiation and matter. The codes are used, along with large- and small-scale experiments, to assure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

    “We’ve gotten to a point at Los Alamos,” said Smidt, “with the computer codes we’re using, the physics understanding, and the supercomputing facilities, that we can do detailed calculations that replicate some of the forces driving the evolution of the Universe.”

    Research paper available at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1703.00449.pdf

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    LANL campus
    Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

    Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s NNSA

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  • richardmitnick 8:08 am on December 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , At LANL Isotope research opens new possibilities for cancer treatment, , LANL   

    From LANL: “Isotope research opens new possibilities for cancer treatment” 

    LANL bloc

    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    1
    Los Alamos National Laboratory sits on top of a once-remote mesa in northern New Mexico with the Jemez mountains as a backdrop to research and innovation covering multi-disciplines from bioscience, sustainable energy sources, to plasma physics and new materials. No image credit.

    August 17, 2016 [This just appeared in social media.]
    Nancy Ambrosiano
    Communications Office
    (505) 667-0471
    nwa@lanl.gov

    Computer models supporting spectroscopy unlock behavior of actinium-225

    A new study at Los Alamos National Laboratory and in collaboration with Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource greatly improves scientists’ understanding of the element actinium.

    SLAC SSRL Tunnel
    SLAC SSRL

    The insights could support innovation in creating new classes of anticancer drugs.

    “The short half-life of actinium-225 offers opportunity for new alpha-emitting drugs to treat cancer, although very little has been known about actinium because all of its isotopes are radioactive and have short half-lives,” said Maryline Ferrier, a Seaborg post-doctoral researcher on the Los Alamos team. “This makes it hard to handle large enough quantities of actinium to characterize its chemistry and bonding, which is critical for designing chelators.”

    The insights from this new study could provide the needed chemical information for researchers to develop ways to bind actinium so that it can be safely transported through the body to the tumor cell. “To build an appropriate biological delivery system for actinium, there is a clear need to better establish the chemical fundamentals for actinium,” Ferrier said. “Using only a few micrograms (approximately the weight of one grain of sand) we were able to study actinium-containing compounds at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and at Los Alamos, and to study actinium in various environments to understand its behavior in solution.”

    Medical isotopes at Los Alamos

    Medical isotopes have long been a product of the Los Alamos specialty facilities, which create strontium-82, germanium-68 and other short-lived isotopes for medical scans. Taking advantage of the unique multidisciplinary capabilities of the Laboratory, researchers use the linear particle accelerator at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) to provide rare and important isotopes to the medical community across the United States. The expansion into actinium exploration moves the research forward toward treatment isotopes, as opposed to only diagnostic materials, says Ferrier.

    For the actinium work, a spectroscopic analysis called X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (XAFS) was used, a sensitive technique that can determine chemical information such as the number of atoms surrounding actinium, their type (i.e., oxygen or chlorine) and their distances from each other. To help understand actinium’s behavior in solution and interpret the data obtained with XAFS, these experimental results were compared with sophisticated computer model calculations using molecular-dynamics density functional theory (MD-DFT).

    The study showed that actinium, in solutions of concentrated hydrochloric acid, is surrounded by three atoms of chlorine and six atoms of water. Americium, another +3 actinide often used as a surrogate for actinium, is surrounded only by one chlorine atom and eight water molecules. It has been assumed in the past that actinium would behave similarly to americium.

    “Our study shows that the two are different in a way that could help change how actinium ligands are designed,” Ferrier said. “We’re actively working to gather more fundamental data that will help understand how actinium chemically behaves.”

    Actinium useful for targeted Alpha therapy

    Perhaps the most potent impact of these studies will be on the application of the isotope actinium-225, which is used in a novel, attractive cancer treatment technique called targeted alpha therapy (TAT). TAT exploits alpha emissions from radioisotopes to destroy malignant cells while minimizing the damage to healthy surrounding tissue. “Our determination that actinium’s behavior in solution is different than other nearby elements (such as americium) is directly relevant to TAT in a biological environment, which is always a complex solution,” said Ferrier.

    Actinium-225 has a relatively short half-life (10 days) and emits four powerful alpha particles as it decays to stable bismuth, which makes it a perfect candidate for TAT. However, TAT with actinium can only become a reliable cancer-treatment if actinium is securely bound to the targeting molecule, as the radioisotope is very toxic to healthy tissue if it is not brought quickly to the site of disease.

    Nature Communication Paper: Spectroscopic and Computational Investigation of Actinium Coordination Chemistry, by authors M. G. Ferrier, E. R. Batista, J. M. Berg, E. R. Birnbaum, J. N. Cross, J. W. Engle, H. S. La Pierre, S. A. Kozimor, J. S. Lezama-Pacheco, B. W. Stein, S. C. E. Stieber and J. J. Wilson.

    Funding: Support for portions of this research was provided by the Los Alamos LDRD program and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. Related work was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Glenn T. Seaborg Institute and the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Director’s postdoctoral fellowship. The Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource is a DOE Office of Science User Facility at the Department’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    LANL campus
    Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

    Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s NNSA

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  • richardmitnick 12:54 pm on December 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Here's What Would Happen If a Giant Asteroid Struck the Ocean, LANL   

    From GIZMODO: “Here’s What Would Happen If a Giant Asteroid Struck the Ocean” 

    GIZMODO bloc

    GIZMODO

    12.14.16
    Maddie Stone

    1
    Image: Los Alamos National Laboratory

    Seventy percent of Earth’s surface is covered by water, meaning if we were unfortunate enough to be struck by an enormous asteroid, it’d probably make a big splash. A team of data scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory recently decided to model what would happen if an asteroid struck the sea. Despite the apocalyptic subject matter, the results are quite beautiful.

    Galen Gisler and his colleagues at LANL are using supercomputers to visualize how the kinetic energy of a fast-moving space rock would be transferred to the ocean on impact. The results, which Gisler presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting this week, may come as a surprise to those who grew up on disaster movies like Deep Impact. Asteroids are point sources, and it turns out waves generated by point sources diminish rapidly, rather than growing more ferocious as they cover hundreds of miles to swallow New York.

    The bigger concern, in most asteroid-on-ocean situations, is water vapor.

    “The most significant effect of an impact into the ocean is the injection of water vapor into the stratosphere, with possible climate effects” Gisler said. Indeed, Gisler’s simulations show that large (250 meter-across) rock coming in very hot could vaporize up to 250 metric megatons of water. Lofted into the troposphere, that water vapor would rain out fairly quickly. But water vapor that makes it all the way up to the stratosphere can stay there for a while. And because it’s a potent greenhouse gas, this could have a major effect on our climate.

    Of course, not all asteroids make it to the surface at all. Smaller sized ones, which are much more common in our solar neighborhood, tend to explode while they’re still in the sky, creating a pressure wave that propagates outwards in all directions. Gisler’s models show that when these “airburst” asteroids strike over the ocean, they produce less stratospheric water vapor, and smaller waves. “The airburst considerably mitigates the effect on the water,” he said.

    Overall, Gisler says, asteroids over the ocean pose less of a danger to humans than asteroids over the land. There’s one big exception, however, and that’s asteroids that strike near a coastline.

    “An impact or an airburst [near] a populated shore will be very dangerous,” Gisler said. In that case, the gigantic, city-devouring tsunami every B-list disaster movie has primed you for might actually arrive.

    See the full article here .

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    “We come from the future.”

    GIZMOGO pictorial

     
  • richardmitnick 12:12 pm on September 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , LANL,   

    From LANL: “Model predicts space weather and protects satellite hardware” 

    LANL bloc

    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    September 28, 2015
    Communications Office
    (505) 667-7000

    1
    Approximate location of geosynchronous orbit spacecraft — projected to the Earth’s equator.

    Researchers used 82 satellite-years of observations from the Magnetospheric Plasma Analyzer instruments aboard Los Alamos National Laboratory satellites at geosynchronous orbit to create a comprehensive model of how plasma behaves in this region of Earth’s magnetosphere — the most heavily populated orbit for spacecraft traffic. The journal Space Weather published the work, and the American Geophysical Union newsmagazine Eos highlighted it as a Research Spotlight. Knowledge and prediction of the environment at geosynchronous orbit is crucial for spacecraft designers and operators because changes in the plasma environment, caused by the Sun and its solar wind, can interfere with satellite functioning and even lead to satellite failure.

    Significance of the research

    Geosynchronous orbit — roughly 36,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface — is one of the most popular locations for military, scientific, and communications satellites. The 24-hour orbital period at geosynchronous orbit ensures that satellites maintain a fixed location in Earth’s sky. This area marks the approximate boundary between Earth’s inner and outer magnetosphere, where electromagnetic forces from the two regions control electrically charged particles (electrons and ions) known as plasma.

    Current models of this environment focus on predicting how fluxes of energetic ions and electrons, which can cause a buildup of charge on spacecraft materials, will affect satellite systems. The new research provides a more comprehensive picture by examining how factors such as solar wind and geomagnetic activity can influence these fluxes in plasma.

    The researchers created a model that can predict the plasma flux environment at geosynchronous orbit in response to rapid changes in geomagnetic and solar activity. The model predicts the fluxes that can cause a buildup of charge on spacecraft materials over a range of energies and time. The new model provides scientific and operational users with prediction of fluxes over a wider range of conditions than is generally the case with current models. As the model matures, the researchers plan to extend the analysis to predict hazardous fluxes as a function of solar wind speed and magnetic field orientation. These are critical factors that control plasma fluxes at geosynchronous orbit. The model will be useful for satellite operators because more than 400 satellites currently reside in geosynchronous orbit.
    Research achievements

    The team analyzed the largest existing dataset of electron and ion fluxes. The Magnetospheric Plasma Analyzer instruments on board Los Alamos National Laboratory satellites collected the data over 17 years and one and a half solar cycles. The researchers combined the data sets from seven satellites (a total of 82 satellite-years of data) with observations on solar and geomagnetic activity. They developed a comprehensive model of the flux of electrons and ions at geosynchronous orbit as a function of local time, energy, geomagnetic activity, and solar activity for energies between approximately 1 eV and approximately 40 keV. This energy range encompasses the plasmasphere, the electron plasma sheet, the ion plasma sheet and the substorm-injected suprathermal tails of both the electron and ion plasma sheets. Satellites on station at geosynchronous orbit encounter each of these populations regularly.

    The team validated the model by comparing its predictions with spacecraft data that another set of satellites collected during a five-day period of both calm and active space weather. As the model matures, the researchers plan to extend the analysis to predict hazardous fluxes as a function of solar wind speed and magnetic field orientation. These are critical factors that control plasma fluxes at geosynchronous orbit. The team has made a beta version of the model freely available.
    The research team

    The researchers include M. H. Denton of LANL’s Space Science Institute, M. F. Thomsen, V. K. Jordanova, M. G. Henderson and J. E. Borovsky of LANL’s Space Science and Applications group; J. S. Denton of Sellafield Ltd. (now of Nuclear and Radiochemistry, C-NR); D. Pitchford of SES Engineering; and D. P. Hartley of Lancaster University.

    The Los Alamos Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program funded the research through the SHIELDS project, which aims to understand, model, and predict Space Hazards Induced near Earth by Large, Dynamic Storms (SHIELDS). This work supports the Lab’s Global Security mission area for space situational awareness and the Science of Signatures science pillar.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    LANL campus
    Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

    Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s NNSA

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  • richardmitnick 2:21 pm on July 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , LANL   

    From LANL: “Los Alamos among new DOE projects to create new technology pathways for low-cost fusion energy development” 

    LANL bloc

    LANL Sign
    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    July 20, 2015
    Communications Office
    (505) 667-7000

    Three of the projects involve Los Alamos National Laboratory science staff and partners.

    The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) on May 14, 2015 announced $30 million in funding for 9 groundbreaking new projects aimed at developing prototype technologies to explore new pathways for fusion power. Three of the projects involve Los Alamos National Laboratory science staff and partners.

    The projects are funded through ARPA-E’s Accelerating Low-cost Plasma Heating and Assembly (ALPHA) program, which seeks to develop low-cost fusion energy technology solutions.

    “These new projects emphasize ARPA-E’s commitment to developing a wide range of technology options to ensure a more affordable and sustainable energy future,” said ARPA-E Director Dr. Ellen D. Williams. “Investing in … intermediate density fusion illustrates ARPA-E’s role in accelerating energy research and development.”

    Details on ALPHA’s nine projects may be found here.

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory projects are the following:

    Spherically Imploding Plasma Liners as a Standoff Magneto-Inertial-Fusion Driver- $5,875,000

    Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), teamed with Hyper V Technologies and a multi-institutional team, will develop a plasma-liner driver formed by merging supersonic plasma jets produced by an array of coaxial plasma guns.

    2

    The key virtues of a plasma-liner driver, as noted by project leader Scott Hsu, are that it (1) has standoff, i.e., it completely avoids hardware destruction because the plasma guns are placed sufficiently far away (many meters in an eventual fusion reactor) from the region of fusion burn, and (2) it enables high implosion velocity (50–100 km/s) to overcome thermal transport rates inherent in desired targets.

    This non-destructive approach may enable rapid, low cost research and development and, by avoiding replacement of solid components on every shot, may help lead to an economically attractive power reactor. This project will seek to demonstrate, for the first time, the formation of a small scale spherically imploding plasma liner in order to obtain critical data on plasma liner uniformity and ram pressure scaling. If successful, this concept will provide a versatile, high-implosion-velocity driver for intermediate fuel density magneto-inertial fusion that is potentially compatible with several plasma targets. These experiments will be conducted on the existing Plasma Liner Experiment (PLX) facility at Technical Area 35 at Los Alamos.

    Stabilized Liner Compressor (SLC) for Low-Cost Fusion

    NumerEx, LLC, teamed with the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Los Alamos, NM, will develop the Stabilized Liner Compressor (SLC) concept in which a rotating, liquid metal liner is imploded by high-pressure gas.

    3

    The Stabilized Liner Compressor (SLC) is a system that uses high-pressure gas and a free-piston to implode a liquid metal liner onto trapped magnetic flux in order to achieve controlled fusion at very high magnetic fields (~100 T).

    “The SLC project provides an opportunity to leverage advances in materials in a new era of computation capabilities while developing a revolutionary high magnetic field capability with a distinct purpose,” said Los Alamos project leader Chuck Mielke.

    Free-piston drive and liner rotation avoid instabilities as the liner compresses and heats a plasma target. If successful, this concept could scale to an attractive fusion reactor with efficient energy recovery, and therefore a low required minimum fusion gain for net energy output. The SLC will address several challenges faced by practical fusion reactors. By surrounding the plasma target with a thick liquid liner, the SLC helps avoid materials degradation associated with a solid plasma-facing first wall. In addition, with an appropriately chosen liner material, the SLC can simultaneously provide a breeding blanket to create more tritium fuel, allow efficient heat transport out of the reactor, and shield solid components of the reactor from high-energy neutrons.

    “We recognized back at the Naval Research Laboratory in the 1970s that there may exist an optimum regime for controlled fusion at much higher magnetic fields than used by the mainline magnetic fusion program, but at much lower power density than required for laser fusion. The resulting power reactor and the necessary experimental prototypes need the repetitive, stabilized operation at megagauss field-levels offered by SLC,” said Peter J. Turchi, Los Alamos Guest Scientist and Senior Consultant to NumerEx LLC.

    Prototype Tools to Establish the Viability of the Adiabatic Heating and Compression Mechanisms Required for Magnetized Target Fusion

    Caltech, in coordination with Los Alamos National Laboratory, will investigate collisions of plasma jets and targets over a wide range of parameters to characterize the scaling of adiabatic heating and compression of liner-driven magnetized target fusion plasmas.

    4

    “Los Alamos will provide plasma physics modeling of the experiments to be carried out at Caltech to understand the critical processes during the plasma-cloud interactions,” said Hui Li, the lead Los Alamos scientist on the project.

    The team will propel fast, magnetized plasma jets into stationary heavy gases or metal walls. The resulting collision is equivalent to a fast heavy gas or metal liner impacting a stationary magnetized target in a shifted reference frame and allows the non-destructive and rapid investigation of physical phenomena and scaling laws governing the degree of adiabaticity of liner implosions. This study will provide critical information on the interactions and limitations for a variety of possible driver and plasma target combinations being developed across the ALPHA program portfolio.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    LANL Campus

    Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

    Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s NNSA

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  • richardmitnick 1:52 pm on March 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Albuquerque Journal, , LANL,   

    From Albuquerque Journal via LANL: “LANL takes on deadly bugs” 

    LANL bloc

    LANL Sign
    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    1

    March 27, 2015
    D’Val Westphal

    2
    Team members who discovered a treatment for resistant infections are, from left, Aimee Newsham, Dixie State University student; Rico Del Sesto, Dixie State University professor; David Fox, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Andrew Koppisch, Northern Arizona University professor; and Mattie Jones, Dixie State University student. (Courtesy of David Fox)

    This column is for everyone who has ever had to deal with a horrible infection – from the Streptococcus sp. that rots teeth, to the Pseudomonas aeruginosa that attacks diabetic patients’ feet, to the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA, i.e. flesh-eating bacteria) that makes any original medical problem much worse. And it’s for everyone who ever will.

    Considering a surgeon recently told me MRSA is our generation’s staph, in that it’s everywhere and on everything, that could be everybody.

    Treating these infections, known in the scientific world as biofilms, is expensive, time consuming, sickening and often unsuccessful when it comes to killing them before they kill their host. That’s because while they are responsible for up to 80 percent of all bacterial infections, they have their own protection that makes them 50 to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics.

    And that’s why a discovery at Los Alamos National Laboratory – a treatment with what amounts to fancy water – is beyond exciting. It could be life-changing and life-saving.

    Full disclosure: My mother contracted a biofilm infection after having a back surgery and spent years unsuccessfully fighting it with stronger and stronger oral and intravenous antibiotics that ultimately caused a serious reaction of their own. The drugs simply could not penetrate the infection to kill it. Doctors finally decided to remove the hardware (and its virulent bacteria) rather than continue a fruitless and damaging battle.

    In David Fox’s world, my mother would have had an antibiotic delivered via ionized liquid that could penetrate her skin, the biofilm, and kill the bug.

    Fox is a staff scientist in LANL’s Bioscience Division. For several years he and a team of fellow chemists and microbiologists have been working with ionic liquids – known as molten salts. Originally their work was for forensic applications, like how to pull certain molecules out of fabrics. The team then figured out they could also use the ionic liquids to deliver molecules: like antibiotics to an until-then impenetrable bacteria.

    3

    So these scientists – Fox, Tari Kern, Katherine Lovejoy, Rico Del Sesto (now at Dixie State University), Rashi Iyer, Amber Nagy, Andrew Goumas, Tarryn Miller and Andrew Koppisch (now at Northern Arizona University) – started working with the University of California-Santa Barbara on using their ionized water for transdermal drug delivery.

    Instead of infection treatments that range from irritating to painful – organic solvents, injections and debridement – the team focused on using 12 ionic liquids “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS in science-speak). They grew opportunistic gram negative bacteria, then added individual ionic liquids and incubated, then rinsed.

    And what they found was a greater than 99.9999 percent bacteria cell death, with some of the ionic liquids “more effective than a 10 percent bleach solution.”

    And that was before adding antibiotics.

    The team then moved on to ensuring the liquids with dissolved antibiotics could penetrate pig skin and the bacteria’s protective layer – and got equally stunning results. “Ninety-five and 98 percent reduction in cell viability” with one of the ionic liquids and that liquid plus an antibiotic.

    By comparison, antibiotics alone had a 20 percent kill rate.

    So why should someone who’s never had a cavity or a diabetic ulcer or a MRSA infection care? Fox points out the “economic burden of skin disease is over $100 billion.” That MRSA-type infections acquired in hospitals account for an estimated “$10 billion in extra patient costs and over 10,000 deaths per year.” That “wounds from infected surgical incisions account for over 1 million additional hospital days.” And that 10 to 20 percent of diabetic ulcers – a function of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection – require amputation.

    In other words, we are all paying for it, in terms of money, health and life.

    The discovery is now moving into clinical studies with live subjects – mice – Fox says, and if those go as well, on to human clinical trials. Funding for the years of required additional research could come from energy companies that want to extract high-energy density molecules like biofuels from an organism (the research’s first application), from corporations that could use it to more efficiently deliver their drugs to patients, and/or from the military that wants to protect/treat its soldiers.

    “Thousands of people die from, and billions is spent on treating, these secondary infections,” Fox says. The LANL team could be “providing a new weapon to combat flesh-eating bacteria and other microbes. We hope we have found a new silver bullet to treat these infections. We hope that’s where we’re at.”

    And so does everyone who has had, or will get, one of these very nasty infections.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    LANL Campus

    Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

    Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s NNSA

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  • richardmitnick 4:36 pm on March 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , LANL,   

    From LANL: “Using magnetic fields to understand high-temperature superconductivity “ 

    LANL bloc

    LANL Sign
    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    March 26, 2015
    Nancy Ambrosiano

    Los Alamos explores experimental path to potential ‘next theory of superconductivity’

    1
    Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Brad Ramshaw conducts an experiment at the Pulsed Field Facility of the National High Magnetic Field Lab, exposing high-temperature superconductors to very high magnetic fields, changing the temperature at which the materials become perfectly conducting and revealing unique properties of these substances.

    Taking our understanding of quantum matter to new levels, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are exposing high-temperature superconductors to very high magnetic fields, changing the temperature at which the materials become perfectly conducting and revealing unique properties of these substances.

    “High magnetic-field measurements of doped copper-oxide superconductors are paving the way to a new theory of superconductivity,” said Brad Ramshaw, a Los Alamos scientist and lead researcher on the project. Using world-record high magnetic fields available at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) Pulsed Field Facility, based in Los Alamos, Ramshaw and his coworkers are pushing the boundaries of how matter can conduct electricity without the resistance that plagues normal materials carrying an electrical current.

    LANL National High Magnetic Field Lab
    NHMFL

    The eventual goal of the research would be to create a superconductor that operates at room temperature and needs no cooling at all. At this point, all devices that make use of superconductors, such as the MRI magnets found in hospitals, must be cooled to temperatures far below zero with liquid nitrogen or helium, adding to the cost and complexity of the enterprise.

    “This is a truly landmark experiment that illuminates a problem of central importance to condensed matter physics,” said MagLab Director Gregory Boebinger, who is also chief scientist for Condensed Matter Science at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory’s headquarters in Florida. “The success of this quintessential MagLab work relied on having the best samples, the highest magnetic fields, the most sensitive techniques, and the inspired creativity of a multi-institutional research team.”

    High-temperature superconductors have been a thriving field of research for almost 30 years, not just because they can conduct electricity with no losses—one hundred degrees higher than any other material—but also because they represent a very difficult and interesting “correlated-electron” physics problem in their own right.

    The theory of traditional, low-temperature superconductors was constructed by Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer in 1957, winning them the Nobel prize; this theory (known as the BCS theory) had a far-reaching impact, laying the foundation for the Higgs mechanism in particle physics, and it represents one of the greatest triumphs of 20th century physics.

    On the other hand, high-temperature superconductors, such as yttrium barium copper oxide (YBa2Cu3O6+x), cannot be explained with BCS theory, and so researchers need a new theory for these materials. One particularly interesting aspect of high-temperature superconductors, such as YBa2Cu3O6+x, is that one can change the superconducting transition temperature (Tc, where the material becomes perfectly conducting) by “doping” it, : changing the number of electrons that participate in superconductivity.

    The Los Alamos team’s research in the 100-T magnet found that if one dopes YBa2Cu3O6+x to the point where Tc is highest (“optimal doping”), the electrons become very heavy and move around in a correlated way.

    “This tells us that the electrons are interacting very strongly when the material is an optimal superconductor,” said Ramshaw. “This is a vital piece of information for building the next theory of superconductivity.”

    “An outstanding problem in the field of high-transition-temperature (high-Tc) superconductivity has been the issue as to whether a quantum critical point—a special doping value where quantum fluctuations lead to strong electron-electron interactions—is driving the remarkably high Tc’s in these materials,” he said.

    Proof of its existence has previously not been found due to the robust nature of the superconductivity in the copper oxide materials, yet if scientists can show that there is a quantum critical point, it would constitute a significant milestone toward resolving the superconducting pairing mechanism, Ramshaw explained.

    “Assembling the pieces of this complex superconductivity puzzle is a daunting task that has involved scientists from around the world for decades,” said Charles H. Mielke, NHMFL-Pulsed Field Facility director at Los Alamos. “Though the puzzle is unfinished, this essential piece links unquestionable experimental results to fundamental condensed matter physics — a connection made possible by an exceptional team, strong partner support and unsurpassed capabilities.”

    In a paper this week in the journal Science, the team addresses this longstanding problem by measuring magnetic quantum oscillations as a function of hole doping in very strong magnetic fields in excess of 90 tesla.

    Strong magnetic fields such as the world-record field accessible at the NHMFL site at Los Alamos enable the normal metallic state to be accessed by suppressing superconductivity. Fields approaching 100 tesla, in particular, enable quantum oscillations to be measured very close to the maximum in the transition temperature Tc ~ 94 kelvin. These quantum oscillations give scientists a picture of how the electrons are interacting with each other before they become superconducting.

    By accessing a very broad range of dopings, the authors show that there is a strong enhancement of the effective mass at optimal doping. A strong enhancement of the effective mass is the signature of increasing electron interaction strength, and the signature of a quantum critical point. The broken symmetry responsible for this point has yet to be pinned down, although a connection with charge ordering appears to be likely, Ramshaw notes.

    Funding: Work carried out at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory—Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory was provided through funding from the National Science Foundation Division of Materials Research through Grant No. DMR-1157490 and from the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science, Florida State University, the State of Florida, and Los Alamos National Laboratory through the LDRD program.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    LANL Campus

    Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

    Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s NNSA

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  • richardmitnick 3:34 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , LANL,   

    From LANL: “Los Alamos conducts important hydrodynamic experiment in Nevada” 

    Los  Alamos Lab
    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    September 8, 2014
    Kevin N. Roark
    Communications Office
    (505) 665-9202

    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.

    m
    Technicians at the Nevada National Security Site make final adjustments to the “Leda” experimental vessel in the “Zero Room” at the underground U1a facility.

    e
    Technicians at the Nevada National Security Site move the experiment in a specially designed container from the Device Assembly Facility.

    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.

    “This experiment ultimately enhances confidence in our ability to predictively model and assess weapon performance in the absence of full-scale underground nuclear testing,” said Webster. These experiments with surrogate materials provide a principle linkage with scaled/full-scale hydrodynamic tests, the suite of prior underground nuclear tests, and scaled plutonium experiments.

    “Experiments like Leda are key to enhancing predictive confidence, challenging next-generation weapon designers, and enhancing our capability to underwrite options for managing the stockpile,” said Charlie Nakhleh, Theoretical Design Division Leader.

    Such hydrodynamic and sub-critical experiments are one of the most useful multi-disciplinary technical activities that exercise the Laboratory’s manufacturing capabilities, tests scientific judgment, and enhances the competency of the Nevada workforce in areas of formality of underground and nuclear operations.

    Immediately following the experiment, conducted at NNSS’s U1a underground complex in collaboration with NSTec and supported by Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos scientists and technicians reported a 100 percent data return.

    “Multiple diagnostics that captured the hydrodynamic and implosion processes included pit and case velocimetry, dual-axis x-ray radiography, dynamic surface imaging, optical and electrical monitors of the high-explosive drive as well as detonator performance, and very accurate overall system cross-timing,” said Mark Chadwick, Program Director for Science Campaigns in the weapons physics directorate. “The experiment was operated within expected parameters, including temperature control, and was performed within the required safety and security specifications.”

    Scientists will now study the data in detail and compare with pre-shot predictions. The resulting findings will help assess the confidence weapon designers have in their ability to predict weapon-relevant physics.

    The successful execution of the Leda experiment enables the follow-on sub-critical experiment series, nicknamed Lyra, to be conducted in 2015. Lyra and other related experiments are an essential component in the NNSA’s Science Campaigns and Plutonium Sustainment Programs to support the technical basis for confidence in the nation’s nuclear deterrent, and to support future stockpile stewardship.

    Video of the fully contained experiment can be viewed here.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    LANL Campus

    Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

    Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s NNSA

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  • richardmitnick 9:09 am on December 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , LANL, Nuclear Waste   

    From LANL: “One million curies of radioactive material recovered” 

    Los  Alamos Lab
    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    December 22, 2014
    James E. Rickman
    Communications Office
    (505) 665-9203

    Los Alamos National Laboratory expertise helped the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) 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.

    r
    Rick Day of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s International Threat Reduction group and the Off-Site Source Recovery Project (OSRP) holds a non-radioactive training mockup of what a typical cobalt-60 source might look like. The source is similar to what OSRP team members recovered from a site in Maryland in late 2014, putting the number of Curies recovered as part of the project above 1 million since the project began in 1999. OSRP recovers and disposes of unwanted radioactive sealed sources, eliminating a potential threat that could be used by terrorists to create “dirty bombs.”

    “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 National Laboratory supports OSRP with instrumentation, expertise and personnel. With the Maryland recovery, OSRP has recovered and secured more than 38,000 sealed radioactive sources from more than 1,100 different locations, including all 50 states within the U.S.

    The particular source that achieved the 1-million-curie milestone was a small stainless steel capsule, about the size of a pencil, containing 100 curies of the radioactive isotope cobalt-60. This source was part of a larger 9,000-curie shipment that was characterized and verified before loading into specially shielded containers for safe transport to a secure location.

    A Curie is a unit of radioactivity named after scientists Marie and Pierre Curie, who discovered, among other things, the element radium. One Curie is roughly equivalent to the amount of radioactivity in one gram of the radium-226 isotope.

    NNSA’s DNN Radiological Removal Program and OSRP mission includes removal and disposal of excess, unwanted, abandoned, or orphan radioactive sealed sources that pose a potential risk to national security, public health, and safety. These sources include radiological materials from universities, and medical and research facilities worldwide that could potentially be utilized in a dirty bomb—an ad-hoc weapon created by rogue states or individuals to instill fear and disrupt activity in large population areas.

    DOE initiated OSRP in 1999. Originally it was an environmental management project to recover and dispose of excess and unwanted sealed radioactive sources. In 2003, the project was transferred to NNSA DNN in a shift towards more aggressive recovery of unwanted radioactive sealed sources for national security purposes. Sealed source recovery and disposal efforts result in permanent threat reduction, as this material is eliminated and no longer has potential to be used by terrorists.

    For more information about Los Alamos’s efforts related to ORSP, see http://osrp.lanl.gov.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

    Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

    Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s NNSA

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