Friday, October 20, 2017



Seeing one example of merging neutron stars raises five incredible questions

Merging neutron stars can exhibit gravitational wave and electromagnetic signals simultaneously, from Forbes.

Chris Fryer of Los Alamos National Laboratory, a specialist in supernovae, neutron stars, and gamma ray bursts, is interviewed by Ethan Siegel of Forbes. There was very little expectation that LIGO and Virgo were going to see a merger at this early stage in the project, just two years after the first successful detection and well before reaching design sensitivity. Yet not only did they see it, they were able to use the data to pinpoint the precise location of the merger, resulting in the incredible multiwavelength follow-up that's brought us so many surprises. (Full Story)



Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

The merger of two equal mass neutron stars is simulated using the 3-D code SNSPH. LANL image.

Astrophysicist Chris Fryer was enjoying an evening with friends on August 25, 2017, when he got the news of a gravitational-wave detection by LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. The event appeared to be a merger of two neutron stars -- a specialty for the Los Alamos National Laboratory team of astrophysicists that Fryer leads. As the distant cosmic cataclysm unfolded, fresh observational data was pouring in from the observation -- only the fifth published since the observatory began operating almost two years ago. (Full Story)



Behind enemy transmission lines

Dr. Raymond Newell leads a team at Los Alamos National Laboratory focused on building quantum networks to protect the grid. Newell believes that the Department of Energy has taken an increased interest in quantum cybersecurity in recent months, but stresses that more must be done to help scientists mitigate future threats.

The U.S. is at a crucial moment regarding quantum cybersecurity and must take active steps to realize the technology as quickly and effectively as possible. The threat posed to the electric grid by classical and quantum computers — especially in the hands of foreign actors — will only increase. (Full Story)



Where there’s smoke, there’s science

To discover the finer points of smoke’s composition, Los Alamos National Laboratory has launched the Center for Aerosol Forensic Experiments — CAFE, for short. The lab has a long history of researching the atmosphere, work that stems from its primary mission as a national nuclear security laboratory and its role in monitoring nuclear activity around the globe. This new suite of instruments, which centers on an aerosol mass spectrometer, provides detailed information on the chemistry of wildfire smoke particles. (Full Story)

Also on YouTube!


Adding extra electrons improves quantum-dot lasing

Jaehoon Lim (right) synthesizes quantum dots along with Young-Shin Park, LANL photo.

In new research from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL; Los Alamos, NM) Nanotech Team, nanometer-sized quantum dots are being doctored, or "doped," with additional electrons, a treatment that nudges the dots ever closer to producing the desired laser light with less stimulation and energy loss. The research is published in Nature Nanotechnology.

"When we properly tailor the compositional profile within the particles during their fabrication, and then inject two or more electrons in each quantum dot, they become more able to emit laser light. Importantly, they require considerably less power to initiate the lasing action," said Victor Klimov, leader of the Nanotech team. (Full Story)



UbiQD named Breakout Labs portfolio company

Quantum dots in solution, from UbiQD.

New Mexico-based quantum dot manufacturer, announced today that it has been recognized as one of the newest portfolio companies in Breakout Labs, a fund within the Thiel Foundation that finances and nurtures early-stage science-based companies.

Spun out of technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The University of Washington, and Western Washington University, UbiQD envisions a future where quantum dots are ubiquitous in a wide spectrum of applications. (Full Story)



Satellite imaging firm Descartes expands in Santa Fe

Descartes expansion plans, from the New Mexican.     

Mark Johnson launched Descartes three years ago in partnership with a group of scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and $3 million in seed capital. The company recently closed on a new round of financing, raising $30 million from private backers.

The scientists at Descartes Labs program super-fast computers to translate satellite data into visual images. Johnson helps recruit scientists from all over the country to Santa Fe to work for clients doing deep dives into agriculture, climate, drought and Earth imaging. (Full Story)



NNMC offers new classes in cybersecurity

Jorge Crichigno heads the IET program at NNMC. Journal photo.

A recently accredited program backed by a $433,000 grant from National Science Foundation and partly supported by Los Alamos National Laboratory aims to create a workforce to protect against cyber threats.

The three-year grant will introduce some aspects of cybersecurity in starting-level classes and create a higher-level Applied Cybersecurity class to begin next year. Internships, including 10 already being offered by LANL, are also part of the program. (Full Story)


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Friday, October 13, 2017

Predicting earthquakes using machine learning

A simulation of the buildup and release
of stress along an artificial fault. LANL image.

By listening to the acoustic signal emitted by a laboratory-created earthquake, a computer science approach using machine learning can predict the time remaining before the fault fails.

“At any given instant, the noise coming from the lab fault zone provides quantitative information on when the fault will slip,” said Paul Johnson, a Los Alamos National Laboratory fellow and lead investigator on the research, which was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters. (Full story)



Computing the physics that links nuclear structure, element formation, and the life and death of stars

When a neutron star forms, compression creates
heat that generates neutrinos. ORNL image.

Collaborators on the first project, the Nuclear Computational Low Energy Initiative (NUCLEI), will calculate properties and reactions of diverse atomic nuclei that are important in earthly experiments and astrophysical environments. Approximately 30 researchers at 12 national labs and universities are slated to share funding of $10 million. Joseph Carlson of Los Alamos National Laboratory heads NUCLEI, with Stefan Wild of Argonne National Laboratory as co-director for applied math and computer science and Thomas Papenbrock of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) and ORNL as the co-director for physics. (Full story)


Gevo and Los Alamos to collaborate on high energy denisity biofuels

News has emerged from Gevo (GEVO) in Colorado and New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Lab that the two will collaborate to improve the energy density of Gevo hydrocarbon products to meet product specifications for tactical fuels for specialized military applications such as RJ-4, RJ-6 and JP-10, which are currently purchased by the US Department of Defense (DoD).

High energy-density fuels are currently used in air and sea-launched cruise missiles used by the US military forces. If this project is successful in scaling the fuels cost-effectively, there may be an even broader application in the general aviation sector, enabling higher energy density jet fuel that would provide superior mileage to traditional aviation fuels. (Full story)


Dena Edwards named DOE outstanding contractor security professional of the year

Dena Edwards receives the award from
Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan, LANL photo.

Dena Edwards, a security professional in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Associate Directorate for Mission Assurance, Security and Emergency Response, was named Outstanding Contractor Security Professional of the Year by the Department of Energy.

“Dena is a true professional who has made a visible and valuable positive difference in our laboratory and our community,” said Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan. (Full story)

Friday, October 6, 2017



LANL seismologist doing breakthrough earthquake research

Researchers may be getting closer to one day being able to predict the next earthquake. Los Alamos National Labs seismologist Paul Johnson says this is breakthrough research.

“We’re learning new things about the system that we didn’t know existed,” he said.  Johnson and a researcher from Pen-State are using a so-called earthquake machine to make quakes in a lab.

Johnson is collecting sound information from that machine using a stethoscope of sorts. What is new here is the use of machine learning or artificial intelligence. (Full Story)



Water in one dimension

Water molecules (red and white balls) forming a chain in a carbon nanotube, from the University of Antwerp.

Single-walled carbon nanotubes act like tiny straws that are so narrow that water confined within cannot freeze into its normal crystal-like structure. For the first time, scientists observed that at a cool 150 K, these molecules go through a quasiphase transition. In this transition, the molecules orient themselves in a highly structured, classically hydrogen-bonded arrangement.

Clean water is vital to people, crops and livestock. Technologies using carbon nanotubes may benefit water purification and desalination. Creating such devices demands knowing how water confined in such tubes behaves.

The team of scientists includes Xia Ma, Han Htoon, and Stephen K. Doorn of the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Los Alamos. (Full Story)



Los Alamos National Laboratory reveals potential in tracking disease spread in real time

Nick Generous, from HPN.

There is something to be said for adapting to modern technology, but the Los Alamos National Laboratory is taking that a step further – leveraging technology with a project that combines Brazilian social media and traditional clinical data to track the growth of infectious diseases.

Nick Generous, digital epidemiologist in the Information Systems and Modeling group at Los Alamos National Laboratory and his team of researchers have proceeded with the idea that the toll from disease can be lowered with knowledge of impending threats. (Full Story)



New test opens path for better 2-D catalysts

A technique to quickly probe atom-thick materials to measure hydrogen production. Rice illustration.

Researchers have taken a deep look into atom-thick catalysts that produce hydrogen to see precisely where it's coming from. Their findings could accelerate the development of 2-D materials for energy applications, such as fuel cells.

Rice University researchers with colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Ulises Martinez, Gautam Gupta and Aditya Mohite, developed a technique to probe through tiny "windows" created by an electron beam and measure the catalytic activity of molybdenum disulfide, a two-dimensional material that shows promise for applications that use electrocatalysis to extract hydrogen from water. (Full Story)



Using tech to peer inside a tyrannosaur’s skull

The Bisti Beast, or Bistahieversor sealeyi, Journal photo.

Los Alamos is one of just a few places in the world that can perform neutron CT – 3-D imaging – with X-ray CT that yields unique insights into dense objects, more than can be gleaned by either method alone.

With these techniques, Los Alamos researchers create 3-D images and animations of various materials and components, inside and out. Typically, scanning work supports the Lab’s primary mission of ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile, for which the medical X-ray variety also does not work, but as a user facility with unique imaging capability, LANSCE is also available to outside researchers for a variety of projects. (Full Story)




Pew! Pew! Curiosity’s ChemCam zaps a half million Martian rocks

Late last Tuesday, the ChemCam instrument that sits atop NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover fired its 500,000th shot at a Martian rock. That’s big news for the ChemCam team at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which developed the instrument in conjunction with CNES (Centre National d’√Čtudes Spatiales) in France and continues to help direct operations. Data collected from ChemCam has helped quantify elements like hydrogen, boron, and manganese in Martian rocks, which revealed that the Red Planet was habitable in its ancient past. (Full Story)


Hunt is over for one of the 'Top 50 Most-Wanted Fungi'

The “mystery” fungus, LANL image.

“Working estimates tell us that there should be more than 5 million species of fungi,” said Cheryl Kuske, a Los Alamos scientist on the project. “We have really only identified and fully described 100,000 of them, though, and new DNA sequencing capabilities show us that many, many specimens in research collections are uncharacterized. Solving this particular mystery shows the potential value of using environmental sequencing to guide taxonomic and ecological discovery.” (Full Story)

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Friday, September 29, 2017



Deep waters spiral upward around Antarctica

Three-dimensional upward spiral of North Atlantic deep water. From MIT.

Through observations and modeling, scientists have long known that large, deep currents in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans flow southward, converging on Antarctica. After entering the Southern Ocean they overturn — bringing water up from the deeper ocean — before moving back northward at the surface.

A team including scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory published research in the journal Nature Communications, which reveals that strong eddies, caused by topographical interactions at five locations within the current circling Antarctica, play a major role in this upwelling process. (Full Story)


Also from PhysOrg



Hunt is over for one of the 'top 50 most-wanted fungi'

Sample of "mystery" fungus, LANL image.

In a step toward bridging the gap between fungal taxonomy and molecular ecology, scientists from several institutions including Los Alamos National Laboratory have characterized a sample of "mystery" fungus collected in North Carolina and found its home in the fungal tree of life.

"Working estimates tell us that there should be more than 5 million species of fungi," said Cheryl Kuske, a Los Alamos scientist on the project. "We have really only identified and fully described 100,000 of them, though, and new DNA sequencing capabilities show us that many, many specimens in research collections are uncharacterized. (Full Story)



Energy Department launches new HPC initiative



Trinity at Los Alamos. LANL photo.     

David Teter, the Los Alamos National Lab's Materials Science and Technology Division leader, said the fossil energy, nuclear energy and transportation sectors are just a few of those that could benefit from materials that can stand up to these tough conditions. Materials in an engine, for example, can limit its maximum running temperature, but engines are more efficient if they can operate at higher temperatures. (Full Story)



LANL steps up to HPC for materials program

David Teter, LANL photo.

A new high-performance computing initiative announced this week by the U.S. Department of Energy will help U.S. industry accelerate the development of new or improved materials for use in severe environments. Los Alamos National Laboratory, with a strong history in the materials science field, will be taking an active role in the initiative.

“Understanding and predicting material performance under extreme environments is a foundational capability at Los Alamos,” said David Teter, Materials Science and Technology division leader at Los Alamos. (Full Story)



Industries undergoing IoT innovation

Descartes Labs’ 2016 corn yield forecast, from Descartes.

Ventures like Descartes Labs use a mix of satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to predict crop yields.

The company, which recently raised $30 million in a series B financing, was spun out of Los Alamos National Laboratory. It has access to a massive archive of satellite imagery sourced from NASA, the European Space Agency, and other “commercial constellations,” reported Fast Company.

Descartes proprietary program can analyze quadrillions of pixels at a time and compare it to past data emitted from sensors from farming equipment, such as combines, tractors, and cars, to determine the health of a given crop as well as identify if the field is growing corn, soy, or something similar. (Full Story)



Four Los Alamos scientists named as 2017 Laboratory Fellows

Donald Burton, Turab Lookman, Stephen Doorn, and Manvendra Dubey (clockwise from top left) LANL photos.

"Becoming a Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellow is one of the highest accomplishments in the Lab," said Laboratory Director Charles McMillan. "Each of these scientists has demonstrated sustained high-level achievement in programs of importance to the Laboratory and are recognized authorities in their fields. They have made significant contributions to both Los Alamos and the broader scientific community. (Full Story)

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Friday, September 22, 2017


The Mars rover just fired half a million laser shots

Mars Curiosity, NASA photo.

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity hit a milestone on Tuesday, firing its element-identifying laser for the 500,000th time.

ChemCam fires its laser in pulses that each last just 5 billionths of a second and can hit a target about 25 feet away. It packs a serious punch in those: 3 megaWatts of power. That’s about 500 million times more powerful than your average laser pointer, according to ChemCam’s lead scientist Roger Wiens, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)



Bidding farewell to Cassini mission that explored Saturn

Cassini illustration, from NASA.

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists led the development of two scientific sensors on NASA’s spacecraft Cassini that provided key measurements of the space environment around Saturn after its launch in 1997, arrival in 2004 and continuing mission that ended Friday, when it burned up in the Saturn atmosphere. The Laboratory also provided the plutonium heat sources that were part of the spacecraft’s Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) that provided electrical power to Cassini throughout its mission. (Full Story)



Collider serves up drop of primordial soup

Reconstructed particle tracks picked up by the detector, from BNL.

A tiny drop of an exotic ultra-hot "soup" that permeated the universe for an instant immediately after the Big Bang appears to have been created in collisions between gold nuclei and deuterons at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

One such signature is the abundance and flow pattern of different types of particles emitted in the collisions. Collaboration member Darren McGlinchey of Los Alamos National Laboratory says that abundance data provide information on the temperature of a QGP or quark–gluon plasma. (Full Story)

Also from Science Daily



Los Alamos National Laboratory gains role in high-performance computing for materials program

The Trinity supercomputer at Los Alamos, LANL photo.

A new high-performance computing (HPC) initiative announced this week by the U.S. Department of Energy will help U.S. industry accelerate the development of new or improved materials for use in severe environments.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, with a strong history in the materials science field, will be taking an active role in the initiative.

“Understanding and predicting material performance under extreme environments is a foundational capability at Los Alamos,” said David Teter, Materials Science and Technology division leader at Los Alamos. (Full Story)

Also from the Daily Post this week:


Los Alamos recognized as top diversity employer


For the second straight year, Los Alamos National Laboratory is recognized as a top diversity employer by LATINA Style and STEM Workforce Diversity magazine. Los Alamos rose in ranking to 10 on STEM Workforce Diversity magazine’s Top Government Employers list and to 41 on LATINA Style’s Top 50 Companies list.

“We are pleased that the Laboratory is being recognized for its efforts to build a diverse and engaged workforce. This is an integral aspect of our staffing plans,” said Carol Burns, deputy principal associate director for Science, Technology, and Engineering. (Full Story)

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