Friday, October 11, 2019

Ancient oasis once existed on Mars

The Curiosity Rover, NASA image.

The surface of Mars was once home to shallow, salty ponds that went through episodes of overflow and drying, according to a paper published today in Nature Geoscience.

“We’ve learned over the years of Curiosity’s traverse across Gale Crater that Mars’ climate was habitable once, long ago,” said Roger Wiens, the principal investigator of the ChemCam instrument at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a co-author of the paper. “What these new findings show is that the climate on Mars was not as stable as we thought it was. There were very wet periods and very dry periods—as these sulfate-rich rocks show us.” (Full story)

Modified quantum dots capture more energy
Doping a quantum dot with manganese
speeds the capture of energy, LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have synthesized magnetically-doped quantum dots that capture the kinetic energy of electrons created by ultraviolet light before it’s wasted as heat.

“This discovery can potentially enable novel, highly-efficient solar cells, light detectors, photocathodes and light-driven chemical reactions,” said Victor Klimov, lead researcher on the Laboratory’s quantum dot project.

In standard solar cells, a large amount of sunlight energy is wasted as heat. This waste occurs due to the lack of effective approaches for capturing kinetic energy of ‘hot’ electrons generated by photons in the green to ultraviolet portion of the sun’s light spectrum. (Full story)

Ancient tsunamis that left their mark

Location of Burckle Crater in the Indian
Ocean. From Ancient Origins.

Burckle crater was discovered in 2005 by Dr. Dallas Abbott who estimates it to be between 4,500 to 5,000 years old. The obvious explanation is that a large comet or asteroid smashed into the Indian Ocean 4,800 years ago, producing a monster tsunami at least 600 feet (183 meters) high.          

Bruce Masse, an environmental archeologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory believes that the comet fell on May 10, 2807 BC according to information contained in many flood myths from around the world, particularly those mentioning a full solar eclipse which occurred on that day. (Full story)

Los Alamos Reporter visits LANL emergency management division

The Emergency Response Training Center has
props for training exercises, LA Reporter photo.

For more than 12,500 employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the phone number to remember is 7-2400. This is the phone number for the 24-hour Emergency Operations Support Center (EOSC) at Technical Area 69 which operates seven days a week.

The EOSC monitors the LANL fire alarm system, receives notification of incidents and emergencies, and dispatches LANL emergency responders. It also activates other response elements throughout the 43-square mile site, issues protective actions to workers and makes any required notifications. The slogan on bright yellow posters says, “When in doubt, call the EOSC 24/7”. And yes, there’s an app for that! (Full story)

Also from the LA Reporter this week:

John Sarrao named to state technology research collaborative board

John Sarrao, LANL photo.  

The New Mexico Economic Development Department’s (NMEDD) Science and Technology Division has named new board members for the Technology Research Collaborative (TRC) including John Sarrao, Deputy Director for Science, Technology, and Engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The TRC was formalized in 2003, with the goal of promoting technology commercialization in New Mexico, increasing high- paying jobs, and diversifying the economy. (Full story)

Friday, October 4, 2019

What Google’s quantum supremacy claim means for quantum computing

Google used a 54-qubit processor in its quantum supremacy experiment. Google photo.

Google’s team has even coined a term to describe how quickly quantum computing could gain on classical computing: “Neven’s Law,” which describes how quantum computing seems to gain power far more rapidly through double exponential growth.

“If you’ve ever plotted a double exponential [on a graph], it looks like the line is zero and then you hit the corner of a box and you go straight up,” says Andrew Sornborger, a theoretical physicist who studies quantum computers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “And so before and after, it’s not so much like an evolution, it’s more like an event—before you hit the corner and after you hit the corner.” (Full Story)

LANL teams with Arm for extreme-scale computing

Efficient Mission Centric Computing Consortium (EMC3), LANL graphic.

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Arm are teaming up to make efficient, workload-optimized processors tailored to the extreme-scale computing requirements of the Laboratory’s national-security mission. The collaboration addresses the challenges of connecting more and more processors as high performance computers become larger and more powerful.

High performance computers play a pivotal role in Los Alamos’ mission of maintaining the nation’s nuclear stockpile and understanding complicated physics through extreme-scale simulations that can take months to complete on today’s fastest computers. (Full Story)

Brazilian woman diagnosed with HIV after getting a manicure

Illustration from the Sentinel of Guwahati, India.

In a strange incident, a 22-year-old Brazilian woman was diagnosed with HIV after getting a manicure using shared equipment. Doctors say the case, which was first reported in the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses last year, highlights a “new form of transmission for the virus.” According to Dr. Brian Foley, of the HIV Sequence Database at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA, the incident should not make you fearful of contact with people who have HIV because the risk of infection is very low.”

“It should make people aware that sharing any utensils with possible blood-blood contacts, such as needles used for drugs, tattoos, or acupuncture can result in the transmission of viruses such as hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV.” (Full Story)

Los Alamos Reporter visits with LANL air and water quality monitoring staff

David Fuehne explains how data is obtained by air monitoring stations throughout the area. LA Reporter photo.

Living with a national laboratory in the neighborhood, the safety and health of the people and the environment probably crosses one’s mind a little more often than it might if one were living elsewhere. On a recent visit to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Los Alamos Reporter was surprised to learn that more than 700 staff members are involved in the Lab’s 140 environmental safety and health programs – making it comparable to a state program as large as that run by the state of California.

The morning began with a tour of some of the Lab’s offsite AIRNET air monitoring equipment close to Los Alamos Medical Center with David Fuehne, technical program leader for radionuclide emissions. In terms of pollution, Fuehne and his team are looking for particulate radionuclides like uranium or plutonium. (Full Story)

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