Friday, March 21, 2014

Bare Earth Elements: Mars rocks wear manganese coats

Several rocks on the surface of Mars are coated with distinctive dark-colored surface layers enriched in manganese that, while sharing similarities with manganese-rich rock varnish found on Earth, do not appear to be varnish themselves based on differences in trace element levels, according to new research presented Wednesday by Nina Lanza of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

Modeling challenges doused in simulations of important precipitation features

Researchers Los Alamos National Laboratory, at PNNL, and Sandia National Laboratories, sought to understand model biases in simulating extreme precipitation and the Intertropical Convergence Zone's structure.

This feature is fueled by thermal energy in the tropics and forces warm, moist air to rise and dump rain over the tropics, and subsequently move toward the Earth's poles, descend and dry the subtropics. (full story)

Udall bills aims to boost DOE tech transfer

Sen. Tom Udall this week introduced legislation that aims to help national laboratories, including Sandia and Los Alamos, become more effective at spinning their cutting-edge technologies into the private marketplace.

“The finest scientists in the world are doing cutting-edge research here in New Mexico’s national labs. If we can harness that amazing research by connecting innovators and entrepreneurs, New Mexico could lead the nation in high-tech business and innovation,” Udall, D-N.M., said. (full story)

Tech breakthrough with nanoscale optical switch

Photons may someday replace electrons inside cellphones, automobiles and other products. This shift got a recent boost with the development of an ultrafast, ultrasmall optical switch.

The new device, developed by a team from Vanderbilt University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Los Alamos National Laboratory, is now the smallest of the existing ultrafast optical switches. (full story)

Laser-firing ChemCam vital to Curiosity rover’s tour of Mars

Curiosity relies on the most advanced suite of instruments ever sent to the Martian surface — among them, a laser-firing tool called the ChemCam. A concept originally developed at the DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory.

ChemCam serves two key purposes: determine whether rocks and soil on Mars contain chemicals necessary for life, and identify rocks and soil for analysis by other instruments aboard the rover. (full story)

Quantum rewrites the rules of computing

A quantum computer combines computing with quantum mechanics, one of the most mysterious and complex branches of physics.

D-Wave's system at NASA may be the first commercially available quantum computer, but it's not the first quantum machine. Basic quantum computers have been built before. In 2000, scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory demonstrated a working 7-qubit system. (full story)

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