Team finds immediate predecessor of modern humans

An international team of scientists, including a researcher from Los Alamos National Laboratory, has discovered fossilized skulls that lend further credence to the hypothesis that modern humankind originated in Africa. The discovery, highlighted in two companion papers as the cover story of the journal Nature, also indicates that this ancient predecessor of modern man conducted early mortuary practices on their deceased contemporaries and may have dined on hippopotami.

Should Memphis Build for California Style Earthquakes?

The federal government is urging Memphis and other parts of the Midwest to adopt a new building code that would make buildings as earthquake resistant as those in southern California, where shaking is much more likely to seriously damage a building. A new study by researchers at Northwestern University, the Reaves Firm in Memphis, and Los Alamos National Laboratory finds that the prescribed measures for the Midwest’s New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ) would cost far more than the damage prevented. The New Madrid seismic zone includes parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Mississippi.

Los Alamos restores U.S. ability to make nuclear weapons

Los Alamos National Laboratory has successfully made the first nuclear weapons pit in 14 years that meets specifications for use in the U.S. stockpile. The six-year effort at Los Alamos’ plutonium processing facility restores the nation’s ability to make nuclear weapons, a capability the United States lost when the Rocky Flats Plant near Boulder, Colo., shut down in June 1989.

Los Alamos lab to filter nearby river for chemical, radioactive waste

Water flowing through Mortandad Canyon downstream of Los Alamos National Laboratory operations now will flow through a Permeable Reactive Barrier — a huge column of pollution-capturing materials — before proceeding farther downstream. Waters that encounter the PRB will be scrubbed of radionuclides such as strontium-90; americium-241; plutonium 238, 239 and 240; and uranium isotopes as well as chemicals such as perchlorate, nitrate and heavy metals. Mortandad Canyon is the location of the effluent stream from the Laboratory’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility. The RLWTF discharges about 60,000 gallons of treated effluent per week on average.

Auditor Releases Interim Report on Los Alamos Transactions

A comprehensive analysis by the University of California Auditor has favorably resolved 96% of procurement card transactions at the Los Alamos National Laboratory that were previously questioned during an external review. The new UC audit, released today (February 10, 2003), identified $195,246 in transactions that are being questioned for their allowability under the Department of Energy contract, due to incomplete documentation, technical deficiencies (e.g. missing approvals) or other reasons, including documentation destroyed in the Cerro Grande fire.

Darling Named UC Interim Vice President for Laboratory Management

University of California President Richard C. Atkinson has named longtime UC senior administrator Bruce B. Darling as interim vice president for laboratory management. Darling, who currently serves as systemwide senior vice president for university affairs, will take on the additional responsibilities of overseeing the university’s administration of the national laboratories UC manages for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. “By making this appointment of Bruce Darling, one of my oldest and closest associates, I am sending a very clear signal that the University of California’s management of the national laboratories is among my highest priorities,” said Atkinson. “Bruce has been intimately involved in getting to the bottom of recent allegations surrounding business practices at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has worked closely with the Department of Energy and the NNSA on these matters, and has proved again and again that he is a trusted and effective manager and problem solver on a wide range of university issues. All these are the attributes I need in the vice president position at this critical time.”

Management shake-up at Los Alamos

University of California President Richard C. Atkinson has announced sweeping management changes at Los Alamos National Laboratory, including the resignation of Director John C. Browne. Atkinson immediately appointed as interim director retired Vice Admiral George P. “Pete” Nanos, the former commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and of the Navy’s strategic nuclear program. Nanos currently is principal deputy associate director for Los Alamos’ Threat Reduction Directorate. Nanos will serve as interim director for a period of several months while the University conducts a nationwide search for a new permanent director.