Friday, May 7, 2021



Antarctica remains the wild card for sea-level rise estimates through 2100


Antarctica's Getz Ice Shelf, NASA image.

massive collaborative research project covered in the journal Nature this week offers projections to the year 2100 of future sea-level rise from all sources of land ice, offering the most complete projections created to date.

 

"This work synthesizes improvements over the last decade in climate models, ice sheet and glacier models, and estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions," said Stephen Price, one of the Los Alamos scientists on the project. "More than 85 researchers from various disciplines, including our team at Los Alamos National Laboratory, produced sea-level rise projections based on the most recent computer models developed within the scientific community and updated scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions," said Price. (Full Story)

 



Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason holds virtual community meeting

 

Director Mason, LANL image.

 

Answering some 26 questions and speaking for almost 90 minutes Thursday evening, Los Alamos National Laboratory Thom Mason addressed everything from plutonium pits to the pandemic during a Webex community meeting attended by more than 100 people.

 

Mason said that as a national laboratory, LANL is primarily a national security lab. “That’s the mission that we’re given by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and Congress through the authorizations and appropriations and we are making excellent progress on the work we do supporting deterrent – we call that stockpile stewardship,” he said. “This includes efforts to develop new supercomputers, such as what will be our next supercomputer that we are in the process of procuring called Crossroads. That will enhance our capability to assess and certify the nuclear stockpile without needing to resort to underground testing.” (Full Story)


 



HPC simulations show how antibodies quash SARS-CoV-2

 

Covid-19, LANL illustration.

 

The team, led by researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, simulated two variants of SARS-CoV-2. First was the dominant variant of SARS-CoV-2, known as D614G. Over the course of the last year, this variant usurped the original form of the virus, which was also simulated and which is known simply as D614 (leading the new form to be termed the “G form” of the virus). The researchers ran these multiple atomic-level simulations at the microsecond scale.

 

These detailed simulations were run on supercomputers at Los Alamos National Lab, which operates under the umbrella of the National Nuclear Security Administration, itself tasked with ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. (Full Story)

 



Tweet analysis uncovers how COVID conspiracy theories evolved

 

Building a machine learning model to filter analyze 120 million tweets showed researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory how COVID-19 conspiracy theories evolved over time. The tool could someday help public health officials combat misinformation online, lab representatives said.

 

“We wanted to create a more cohesive understanding of how misinformation changes as it spreads,” said Courtney Shelley, a postdoctoral researcher in the Information Systems and Modeling Group at the lab. “Because people tend to believe the first message they encounter, public health officials could someday monitor which conspiracy theories are gaining traction on social media and craft factual public information campaigns to preempt widespread acceptance of falsehoods.” (Full Story)

 



LANL data scientists provide assistance to local organizations

 

Working with Los Alamos National Laboratory on Data Sprint is the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, LANL photo.

 

new Los Alamos National Laboratory program is pairing local nonprofit and social good organizations with LANL data scientists to solve data-related problems to benefit Northern New Mexico.

 

Work on the first Northern New Mexico Community Data Sprint started in February with a call for interested community organizations who had a collection of data and a question or problem they would like to answer or solve. There is no charge for organizations to participate in the project.

 

Eleven community organizations applied to take part, and the two chosen partners were the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, and a joint project from Northern New Mexico College and Santa Fe Community College. (Full Story)


 



This old programming language is suddenly hot again

 

Fortran is the oldest commercial programming language, designed at IBM in the 1950s. And even though, for years, programmers have been predicting its demise, 64 years later it's still kicking, with users including top scientists from NASA and the Department of Energy using it on the world's most powerful supercomputers. 

 

It even recently – and very unexpectedly – popped up again in a ranking of the most popular programming languages, albeit in 20th place. Ondřej Certik, a scientist at the US Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), is on a mission to resurrect Fortran via two key projects. LANL was key to the US's World War 2-era Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs, and is also home to the Cray XC40-based Trinity, the world's 13th fastest supercomputer. (Full Story)

 



Ultra-high-energy gamma rays originate from pulsar nebulae

 

HAWC observatory, HAWC photo.

 

The discovery that the nebulae surrounding the most powerful pulsars are pumping out ultra-high-energy gamma rays could rewrite the book about the rays' galactic origins. Pulsars are rapidly rotating, highly magnetized collapsed stars surrounded by nebulae powered by winds generated inside the pulsars.

 

"We took advantage of the wide field-of-view and survey capabilities at the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory (HAWC) to search around a collection of powerful pulsars. We found significant evidence that ultra-high-energy gamma-ray emission is a universal feature found near these objects," said Kelly Malone, an astrophysicist in the Nuclear and Particle Physics and Applications group at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of the HAWC Collaboration's new study of gamma radiation from pulsars. (Full Story)

 

Also from the Los Alamos Daily Post



Hidden History with LANL's Alan Carr

 

The focus of this video podcast episode is the Lab’s history since the Manhattan Project.  The main themes are the Cold War, emerging weapons technologies, non-weapons technologies of the era, and that the Lab is still doing amazing national security science and stockpile stewardship. (Watch the video podcast here)


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Friday, April 30, 2021



LANL director fields questions about nuclear weapons, growth

 

Thom Mason, LANL photo.

 

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s primary mission will remain national security into the foreseeable future — with the nuclear weapons program as the mainstay — even as the lab branches further into medical science, ecology and space exploration, Thom Mason, the lab’s director, said during an online forum with residents Thursday.

 

While national defense is still the hub of operations, Mason grew animated when he talked about the lab’s other scientific ventures, such as computer modeling that helps measure the coronavirus’s spread, a high-tech tool that gauges whether wildfire smoke warms the climate and the plutonium heat source powering the Mars Perseverance rover. (Full Story)




New LANL study looks at how COVID misinformation spreads

 

COVID was not the only thing spreading for the past year. Researchers at Los Alamos National Labs said they’ve been looking into how misinformation spreads, too. LANL information scientists like Ashlynn Daughton are trying to dive a bit deeper into why and how COVID conspiracy theories came to be. 

 

“For this study my team and I used machine learning and artificial intelligence to track different conspiracy theories related to COVID-19,” she said.The team gathered a huge amount of data—1.8 billion COVID-related tweets—and built a machine model that could analyze the tweet and determine whether it was true or false. (Full Story)

 



Colorado River Basin could see more intense heat, drought

 

The Animas River in Farmington is part of the Colorado River Basin system, Journal photo.

 

Climate change is projected to increase such simultaneous extreme events as heat waves, droughts and flooding across the massive Colorado River Basin, according to new research from a Los Alamos National Laboratory hydrologist.

 

“The way that humans and our human systems are going to experience climate change is through extreme events,” said hydrologist Katrina E. Bennett. “Slow changes in temperature are noticeable in ecology, but a flood or a drought or a heat wave is really a very big shock to our system.” Bennett’s research, conducted with Carl Talsma and Riccardo Boero, was published earlier this month in “Water,” a peer-reviewed academic journal. (Full Story)

 



As a hotter, drier climate grips the Colorado River, water risks grow across the Southwest

 

Lake Mead in 2019, at 40% of its capacity, from the AZ Republic.

 

group of scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory recently looked at how interconnected extremes influenced by climate change — from floods to droughts and heatwaves — are expected to intensify in the future in the Colorado River Basin. They found these sorts of concurrent extreme climatic events “are projected to increase in the future and intensify” in key regions of the watershed.

 

“Heat waves and drought are both strongly driven by increases in temperature, which is really where we have the greatest confidence in those types of predictions,” said Katrina Bennett, a hydrologist and lead author of the study. “Droughts are projected to increase as we move ahead in the future.” (Full Story)

 



How climate change moved Earth's axis

 

When glaciated lands melt they lose mass and, consequently, some of their gravitational pull. This means ocean water is then tugged towards other places, ultimately resulting in even more sea level rise in regions far from areas like Greenland or Antarctica. "There’s definitely global winners and losers due to these changes," explained Matthew Hoffman, a glaciologist and computer scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who had no role in the new research. "Some cities will be hit harder if West Antarctica collapses relative to other cities," he said, referencing the accelerated melting and potential collapse of colossal Antarctic glaciers. Cities along the eastern U.S. coastline are some of these vulnerable places. (Full Story)

 



Prescribed burns tamp down wildfire threat

 

ABQ Journal photo.

 

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, we study climate change and its impact on the environment – both natural and human – because they have a direct impact on the things we care about: national security, economic security, energy security, societal security – in the sense of protecting people from social disruption – and environmental protection, which includes preserving nature and natural resources.

 

For decades, the Lab has been studying wildfire behavior and its close cousin, prescribed burns. Our work with FIRETEC, a computer modeling tool, springs from related research into the complicated field of fluid dynamics. That branch of science focuses on the motions of gases and liquids, which has applications to our mission of stockpile stewardship science, or assuring the safety, reliability, and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear weapons. (Full Story)

 



Using cosmic-ray neutron bursts to understand gamma-ray bursts from lightning

 

HAWC Cosmic Ray Observatory in Mexico.

 

Analysis of data from a lightning mapper and a small, hand-held radiation detector has unexpectedly shed light on what a gamma-ray burst from lightning might look like -- by observing neutrons generated from soil by very large cosmic-ray showers. The work took place at the High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Cosmic Ray Observatory in Mexico.

 

"This was an accidental discovery," said Greg Bowers, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of the study published in Geophysical Research Letters. "We set up this system to study terrestrial gamma-ray flashes -- or gamma-ray bursts from lightning -- that are typically so bright you can see them from space. The idea was that HAWC would be sensitive to the gamma-ray bursts, so we installed a lightning mapper to capture the anatomy of the lightning development and pinpoint the lightning processes producing them." (Full Story)




Los Alamos National Laboratory touts biothreat detecting device

 

Optical biosensor, LANL photo.

 

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) researchers are espousing the benefits of a device capable of detecting biothreats from samples such as blood, water, CSF, food, and animal samples.

 

“The ability to detect pathogens, biological threats or toxins, quickly and accurately, without prior knowledge of the agent, would lead to improved human and environmental health outcomes,” Harshini Mukundan, lead researcher, said. “This is an important step toward understanding what an emergency responder is dealing with and providing them with quick results.” (Full Story)

 



TinMan helps protect aircraft semiconductor parts

 

new technology developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Honeywell is providing needed atmospheric environment information to the aerospace industry. The device, called TinMan, has quantified the number of thermal neutrons – particles created by natural solar radiation — giving the aerospace industry a standard by which it can evaluate its semiconductor parts.

 

Unlike protons and electrons, neutrons aren’t charged and can pass through the atmosphere and solid objects like the metal hull of a plane. When these neutrons strike something like a microprocessor, the energy it deposits in the system can result in a single effect event, which may impact component reliability. (Full Story)

 



Two Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers named Fellows by the American Statistical Association

 

James Wendelberger, left, and Earl Lawrence, LANL photos.

 

Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers Earl Lawrence and James Wendelberger, both in the Lab’s Statistical Sciences group, were named fellows by the American Statistical Association (ASA).

 

“I am pleased to see Earl and James recognized by the American Statistical Association and I congratulate both of them,” said Irene Qualters, associate Laboratory director for Simulation and Computation. “Less than one percent of ASA members are elected as fellows, and this honor reflects their contributions to the field of statistical science. Peer recognition is an important aspect of science and no one is more deserving than Earl and James.”  (Full Story)

 

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Friday, April 23, 2021



Mars didn't lose all of its water at once, based on Curiosity rover find

The higher regions of Mount Sharp on Mars. NASA image.

 

The latest study, gathered from data captured by one of the rover's instruments, suggests that Mars actually transitioned back and forth between wetter and drier times before losing its surface water completely around three billion years ago.

 

An instrument called a ChemCam sits on the rover's mast and includes a high-resolution camera and laser that can vaporize rocks to help the rover analyze their chemical composition. 

 

"A primary goal of the Curiosity mission was to study the transition between the habitable environment of the past, to the dry and cold climate that Mars has now," said Roger Wiens, study co-author on the paper and ChemCam team scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

 

Also from Sci-News

 



Los Alamos researchers study how wildfire smoke impacts climate

 

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a first-of-its-kind tool to learn if smoke from wildfires is warming the climate. The humidified single-scattering albedometer will analyze moisture levels in wildfire smoke plumes and study how water binds with soot particles.

 

Manvendra Dubey, a researcher at the laboratory for more than 20 years, said the impacts of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases are “without a doubt” affecting our climate. “Given the drought and the La Niña conditions, the forecast indicates this will be an active year [for fires] that we need to prepare for,” he said. (Full Story)


 



Simulations reveal how dominant SARS-CoV-2 strain binds to host, succumbs to antibodies

 

The G form of SARS-CoV-2 more easily attaches to host receptors, and is more susceptible to antibodies, LANL graphic.

 

Large-scale supercomputer simulations at the atomic level show that the dominant G form variant of the COVID-19-causing virus is more infectious partly because of its greater ability to readily bind to its target host receptor in the body, compared to other variants. These research results from a Los Alamos National Laboratory-led team illuminate the mechanism of both infection by the G form and antibody resistance against it, which could help in future vaccine development.

 

"We found that the interactions among the basic building blocks of the Spike protein become more symmetrical in the G form, and that gives it more opportunities to bind to the receptors in the host -- in us," said Gnana Gnanakaran, corresponding author of the paper published today in Science Advances. (Full Story)

 

Also from AZO Life Sciences

 

Also from Science Daily this week:

 

New pulsed magnet reveals a new state of matter in Kondo insulator

 

recent series of experiments at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (National MagLab) at Los Alamos National Laboratory leveraged some of the nation's highest-powered nondestructive magnets to reveal an exotic new phase of matter at high magnetic fields. The experiments studied the unusual Kondo insulator ytterbium dodecaboride (or YbB12) and were the first results from the new 75-tesla duplex magnet housed at the National MagLab's Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos.

 

"This magnet and the resulting experiments are the first fruits of the National Science Foundation-supported pulsed magnet surge," said Michael Rabin, director of the Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos. (Full Story)

 

 



Tweet analysis uncovers how COVID conspiracy theories evolved

 

Building a machine learning model to filter analyze 120 million tweets showed researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory how COVID-19 conspiracy theories evolved over time. The tool could someday help public health officials combat misinformation online, lab representatives said.

 

“We wanted to create a more cohesive understanding of how misinformation changes as it spreads,” said Courtney Shelley, a postdoctoral researcher in the Information Systems and Modeling Group at the lab. “Because people tend to believe the first message they encounter, public health officials could someday monitor which conspiracy theories are gaining traction on social media and craft factual public information campaigns to preempt widespread acceptance of falsehoods.” (Full Story)

 

Also from the LA Reporter and Medical News

 



Ultra-high-energy gamma rays originate from pulsar nebulae

 

HAWC gamma ray detector in Mexico.  HAWC photo.

 

The discovery that the nebulae surrounding the most powerful pulsars are pumping out ultra-high-energy gamma rays could rewrite the book about the rays' galactic origins. Pulsars are rapidly rotating, highly magnetized collapsed stars surrounded by nebulae powered by winds generated inside the pulsars.

 

"We took advantage of the wide field-of-view and survey capabilities at the High Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory (HAWC) to search around a collection of powerful pulsars. We found significant evidence that ultra-high-energy gamma-ray emission is a universal feature found near these objects," said Kelly Malone, an astrophysicist in the Nuclear and Particle Physics and Applications group at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of the HAWC Collaboration's new study of gamma radiation from pulsars. (Full Story)

 

Also from Newswise




New biosensor designed to detect toxins and more

 

PEGASUS optical biosensor, LANL photo.

 

device from Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers is not quite the Star Trek “tricorder” medical scanner, but it’s a step in the right direction. The Portable EnGineered Analytic Sensor with aUtomated Sampling (PEGASUS) is a miniaturized waveguide-based optical sensor that can detect toxins, bacterial signatures, viral signatures, biothreats, white powders and more, from samples such as blood, water, CSF, food, and animal samples.

 

“The ability to detect pathogens, biological threats or toxins, quickly and accurately, without prior knowledge of the agent, would lead to improved human and environmental health outcomes,” said lead researcher Harshini Mukundan. “This is an important step toward understanding what an emergency responder is dealing with, and providing them with quick results.” (Full Story)

 



Machine learning model generates realistic seismic waveforms

 

new machine-learning model that generates realistic seismic waveforms will reduce manual labor and improve earthquake detection, according to a study published recently in JGR Solid Earth.

 

“To verify the ecacy of our generative model, we applied it to seismic field data collected in Oklahoma,” said Youzuo Lin, a computational scientist in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Geophysics group and principal investigator of the project. “Through a sequence of qualitative and quantitative tests and benchmarks, we saw that our model can generate high-quality synthetic waveforms and improve machine learning-based earthquake detection algorithms.” (Full Story)

 

Also from the Reporter this week:

 

LANL employees donate more than $40,000 to Santa Fe’s food depot

 

Los Alamos National Laboratory employees donated $41,723 to The Food Depot as part of their annual food drive last week, estimated to provide more than 166,000 meals to Northern New Mexicans facing food insecurity. Laboratory employees have also contributed 233 community service hours to the organization in the last 12 months.

 

“In the past year, The Food Depot has experienced a 30 percent increase in the number of Northern New Mexicans needing their services,” said Laboratory Director Thom Mason. “I am pleased to know that Laboratory employees have risen to the occasion with their donations and community service.” (Full Story)

 

And two more:

 

Ellen Cerreta named president of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society

 

Ellen Cerreta, LANL photo.

 

Ellen Cerreta, the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s division leader for Materials Science and Technology, has been named president of The Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society (TMS), a professional society for scientists and engineers in those fields.

 

“TMS aspires to be the professional society where global materials, science, and engineering practitioners come together to scope the future of materials engineering and technology,” said Cerreta. “As such, I am honored to have been selected by the membership of this society to serve as president.”

 

The Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society connects minerals, metals, and materials scientists and engineers who work in industry, academia, and government positions around the world. (Full Story)

 

LANL’s Terry Miller is enmeshed in the depths of Earth science

 

Terry Miller, LANL photo.

 

Terry Miller lives near a park that boasts a waterfall, a jaw-dropping gorge and the remains of ancient lava flows. Down steep switchbacks to the Rio Grande and through grassy fields with mountain views, she trains search-and-rescue dogs.

 

She’s often drilling dogs or responding to wilderness rescues when she’s not shaking up earth science at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

 

Miller is a Subsurface Modeling Research Technologist for the Computational Earth Science group. She commands — and develops — special tools that allow her to peel back and render the hidden layers of geology for subsurface simulations. Her work benefits research into environmental health, cleaner energy and national security. (Full Story)

 

 

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