Friday, April 20, 2018

 Going with the gut


Clostridium difficile (C. diff), Columbia University image.

The gut – a.k.a. the gastrointestinal tract that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus – contains trillions of bacterial cells. A majority are good bacteria that reside in the nearly 30 feet of the large and small intestines. These good bacteria are responsible for a person’s overall health. But sometimes a harmful bacterium called Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infects the gut.

But what if scientists could identify and isolate the bacteria in a fecal sample that inhibit C. diff and then put just those bacteria into a pill or drink? That’s exactly what my colleagues and I are working on at Los Alamos National Laboratory: pulling together bacteria into a super-powerful cocktail that washes out the infection. The work exploits the Laboratory’s extensive biological research efforts developed in support of our national security mission. (Full Story)

One step closer to understanding explosive sensitivity with molecule design

A small amount of “edited” PETN explosive undergoes an energetic reaction during an impact drop test, LANL photo.

Explosives have an inherent problem – they should be perfectly safe for handling and storage but detonate reliably on demand. Using computer modeling and a novel molecule design technique, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have replaced one “arm” of an explosive molecule to help unravel the first steps in the detonation process and better understand its sensitivity — how easily it begins a violent reaction.

"It started out with, can we take a common initiating explosive PentaErythritol TetraNitrate (PETN) and replace parts of it to change sensitivity properties," said explosives chemist Virginia Manner. (Full Story)

Also from Chem Europe

LANL scientists honored for exceptional work

Laboratory Director Terry C. Wallace, Jr., presents Howard Menlove with the Los Alamos Medal, LANL photo.         

Four Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists were honored at the Los Alamos Medal ceremony April 12 for their distinguished achievements that have impacted the success of the laboratory and the nation, either through mission accomplishments or enhancing the laboratory’s distinction.

This year, the Medals were awarded to Howard Menlove, who helped establish the laboratory’s technical expertise in nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation that became the foundation for international nonproliferation programs; and three members of the Human Genome Project team at Los Alamos – Scott Cram, Larry Deaven, and Robert Moyzis – who were instrumental in motivating the Department of Energy to formally initiate the Human Genome Project in 1987. (Full Story)

Also from the Los Alamos Daily Post

Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Terry Wallace speaks to community leaders

Terry Wallace, center, chats with Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and Santa Fe Community College President Dr. Cecilia Cervantes, Daily Post photo.

LANL Director Dr. Terry Wallace explained that he graduated from Los Alamos High School, got his undergraduate degrees at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and was a professor “somewhere else” for 20 years, but that he always got to work with Los Alamos and knew he would get to return 16 years ago.

“We’re 75 years in but we’re at the center of some extraordinary things that are happening around the country and the world, and some of these things are some great anxiety-producing events. But we’re here to do the business of that country in terms of national security,” he said. (Full Story)

Also from the Daily Post this week:

LANL wildland fire manager discusses drought

Los Alamos National Laboratory wildland fire manager Manny L'Esperance

“I don’t think I’m going to surprise anybody when I tell you what the current conditions are,” Los Alamos National Laboratory Wildland Fire Manager Manny L’Esperance said Monday evening at a Science on Tap event at UnQuarked in Central Park Square.

“We’re in the midst of a drought that appears to be getting worse and I don’t know what you folks think about climate change but this drought, every year we hear it’s getting worse. We are seeing fire behavior that we have never seen before and this year’s no different,” he said. (Full Story)

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