March 2013

This weekend, Roadrunner, the World's Fastest Supercomputer from 2008, will be switched off but not be forgotten.    
Without ceremony, the first supercomputer to reach the once elusive petaflop - one million billion calculations per second - a feat accomplished in 2008 by Roadrunner, an IBM system installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, will be decommissioned. Advancements made possible by Roadrunner have informed current computing architectures and will help shape future designs.    

During its five operational years, Roadrunner, part of NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program, was a workhorse system providing computing power for stewardship of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, and in its early days, a wide variety of unclassified science.

Read more about Roadrunner here.


Mar 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Los AlamosMeasurements from two recent aerial flyovers to determine the presence of background and man-made radioactivity brought good news for Los Alamos County and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The radiological surveys, conducted in August 2011 and June 2012, found that radioisotopes and their associated exposure rates are consistent with those expected from normal background radiation.

The survey provided valuable data in several areas. First, the information updates a radiological survey conducted in 1994. Secondly, the survey showed the Las Conchas fire from 2011 did not impact background radiation levels. It also provides additional confirmation that the Rendija Canyon area remains at natural background radiation levels. There is an area north of Rendija Canyon under evaluation for return to public use.

The information will be incorporated into the lab’s Long-Term Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Strategy report.

Mar 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Pantex Smart Cookies workshop

A group of Pantex female engineers held a Smart Cookie workshop for Girl Scouts this weekend. The objective of the workshop was to foster a love of science and math in young girls who might make up the next generation of engineers at Pantex.

The Smart Cookie program started in January with a half dozen young women engineers from Pantex who decided to expose engineering to the next generation with a workshop for Girl Scouts. Since then, the number of women engineers who are involved in the project has doubled. Plans are underway to enlist experts from Pantex in math, science and information technology, for future events with the Girl Scouts.

About the photo:
Female engineers from Pantex this weekend demonstrated a scientific principle known as nucleation. The engineers used Mentos dropped into Diet Coke to demonstrate the principle. The surface texture of the Mentos causes the carbon dioxide to be explosively released.

Mar 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Participants in Sandia’s Weapon Intern Program recently visited and toured NNSA's Kansas City Plant. The program, established in 1998, was created to meet Sandia's changing mission needs. Through a combination of classroom study taught by active and retired weaponeers, site visits and individual and team projects, weapon interns have honed their skills, broadened their knowledge base and expanded their network of colleagues in the nuclear weapons community.

Sandia’s Weapon Intern Program at KCP

Mar 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

Don Cook speaks at Pantex

Don Cook, NNSA’s deputy administrator for Defense Programs, last week spoke to Pantexans about the future mission of Pantex and the critical role the plant will play in maintaining the nation’s stockpile for decades to come. During the visit, Cook congratulated some of the 100-plus Pantexans who helped to secure the plant and conduct recovery operations during and after the Feb. 25 blizzard that dropped more than 19 inches on the Amarillo area.

Read more about the blizzard.

Mar 21, 2013 at 11:00 am

Pantex workers complete a construction pour at HEPF

Workers at the Pantex Plant last month finished the largest concrete pour to date on the High Explosives Pressing Facility, completing the last of the elevated soffits, which are part of the roof deck/second story of the building.

The pour marked the completion of approximately 50 percent of the construction on the 45,000 square-foot facility, which will combine high explosives operations from numerous outdated buildings into one state-of-the-art facility which will help to bolster Pantex’s status as the DOE’s High Explosives Center of Excellence for HE manufacturing.

Construction of the $65 million facility is expected to be complete next year. The construction effort is being managed by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and the design effort/plant support is being led by B&W Pantex/CH2MHill.

Mar 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm

OSIRIS simulation on Sequoia

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have performed record simulations using all 1,572,864 cores of Sequoia, the largest supercomputer in the world.

The simulations are the largest particle-in-cell (PIC) code simulations by number of cores ever performed. PIC simulations are used extensively in plasma physics to model the motion of the charged particles, and the electromagnetic interactions between them, that make up ionized matter.

Sequoia, a NNSA machine, is based on IBM BlueGene/Q architecture and is the first machine to exceed one million computational cores. It is also second on the list of the world’s fastest supercomputers, operating at 16.3 petaflops (16.3 quadrillion floating point operations per second). Sequoia preparing to move to classified computing in support of stockpile stewardship.

Read about Sequoia's record simulations.

About the photo:
OSIRIS simulation on Sequoia of the interaction of a fast-ignition-scale laser with a dense DT plasma. The laser field is shown in green, the blue arrows illustrate the magnetic field lines at the plasma interface and the red/yellow spheres are the laser-accelerated electrons that will heat and ignite the fuel.

Mar 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm

NIF Warehouse Group

The NIF Warehouse Group recently marked the 15th year without a lost work-time injury. Since warehouse operations began in 1998 at an off-site facility, the group has been involved in the receipt, storage and/or delivery of virtually every component that has gone into the construction of NIF, installation of the laser systems and the conduct of the National Ignition Campaign.

A celebration was held on March 6 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to recognize the group’s impressive accomplishments in both safety and productivity.

About the photo:
Participating in the 15-year warehouse safety celebration at Livermore were (left to right) Bob Arthur, Sandra Brereton, Barb Quivey, Kelvin Liggins, Joe Lamendola, George Bonawitz, Ed Pereira, Mike Stortz, Roger Esparza, Kevin King, Norma Hinds, Jim Turner and Valerie Roberts.

Mar 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Sandia researchers simulate the behavior of weapon componentsCheck out Sandia’s highlights for 2012 by viewing Sandia’s Labs Accomplishments. The publication recognizes some of Sandia’s best work during 2012, as submitted by Sandia center offices and selected by division offices.

See it here.

About the photo:
Sandia researchers use advanced computational capabilities to simulate the behavior of weapon components under a variety of conditions. Photo by Randy Montoya.

Mar 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm

The ChemCam mast unit mounted on the Curiosity rover

Members of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover ChemCam team will present more than two dozen posters and talks this week during the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.

Since Curiosity’s successful landing on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012, ChemCam has fired more than 40,000 shots at more than a thousand different locations with its high-powered laser. The ChemCam system is one of 10 instruments mounted on the Curiosity rover—a six-wheeled mobile laboratory that will roam more than 12 miles of the planet’s surface during the course of one Martian year (98 Earth weeks).

The ChemCam team is comprised of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the French space agency, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, as well as other researchers from the U.S., France, Canada, and the United Kingdom. ChemCam operations are now commanded from centers at Los Alamos and Toulouse, France.

Read more.

About the photo:
This image shows the ChemCam mast unit mounted on the Curiosity rover as it is being prepared in the clean room prior to the launch of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. ChemCam fires a powerful laser that can sample Martian rocks and provide critical clues about the Red Planet's habitability. (Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory)

Mar 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm