Homeland security technology is licensed
In a premier example of homeland security technology moving to
the marketplace, the Laboratory signed a licensing agreement
with ORTEC Products of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to commercialize
RadScout, a lightweight, portable radiation detector and analyzer.
The signing of the licensing agreement took place on
June 18, 2003, in a ceremony at the Laboratory attended by National
Nuclear Security Administration’s Administrator Linton Brooks.
Developed within Livermore’s Defense and Nuclear Technologies
Directorate, RadScout is intended for emergency first-response
teams and inspectors who need rapid detection and identification
of material so they can determine the nature and scope of a possible
RadScout weighs about 9 kilograms. Its miniaturized refrigeration
system cools to about 90 kelvins (–280°F) and eliminates
heavy, bulky liquid nitrogen cooling for the device’s germanium
crystal, which is the heart of the device’s detection capability.
RadScout measures neutrons and gamma rays emitted by radioactive
materials and then analyzes them to identify their sources.
The high-performance, high-resolution portable system
can be used at border crossings, on cargo ship docks, and in transportation
terminals to differentiate between potentially dangerous radioactive
materials and otherwise harmless radiation sources.
Contact: Raymond Pierce (925) 423-8465 (email@example.com).
Hot on the trail of a solar mystery
Livermore physicist Margarita Ryutova and Theodore Tarbell, a researcher
from Stanford–Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratories
in Palo Alto, California, have solved a long-standing astrophysics
mystery: Why is the Sun’s corona, or uppermost layer of the
solar atmosphere, 300 times hotter than the 6,000-degree solar
surface, and how does the energy from the Sun’s relatively
cool surface get transferred
to the corona to make it so much hotter than the surface?
Ryutova and Tarbell began to solve this mystery by observing a
narrow, 300-kilometer transition region at the bottom of the corona.
Using instruments on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory and
the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer, they observed that
the collision of magnetic fields of small-scale flux tubes in the
photosphere causes a series of regular actions. These actions start
from the magnet flux reduction, pass through shock formation, and
appear in the transition region as microflares, hot supersonic
plasma jets, and explosive events.
the first time,” says Ryutova, “we could see these
shocks in action. When shocks collide, the energy of a system is
first squeezed into a very small volume and then gets violently
The events are similar to the shaped charges found in modern high
explosives. A shaped charge focuses all of its energy on a single
line, making it extremely accurate and powerful. Likewise, colliding
shock fronts produce dramatic effects in the form of microflares
and plasma jets in the solar transition region.
Ryutova and Tarbell’s findings provide insight not only into
the origin of the solar transition region, but also into how every
production, transfer, and release may occur throughout the Sun’s
and other stars’ atmospheres. Their results may help explain
the energy output of other cosmic objects that have magnetic fields
and gravitation. Results appear in the
May 15, 2003, issue of Physical Review Letters available
Contact: Margarita Ryutova (925) 423-7858
Monitoring Middle East quakes
Last year, two earthquakes with Richter magnitudes of 5.1 and 4.3
shook the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The ground motion resulted
in damage to structures and minor injuries and surprised people
because earthquakes are rare
for this region.
In October 2002, Laboratory seismologists Keith Nakanishi and Arthur
Rodgers traveled to the UAE to talk with various universities about
a scientific partnership to record seismic ground motion. The geology
department of UAE University
in Al Ain welcomed the possibility for collaboration.
In May 2003, Rodgers and technician Pat Lewis installed seismic
monitoring stations near Al Ain and Al Hail in a cooperative project
with UAE University. This equipment records tiny ground motions,
including small earthquakes and explosions in the UAE and large,
distant earthquakes. The university’s geology department
set up a laboratory to analyze data collected through the seismic
Persian Gulf,” says Rodgers, “is a good place to
collect important seismic data, because little or no data have
been recorded there. Data from these stations will be used to learn
about earthquakes and earth structure in and around the UAE.” The
Zagros Mountains in Iran, which sit just across the Persian Gulf
from the UAE, are active seismic centers, while the Semail Ophiolite,
a mountain range that spans Oman and the UAE, is relatively aseismic.
new seismic stations will be used to learn where small earthquakes
occur and help define seismically active faults,” says Rodgers. “This
information will help our Emirati colleagues know where to expect
and be better prepared for possible future earthquakes.”
Rodgers and his colleagues hope to expand their efforts
to other countries, so that eventually a network of seismic stations
can monitor earthquake activity throughout the
Contact: Arthur Rodgers (925) 423-5018 (firstname.lastname@example.org).