Laboratory prepares for CTB implementation

The challenges of implementing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will require major contributions from Lawrence Livermore and other Department of Energy Defense Program facilities, says Livermore Director Bruce Tarter.
In a statement following President Clinton's signing of the CTB Treaty at the United Nations on September 24, Tarter pointed out that the Laboratory takes "very seriously the importance of a successful Stockpile Stewardship Management Program to make certain that the nation's nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, and reliable." He also said Lawrence Livermore intends "to remain at the cutting edge in the enhancement of monitoring technologies in support of verification."
Observing that the scientific challenges are considerable, Tarter said "they will require us to apply a very wide range of technical skills to sustained, difficult, large-scale tasks important to all Americans. This is the sort of national effort at which Livermore has always excelled, the kind of bold program that defines us as a Laboratory."
Tarter noted that Lawrence Livermore personnel had spent "many thousands of hours"-at the Laboratory, in Washington, D.C., and in Geneva supporting efforts by the U.S. government to bring the CTB Treaty negotiations to completion. Said the Director: "Many key challenges during the negotiations were overcome with the help of experts and technologies from LLNL."
Contact: Jeff Garberson (510) 422-4599 (garberson1@llnl.gov).


Lab gets $6.2 million for environmental cleanup R&D

The Department of Energy awarded $6.2 million to the Laboratory during the summer under DOE's Environmental Management Science Program, designed for basic research that stimulates development of innovative environmental cleanup technologies. The $6.2 million funds five separate Lawrence Livermore projects:
  • $1.6 million goes to an effort to use accelerator mass spectrometry to investigate the geochemical factors influencing the migration of radioactive elements through the soil.
  • $1.3 million funds the development of computer codes for integrating various geophysical data, such as seismic or electromagnetic data, to produce as accurate a picture as possible of underground contamination.
  • $1.2 million will be spent to develop techniques for tracking the motion and chemistry of contaminants as they flow downward to the watertable.
  • $1 million is earmarked for a companion project to the above, aimed at developing electromagnetic imaging methods to diagnose contaminants beneath the earth.
  • $1.1 million funds a study of the mechanism of movement of toxic metals found underground.
    Lab recipients of the DOE funds anticipate that their projects will spawn new environmental research collaborations with other national laboratories and universities, as well as expand existing collaborations.
    Contact: Jay Davis (510) 423-1414 (davis23@llnl.gov).

    Lab conference looks at peacekeeping technology

    Policymakers, United Nations military commanders, and national laboratory scientists met at Lawrence Livermore recently to explore how technology could aid international peacekeeping operations. Of particular interest to military commanders and policymakers were mine removal, sensor, and antisniper technologies.
    Titled "Meeting the Challenges of International Peace Operations: Assessing the Contributions of Technology," the two-day event in September was the inaugural conference for the Laboratory's Center for Global Security Research, established to better connect the Laboratory to the policy community.
    Said Robert Andrews, the Laboratory's former associate director for Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and International Security, who led the effort to create the center: "Peacekeeping forces are used for many different purposes. The Laboratory can play an important role because of the technology we have here."
    Contact: Robert Andrews (510) 422-5006 (andrews3@llnl.gov).

    Carrano elected VP of Human Genome Organization

    Tony Carrano, the Laboratory's associate director for Biology and Biotechnology, has been elected vice president of the international Human Genome Organization (HUGO). As vice president, Carrano heads up America's branch of the organization, which represents North, Central, and South America.
    Internationally, HUGO represents nearly 1,000 members from 50 countries who are involved in the global effort to map and sequence all of the human DNA. Carrano, director of the Laboratory's Human Genome Center, is one of 18 members of HUGO's international council.
    The Laboratory has been involved in the Human Genome Project since 1986. In 1991, it received official designation as a Human Genome Center. Lab researchers focused much of their early work on mapping chromosome 19, which represents only 2% of the human DNA. Since early 1995, Lab researchers have broadened their scope to include the entire human genome. (See a related article beginning on p. 24 of this issue of S&TR.)
    Contact: Tony Carrano (510) 422-5698 (carrano1@llnl.gov).

    Researchers discover ice that resists melting

    While performing studies of methane clatrate, a material viewed as a potential energy source, scientists produced a mysterious phenomenon-ice that does not liquefy when heated well beyond its usual melting temperature.The energy stored in methane clathrate deposits on Earth has been estimated at twice that in all conventional hydrocarbon deposits of oil, gas, and coal.
    The discovery occurred while researchers-Bill Durham of Lawrence Livermore and Laura Stern and Stephen Kirby of the U.S. Geological Survey-were experimenting with a new method for synthesizing methane clathrate, a solid compound of water and methane occurring on Earth and possibly on the icy moons of the outer solar system. Clathrate refers to the compound's porous lattice-work structure.
    In a project funded by NASA, the team mixed fine, granular ice and cold, pressurized methane gas in a constant-volume reaction vessel that was slowly heated under strictly regulated conditions. Curiously, the scientists found that the ice did not liquefy as predicted when the melting temperature was reached and surpassed. Clathrate was formed only after many hours, with the temperatures inside the reaction vessel reaching above 50°ree;F before the last of the ice was consumed (the researchers never did see melting) as part of the process.
    The three scientists concluded that a kind of "chemical armoring effect" accompanying clathrate formation suppresses the melting of the ice. They are hopeful that their new method of producing methane clathrates will pave the way for further experimentation and a better understanding of this phenomenon. Their findings were published in the September 27 issue of Science magazine.
    Contact: Bill Durham (510) 422-7046 (durham1@llnl.gov).

    Lab-IBM making progress with new supercomputer

    Lawrence Livermore and IBM are moving ahead on a $93 million project to build the world's fastest supercomputer. The production model of the 3-trillion-calculations-per-second supercomputer is scheduled for demonstration in December 1998.
    In September, Lawrence Livermore took delivery from IBM of the first 512 processors, which make up two separate systems that operate at 136 billion calculations per second, contain 67 billion bytes of memory, and include 2.5 trillion bytes of storage.
    The supercomputer is based on the IBM RS/6000 SP* line of processors that allows a building block approach to high-performance computing with clusters of shared-memory processors. Although the 512 processors are far fewer than the 4,096 that eventually will make up the production model, they possess computing power more than all that previously delivered to the Laboratory in its 45-year history, according to Mark Seager, who led the Livermore acquisition team.
    The supercomputer is being installed as part of the Department of Energy's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI), a ten-year, $1 billion program designed to eventually deliver 100-trillion-calculations-per-second computing capability. The award of Blue-Pacific-as the Livermore machine is known-was announced by President Clinton at a White House event on July 26.
    Contact: Mark Seager (510) 423-3141 (seager@llnl.gov).

    Magmatic CO2 may be key to volcano vitality

    What is a volcano's potential for eruption? Two Lawrence Livermore researchers believe work they performed in the Cascade Volcanic Range in northern California and Oregon may point to a new method for determining how vital or dormant a volcano is.
    Timothy Rose and M. Lee Davisson say the relative amount of magmatic carbon dioxide observed at different volcanoes may someday provide a means of monitoring a volcano's level of activity. Their work is discussed in a paper published in the September 6, 1996, issue of Science.
    In a study to assess the presence of magmatic carbon dioxide from volcanoes, the pair measured carbon-14 in groundwater samples from 40 different springs and creeks located in the Cascade Range. The absence of carbon-14 in the water samples is an indicator that magmatic carbon dioxide came from deep within the earth. (Because it has a half-life of over 5,000 years, carbon-14 is used as a means of determining the age of objects.)
    "There's no question it's a substantial leap from identifying carbon isotope tracers in groundwater to actually calibrating the amounts of gas to determine the degree of danger a volcano poses," said Rose. "But it's an intriguing phenomenon and worth further investigation."
    Contact: Timothy Rose (510) 422-6611 (rose23@llnl.gov) or M. Lee Davisson (510) 423-5993 (davisson2@llnl.gov).