Friday, September 20, 2019

Mysterious waves have been pulsing across Oklahoma

Storm clouds hover over a field in Oklahoma, from NatGeo.

It all started when a wave swept across Oklahoma on June 24, just before 11:11 a.m. local time. It buzzed one seismometer after another. “There’s still a lot of strange unknowns here,” says Joshua Carmichael of Los Alamos National Laboratory, who analyzed the earthquake data after National Geographic reached out for comment.

Carmichael spotted something that suggests sound might not be the only phenomena at work. The motion of the rollicking pulses logged by many of the seismometers points to a surface wave radiating through the ground. While rare, a slow surface wave is not impossible, he says, and perhaps in just the right atmospheric and geologic conditions, such a wave could sweep far and wide. (Full Story)

Lightning flashes illuminate storm behavior

Idealized energy distribution for a large thunderstorm over South America. LANL image.

The new technique is "essentially lightning-based tomography, similar to a medical X-ray," said Michael Peterson, an atmospheric physicist at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico and author of the new study, published in AGU's Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

"Using lightning flashes as the light source, we can identify contrasts in cloud layers that are indicative of dense regions, such as ones that might be laden with hail," he said. Peterson drew upon data gathered by the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) on NOAA's GOES satellites. (Full Story)

Also from the Los Alamos Daily Post

Artificial Intelligence takes on earthquake prediction


Paul Johnson with a block of acrylic plastic, one of the materials his team uses to simulate earthquakes in the laboratory. LANL photo.

Phantom earthquakes, which occur deeper underground than conventional, fast earthquakes, are known as “slow slips.” More than a dozen slow slips have been detected by the region’s sprawling network of seismic stations since 2003.  And for the past year and a half, these events have been the focus of a new effort at earthquake prediction by Paul Johnson, a geophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

More than a decade ago, Johnson began studying “laboratory earthquakes,” made with sliding blocks separated by thin layers of granular material. Like tectonic plates, the blocks don’t slide smoothly but in fits and starts: They’ll typically stick together for seconds at a time, held in place by friction, until the shear stress grows large enough that they suddenly slip. (Full Story)

Black hole: How NASA's emergency warning over ‘cataclysmic event’ disturbed scientists

Illustration of SWIFT and an event horizon, from The Express.

These cosmic phenomena are said to form when massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle, falling into themselves and engulfing other black holes to form what is known as a supermassive black hole. Scientists were left slightly hot under the collar when they got a front-row ticket to see this event unfold more than a decade ago, thanks to one of NASA telescopes.

It was revealed during YouTube series “Monster black hole” how researchers around the world were put on high alert. “Tom Vestrand heads a robotic telescope project at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico. Dr Vestrand told viewers: “It was the most luminous thing ever detected by mankind." (Full Story)

UC President Janet Napolitano announces $800,000 grant to LANL Foundation and RDC

NM Rep. Christine Chandler, left, speaks with UC president Janet Napolitano, LA Reporter photo.

Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, two-term governor of Arizona and 20th president of the University of the California Janet Napolitano announced Thursday morning $800,000 in grants to the LANL Foundation and the Regional Development Corporation.

Napolitano, speaking at an education-focused community event hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory at the Hilton Buffalo Thunder Hotel.

Started out by saying she was raised in New Mexico and graduated from Sandia High School in Albuquerque. (Full Story)

Also from the LA Reporter this week:

LANL Director praises RDC and LANL Foundation at education-focused community event

Laboratory Director Thom Mason, LANL photo.

LANL director and president of Triad Thom Mason told attendees that the LANL Foundation and Regional Development Corporation are creating and supporting programs that provide people from Northern New Mexico with a range of pathways to work at the Lab or for other employers throughout the region.

“They’ve been really fantastic to work with and are helping us to develop our worker pipeline as the Lab’s mission space expands and we also go through what is a pretty historic rejuvenation of our workforce as many people who’ve been with the Lab for a long time are retiring and we’re bringing in new people.” Mason said. (Full Story)

Physicist Tess Light’s Frontiers in Science lecture on lightning draws capacity crowd

Bradbury Science Museum director Linda Deck, right, with physicist Tess Light, LA Reporter photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist Tess Light spoke to a capacity crowd Wednesday evening at the Cottonwood on the Greens Community Room as part of the Fellows of Los Alamos National Laboratory Frontiers in Science lecture series.

Light discussed lightning’s role in the atmosphers, the different types of lightning, what triggers it and what determines the shape of a lightning bolt. The Frontiers in Sciences lecture series is intended to increase local public awareness of the diversity of science and engineering research at the LANL. (Full Story)

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