Friday, July 15, 2016

Science on the Hill: Burning questions in study of wildfire

Las Conchas Fire of 2011, NPS photo.               

We can’t stop all fires — and we shouldn’t. Healthy ecosystems depend on them. But understanding what drives big fires and predicting their behavior helps the fire community prepare for the next blaze through appropriate land management, emergency plans and firefighting strategies.

Beyond those benefits, a deeper understanding of wildfires prompts important insights into tactics for using prescribed fire as well as insight into larger regional environmental issues, including how fires change river flows and the availability of water for drinking, agriculture and energy production. (Full Story)

How a pinch of dirt can tell you everything about a nuclear test

Site of the first nuclear detonation, LANL image.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico have just discovered a fascinating new way to reconstruct past nuclear tests even decades after detonation.

This feat of nuclear forensics was spearheaded by Susan Hanson, a nuclear chemist at Los Alamos. Her team developed a way to piece together what were previously overlooked chemical fingerprints to reconstruct a detailed picture of past nuclear explosions—far beyond what scientists thought possible. (Full Story)

Flipping crystals improves solarcell performance

Three types of solar cells made of two-dimensional perovskites. LANL image.

In a step that could bring perovskite crystals closer to use in the burgeoning solar power industry, researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Northwestern University and Rice University have tweaked their crystal production method and developed a new type of two-dimensional layered perovskite with outstanding stability and more than triple the material's previous power conversion efficiency.

This research is part of Los Alamos’ mission, which includes conducting multidisciplinary research to strengthen the security of energy for the nation. That work includes exploring alternative energy sources. (Full Story)

Knights Landing will waterfall down from on high

Trinity supercomputer, LANL image.

Jim Lujan, HPC program manager at Los Alamos National Laboratory and project director for the “Trinity” system, had an interesting take on this idea. The Trinity system is part of the compute infrastructure for managing the nuclear stockpile for the US government under the control of the Department of Energy. The Trinity system has over 9,000 two-socket server nodes based on Intel’s “Haswell” Xeon E5 v3 processors and is already delivering cycles to the classified users of the machine. (Full Story)

Los Alamos computational scientist wins Young Investigator Award

Ludmil Alexandrov, LANL photo.

Ludmil Alexandrov, of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Theoretical Biology and Biophysics group, is the winner of the 2016 Carcinogenesis Young Investigator Award. Given biennially by the journal Carcinogenesis: Integrative Cancer Research, published by Oxford University Press, and the European Association for Cancer Research, the award recognizes a recent significant contribution to carcinogenesis research by an investigator under the age of 40. (Full Story)

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