Friday, September 13, 2019

Twist on ‘survival of the fittest’ could explain how reality emerges from the quantum haze

Wojciech Zurek, LANL photo.

In the 1980s, Wojciech Zurek, a theorist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, argued that the wave function of a here-and-there cup would inevitably meld with those of surrounding objects. That "entanglement" wouldn't collapse the cup's wave function, but it would obscure the exact relationship between the here and there parts of its quantum state. In quantum theory, that's enough to put the cup in one place or the other.

The right kind of entanglement is key to the theory. The cup must interact with the environment in a way that depends on position rather than, say, momentum. But Zurek says most interactions between a big object and its environment depend on its location. Whether a cup reflects photons into your eye depends on where it is, he notes. (Full story)

The unexpected space center: Los Alamos National Laboratory

This US research center has been part of more than 200 space missions, but it’s not a NASA facility! The Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico gave the Voyager spacecraft their power sources, is building nuclear generators for future Martians, and accidentally invented the field of High Energy Astrophysics. That’s just some of what we’ll learn from Lab historian Alan Carr and longtime Lab astrophysicist Ed Fenimore. The Planetary Society’s Jason Davis has the latest news about India’s lunar lander, while Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan go where no acronym has gone before. (Full story)

LANL bioscientist selected for If/Then ambassador program

Harshini Mukundan, LANL photo.

Harshini Mukundan, a bioscientist with Los Alamos National Laboratory, has been selected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s If/Then ambassador program, which seeks to help women in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

The ambassadors are contemporary role models who represent a variety of STEM-related professions in the U.S., ranging from academia to business to sports to entertainment.

If/Then is a national initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. (Full Story)

2020 Breakthrough Prize honors Los Alamos astrophysicists for work on first black hole image

Benjamin Ryan and George Wong, LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory astrophysicists Benjamin Ryan and George Wong are members of the Event Horizon Telescope team that just won the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for creating the first image of a black hole.

“The observations themselves were carried out by a large team of radio astronomers across the world,” Ryan said. “The image was the result of worldwide coordination of radio telescopes, along with some surprisingly good weather across the globe for the few days when the observations took place. (Full story)

Also from the Post this week:

LANL Foundation welcomes new board members

Thom Mason, LANL photo.

Thom Mason joined the LANL Foundation Board as an ex officio member when he became Director of LANL and President and CEO of Triad National Security, LLC under the Laboratory management contract in November 2018.

Prior to becoming Director of the Lab, Mason worked for Battelle as Senior Vice President for Global Laboratory Operations and spent much of his prior career at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, including 10 years as its director. Mason is a resident of Santa Fe. (Full story)

UC President Janet Napolitano Announces Nearly $800,000 Grant From Triad National Security Supports Northern New Mexico Students And Teachers 

Two grants from Los Alamos National Laboratory operator Triad National Security, LLC, will benefit students and teachers across Northern New Mexico.

Triad’s Community Commitment Program awarded $599,600 to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Foundation and $200,000 to the Regional Development Corporation (RDC), both based in Española. (Full story)

Students tackle nuclear security at Aggie Invent competition  

Teams assembled prototypes and pitched
presentations during the competition, Eagle photo.

Lloyd Brown, a retired Los Alamos scientist and former engineering professor with the U.S. Naval Academy — along with an additional nine Los Alamos representatives, including seven A&M alumni — served as a mentor to students and created the need statements prior to the event.

“The odds that students will come up with some solution that Los Alamos doesn’t already have aren’t high, but that’s not the point,” Brown said. “It’s about giving them a challenging problem to work on, and it’s just gravy if they come up with a workable idea. For us [at Los Alamos], it’s also a recruiting opportunity.” (Full story)