Lab Report

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The Lab Report is a weekly compendium of media reports on science and technology achievements at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Though the Laboratory reviews items for overall accuracy, the reporting organizations are responsible for the content in the links below.

Mar. 13, 2015

A new report in conjunction with LLNL research suggests that climate change may have the most drastic effect in the Southern Hemisphere, including Australia.

Down under feels the heat

A study conducted by Lawrence Livermore scientists has confirmed that the upper layers of the worlds’ oceans were warming faster than oceanographers may have previously realized. Based upon the results, their estimates had been particularly conservative. In fact, the amount of heat energy in the top 700 meters of the Southern Hemisphere oceans could have been underestimated by anything up to 152 percent.

On a global scale, those Southern Hemisphere oceans make up 60 percent of the entire worlds’ oceans and the researchers now believe that the seas are heating between 24 percent and 58 percent faster than had previously been considered.

LLNL scientist Paul Durack suggests that the research taken from the Southern Hemisphere in the past was so sparse that it made estimatess difficult.

And the country most affected by these changes: Australia.


Roger Sandoval assembles solid radiochemical collection (SRC) diagnostics in the National Ignition Facilty’s Target Diagnostics Factory. SRC diagnostics are solid surfaces that capture activation products from the target after the shot.

Providing data for nuclear detectives

The field of nuclear forensics, an important element of Lawrence Livermore’s national security mission, has similar goals and uses similar techniques as crime scene investigations — but with even higher stakes.

“In nuclear forensics, we want to know first, is someone able to put together the parts to make a nuclear weapon and set it off?” said LLNL nuclear chemist Dawn Shaughnessy, who leads the experimental and nuclear radiochemistry group in the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate. “And second, if one is set off, can we find out who did it, how they did it and are they going to do it again?"

You could call Shaughnessy a nuclear detective. “Like traditional forensics, we’re looking for nuclear signatures, just like fingerprints; we’re looking for the technological and material clues and evidence to tell us what somebody had done to make this unfortunate thing happen,” she said.

Former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez worked as an engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory prior to joining the space program.

Reaching for the Hollywood stars

The story of former NASA Astronaut and Lawrence Livermore engineer José Hernández may soon be made into a feature film in Hollywood.

Hernández, who recently published the book, “Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut” caught the attention of Mexican actor and director Alfonso Arau who also directed movies like “Como Agua Para Chocolate” and “A Walk in the Clouds” with Keanu Reeves.

“When Arau told me he was interested in writing the script and creating this film, I said I would be honored and humbled, but that it was just as important to keep the momentum going given the recent achievements of México’s highly acclaimed directors such as Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won Oscars last year and this year, respectively, and have taken Hollywood by storm,” Hernández said.

“Then I said to Arau, ‘look, you are going to be the third Oscar winner,' ” Hernández said.

Lawrence Livermore scientists have studied material properties under extreme high pressure and strain rates that are key to understanding asteroid impacts.

Under pressure

The study of material properties under the conditions of extreme high pressures and strain rates is very important for understanding meteor, asteroid or comet impacts, as well as in hyper velocity impact engineering and inertial confinement fusion capsules.

In a recent study published by Physical Review Letters, a team of Lawrence Livermore scientists report an important finding that can be used to determine the evolution of structures under high pressure and strain rates.