Friday, October 5, 2018

NASA 60th Anniversary: Why haven't we found aliens yet?

Roger Wiens, LANL photo.

Astronomer Frank Drake devised an equation to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations which might be present in the Milky Way galaxy, called the Drake Equation.

“The values of the different terms are very highly uncertain, consistent with both no life elsewhere in the universe on the one hand and lots of civilizations on the other hand,” Dr. Roger C. Wiens, of the Space Remote Sensing Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of New Mexico where he is searching for signs of Martian life. (Full Story)

Newborn baby contracted HIV from an open blister on his dad's arm

HIV Illustration.

'It's a very unusual case,' Dr Thomas Leitner, the only US scientist on the case told

'It shows us that it's not something that will have a large impact on the HIV epidemic but it does show us that there are unusual ways of transmission.'

Dr Leitner, of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, is a phylogenetics expert, trained in tracing the evolutionary history of organisms. It's not the first time he's been co-opted by Nuno Taveira, a microbiologist in Lisbon, to help out on a criminal investigation before. But this was unique. (Full Story)

Scientists discover new nursery for superpowered photons

High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray (HAWC) Observatory, in Mexico, HAWC photo.

The new evidence strongly suggests that the powerful gamma rays were produced at the ends of the jets and not another source nearby.

"SS 433 is located in the same region of the sky as other bright sources that also emit gamma rays," Hao Zhou says, galactic science coordinator of HAWC and a lead author on the Nature paper. "With its wide field of view, HAWC is uniquely capable of separating the gamma-ray emission due to SS 433 from other background photons." Zhou is a 2015 Michigan Tech PhD graduate now at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Plasma-Jet-Driven-Magneto-Inertial-Fusion status report

The PLX instrument at Los Alamos, LANL image.

While coaxial plasma guns have been used to accelerate plasma since the 1950’s, notably in space propulsion as plasma thrusters, the challenges of applying plasma guns as a driver for fusion are unique.

A conical array of 7 guns have been installed on the Plasma Liner Experiment (PLX) at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and experiments to merge the jets launched from these guns to form a piece of the plasma liner have been performed. The initial results8 show the formation of a series of shocks between merging jets, in qualitative agreements with our 3D computational results. (Full Story)

Los Alamos tests telemetry unit for nuke monitoring

The High Explosives Centrifuge Test Facility, LANL image.

More than 100G forces in a centrifuge are being used to test a telemetry unit at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to the federal institution.

The telemetry unit, which will evaluated nuclear weapons test missile launches, assesses the stresses of the flight to the upper reaches of the planet’s atmosphere and back down to Earth.

“The purpose of the centrifuge test is to subject the electronics to a high gravitational load (G-load) that’s representative of what the system will experience when re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” said Alex Cusick, a Los Alamos weapons test engineer. (Full Story)

Also from PhysOrg

Lab, Pojoaque schools partner for new program

Terry C. Wallace, Jr (left) Laboratory Director; Jon Paul Romero, president of Pojoaque Valley Schools; and Sam Minner, president of New Mexico Highlands University. LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pojoaque Valley School District and New Mexico Highlands University officially launched the region’s first professional development school at a PVSD board meeting Wednesday.

“The value of education and the critical role it plays in the future success of both Northern New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratory cannot be overstated,” said Terry C. Wallace, Jr., the laboratory’s director. (Full Story)

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