Friday, November 20, 2020

Lightning ‘superbolts’ can be 1,000 times brighter than ordinary flashes, study finds


A mapped superbolt from February of 2019, NOAA image.


Earlier this year, researchers confirmed a pair of ultra-long-distance lightning strikes in South America that spanned up to 442 miles and lasted for nearly 17 seconds. Ongoing research has turned to how much power these fierce discharges contain, as well as their relative rarity.


The study was led by Michael Peterson, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M. His team examined two years’ worth of data from the GOES weather satellites, which peer down on North and South America with ultrahigh resolution.(Full story)


Also from Space Daily



From New Mexico to Mars


A technician works on the SuperCam mast unit,

LANL photo.


The spacecraft carrying NASA’s latest Perseverance rover is scheduled to reach the Red Planet this February after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station last July. Once the rover touches down on Mars’ surface, it will search for signs of ancient life, and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth.


Perseverance includes sophisticated laser, sensing and detection devices built by Los Alamos National Laboratory in collaboration with international partners to conduct the critical geologic and mineral analysis that could determine if life ever existed on Mars. (Full story)




Will the Coronavirus evolve to be less deadly?


Electron microscope image of a human cell

(purple) heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus

particles (yellow), NIH image.


A team led by Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, published a paper in the journal Cell in July showing that a strain carrying a mutation identified as D614G appeared to be replacing the initial strain that first emerged out of Wuhan, China.


Korber and her team suggested that, on the basis of their research — conducted in cells in culture — the new strain seemed to be more infectious than the original. While the paper notes in its limitations that “infectiousness and transmissibility are not always synonymous,” Korber says the findings are consistent with higher transmissibility. (Full story)



Study: New mutation sped up spread of Coronavirus


Image from WebMD.


The virus that causes COVID-19 is not the same strain as what first emerged from China. A new study shows it has changed slightly in a way that makes it more contagious to humans.


Compared to the original strain, people infected with the new strain -- called 614G -- have higher viral loads in their nose and throat, though they don’t seem to get any sicker. But they are much more contagious to others.


The new study backs up earlier research by a team of scientists led by Bette Korber, PhD, at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The team first noticed the rapid spread of the new strain and questioned whether the virus wasn’t evolving to become more easily passed between people. (Full story)



Super storage for scientific computing



Illustration from GCN.


With a mission of solving national security challenges with science, it’s no surprise Los Alamos National Laboratory wants to optimize computational storage by bringing processing power closer to storage devices or even into the storage system itself.


Complex scientific storage software stacks can’t take advantage of emerging high-speed storage devices because of insufficient compute resources on storage servers. Today, common storage system operations that require several passes over memory – such as data compression and indexing – just can’t keep up with fast storage devices and networks. (Full story)

Also from Next Platform



Los Alamos-led study finds how to improve natural gas production in shale


Dense methane trapping in nanopores, LANL image.


A new hydrocarbon study led by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory contradicts conventional wisdom about how methane is trapped in rock, revealing a new strategy to access the valuable energy resource more easily. Their open-access study is published in Nature’s new Communications Earth & Environment journal.


lead author, Chelsea Neil of Los Alamos, integrated molecular dynamics simulations with novel in situ high-pressure small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) to examine methane behavior in Marcellus shale in the Appalachian basin, the nation’s largest natural gas field, to better understand gas transport and recovery as pressure is modified to extract the gas. (Full story)