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A team of Livermore physicists and engineers is conducting explosive tests deep underground to provide important data for the nation's stockpile stewardship program. The experiments combine small amounts of chemical high explosives and weapons-grade plutonium to obtain new data about how plutonium and its alloys behave when strongly shocked and how that behavior changes as plutonium ages. The data are used to refine the nuclear simulation codes that run on supercomputers. The experiments, conducted at the Department of Energy's Nevada Test Site, are called subcritical because there is no nuclear detonation. Recently, in an effort to improve data collection and lower costs, the experiments have been conducted in expendable steel vessels that completely confine the experiments, making it unnecessary to carve out an underground alcove for each experiment.
In just ten years, scientists at Livermore have taken accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) a long way-from
its first use in biomedical research to establishment of a National Institutes of Health National Research Resource for AMS at Livermore. The Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at Livermore is unique in this country for its concentration on biological AMS; its work has been important in establishing AMS as a routine biomedical research tool.
Livermore scientists have led the technological advances necessary to make AMS a more effective, dependable, and economic tool for the biomedical, pharmaceutical, chemical, and clinical communities. They have developed and recently brought on line new AMS spectrometers, each designed to measure a specific biological tracer: carbon-14, tritium, and heavy isotopes such as plutonium-239. Ongoing research using Livermore's AMS facilities centers on measuring damaged DNA, studying the metabolism of nutrients and chemical substances, and detecting cancer.
and LLNL Disclaimers