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)

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