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Sandia Labs

Earlier this year Sandia National Laboratories fired a nuclear warhead out of a cannon in New Mexico. The reason you didn't hear an earth-shattering kaboom is because it was an inactive weapon that was fired into a tank of water as part of a federal program to improve the longevity and effectiveness of the US nuclear stockpile. Read More
It’s been a common trope in films since the 1950s; a madman with an atomic bomb holds a city for ransom while the authorities race to find it in time. If such a thing ever does come about, Sandia National Laboratories is working on taking the suspense out of the situation with its Mobile Imager of Neutrons for Emergency Responders (MINER) – a nuclear device detector capable of narrowing a search to within a city block without door-to-door sweeps. Read More
Dropping a nuclear warhead may not seem like a particularly bright idea, but earlier this year Sandia National Laboratories did just that. As part of the US government’s Life Extension Program (LEP) for its nuclear arsenal, the inert W88 ALT 370 warhead was dropped from a crane in New Mexico onto a slab of concrete to test the updated design’s safety. Read More
In combat, seconds count and a moment’s hesitation or distraction can mean the difference between life and death. So it's no small problem that modern riflescopes often require soldiers to look away from their targets or take their hands off their rifles in order to change magnification. Sandia National Laboratories’ Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles (RAZAR) riflescope is capable of switching between high and low zoom magnifications at the touch of a button, allowing soldiers to concentrate on the battle rather than their scopes. Read More
Hydrogen fueled vehicles, such as Toyota's FCV and Hyundai's Tuscon Fuel Cell, face a chicken or egg predicament: consumers are rightfully hesitant to invest in such vehicles if they don't have a convenient way to refuel them, and energy companies don't want to cough up dollars for costly infrastructure without significant numbers of such vehicles on the road. But a study by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories says that more existing gas stations in California could readily integrate hydrogen fuel than previously thought. Read More
Shipping ports are major sources of air and water pollution, due in part to anchored or docked ships using diesel generators to keep their onboard systems powered up. A year from now, however, the Port of Honolulu will be trying out a mobile hydrogen fuel cell unit, as a more eco-friendly and fuel-saving alternative. Read More
Virtually every week there are articles about new and innovative methods for harvesting wind energy. And every week more megawatts of capacity from three-blade horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWT) becomes operational, despite all of the contenders. Why aren't these innovative new products knocking the iconic HAWT off its perch? Is it possible to tell which are likely to be viable? These eight points are a useful way to assess which technology has potential, and which are likely just hot air. Read More
Ammonium nitrate is a commonly used fertilizer, but when mixed with a fuel such as diesel, it makes a powerful explosive – as seen in last week’s fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. But it's the deliberate use of the compound in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and acts of terror such as the Oklahoma City bombing that gives rise to even greater cause for concern. This is why Kevin Fleming, an optical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, developed a fertilizer alternative that isn’t detonable and therefore can’t be used in a bomb. Read More
More and more people rely on their smartphones for most of their computing needs. However, the ubiquity of mobile devices and their communications networks opens up new opportunities for rogue cyber behavior. In order to better understand security risks associated with smartphones, Sandia National Laboratories in the U.S. has created a simulated network of 300,000 Android smartphones. Read More
Neutron generators provide materials analysis and non-destructive testing tools to many industries, including oilfield operations, heavy mechanical construction, art conservancy, detective work, and medicine. Many of these applications have been limited by the rather large size of current industrial and medical neutron sources. Now Sandia National Laboratories, the lab that develops and supports the non-nuclear parts (including neutron generators) of nuclear weapons, has developed a new approach toward building tiny neutron generators. Read More
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