Friday, May 22, 2015



How global warming may make forests shorter and scrubbier

Nathan McDowell, LANL photo.

All vascular plants – those with tissue to distribute water and nutrients throughout the plant – obey Darcy's law, notes Nathan McDowell, a forest ecologist at LANL and the lead author of the study, which was published this week by Nature Climate Change.

"Even wet places, when they have their very infrequent dry periods, will be significantly hotter than those trees have ever experienced," says Dr. McDowell – subjecting the forests to stresses that would increase their vulnerability to wildfires, bug infestations, and lack of moisture. (Full Story)



Uncovering the mysteries of cosmic explosions

A Los Alamos simulation of an exploding white dwarf, LANL image.

An automated software system developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory played a key role in the discovery of supernova iPTF 14atg and could provide insight, a virtual Rosetta stone, into future supernovae and their underlying physics.     

“Over the past decade, rapid advances in imaging and computing technology have completely transformed time-domain astronomy,” said Przemek Wozniak. (Full Story)





Researchers hope man-made “Mini Quakes” lead to data on real thing

Acoustic earthquake triggering, LANL image.

Scientists are creating tiny man-made earthquakes with the hopes of predicting real, big quakes.  The research is designed to look into the phenomena of earthquake triggering — the idea that quakes cause other quakes, and scientists are creating the tiny quakes to prove it. Paul Johnson is one of the scientists at the Los Alamos National Labs that are conducting the research. (Full Story)



Look at the tiny earthquakes scientists make to predict real ones

This photo, captured through a polarizing filter, shows the buildup of stress along a modeled fault line at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where a team of scientists is trying to figure out how to forecast earthquakes.

The artificial fracture was created by sliding two semi-rigid plastic plates against each other, with a layer of small nylon cylinders between them. (Full Story)

Watch the YouTube video


Also from Gizmodo this week:

This 200-trillion watt laser produces plasma hotter than the Sun


Invisible infrared light from the 200-trillion watt Trident Laser enters from the bottom to interact with a one-micrometer thick foil target in the center of the photo. The laser pulse produces a plasma - an ionized gas - many times hotter than the center of the sun, which lasts for a trillionth of a second. During this time some electrons from the foil are accelerated to virtually the speed of light, and some ions are accelerated to energies of tens of millions of volts. (Full Story)



The new tech changing airport security

MagRay engineer Larry Schultz loads a sample into the scanning device.  LANL image.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, for instance, have come up with a system called MagRay, based on the scanning technology developed for medical applications – a combination of X-rays and nuclear magnetic resonance, which is used in MRI scans. “We combine the two methods to discriminate benign from threat liquids,” says Michelle Espy, a physicist at Los Alamos and MagRay’s project leader. (Full Story)

See the YouTube video




Can Wikipedia forecast the flu?

From left, Kyle Hickmann, Nick Generous, Alina Deshpande, Geoffrey Fairchild, Sara Del Valle and Reid Preidhorshy. LANL photo.

Wikipedia can not only tell you obscure things like where Bala Cynwyd is, it can also tell you if the Pennsylvania town is a current hotspot for the flu bug -- if you know how to ask.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory say they have learned how to glean information that can be used to forecast the upcoming flu season and other infectious diseases by analyzing views of Wikipedia articles. (Full Story)

Also in the Los Alamos Daily Post



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Friday, May 15, 2015



Incredible image of Antarctica's swirling currents

Antarctic ocean currents, colors show speed; white is fast and blue is slow. LANL image.

Unbroken by major landmasses, Antarctica's ocean currents race around the icy continent with powerful force. Now, a new image from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico reveals in amazing detail the turbulent rush of swirling eddies and currents in the Southern Ocean.

The scene is from a high-resolution, supercomputer replica of the Southern Ocean that is part of a Department of Energy project to create better climate models. (Full Story)



Samitaur, LANL developing brain injury detection tech

Harshini Mukundan on YouTube, LANL image.

A new detection approach originally developed for tuberculosis diagnostics is being adapted as a tool for determining traumatic brain injury, one of the challenges facing the medical community as it works to treat military and sports figures with head injuries.

Minute chemical alterations in the body, called biomarkers, are the key. “The goal of this project is to not only detect traumatic brain injuries, but eventually to guide treatment as well,” said lead researcher Harshini Mukundan of Los Alamos National Laboratory. ( Full Story) See Mukundan on video



Ultralow-field MRI comes out of the lab

 Ultralow-field MRI scan, LANL image.

A practical, portable ultralow-field MRI system has been unveiled by researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US. With its low power requirements and lightweight construction, the researchers hope that their prototype design can soon be deployed for use in medical centres in developing countries as well as in military field hospitals.

"Standard MRI machines just can't go everywhere," explains project leader Michelle Espy, a physicist at Los Alamos. "Soldiers wounded in battle usually have to be flown in to a large hospital – and people in emerging nations just don't have access to MRI at all." (Full Story) Watch the video




Water use by trees is a key part of the hydrological process linking soil to climate and local weather

ULF-NMR and neutron imaging experiment, LANL image.         

Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers have made the first simultaneous measurements of Ultra-Low-Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (ULF-NMR) and neutron imaging to visualize the movement of water in trees.

Water use by trees is a key part of the hydrological process linking soil to climate and local weather. Despite decades of research and method development, non-destructive, in vivo measurements of water uptake and flow in trees are unavailable for field-based measurement. (Full Story)




Lee gets Early Career award

Christopher Lee, LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher Christopher Lee is a recipient of the 2015 Early Career Research Program awards from the Department of Energy Office of Science.

“This prestigious award is recognition of Christopher Lee’s outstanding work in nuclear and particle physics, which is a vital part of the laboratory’s national security  science mission,” said Alan Bishop, principal associate director for Science, Technology and Engineering. (Full story)

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Friday, May 8, 2015


 Defeating the Virus

Illustration from The Scientist

Bette Korber and colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory are designing so-called mosaic antigens to overcome HIV diversity. These are computationally derived proteins created by stitching together genetic sequences from across the entire HIV genome. These mosaic antigens, when delivered via viral vectors either alone or in combination with each other or a protein booster component, can provide greater breadth of cellular immune responses against HIV variants and protect against SHIV infection in monkeys. (Full Story)



 The trouble with reference rot

Van de Sompel, LANL photo.

Herbert Van de Sompel, an information scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library in New Mexico, quantified the alarming extent of this 'link rot' and 'content drift' (together, 'reference rot') in a paper published last December. With a group of researchers under the auspices of the Hiberlink project, he analysed more than 1 million 'web-at-large' links (defined as those beginning with 'http://' that point to sites other than research articles) in some 3.5 million articles published between 1997 and 2012. (Full Story)




LANL team developing downsized MRI for use on battlefield

Second generation MRI system, LANL photo.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are working on a mobile MRI machine that could help doctors in battlefield hospitals and in poor communities better diagnose injuries to the brain and other soft tissues.

It won’t be small enough to fit in a backpack, but the machine that lab scientist Michelle Espy and her team hope to perfect will be a lot more portable than the typical Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine used in a hospital. (Full Story)

Watch the video


Two more from the New Mexican this week:

Farmington second cleanest city for particle pollution, study says


Four corners power station, from the Daily Times

“It’s not just particles that are a concern to health,” Climate Scientist Manvendra Dubey said. “It’s also things like ozone and smog, which are gasses.”

Dubey was part of a study the national laboratory released in 2014 that found the San Juan Generating Station, Four Corners Power Plant, San Juan Mine and Navajo Mine were collectively the largest point-source polluters in the country. (Full Story)


Los Alamos startup aims to glean data from satellite images

Steven P. Brumby, Descartes Labs co-founder, New Mexican photo.

Started last year by a group of scientists with a century of experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Descartes Labs is training computers to use satellite images in what it hopes will change the way we see the world.

Descartes co-founder Steven P. Brumby, a theoretical physicist who led a machine-learning team at LANL for seven years, remembers as a child that he always wanted the window seat on airplanes, “to see what was on the ground.” (Full Story)



Why your next light saber will be an LED enhanced with Quantum Dots

Quantum Dot window material, LANL image.

According to our friends over at Los Alamos National Laboratory, that would be a little more than 15 years before the discovery of quantum dots. We bring that up because quantum dots have emerged as the linchpin of next-generation lighting technology.

Quantum dots are nanoscale particles of semiconductor materials. They’ve earned the moniker “artificial atoms” because their electronic properties can be precisely engineered. (Full Story)




Inspiring a new generation of women in nuclear science and engineering


ChemCam on the Curiosity rover. NASA image.

Nina Lanza, a research scientist from Los Alamos National Laboratory currently working on the Curiosity Rover mission on Mars, brought a unique research perspective based on her experiences working in a large multidisciplinary team. Her research focuses on the elemental analysis of Martian rock and soil using ChemCam, an instrument that combines laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy with a high-resolution camera. (Full Story)

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Friday, May 1, 2015



TB diagnostic tool may also detect TBI

Harshini Mukundan uses an optical biosensor. LANL photo.

A detection approach originally developed for tuberculosis diagnostics is being adapted as a tool for determining traumatic brain injury, one of the challenges facing the medical community as it works to treat military and sports figures with head injuries.

“The goal of this project is to not only detect traumatic brain injuries, but eventually to guide treatment as well,” said lead researcher Harshini Mukundan of Los Alamos National Laboratory. “We hope that our project will greatly benefit the care and recovery of veterans and deployed troops,” (Full Story)

Also from Medical Xpress




Mathematical model seeks functional cure for HIV

HIV, the AIDS virus (yellow), infecting a human immune cell. NIH image.

Individuals with the natural ability to control HIV infection in the absence of treatment are referred to as elite controllers (ECs). Such individuals maintain undetectable viral loads less than 50 copies per mL without therapy.

A group of researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a mathematical model of post-treatment control (PTC) of HIV infection in noncontrollers. (Full Story)




New technology could better detect dangerous materials at US ports

A typical American port, from Inside Science.

Some scientists are skeptical. It would still require a huge amount of radiation to scan a full cargo container, said Christopher Morris, chief scientist and head of the Los Alamos Muon Tomography Team. Morris has a patent on technology with a similar goal.

"If you fill up a cargo container from bottom up with frozen peas, the thickness of the peas is two-and-a-half meters. To see through that much material requires enormous doses. It requires incident lethal doses of radiation," and inspectors would have to be shielded from them. (Full Story)




SF team wins supercomputing challenge

Meghan Hill, left, and Katelynn James, right, pose with Rhonda Ward, their AP biology teacher, Journal photo.      

Inspired by circumstances surrounding their teacher, two young women at Santa Fe’s Mesa del Sol charter school took top honors at the 25th Annual New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge with a project on the cutting edge of science, exploring the use of nanotechnology as an alternative way to kill cancer cells. (Full Story)



PATHION develops new solid-state electrolytes

PATHION has an exclusive worldwide license for LiRAP from Los Alamos National Laboratories. Supported by an ARPA-E grant, LiRAP has proven to be a safe alternative compared to the liquid electrolytes used in most of today’s lithium ion batteries.

Solid-state electrolytes, unlike liquid-state, have extremely low expansion, no out-gassing, and the elimination of dendrite growth between anode and cathode, although sometimes at the expense of performance. (Full Story)




Los Alamos computer simulation improves offshore drill rig safety

A simulation of vortex induced motion shows how ocean currents affect offshore oil rigs. LANL image.

The security and efficiency of fossil-fuel extraction methods is increasingly important to an industry seeking to balance environmental concerns and profitability. To meet this goal, they to turn to US DOE Los Alamos National Laboratory supercomputers to understand how turbulent ocean currents affect floating oil rigs. LANL’s simulations point to a safer way to pursue an all-of-the-above energy strategy. (Full Story)

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