Friday, February 2, 2018

Missing neutrons may lead a secret life as dark matter

SciAm illustration.

If neutrons are turning into dark matter, the process could also produce gamma-ray photons, according to Fornal and Grinstein’s calculations. “We have some germanium gamma-ray detectors lying around,” says Christopher Morris, who runs neutron experiments at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

By serendipity, he and his team just recently installed a large tank to collect neutrons on their way from the start of the experiment to the point where physicists try to measure their lifetimes. This tank provided a large holding cell where many neutrons might decay into dark particles, if the process in fact occurs, and produce gamma-rays as a by-product. (Full story)

Novel computational biology model accurately describes dynamics of gene expression

Yen Ting Lin, LANL photo.

Using a simple analytical framework for random events within a predictable system, computational biologists have found a new way to accurately model certain forms of gene expression, including the body's 24-hour internal clock.

"In this study, we develop a simplifying method to reduce a class of commonly adopted gene expression models to a mathematical model, the PDMP, because it is easier to analyze and simulate than previous models," said Yen Ting Lin, corresponding author of the study and an applied mathematician in the Theoretical Division and Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full story)

Los Alamos scientists conduct study to help predict diseases

Harshini Mukundan speaks to a local
volunteer, from the Monitor.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and the Medical Associates of Northern New Mexico are looking for volunteers in Los Alamos County to participate in a respiratory pathogen study and provide information and swab samples.

“The goal of this study is to develop a system that can predict future emergence of infections, propose the best public health solutions to prevent spread of diseases and provide suitable treatment for infections,” said Harshini Mukundan, of Los Alamos’ Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy group. (Full story)

New technique paves the way for better 2-D catalysts

Multilayered Molybdenum Disulfide,
from Carnegie/DOE.

As part of the research, scientists Jun Lou and colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory developed a technique that allowed them to peer through windows created by an electron beam in order to measure the catalytic activity of molybdenum disulfide – the 2-D material that shows potential for being used in applications using electrocatalysis to separate hydrogen from water.

Results from the initial tests proved that the sheet’s edge is where most of the production is coming from. “We’re using this new technology to identify the active sites that have been long-predicted by theory,” said Lou. “There was some indirect proof that the edge sites are always more active than the basal planes, but now we have direct proof.” (Full story)