Friday, March 4, 2016

Earth’s radiation belts change wildly with solar storms

Van Allen belts can vary, NASA illustration.

Satellites can short-out if they encounter a surge of radiation in Earth orbit and a new study of the Van Allen belts’ shape — an intensely charged region surrounding our planet — could help better protect them from this highly-charged environment, researchers say.

"The shape of the belts is actually quite different depending on what type of electron you're looking at," said lead author Geoff Reeves, of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
 (Full story)

New dates obtained for great ape fossils from Ethiopia

Teeth of Chororapithecus abyssinicus, Gen
Suwa photo.

New dates have been obtained for fossils discovered in Ethiopia’s Chorora Formation. Argon dating and paleomagnetic methods, combined with fieldwork, volcanic ash chemistry, and geochronology, suggest that the nine gorilla-like teeth of Chororapithecus abyssinicus, a common ancestor of apes and humans, are younger than previously thought.

“Our analysis of C. abyssinicus fossils reveals the ape to be only eight million years old, younger than previously thought. This is the time period when human and African ape lines were thought to have split, but no fossils from this period had been found until now,” said geologist Giday WoldeGabriel of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full story)


 Affordable fuel cell components developed

An X-ray computed microtomograph for non-
destructive 3-D-imaging of fuel cell components,
LANL photo.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne and Los Alamos national laboratories have teamed up to support a DOE initiative through the creation of the Electrocatalysis Consortium (ElectroCat), a collaboration devoted to finding an effective but cheaper alternative to platinum in hydrogen fuel cells.

ElectroCat is dedicated to finding new ways to replace rare and costly platinum group metals in fuel cell cathodes with more accessible and inexpensive substitutes - such as materials based on the earth-abundant metals iron and cobalt. (Full story)


Genetic tree sheds new light on disease outbreaks

Los Alamos National Laboratory is working
to more clearly understand how diseases
such as HIV are spread, LANL image.

Scientists have a new tool for unraveling the mysteries of how diseases such as HIV move through a population, thanks to insights into phylogenetics, the creation of an organism’s genetic tree and evolutionary relationships.

“It turns out that three different types of transmission histories are possible between two persons who might have infected each other,” said Thomas Leitner of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full story)

Also in Health Medicine Network


Los Alamos ‘cube sat’ team wins secretary’s award

Members of the Prometheus Team at the Lab award
ceremony, LANL photo.

More than 60 Los Alamos National Laboratory staff instrumental in the success of the Prometheus project were honored Monday with the Secretary of Energy Achievement Award at a special ceremony in Los Alamos.

Prometheus is the name of the cube satellite (“cube sat”) constellation developed by Los Alamos for U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). LANL Director Charlie McMillan and Principal Associate Director Terry Wallace for Global Security, presented the awards, which recognize team members for their “deep technical expertise” and “tight collaboration ... to accomplish challenging performance goals under an aggressive launch timeline.”​ (Full story)

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