Friday, May 6, 2016

How a bunch of supercomputers in the desert are keeping you safe

Trinity, the newest supercomputer at Los Alamos. LANL photo.

The Nicholas C. Metropolis Center for Modeling and Simulation houses one of the largest supercomputing centers on the planet where calculation, modeling, simulation, and visualization of complex nuclear weapons data in support of the Stockpile Stewardship Program is carried out.

Among those allowed inside the fence are Randal Rheinheimer, deputy division leader for High Performance Computing at LANL, and Josip Loncaric, HPC Technology Futures Lead at LANL. "I'm the big-picture guy and Josip Loncaric is the detail-orientated one," Rheinheimer explains. (Full Story)

New Mexico scientists develop tiny, artificial lung

PuLMo artificial lung module, LANL image.     

New Mexico researchers are creating a new device to test what people are breathing into their bodies and how harmful it could be. It is an artificial lung, known as PuLMo for Pulmonary Lung Model.

“We want to provide a bridge between animal tests and human clinical trials,” said LANL Scientist Jennifer Harris. “In animal testing, we don’t always get the information that we need before drugs are used in humans." (Full Story)

Watch the YouTube video

Hunting for the signatures of cancer
Cancer cells attack, from Huff Post. 

Can we find common mutations across individuals with the same cancer? And how many of these mutational patterns that are common across individuals can we attribute to particular exposures and/or biological processes? Distinguished postdoctoral researcher Ludmil Alexandrov, from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, has been working on this problem since his he was a PhD student at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

“It’s like lifting fingerprints,” Alexandrov explains. “The mutations are the fingerprints, but now we have to do the investigative work and find the ‘perpetrator’, i.e., the carcinogens that caused them.” (Full Story)

The best data visualizations of the year are absolutely incredible

Ocean currents are invisible to the naked eye, but this simulation by Los Alamos National Laboratory shows their intricate global reach. LANL image.

The winners of the inaugural Data Stories Competition, which highlights some of the most creative and fascinating scientific data visualizations of the past year, have just been announced. Sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, entries ranged from planetary science and oceanography to neuroscience and climate change. (Full Story)

LANL scientists study impact of ‘climate-driven disturbances’ on water supplies

While the impact of higher temperatures on rivers and reservoirs is widely studied, it’s trickier to know how massive changes in vegetation patterns and landscapes will affect water supplies, now and in the future. It’s likely that the impact of wildfires, drought, and forest die-offs are “much more significant” than warming temperatures alone. That’s according to Richard Middleton, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Often, people think about climate change as something that’s still 50 years away, but Middleton says it’s a much shorter-term problem. And in some ways, New Mexico is the “canary in the coal mine.” (Full Story)

Novel model illustrates the finer details of nuclear fission

Density profile of the 240Pu fission process, from PhysOrg.      

In the first study of its kind, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of Washington, Warsaw University, and PNNL, have developed a novel model to take a look at what happens during the last stages of the fission process.

Using the model, they determined that fission fragments remain connected far longer than expected before the daughter nuclei split apart. Moreover, they noted the predicted kinetic energy agreed with results from experimental observations. (Full Story)

Rubik’s Cube that solves itself wins supercomputing award

The wining team, LANL photo.

Solving a Rubik’s Cube is challenging enough. Creating a three-dimensional simulation of a Rubik’s Cube on a computer, then writing a program that makes it solve itself is a much bigger challenge.

But that’s exactly what a group of Los Alamos students did, and their accomplishment earned the top prize in this year’s New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge, designed to help students learn how to use computers as a tool for computer modeling and scientific inquiry to analyze and solve real-world problems. (Full Story)

10 cool things to see at the Bradbury Science Museum

The Bradbury Science Museum, LANL photo.

During WWII, as the Manhattan Project to build nuclear weapons got underway, Los Alamos, New Mexico, suddenly no longer existed. If you knew someone there, you had to write to P.O. Box 1663. It was only in 1945 that the place was restored to official maps and records.

Eight years later, Robert Krohn, then in charge of the weapons program at Los Alamos National Laboratory, decided it was time to let people know the significance of the work done there. In 1954, a former ice house at Ashley Pond, with a vault door for security purposes, opened to the public as the Bradbury Science Museum, with unclassified exhibits and various WWII documentation. (Full Story)

To subscribe to Los Alamos Press Highlights, please e-mail and include the words subscribe PressHighlights in the body of your email message; to unsubscribe, include unsubscribe PressHighlights.

Please visit us at