Friday, December 9, 2016

Northeast Christmas tree farmers get drought in their stockings

Drought killed 80 percent of the plantings
at this Massachusetts farm. CSM photo

A December 2015 study noted surprising deaths of pines in the Southwest, where trees are more drought adapted. The research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change and led by Nathan G. McDowell, a climate researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said the results indicated forests experienced “a high likelihood” of “widespread mortality” by 2100 when extrapolated across all of North Hemisphere. Juniper trees were of particular concern, and the study said the tree “has alarming implications for conifers in general because juniper historically experienced far less mortality than other conifers during droughts.” (Full story)
Starting fluid for laser fusion

LLNL image.

Rick Olson from Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, and his colleagues have opted for a liquid layer because it should require less compression than ice. To test this concept, the team used a special foam that absorbs the liquid fuel into a spherically symmetric layer along the capsule wall. When exposed to NIF’s lasers at reduced power, the imploding capsule reached temperatures sufficient to trigger fusion, as evident from a yield of neutrons comparable to ice-based experiments. Further work will test whether this liquid approach can achieve self-sustaining reactions at higher laser power. (Full story)
AAAS and Los Alamos National Laboratory
announce 2016 Fellows

William Louis (left) and Scott Crooker, LANL photos.

Scott Crooker, of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Condensed Matter and Magnet Science group, and William Charles Louis III, of the Laboratory’s Physics Division, have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

“The AAAS fellowship is an honor that recognizes Scott and Bill’s scientific achievements and leadership,” said Carol Burns, deputy principal associate director of the Laboratory’s Science, Technology and Engineering directorate. “Their work helps Los Alamos succeed in its national security mission and has an international impact." (Full story)

Quantum computing: Probable solutions
incredibly fast

Heart of the D-Wave quantum computer.
From D-Wave

Lockheed Martin bought the first-ever D-Wave System and has already upgraded it a few times.  Another was bought by Google and a third by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a long-time leader in the use of high-performance computers.

Scott Pakin, a computer scientist at Los Alamos who has over two decades of high-performance computing experience and is now evaluating D-Wave’s system. “Our current (classical) high-performance machines are subscribed 24x7x365 in helping with the kinds of problems we have, such as simulating nuclear explosions for our weapons research," he said. "Those need incredible computing power, and sometimes it’s better to get a good enough solution very fast than an excellent solution slowly." (Full story)

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