Friday, November 8, 2019

A new strain of HIV is recorded under group that caused pandemic

A virus sample from Abbott Laboratories. WSJ photo.

Scientists using advanced DNA sequencing technology have documented a previously unidentified strain of HIV under the group that is responsible for the vast majority of human infections.

Researchers and epidemiologists don’t expect the new Group M strain to change the way HIV is diagnosed or treated. Still, they say new strains can offer clues on how HIV evolved and spread.

“There’s a lot of mystery around why certain things happened. New strains can unravel some of that unknown history,” said Brian Foley, an HIV geneticist at New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, which holds the largest HIV gene bank and sets the guidelines on classifying new strains. Dr. Foley wasn’t involved in Abbott’s research. (Full story)

Why U.S. must win race to build first practical quantum computers

Guest column author Thom Mason,
Laboratory Director, LANL photo.    

Today, Los Alamos and other Department of Energy national laboratories, working closely with industry, continuously push the farthest frontiers of computing and related technologies in support of scientific discovery. Many of those breakthroughs trickle down to everyday life.

That technological landscape may splinter as Moore’s law ends, threatening to undermine the broad-based economic growth and scientific advancement that has enabled U.S. global leadership for decades. Disruptions will reverberate from the economy to science to national security. (Full story)

Navigating a career in secret physics

Astrophysicist Chris Fryer and his family were driving back from a monthlong workshop on neutron-star mergers when he got word of a new gravitational-wave discovery. The fifth of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory’s catches, the August 2017 event appeared to be the first detected from two colliding neutron stars. “I recall vividly having my wife read me the email while I was driving and me telling her I didn’t believe her,” he says. His wife, Aimee Hungerford, is also an astrophysicist. A few days later, data started to become available. (Full story)

Between a varnished rock and a hard place

Nina Lanza (left) studying rock varnish
in California, photo from Nina Lanza.

In this episode, Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers Nina Lanza and Chris Yeager discuss their investigations into rock varnish in New Mexico, which could help them understand whether life is present on Mars. Rock varnish is a mysterious coating found on rocks in some of the harshest and most Mars-like landscapes on Earth, but no one knows whether rock varnish is created by living things. If so, finding it on Mars would be a sign that Martian life exists now or has existed in the past. (Full story)

Voyager 2 reveals new details about interstellar space

Voyager test model at the Kennedy
Space Center in 1976, NASA photo.

Dan Reisenfeld, a research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, who was not involved in the research, says astronomers took bets on when they were going to make it through [the heliosphere]. “Voyager’s fame came from its exploration of the planets,” Reisenfeld tells Inverse. “Then it went quiet for years because it’s just traveling through the depths of space beyond the planets.”

The second set of data also gave a better idea of the shape of the heliosphere.

“When Voyager 2 crossed the heliopause, it showed us that our heliosphere is not perfectly round but that it’s asymmetric,” Reisenfeld says. (Full story)

Nine Los Alamos National Laboratory projects win R&D 100 Awards

Histato Yamaguchi holding a photosensitive
cell that has been coated with Atomic Armor,
a R&D 100 winning project. LANL photo.

“It’s an honor to have Los Alamos National Laboratory’s innovation recognized by the broader community with these nine R&D 100 awards,” said Laboratory Director Thom Mason. “Behind all of these awards are people willing to take risks and think unconventionally about big problems in areas like national security, big data, and energy transmission. Their originality has brought the Laboratory to where we are today. Congratulations to the winners, special recognition awardees, and finalists for their outstanding achievements.” (Full story)

Tech startup FidelityEHR receives innovation grant

FidelityEHR developed an electronic health records system for behavioral health, funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health, to provide care coordination for at-risk populations with complex needs.

FidelityEHR also is collaborating with the New Mexico Small Business Association and Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop artificial intelligence/machine learning technology to quickly identify factors for clients at risk for suicide or opioid overdose. (Full story)