Friday, July 12, 2019

Observations: It takes a village to declassify an error bar

This meteor is likely from a comet, but other meteors may come from beyond the solar system. Photo from SciAm

Alan Hurd from the National Security Education Center at the Los Alamos National Laboratory with Matt Heavner, the data science program manager for global security, intelligence and emerging threats at Los Alamos, devised a plan to ask the relevant federal authorities for the declassification of the measurement error on the 2014 meteor and possibly the entire CNEOS catalog.

The plan devised by Alan and Matt worked perfectly. In a matter of days, Matt met with officials at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House and subsequently spoke with the person who analyzed the 2014 meteor data. (Full Story)

Using algae to try and solve the plastic problem

Cyanobacteria, with different nutrients in different amounts have distinct color changes. LANL photo.

Imagine our world without plastics — they are everywhere, from construction and electronics to transportation and packaging. Overall strength and durability make plastic so useful, but they also make plastic a leading contributor to pollution.       

Rather than use petroleum to manufacture synthetic plastics, Los Alamos is looking to an alternative, environmentally friendly resource — algae. Already a viable alternative energy resource for fuel, algae may also prove useful as a base material to create biology-based polymers. (Full Story)

Magnetic materials help explain how Arctic ice melts

The discovery of an unlikely relationship between melting sea ice and magnets could help scientists produce better models of the global climate. Wired photo.

“These are big global models,” says Elizabeth Hunke, lead developer for the Los Alamos Sea Ice Model. “We use grids that are more than a kilometer on a side. And these melt ponds are much smaller than those grid cells, so we need some way to describe what fraction of the grid cell is covered by melt ponds.” Golden’s model, she says, “provides a statistical way to do it that represents the essential dynamics.” (Full Story)

Satellite imagery a potent new data source for supply chain management

Satellite imagery data represents another data set that may have the potential to improve company’s supply chains.   

Descartes Labs, headquartered in Santa Fe, was launched as a spin-out from Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2015. The underlying technology uses computer vision, machine learning, and cloud-based infrastructure to teach computers better interpret satellite imagery.

Initially, the technology was applied to develop an agricultural model to analyze corn production in the United States. (Full Story)

UNM partners with LANL to pursue research, funding opportunities

UNM and Los Alamos National Lab have teamed up to share their expertise. A new joint faculty agreement allows UNM faculty to work on projects at the lab, and gives LANL scientists the chance to teach courses at the university.

The two will also combine forces to pursue research and funding opportunities. Administrators say the unprecedented access offers big benefits on both sides, and ultimately has the potential to raise the quality of the scientific workforce in New Mexico. (Full Story)

ChemCam engineering operations team throws pajama pizza party

What do you do when the Martian day starts late and you need to keep an eye on the Curiosity rover? You throw a pajama pizza party, of course! The Engineering Operations Team for Los Alamos National Laboratory’s ChemCam instrument donned PJs and slippers to keep things interesting while they worked a late shift. “Planning a day’s activities for ChemCam takes a full day on Earth,” said Lisa Danielson, the team leader. “It’s important to keep everyone energized and involved, and pizza and pajamas are a good way to do it.” (Full Story)
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