Friday, May 9, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for May 5 - 9

Cloth-Eating Fungus Could Make Fuel

A fungus called
Trichoderma reesei ate its way through US military uniforms and
tents in the South Pacific during WWII. It chewed up the cloth and used special enzymes to convert the indigestible cellulose into simple sugars. Now that infamous fungus is getting some good publicity. It looks like it might hold a key to improving the production of biofuels. Cynthia Graber reports in this Scientific American Podcast.

LANL Fuel from fungus story makes major international news

News stories on t
his research were published from Canada to India to the United Kingdom. There are articles available from:

Discovery Channel visits Los Alamos for “The Future” documentary

A video crew from CBS Productions visited the Laboratory this week for a summer-long series on the Discovery Channel called “The Future.” The crew was at Los Alamos to videotape a “Future Security” segment that will focus on the use of honeybees as explosive detectors. The segment on Los Alamos will broadcast sometime in August.

Travel itinerary of flu mapped
International study using ‘antigenic cartography' traces the travel patterns of influenza.

Outbreaks of the most common type of influenza virus, A (H3N2), are seeded by viruses that originate in East and Southeast Asia and migrate around the world, new research has found. This discovery may help to further improve flu vaccines and make the evolution of the virus more predictable. Antigenic cartography is a method developed by researchers at Erasmus Medical Center, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Cambridge. Given measurements for multiple viruses, antigenic cartography can be used to create a map in which the distance between viruses in the map reflects their antigenic similarity and can be used to compare thousands of viruses at a time. From these antigenic maps it is then possible to trace the evolution of the viruses. (Get the whole story here.)

US Synthetic Signs Exclusive License Agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory

US Synthetic, an operating company of the Dover Corporation, the leading provider of polycrystalline diamond cutters (PDCs) for oil and gas exploration, and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Los Alamos, N.M., a multidisciplinary research institution operated by Los Alamos National Security LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy, today announced an exclusive license agreement that will grant US Synthetic rights to nanostructured thermally stable diamond silicon carbide, originally developed at LANL. (Here's the scoop.)

Top innovations lauded at ceremony
LANL is partner in New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program

Belinda Padilla, left, of the Technology Transfer Division greets Mariann Johnston of the Community Programs Office at the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Innovation Celebration last week in Santa Fe. Padilla and Johnston are on the program's advisory council. Eight companies were recognized during the celebration at Santa Fe’s International Museum of Folk Art. They range from a company that developed a better way to de-stem chiles to a company that developed an affordable alcohol monitoring system. The Laboratory is a partner in the program, which provides specialized scientific expertise and assistance to businesses. (See the entire story here.)

May issue of Currents now available

The latest issue of the Laboratory’s monthly magazine Currents is now available online (Adobe Acrobat reader required). This issue features a cover article on Laboratory researcher Torsten Staab and one of his “way cool” inventions, a hand-held avian surveillance tool. Also in the May issue are articles on Charlene Cappiello and her connection with the Lab’s critical assembly equipment headed for a new home at the Nevada Test Site; the Students’ Association executive committee members and their efforts on behalf of all students who come to the Laboratory; two outreach events that helped promote science to local youths; and a look at how the Laboratory is doing in implementing new information security policies.

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