Monday, October 6, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Sept. 29 - Oct. 3

New Lab home page debuts

A home page designed to be more useful and attractive went live today. The new Web presence includes more accessible navigation to provide easier and more logical access to a wide variety of information about the work of the national security science laboratory.

HIV dates back to around 1900, study shows

A genetic analysis of a biopsy sample recently discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has led researchers to conclude that the virus that causes AIDS has existed in human populations for more than a century, according to a study released Wednesday. . . .

"The HIV virus evolves incredibly quickly," said geneticist Bette Korber of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who did an analysis in 2000. "Those mutations get passed on to the next individual. So we have that evolutionary pace to enable a look backward."

See the Los Angeles Times story here.

Exotic materials could combat a kind of quantum-mechanical stickiness

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, think they may have the answer to a vexing problem called stiction, which causes ultrasmall components of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to stick together.

This impediment to micromovement is caused by the Casimir effect (after the Dutch theoretical physicist Hendrik Casimir), an odd attractive force that influences only objects that are very close together. As MEMS components are shrunk to a scale of hundreds of nanometers or less, many engineers predict that the Casimir effect will become more of a problem. Read the whole story here.

Good bacteria, each cell is a self-propagating microcosm

Image: Magnified cell detail

What is the boundary between life and non-life? Viruses are perhaps technically dead, or is it? What constitutes life is still being debated by science. Steen Rasmussen has been trying to create life in the artificial life movement at Los Alamos which was started by Rasmussen in the 80s with Chris Langton and Norman Packard (1987) called ALife launched at the AI workshop in Los Alamos. See the story here.

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