Friday, May 1, 2009

LANL Analysis Shows How To Slow Flu's Spread

The Los Alamos influenza model indicates that without intervention, a flu pandemic in the U.S. peaks in about 85 days.

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists using some of the most sophisticated computers in the world helped develop a plan to slow the spread of a nasty flu strain to give health officials time to produce and distribute an effective vaccine.

Some of their conclusions: stay home, wash your hands, take your medicine and consider closing schools. Don't bother trying to limit domestic travel. Some strategies work better than others in slowing the spread of the virus, a LANL researcher said Tuesday.
Full Story.

Swine flu fears hit home

What works is a combination of interventions - drugs to combat the flu virus and ways to keep people away from each other, such as telecommuting for work, closing schools, and taking hygienic measures such as people wearing masks and frequently washing their hands, said Tim Germann, a Los Alamos computational biologist. Researchers are working to develop a vaccine against swine flu. If all goes well, it would be available in about six months, in time for the next flu season. Full Story.

Also from this week’s New Mexican

Scientist: Spring break a likely factor in flu's spread

Catherine Macken has a theory about the rapid spread of swine flu: She blames it on spring break. Macken, a theoretical biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, helped create a computer model to test the potential spread of a pandemic avian flu after the H5N1 outbreak appeared in Asia in 2003. The notion that an outbreak of swine flu would come from Mexico six years later didn't really cross anybody's minds at the time - since scientists already knew where avian flu had started. Full Story.

First Large-scale Computer Simulation Of Gene Therapy

A section of human DNA. National Institutes of Health illustration.

A group of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Los Alamos National Laboratory have completed the first comprehensive, molecular-level numerical study of gene therapy. Their work should help scientists design new experimental gene therapies and possibly solve some of the problems associated with this promising technique. Full Story.

Group aims to 'green up' power grid

Electricity flows a lot like water through Santa Fe's power grid, rushing through high-capacity areas like the south side, then slowing in other parts of the city, whirling, and perhaps bottlenecking in older infrastructure.

A group of local businesses, partnering with experts from Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, aims to find out exactly what the addition of new alternative energy sources
will do to Santa Fe's power grid, in hopes of fostering a network that is as green, safe and efficient as possible. Full Story.

DOE Hands Out Cleaner Coal Funding

The funding comes as part of a massive $777 million
push from the White House to create 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers over the next five years.

In addition to carbon capture projects at the Berkeley lab, the DOE plans to fund a research center at UCLA that will focus on nanoscale materials for
separating and capturing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as renewable energy applications.

Carbon Dioxide molecules are separated from the waste stream at an advanced clean coal power station for eventual sequestration. National Energy Technology Laboratory image.

Other centers at MIT, Princeton University, the Los Alamos National Lab, and elsewhere will look at various aspects of clean power generation and energy efficiency, many of them using nanotech.
Full Story.

Innovation: How your search queries can predict the future

At the FutureMe website you can send yourself an email scheduled to arrive at any date between now and 30 years hence.
Johan Bollen of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Alberto Pepe of the University of California, Los Angeles, applied a mood rating system to the text from over 10,000 FutureMe emails sent in 2006 to gauge people's hopes, fears and predictions for the future.

They found that emails directed at 2007 to 2012 were significantly more depressed in tone than messages aimed at the subsequent six years. Could they have predicted the world's current economic slump?
Full Story.

Where it is hip to count flops

Last summer the Department of Energy's $120 million dollar IBM Roadrunner supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory was declared the fastest computer in the world, churning out an incredible 1.026 petaflops, the first system ever to break the petaflops barrier.

The word "flops" is an acronym for Floating Point Operations Per Second, and 1 petaflops represents 1,000 trillion calculations per second. The Roadrunner accomplishment is all the more remarkable given the fastest machine the year before was another IBM supercomputer. Full story.

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