Friday, October 27, 2017

Machine learning used to predict earthquakes in a lab setting

San Andreas Fault, from PhysOrg.

A group of researchers from the UK and the US have used machine learning techniques to successfully predict earthquakes. Although their work was performed in a laboratory setting, the experiment closely mimics real-life conditions, and the results could be used to predict the timing of a real earthquake.

The team at Los Alamos, led by Paul Johnson, studies the interactions among earthquakes, precursor quakes (often very small earth movements) and faults, with the hope of developing a method to predict earthquakes. (Full Story)

Doped dots release laser light more efficiently

Quantum dot laser light, LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Nanotech team has found a way to dope quantum dots with additional electrons to improve their efficiency in tiny laser devices such as opthalmic surgery scalpels.

“When we properly tailor the compositional profile within the particles during their fabrication, and then inject two or more electrons in each dot, they become more able to emit laser light. Importantly, they require considerably less power to initiate the lasing action," said Victor Klimov, leader of the Nanotech team. (Full Story)

Modeling influenza virology and pharmacology

Viral kinetic models can also be combined with PK/PD models to explore how exposure to antiviral drugs reduces viral load and attenuates disease symptoms. PK/PD models have also been used to describe the mechanisms behind the emergence and spread of drug resistance. For example, a research team based out of Los Alamos National Laboratory developed a model that included oseltamivir PK, symptom dynamics, and patient physiological variability. The findings from this model suggested that the timing of initiating prophylactic oseltamivir treatment was a primary factor in the emergence of drug resistance. (Full Story)

Lab awards 2017 Fellows Prizes

From top left: Light, Sinitsyn and Mukundan. Bottom, from left: Flynn and Albright. LANL photo.

Five Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have been awarded the laboratory’s prestigious Fellows Prize in the areas of science or engineering research and leadership.

Among those awarded are Eric Flynn, Harshini Mukundan and Nikolai Sinitsyn were awarded the Fellows’ Prize for Outstanding Research, and Brian Albright and Tess Light were awarded the Fellows Prize for Outstanding Leadership.

“These scientists demonstrate the breadth of scientific research and leadership supporting the Laboratory’s national security mission and benefiting society,” said Alan Bishop, principal associate director for Science, Technology and Engineering. “Their innovative scientific discoveries and leadership represent the highest level of excellence. I congratulate all of them on their achievements.” (Full Story)

Seven Los Alamos scientists honored as APS Fellows

Clockwise from upper right: Zapf, Trugman, Smilowitz, Lewellen, Fontes, Htoon and Kawano. LANL photo.

Seven scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory were tapped this year as new Fellows of the American Physical Society (APS), a significant honor for the Laboratory and its people. The honorees are Christopher J. Fontes, Han Htoon, Toshihiko Kawano, John W. Lewellen, Laura Beth Smilowitz, Stuart A. Trugman and Vivien Zapf.

"Selection as American Physical Society fellows reflects the vibrant engagement that Los Alamos scientists have with the larger scientific community," said Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan. This year, as Los Alamos saw the admission of seven scientists into APS, Director McMillan noted. (Full Story)

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Seeing one example of merging neutron stars raises five incredible questions

Merging neutron stars can exhibit gravitational wave and electromagnetic signals simultaneously, from Forbes.

Chris Fryer of Los Alamos National Laboratory, a specialist in supernovae, neutron stars, and gamma ray bursts, is interviewed by Ethan Siegel of Forbes. There was very little expectation that LIGO and Virgo were going to see a merger at this early stage in the project, just two years after the first successful detection and well before reaching design sensitivity. Yet not only did they see it, they were able to use the data to pinpoint the precise location of the merger, resulting in the incredible multiwavelength follow-up that's brought us so many surprises. (Full Story)

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

The merger of two equal mass neutron stars is simulated using the 3-D code SNSPH. LANL image.

Astrophysicist Chris Fryer was enjoying an evening with friends on August 25, 2017, when he got the news of a gravitational-wave detection by LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. The event appeared to be a merger of two neutron stars -- a specialty for the Los Alamos National Laboratory team of astrophysicists that Fryer leads. As the distant cosmic cataclysm unfolded, fresh observational data was pouring in from the observation -- only the fifth published since the observatory began operating almost two years ago. (Full Story)

Behind enemy transmission lines

Dr. Raymond Newell leads a team at Los Alamos National Laboratory focused on building quantum networks to protect the grid. Newell believes that the Department of Energy has taken an increased interest in quantum cybersecurity in recent months, but stresses that more must be done to help scientists mitigate future threats.

The U.S. is at a crucial moment regarding quantum cybersecurity and must take active steps to realize the technology as quickly and effectively as possible. The threat posed to the electric grid by classical and quantum computers — especially in the hands of foreign actors — will only increase. (Full Story)

Where there’s smoke, there’s science

To discover the finer points of smoke’s composition, Los Alamos National Laboratory has launched the Center for Aerosol Forensic Experiments — CAFE, for short. The lab has a long history of researching the atmosphere, work that stems from its primary mission as a national nuclear security laboratory and its role in monitoring nuclear activity around the globe. This new suite of instruments, which centers on an aerosol mass spectrometer, provides detailed information on the chemistry of wildfire smoke particles. (Full Story)

Also on YouTube!

Adding extra electrons improves quantum-dot lasing

Jaehoon Lim (right) synthesizes quantum dots along with Young-Shin Park, LANL photo.

In new research from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL; Los Alamos, NM) Nanotech Team, nanometer-sized quantum dots are being doctored, or "doped," with additional electrons, a treatment that nudges the dots ever closer to producing the desired laser light with less stimulation and energy loss. The research is published in Nature Nanotechnology.

"When we properly tailor the compositional profile within the particles during their fabrication, and then inject two or more electrons in each quantum dot, they become more able to emit laser light. Importantly, they require considerably less power to initiate the lasing action," said Victor Klimov, leader of the Nanotech team. (Full Story)

UbiQD named Breakout Labs portfolio company

Quantum dots in solution, from UbiQD.

New Mexico-based quantum dot manufacturer, announced today that it has been recognized as one of the newest portfolio companies in Breakout Labs, a fund within the Thiel Foundation that finances and nurtures early-stage science-based companies.

Spun out of technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The University of Washington, and Western Washington University, UbiQD envisions a future where quantum dots are ubiquitous in a wide spectrum of applications. (Full Story)

Satellite imaging firm Descartes expands in Santa Fe

Descartes expansion plans, from the New Mexican.     

Mark Johnson launched Descartes three years ago in partnership with a group of scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and $3 million in seed capital. The company recently closed on a new round of financing, raising $30 million from private backers.

The scientists at Descartes Labs program super-fast computers to translate satellite data into visual images. Johnson helps recruit scientists from all over the country to Santa Fe to work for clients doing deep dives into agriculture, climate, drought and Earth imaging. (Full Story)

NNMC offers new classes in cybersecurity

Jorge Crichigno heads the IET program at NNMC. Journal photo.

A recently accredited program backed by a $433,000 grant from National Science Foundation and partly supported by Los Alamos National Laboratory aims to create a workforce to protect against cyber threats.

The three-year grant will introduce some aspects of cybersecurity in starting-level classes and create a higher-level Applied Cybersecurity class to begin next year. Internships, including 10 already being offered by LANL, are also part of the program. (Full Story)

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Predicting earthquakes using machine learning

A simulation of the buildup and release
of stress along an artificial fault. LANL image.

By listening to the acoustic signal emitted by a laboratory-created earthquake, a computer science approach using machine learning can predict the time remaining before the fault fails.

“At any given instant, the noise coming from the lab fault zone provides quantitative information on when the fault will slip,” said Paul Johnson, a Los Alamos National Laboratory fellow and lead investigator on the research, which was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters. (Full story)

Computing the physics that links nuclear structure, element formation, and the life and death of stars

When a neutron star forms, compression creates
heat that generates neutrinos. ORNL image.

Collaborators on the first project, the Nuclear Computational Low Energy Initiative (NUCLEI), will calculate properties and reactions of diverse atomic nuclei that are important in earthly experiments and astrophysical environments. Approximately 30 researchers at 12 national labs and universities are slated to share funding of $10 million. Joseph Carlson of Los Alamos National Laboratory heads NUCLEI, with Stefan Wild of Argonne National Laboratory as co-director for applied math and computer science and Thomas Papenbrock of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) and ORNL as the co-director for physics. (Full story)

Gevo and Los Alamos to collaborate on high energy denisity biofuels

News has emerged from Gevo (GEVO) in Colorado and New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Lab that the two will collaborate to improve the energy density of Gevo hydrocarbon products to meet product specifications for tactical fuels for specialized military applications such as RJ-4, RJ-6 and JP-10, which are currently purchased by the US Department of Defense (DoD).

High energy-density fuels are currently used in air and sea-launched cruise missiles used by the US military forces. If this project is successful in scaling the fuels cost-effectively, there may be an even broader application in the general aviation sector, enabling higher energy density jet fuel that would provide superior mileage to traditional aviation fuels. (Full story)

Dena Edwards named DOE outstanding contractor security professional of the year

Dena Edwards receives the award from
Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan, LANL photo.

Dena Edwards, a security professional in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Associate Directorate for Mission Assurance, Security and Emergency Response, was named Outstanding Contractor Security Professional of the Year by the Department of Energy.

“Dena is a true professional who has made a visible and valuable positive difference in our laboratory and our community,” said Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan. (Full story)

Friday, October 6, 2017

LANL seismologist doing breakthrough earthquake research

Researchers may be getting closer to one day being able to predict the next earthquake. Los Alamos National Labs seismologist Paul Johnson says this is breakthrough research.

“We’re learning new things about the system that we didn’t know existed,” he said.  Johnson and a researcher from Pen-State are using a so-called earthquake machine to make quakes in a lab.

Johnson is collecting sound information from that machine using a stethoscope of sorts. What is new here is the use of machine learning or artificial intelligence. (Full Story)

Water in one dimension

Water molecules (red and white balls) forming a chain in a carbon nanotube, from the University of Antwerp.

Single-walled carbon nanotubes act like tiny straws that are so narrow that water confined within cannot freeze into its normal crystal-like structure. For the first time, scientists observed that at a cool 150 K, these molecules go through a quasiphase transition. In this transition, the molecules orient themselves in a highly structured, classically hydrogen-bonded arrangement.

Clean water is vital to people, crops and livestock. Technologies using carbon nanotubes may benefit water purification and desalination. Creating such devices demands knowing how water confined in such tubes behaves.

The team of scientists includes Xia Ma, Han Htoon, and Stephen K. Doorn of the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Los Alamos. (Full Story)

Los Alamos National Laboratory reveals potential in tracking disease spread in real time

Nick Generous, from HPN.

There is something to be said for adapting to modern technology, but the Los Alamos National Laboratory is taking that a step further – leveraging technology with a project that combines Brazilian social media and traditional clinical data to track the growth of infectious diseases.

Nick Generous, digital epidemiologist in the Information Systems and Modeling group at Los Alamos National Laboratory and his team of researchers have proceeded with the idea that the toll from disease can be lowered with knowledge of impending threats. (Full Story)

New test opens path for better 2-D catalysts

A technique to quickly probe atom-thick materials to measure hydrogen production. Rice illustration.

Researchers have taken a deep look into atom-thick catalysts that produce hydrogen to see precisely where it's coming from. Their findings could accelerate the development of 2-D materials for energy applications, such as fuel cells.

Rice University researchers with colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Ulises Martinez, Gautam Gupta and Aditya Mohite, developed a technique to probe through tiny "windows" created by an electron beam and measure the catalytic activity of molybdenum disulfide, a two-dimensional material that shows promise for applications that use electrocatalysis to extract hydrogen from water. (Full Story)

Using tech to peer inside a tyrannosaur’s skull

The Bisti Beast, or Bistahieversor sealeyi, Journal photo.

Los Alamos is one of just a few places in the world that can perform neutron CT – 3-D imaging – with X-ray CT that yields unique insights into dense objects, more than can be gleaned by either method alone.

With these techniques, Los Alamos researchers create 3-D images and animations of various materials and components, inside and out. Typically, scanning work supports the Lab’s primary mission of ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile, for which the medical X-ray variety also does not work, but as a user facility with unique imaging capability, LANSCE is also available to outside researchers for a variety of projects. (Full Story)

Pew! Pew! Curiosity’s ChemCam zaps a half million Martian rocks

Late last Tuesday, the ChemCam instrument that sits atop NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover fired its 500,000th shot at a Martian rock. That’s big news for the ChemCam team at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which developed the instrument in conjunction with CNES (Centre National d’√Čtudes Spatiales) in France and continues to help direct operations. Data collected from ChemCam has helped quantify elements like hydrogen, boron, and manganese in Martian rocks, which revealed that the Red Planet was habitable in its ancient past. (Full Story)

Hunt is over for one of the 'Top 50 Most-Wanted Fungi'

The “mystery” fungus, LANL image.

“Working estimates tell us that there should be more than 5 million species of fungi,” said Cheryl Kuske, a Los Alamos scientist on the project. “We have really only identified and fully described 100,000 of them, though, and new DNA sequencing capabilities show us that many, many specimens in research collections are uncharacterized. Solving this particular mystery shows the potential value of using environmental sequencing to guide taxonomic and ecological discovery.” (Full Story)

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