Friday, November 30, 2018

How supercomputers can help fix our wildfire problem

California wild fire, from Wired.

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, atmospheric scientist Alexandra Jonko is using a supercomputer and a system called FIRETEC to model fires in extreme detail. It models, among other things, air density and temperature, as well as the properties of the grass or leaves in a particular area.

Jonko runs a bunch of simulations with different wind speeds, typically on the scale of 40 acres. “It'll probably take me about four hours to simulate between 10 and 20 minutes of a fire spreading,” she says.  FIRETEC produces valuable physics-based data on fire dynamics to inform how fire managers do prescribed burns. (Full Story)

The race to build megafire prediction tools

Destruction from the Carr Fire, from Bloomberg.

Before first responders hit a fire’s front line, data analysts plot strategies in far-off labs and office parks, using software to arrive at “a better understanding of how fire responds to its environment and how it behaves,” says Rod Linn, a senior scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

“Fire behavior is all about heat transfer and its interaction with the ecology,” Linn says. Authorities using Firetec, including the French and Canadian forestry services, can also use the software to study past megafires and apply that research to mitigate future risks. (Full Story)

Innate 'fingerprint' could detect tampered steel parts

David MascareƱas, LANL photo.

Researchers using magnetic signals have found unique "fingerprints" on steel, which could help to verify weapons treaties and reduce the use of counterfeit bolts in the construction industry.

"Magnetic signals provide a wide range of possible national security applications," said David MascareƱas, a research and development engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of the study published recently in the journal Smart Materials and Structures. "It's a promising phenomenon that we hope to leverage to uniquely identify different pieces of artillery." (Full Story)

Also from the Daily Post

What happens when an explosive is detonated?

To unravel this mystery, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory combine computer simulations and innovative experiments that verify what the computers come up with, particularly the simulations of the short-lived chemical bonds formed during detonation.

One way Los Alamos scientists actually observe and study detonation is to significantly shrink the size of an explosion. The tiny scale enables scientists to drive shock waves into materials so thin it is possible to see through them. Using a laser, researchers send a pulse of light at exactly the moment the shock wave strikes the super-thin material. That lets them observe and record the impact and the resultant chemical reactions.(Full Story)

New mission on Mars will test for “marsquakes”

Scientists in New Mexico and across the country had a big celebration this morning after a successful rover landing. Action 7 news reporter Justin Matthews spoke with Dr. Roger Wiens from the Los Alamos National Laboratory over the phone. He has worked on the Curiosity rover already roaming the surface of mars about 400 miles south of where the Insight rover is.

Wiens says he and his colleagues at LANL are watching insight very closely. One mission doesn’t land successfully on mars, the next one is in jeopardy, as well. “Landing was the first challenge. Now it’s going to carry out its purpose. Insight is a great name for this because we are looking inward on mars. This is a mission that is trying to study the interior of mars.” (Full Story)

Three LANL scientists named Fellows by AAAS

From left, Manvendra Dubey, David Janecky and Greg Swift, LANL photos.

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists Manvendra Dubey, David Janecky and Greg Swift have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon Association members by their peers.

“Becoming an AAAS fellow is a tremendous honor. I want to congratulate Manvendra, David and Greg on the recognition,” Laboratory Director Thom Mason said. “Their work has made lasting impacts in climate, oceanic and thermoacoustic science, respectively, and embodies how the Laboratory’s national security mission benefits diverse fields of science.” (Full Story)

Los Alamos startup begins sales of greenhouse product

A toddler plays next to a roll of UbiQD's new greenhouse film, UbiQD photo.

Greenhouse growers can now bathe their crops in yield-boosting, late-summer-like sun rays all year round courtesy of Los Alamos startup Ubiquitous Quantum Dots.

UbiQD uses a copper and zinc base in its manufacturing process, which it licensed from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. LANL recently completed extensive testing for toxicity that showed the product is “extremely safe,” McDaniel said.  (Full Story)

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