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Over the last five years, Lawrence Livermore has established a program in structural biology to further its work on DNA damage and repair processes. This new program supports a number of other newer projects as well, including the development of antidotes, detection systems, and countermeasures for minimizing the threat of exposure to biological warfare agents. Laboratories have been established for x-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the only methods for obtaining high-resolution, three-dimensional data about individual molecules. This experimental structural biology work is supplemented by computational efforts in molecular modeling and protein prediction.
Livermore researchers are creating in the laboratory the same kinds of extremely hot plasmas found in distant stars. The experimental program, conducted at Sandia National Laboratories' pulsed-power facilities, focuses on cepheids (big pulsating stars), supernovae (the brightest objects in the universe), and stars that generate x rays through a process called accretion. A key aspect of the experiments is testing advanced Livermore atomic models-OPAL for the cepheid and supernova experiments and LXSS for the x-ray tests. The data from these experiments will help scientists better understand the birth and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the universe itself. The new experimental techniques, strengthened codes, and diagnostics developed for the tests are also helping the Department of Energy's Stockpile Stewardship Program keep the nation's aging nuclear weapons safe, secure, and reliable in the absence of nuclear testing.
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