Friday, April 28, 2017

Antarctica has a network of meltwater rivers that is much larger than previously thought

Reuters image.     

The effects of warming global temperatures are already being felt in the Antarctic, says Stephen Price, a meltwater researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

"Ice shelves are very flat, and essentially lie at sea level. So a small increase in temperature at sea level can translate to an increase in temperature over a very large area of an ice shelf," Dr. Price tells the Monitor via email. "If temperatures at sea level are already near the melting point, then small increases in temperature could lead to huge areas of the surface of ice shelves that were previously frozen becoming melted, for at least part of the year." (Full story

Seven amazing women in tech you need to know

Sara Del Valle, LANL image.

Sara Del Valle, Computational Epidemiologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory – We use mathematical equations to describe how diseases spread. Then we use computer science to create simulations like what you see in computer and video games. We can ask, “What happens if there’s a virus in an airport? Or in a school?” then simulate how the virus spreads. Usually we rely on code from existing packages, but sometimes we write our own from scratch.

Even though I'm a mathematician, I lead a team of computer scientists, software developers, and statisticians. The software developers build the simulations and add new capabilities to the code.  (Full story)

Evidence that dark matter emits gamma rays weakened

Cluster of galaxies EMSS 1358+6245 about 4
billion light years from Earth, NASA image.      

New evidence shows that radiation of gamma rays from dark matter is less convincing, as other parts of galaxies also emit excessive gamma ray. This leaves the dark matter to remain the biggest mystery.

“What I see in the control regions looks just like what I see in the galactic center,” Astrophysicist Andrea Albert of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico who also participated in the analysis said. “That's a bummer.”

Gamma rays radiation was previously believed was emitted by dark matter as its signature of activities. However, this finding has weakened the case of dark matter. (Full story)

Researchers hope breakthrough will lead to better test for bovine TB


Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory say they have made a breakthrough that could lead to a quick blood test for bovine tuberculosis. Harshini Mukundan, leader of the lab’s biomedical applications team, said they came up with the idea after speaking with local ranchers.

"It is kind of incredible that when one cow is potentially infected the whole herd may have to be culled," she said. "If you could have a process that you could run on all of the animals and say, 'yes, this one has been infected' and 'no, this has not,' then obviously a lot of that time and economic burden could be reduced." (Full story)

Managing disease spread through accessible modeling

Influenza A.           

A new computer modeling study from Los Alamos National Laboratory is aimed at making epidemiological models more accessible and useful for public-health collaborators and improving disease-related decision making.

"In a real-world outbreak, the time is often too short and the data too limited to build a really accurate model to map disease progression or guide public-health decisions," said Ashlynn R. Daughton, a graduate research assistant at Los Alamos and doctoral student at University of Colorado, Boulder. She is lead author on a paper out last week in Scientific Reports, a Nature journal. (Full story)

Jaqueline L. Kiplinger to receive award for pioneering contributions to chemistry

Jaqueline Kiplinger, LANL photo.       

Jaqueline Kiplinger, Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellow within the Inorganic, Isotope and Actinide Chemistry Group, is the recipient of the 2017 Violet Diller Professional Excellence Award given triennially by Iota Sigma Pi (the National Honor Society of Women in Chemistry). The award recognizes contributions to chemistry that have had widespread significance to the scientific community or society on a national level.

Kiplinger is an internationally recognized leader in f-element chemistry, the study of lanthanides and actinides.  Kiplinger came to Los Alamos as the first Frederick Reines Postdoctoral Fellow in 1999.  (Full story)

Friday, April 21, 2017

New asteroid study suggests Hollywood is wrong about ocean impacts

Asteroid impacts far from a shoreline are unlikely to travel far, LANL image.

When an asteroid hits the middle of the ocean in Hollywood movies, it creates devastating waves that wipe out coastal cities. But new simulations reveal that real asteroids don’t make such a splash. That’s because the crash releases most of its energy hurling water up into the atmosphere, and very little on making waves.

"The folklore has been that tsunamis from impactors will be the danger," Galen Gisler, who studies the physics of geological processes at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said at the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference. "The splash wave can be very dangerous — out to tens of kilometers — but beyond that, they fall away more sharply.” (Full Story)

Detection of ghostly particles could unmask illicit nuclear weapons

North Korea's Yongbyon facility in 2008, from SciAm.

Weapons-grade fuel in a nuclear reactor emits a steady rate of telltale antineutrinos that could be detected by a newly designed portable device.

Patrick Jaffke, a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory and co-author of the new proposal, suggests a small version that could be placed close to a reactor to determine the type of nuclear fuel within by analyzing the activity of antineutrinos. His design would measure the spectrum and shape of the initial Cherenkov flash and thus the energy of the progenitor antineutrinos from the positrons. (Full Story)

 What is the universe made of?

European Southern Observatory, from HuffPo.

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, we have 70-plus years of research in nuclear physics. This, coupled with our ongoing mission to maintain the safety and integrity of the nation’s nuclear stockpile, the lab has a vested interest in knowing everything about the subatomic world, from now to way back then. Experiments on subatomic particles here have led physics deep into the realm of the tiny, where quantum mechanics governs the rules of the game. (Full Story)

Inert nuclear gravity bomb passes first F-16 flight test

F-16, USAF photo.                

An Air Force F-16 aircraft released an inert B61 nuclear bomb in a test recently, demonstrating the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon and testing the functioning of the weapon’s non-nuclear components.

The non-nuclear bomb assembly used for the flight test was designed and manufactured by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories as federally funded research and development centers operating under NNSA. (Full Story)

Also from the Daily Post this week:

Los Alamos named tops in diversity

Los Alamos National Laboratory was named a top employer by four diversity magazines: Woman Engineer Magazine and Minority Engineer Magazine named the Lab as a top 20 government employer; Winds of Change (the American Indian Science and Engineering Society) recognized Los Alamos as one of the top 50 science, technology, engineering and mathematics workplaces for Native American professionals; and Latino Leaders Magazine named Los Alamos one of the top 20 best companies for Latinos in technology. (Full Story)

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Science on the Hill: If these (Martian) rocks could talk

ChemCam fires its laser in this NASA illustration.

It’s all about answering a simple question: Could past or present conditions on Mars support life?

To help find out, Los Alamos National Laboratory, in collaboration with the French Space Agency CNES, developed an instrument called ChemCam. Although Los Alamos isn’t often associated with space exploration, the Lab has been building and operating instruments since the early 1960s to monitor the space radiation environment and on other missions, as well. (Full story)

Wanna go to Mars? Or at least remotely control a science buggy up there?

Nina Lanza, LANL photo.

Nina Lanza is a staff scientist in the Space and Remote Sensing group at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a member of the ChemCam instrument team for the Curiosity Mars rover. I always love talking to her because her enthusiasm for her work is like that of a kid who’s gotten turned on to science and wants everyone else to share in the discovery. We talk today about what a geologist can do on Mars without going there, how Mars looks a lot like New Mexico, and whether people–maybe even Nina herself–might go there some day. (Full story)

Looking for clues for past life on Mars

Curiosity Rover, NASA image.

On August 6, 2012, the NASA Curiosity rover landed on Mars at the base of Mount Sharp, a mountain the size of Kilimanjaro (roughly 19,000 feet) in the middle of Gale Crater. Nina Lanza, space scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, remembers the day well. As part of the team that built ChemCam, one of the ten instruments on the rover, she spent three months at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, living on “Mars time” to follow Curiosity’s first “steps.” (Full story)

Asteroids are bad at making waves

Ocean asteroid impacts far from a shoreline are unlikely to travel far, LANL image.

"The folklore has been that tsunamis from impactors will be the danger," Galen Gisler, who studies the physics of geological processes at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said at the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference last month in The Woodlands, Texas. (Gisler also presented the work at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in December 2016.) He ran 3D simulations that modeled wave formation from falling rocks of various sizes, as shown in this video, and found that the waves formed by smaller asteroids resemble landslide tsunamis on Earth. (Full story)

On-the-range detection technology could corral bovine TB

Mycobacterium bovis causes bovine tuberculosis, LANL photo.

A research breakthrough allowing the first direct, empirical, blood-based, cow-side test for diagnosing bovine tuberculosis (TB) could spare ranchers and the agriculture industry from costly quarantines and the mass slaughter of animals infected with this easily spread disease.

“We have adapted an assay originally developed for human TB to bovine TB, a particular challenge because the bovine disease is caused by a different species of the pathogen,” said Harshini Mukundan, leader of the Chemistry for Biomedical Applications team at Los Alamos National Laboratory (Full story)

Also from the Daily Post this week:

UbiQD announces record efficiency from its cadmium-free quantum dots

Prototype quantum dot window, UbiQD photo.

UbiQD, LLC, a New Mexico-based quantum dot manufacturer, announced today that it has achieved greater than 80 percent quantum yield, or optical efficiency, for its quantum dots over a broad spectrum from the visible to the near infra-red.

Licensing technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UbiQD envisions a future where quantum dots are ubiquitous in a wide spectrum of applications. (Full story)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Risk analysis for CO2 sequestration at enhanced oil recovery sites

Schematic of the water-alternating-gas process for enhanced oil recovery, LANL graphic.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an attractive displacing agent for enhanced oil recovery. Because a large portion of the injected CO2 remains in place in depleted reservoirs after enhanced oil recovery, this method could also be an option for permanently sequestering CO2 to mitigate global warming. Los Alamos scientists and collaborators have developed a generic multi-scale statistical framework for CO2 accounting and risk analysis in CO2-enhanced oil recovery sites. This analysis method provides information to aid decision-making for applications of oil recovery and CO2 sequestration. Environmental Science & Technology published the research. (Full Story)

Also from PhysOrg this week:

Researchers obtain Bose-Einstein condensate with nickel chloride

Research by an international collaboration recently produced the equivalent of a Bose-Einstein condensate using the chemical compound nickel chloride. More importantly, theoretical treatment of the data enabled the researchers to obtain a set of equations that can be applied to other materials that are not characterized as Bose-Einstein condensates.

The investigation proceeded through collaboration with several foreign institutions, such as the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) in Los Alamos, USA, and the similarly named French facility in Grenoble (LNCMI), among others. (Full Story)

More than 100 students receive scholarships from Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund

2017 Gold Scholar Charlyna Gonzales. LANLF photo.

Charlyna Gonzales of PeƱasco High School, Khaled Khweis of Taos High School and Wilbur Wang of Los Alamos High School are recipients of the 2017 Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund top-level Gold Scholarships. They are among 111 student winners from the seven-county Northern New Mexico region selected to receive 117 scholarships totaling $660,250. (Full Story)
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