Friday, December 4, 2015

 Sequencing algae’s genome may aid biofuel production

Haptophytes Chrysochromulina, from Biomass.

Scientists have sequenced the complete genetic makeup of haptophytes algae. First author Blake Hovde is now a postdoc at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Co-authors include LANL’s Ramesh Jha and Shawn Starkenburg.

The researchers hope to better understand haptophytes and perhaps transform them into an important new tool for aquaculture, biofuel production and nutrition. They discovered that a haptophyte type, called Chrysochromulina, would make an ideal subject for investigating how algae make fat, a process important for nutrition, ecology and biofuel production. (Full Story)

Understanding the origins of human cancer

Ludmil Alexandrov, of the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, made strong points this week in the journal Science about the basic formation of human cancers, winning a 2015 Science & SciLifeLab Prize, on “Understanding the Origins of Human Cancer.”

“I have always been passionate about solving complex genomics puzzles and applying my skills towards better understanding the mechanism underlying cancer development,” said Alexandrov, Oppenheimer Fellow at Los Alamos. “It is a great honor to be recognized as one of the winners of the 2015 Science & SciLifeLab Prize,” he said. (Full Story)

Why fusion researchers are going small

Scylla I, the 0-pinch device that in 1958 produced the first thermonuclear fusion in any laboratory. From Los Alamos Science Magazine.

One representative project, run by Tustin, Calif.–based company Magneto-Inertial Fusion Technologies, is designed to “pinch” a plasma with an electric current until it compresses itself enough induce fusion. The approach has pedigree: scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory used the pinch technique in 1958 to create the first sustained fusion reaction in a laboratory. (Full Story)

LANL scientists and partners make quantum computer

New semiconductor nanostructures help qubit electrons store information longer, from CS.

Physicists at the Technical University of Munich, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Stanford University (USA) have tracked down semiconductor nanostructure mechanisms that can result in the loss of stored information - and halted the amnesia using an external magnetic field. The new nanostructures comprise common semiconductor materials compatible with standard manufacturing processes. (Full Story)

Imaging startup moves forward in Los Alamos

Agricultural corn yields mapped by Descartes Labs.  From Descartes.

A Los Alamos startup that uses satellite images to decipher changes on the Earth's surface has received a new round of venture capital.

The $5 million to Descartes Labs is led by Cultivian Sandbox, a venture fund in Chicago focused on agriculture, as well as Crosslink Capital, TenOneTen, DataCollective and ValueStream Labs.

Descartes was formed last December by a team of former scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory. It includes co-founder Steven P. Brumby, a theoretical physicist who led a machine-learning team at LANL for seven years. (Full Story)

LANL’s R&D 100 Award … A lot of credit to go around

The Lab’s Engineering Institute located at Los Alamos Research Park, LANL photo.

Like Oscars for films and Emmys for television, R&D 100s are among the best known annual awards in the domain of new inventions, setting standards of excellence and spotlighting new technologies.

In a competition where all the winners are considered equal, full credit goes to LANL’s winning entry, a software package known as SHMTools. The system is designed to help monitor structural health, an emerging engineering capability useful for measuring and sustaining the safety and integrity of all kinds of infrastructure from buildings and bridges to aircraft and spacecraft. (Full Story)

Best secret ski towns of North America

Pajarito Mountain ski hill.  From NatGeo.

For years Los Alamos wasn’t just a secret ski town, it was a secret town, period. High on the hidden Pajarito Plateau of the Jemez Mountains, 35 miles northwest of Santa Fe, the Los Alamos National Laboratory was established here by the U.S. government at the height of World War II.

Best Off-the-Slopes Activity — "Learn about Los Alamos National Laboratory research and history at Bradbury Science Museum or visit the museums, galleries, and shopping of Santa Fe." (Full Story)

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