Friday, December 14, 2018

Volcanic lightning can help warn of dangerous eruptions

Volcanic lightning over the 2014 eruption of Mount Sinabung, from Nat Geo.

The night of February 13, 2014, Indonesia's Kelud volcano burst to life, hundreds of volcanic lightning strokes crackled overhead. Now, scientists say such lightning may be just as useful as it is beautiful. A new study takes another step toward the development of lightning as a monitoring tool to track the ever-shifting dangers of a volcanic eruption.

As the USGS's Alexa Van Eaton and her colleagues note in the study, there's still a large amount of uncertainty associated with general estimates of mass spewing from a volcano based on satellite imagery.

“That doesn't mean that it's not without value,” says atmospheric scientist Sonja Behnke of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. “It's just, we see something, but there's really a whole lot more going on.” (Full Story)

Eliminating the latent reservoir of HIV

HIV attacking a T-Cell, CDC photo.

A new study suggests that a genetic switch that causes latent HIV inside cells to begin to replicate can be manipulated to completely eradicate the virus from the human body. Cells harboring latent HIV are “invisible” to the natural defenses of the immune system. The findings, which suggest a cure for HIV may be possible, are reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Liang and Youfang Cao of Merck Research Laboratories are the lead authors of the study. Xue Lei from the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Alan S. Perelson and Ruy M. Ribeiro from the Los Alamos National Laboratory are the collaborators and co-authors on the paper. (Full Story)

Invest in artificial intelligence to predict earthquakes

Illustration of the recent Alaska earthquake.

Seismology is an incredibly complex field of science. Earthquakes and aftershocks are still unpredictable in their timing, location and intensity. Despite strenuous research, seismologists have yet to identify a reliable precursor to earthquakes. Such a thing would be any kind of geological phenomenon that consistently precedes every tremor. Science has revealed much about our world, but understanding the tectonic plates seems to be just outside of our reach.

Paul Johnson, a geophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, submitted a detailed report in 2017 that recorded his team’s progress on machine learning for earthquakes. Johnson’s team fed the computer raw data from earthquake measurements. This differs from how scientists have tried to predict earthquakes in the past, primarily by using the United States Geological Survey’s Earthquake Catalog.(Full Story)

Less ozone means more snow for Antarctica

Antarctic ice melt, From Boulder Today.

While previous research has outlined some aspects of the relationship between ozone depletion and the climate of the southern hemisphere, the new study co-authored by Lenaerts, Jeremy Fyke of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Brooke Medley of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory has analyzed the effect on Antarctica specifically.

The results complement a separate NASA-led study, which was led by Medley and published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, which uses observations from ice cores to show that Antarctic snowfall has increased in the last 200 years and especially so in the past 30 years, suggesting that precipitation changes can be linked to man-made causes such as greenhouse gas emissions as well as the ozone hole. (Full Story)

LANL Director Thom Mason works with students during Hour of Code project at school in EspaƱola

Director Thom Mason working with a student on her coding effort. Photo by John McHale.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason volunteered for the Hour of Code project this afternoon at Tony E. Quintana Elementary in EspaƱola. The program was presented to the combined 6th grade classes of Nancy Martinez and Danita Quintana. This program provides a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify ‘code’ and show that anyone can learn the basics. Laboratory volunteers Aimee Hungerford and Hari Khalsa have been working with local schools on the initiative since 2015. (Full Story)

Also from the Daily Post this week:

LANL Director Shares Plans At 2018 REDI Conference

 Thom Mason, LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason focused his recent keynote address at the 2018 Regional Economic Development Initiative REDI Conference on the importance of area small businesses – and emphasized his intention to increase LANL’s support.

“LANL is already consistently among the best performing across all the national laboratories in percentage of procurement from regional small businesses,” Mason told the crowd gathered Dec. 4 at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. “But we’ll be doubling the preference we give to Northern New Mexico small businesses for small business contracting.” (Full Story)

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