Defense research yields commercial benefits

Defense research at Lawrence Livermore may help U.S. companies get a head start in the fiercely competitive international computer chip market, according to Dena Belzer, author of a new study about the Laboratory's effect on the economy.
Belzer, a principal consultant with Bay Area Economics in Berkeley, quoted industry giants Intel Corp. and Microsoft as saying that breakthroughs at Lawrence Livermore have been critical to putting more information onto tiny microchips. The companies said the Laboratory's cutting-edge research tools and large pool of scientists from diverse disciplines enabled microchip breakthroughs like extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, a technique for putting information on chips that will allow manufacturers to write on the chips with more precise strokes that are about a thousandth the width of a human hair.
Belzer's report said that the planned National Ignition Facility laser could push the state of the art in several technology areas over the next 10 to 15 years, but it cautioned that "economic benefits can only be realized if the national labs continue to have strong interactive relationships with private industry."
Contact: LLNL Media Relations (510) 422-4599 (

Lab seeks source of mystery gamma-ray bursts

A telescope developed at Livermore and housed at its Site 300 research center in San Joaquin County, California, is scouring the heavens in search of answers to one of the great mysteries of the universe-gamma-ray bursts. Detected approximately once a day by orbiting satellites, the flashes of gamma rays of unknown origins reach peak energy in a few hundredths of a second and typically last about 1 to 100 seconds.
The telescope, called the Livermore Optical Transient Imaging System (LOTIS), was developed to help reveal clues about the origins of the bursts by searching for light flashes that may accompany them. The telescope consists of a high-resolution, wide-field-of-view system on a mount designed for rapid response and movement. LOTIS has an 18-degree field of view, compared to 0.5 degrees for the typical astronomical telescope.
The system relies on the orbiting Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory for initial detection of a gamma-ray event. Data are then transmitted to NASA's Goddard Space Center and relayed to Site 300.
The gamma-ray burst research is being conducted in collaboration with NASA's Goddard and Marshall Space Centers, the University of California at San Diego, and Clemson University.
Contact: Hye-Sook Park (510) 422-7062 (

Predicting floods more accurately

Winter floods that swept across northern California in December and January provided proof that the Laboratory's Regional Climate System Model works. Using this system-which includes elevation, topography, soils, vegetation, and forecasted weather variables-scientists Norman Miller and Jinwon Kim simulated the Russian River area's flooding within 85% of the observed river flow. (See S&TR, July 1995, pp. 28-30, for more information on this work.) Using forecasts from the National Weather Service, Miller and Kim predict precipitation at a spatial resolution of 31 square kilometers (12 square miles) to simulate river channel flow. Future plans include adding impacts such as urban development to the model, which will give planning organizations help in making critical decisions on water resource, agricultural, and sustainability issues.
Contact: Jinwon Kim (510) 422-1848 ( or Norm Miller (510) 422-3244 (

Cooper appointed to special technology panel

President Clinton named Computation Associate Director Dave Cooper to the newly formed Advisory Committee on High-Performance Computing and Communications, Information Technology, and the Next-Generation Internet. The advisory committee will provide guidance and advice on all areas of those fast-changing technologies.
Cooper came to the Laboratory in 1995 after serving as director of information systems at the NASA Ames Research Center, California. In 1994, he received the NASA Medal for Outstanding and Exceptional Service for his pioneering in high-performance computing.

Livermore and Savannah River begin collaboration

Lowering costs and speeding up development are two of the goals in collaborations of Lawrence Livermore and DOE's Savannah River Site. On February 4, Livermore director Bruce Tarter and president of Westinghouse Savannah River Co. Ambrose Schwallie signed a memorandum of mutual intent that outlined technologies involved. They include: disposition of fissile materials, centered on the immobilization of plutonium; stabilization of plutonium residue; modular production systems for replacement components for the enduring stockpile; and nonproliferation and arms control, including nuclear forensics, materials protection, environmental monitoring, and domestic safeguards. Livermore will be developing and testing ways to stabilize plutonium on a small scale, after which the technology will be transferred to Savannah River, which has larger-scale facilities and experience with large-scale processing and handling of special nuclear materials.
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