Friday, August 30, 2019

Fighting wildfires with computer models

Image from SciAm.

The FIRETEC modeling tool, developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, leverages fluid-dynamics research originally developed for national security science and uses physics to represent the critical interactions among the multiple ignitions of a prescribed burn in very complex terrain.

Based on specific details about ignition patterns, terrain, weather, atmospheric conditions, fuel loads, vegetation and more, FIRETEC simulates the buoyant rise of air, the way the fire draws in competing drafts of air, mutual influence among fire lines, and interactions among the gases of the fire and the fuel loads, terrain, atmosphere and so on. (Full story)

Also in Scientific American:

A Missing Link in Predicting Hurricane Damage

Image from SciAm.

Eroding coastlines are a significant factor in how infrastructure will be affected—but a new computer model now factors them in.

Using supercomputers at Los Alamos, we’ve developed a model that processes data about the physical characteristics of coastlines—including soil, vegetation and sensitivity to erosion—and how those characteristics would interact with a hurricane and its storm surge.

Although many studies have been conducted in laboratory settings to understand changing coastlines, the limitations of lab research mean that the resulting models are only relevant for a very small geographical area. To overcome this issue, Los Alamos has developed a model that describes the physics of changing coastlines. Because it’s based on physics and not a single geographical area, the model can be applied on a regional scale and include any coastal city. (Full story)

Supercomputers pave the way for new machine learning Approach

New deep learning models predict the
interactions between atoms in organic
molecules, LANL image.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a machine learning approach called transfer learning that lets them model novel materials by learning from data collected about millions of other compounds. The new approach can be applied to new molecules in milliseconds, enabling research into a far greater number of compounds over much longer timescales.

The new technique, called ANI-1ccx potential, promises to advance the capabilities of researchers in many fields and improve the accuracy of machine learning-based potentials in future studies of metal alloys and detonation physics. (Full story)

New technology could help scientists predict earthquakes

Scientists are utilizing new technology that allows them to study millions of small earthquakes in hopes of being able to predict the next big one.

The study comes out of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It shows how advancing computer technology is now able to read 10 times the number of earthquakes previously recorded, as local expert of geology, Patrick Abbott explained. (Full story)

Most of California's big earthquakes are preceded by ghostly 'foreshocks' weeks in advance

Image from Live Science.

"We're hoping that these observations will help inform improved physical models of how earthquakes get started," lead study author Daniel Trugman, a seismologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, told Live Science. "With this improved physical understanding, we'll eventually be able to improve earthquake forecasting as well."

Trugman and his colleagues began their hunt for foreshocks by compiling a catalogue of some 284,000 earthquakes detected by various monitoring stations around Southern California between 2008 and 2017. (Full story).

Quantum Darwinism, a new theory on the nature of reality

Wojciech Zurek, LANL photo.

Wojciech H. Zurek, a Polish theoretical physicist at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico, first proposed the extraordinary concept of Quantum Darwinism in a paper published in 2009.

Zurek claims his theory explains why the transition from quantum to classical transition happens. In other words, why the tendency of particles to adopt specific state when we observe the system obeying macroscopic physics suddenly.

Zurek thinks the interaction of quantum systems with the environment is the cause of decoherence that forces a particle to lose its ability to stay in a superposition state. (Full story)

Possible detection of a black hole so big it ‘should not exist’

Black hole illustration from NASA.

Black hole physicists have been excitedly discussing reports that the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave detectors recently picked up the signal of an unexpectedly enormous black hole, one with a mass that was thought to be physically impossible.

The rumor is “pushing us to alternative formation mechanisms,” said Chris Fryer, an astrophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who has studied binary black hole formation and the mass gap. “In any event it will be an exciting event — if it’s true.” (Full story)

Scenes from the Hazmat Challenge at LANL

A Hazmat Team working in a decimation
exercise, Daily Post photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory hosted a Hazmat Challenge this past week at its Hazardous Materials Training Center, one of the most complete training facilities in the Nation.

Ten teams attended the event from New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The challenge provides a unique training venue for hazmat responders to test and develop their technical response capabilities in a difficult but safe environment.

The event requires participants to respond to simulated hazardous material emergencies involving aircraft, rail and highway transportation, in industrial piping, a biological lab, a confined space event and more. (Full story).

Also from the Daily Post this week:

Scenes from Robotics Night at the Bradbury Museum

Robotics Night featured robotics teams from regional schools and local groups with robots used by Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos Police Department and UMN-LA. The event was brought to the community by the Bradbury Science Museum Association and supported by New Mexico Bank & Trust. (Full story)