Friday, November 1, 2019

Using quantum computers to test the fundamentals of physics

White crosses represent non-interfering quantum states that behave classically for a simple quantum problem, LANL image.

A quantum-computing algorithm, developed by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of California, Davis — including Andrew Sornborger and Andreas Albrecht  — opens a new window on the connection between the quantum and classical worlds and the transition that must occur as we zoom out from the smallest scales.

To study the quantum-to-classical transition, physicists need to evaluate how close a quantum system is to acting classically. Among other effects, physicists must consider the fact that quantum objects are subject to wave-particle duality. (Full Story)

LANL protects milkweed to preserve monarchs

Makenzie Quintana, a student at Los Alamos National Laboratory, provides a perch for a monarch butterfly, LANL photo.

As part of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s environmental stewardship efforts, a Los Alamos team has been documenting the cycles and seasons of monarch butterflies, and the location of milkweed on laboratory property. These efforts will better inform management decisions if this species is listed under the Endangered Species Act. They were able to document eggs on milkweed in late June and caterpillars enjoying milkweed into September. (Full Story)

Weatherwatch: cloud 'x-rays' seek to reveal anatomy of a storm

GLM imagery of a convective storm over southern Brazil. LANL image.

Scientists have long used satellite cameras, such as the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), to count lightning flashes and monitor storms. Now Michael Peterson, of Los Alamos National Laboratory, is using the pulses of illumination to produce “fulminograms” showing clouds from inside.

“The output resembles an x-ray image of the storm,” Peterson says. “When light must penetrate thick convective cells, they stand out as dark spots in the image, while the brightest spots show us where lots of light can leak out of the cloud.” (Full Story)

VW to test quantum navigation app in real traffic

A quantum computer, D-Wave photo.

Volkswagen AG plans to test a quantum-computer-powered navigation app in Lisbon next week, part of a larger plan to include such a feature in its vehicles within the next few years.

“What’s exciting about this work is that it’s being applied in the real world,” said Scott Pakin, a computer scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Other auto makers including Ford Motor Co. are experimenting with how quantum computing could quickly optimize driving routes and improve the structure of batteries for electric vehicles. (Full Story)

Los Alamos National Lab wins CDC’s FluSight Challenge

“Accurately forecasting diseases is similar to weather forecasting in that you need to feed computer models large amounts of data so they can ‘learn’ trends,” Dave Osthus, a statistician at Los Alamos and developer of the computer model, Dante, said. “But it’s very different because disease spread depends on daily choices humans make in their behavior—such as travel, hand-washing, riding public transportation, interacting with the healthcare system, among other things. Those are very difficult to predict.” (Full Story)

LANL receives $5 billion to upgrade aging facilities

Some facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory — the nation’s foremost nuclear weapons research center — date to the 1950s, said Thom Mason, LANL director.

That reality, coupled with the lab’s evolving mission, is spurring a $5 billion upgrade to aging buildings and equipment still in use in the 21st century, Mason said in an interview this week. Though state of the art when built during the Cold War, some aging infrastructure is now outdated. (Full Story)

Five LANL scientists elected 2019 APS Fellows

Top row from left, Herrmann, Hsu and Hurd. Bottom row from left, Prestridge and Van de Water, LANL photo.

Five LANL scientists have been elected 2019 Fellows of the American Physical Society (APS). Hans Herrmann, Scott Hsu, Alan Hurd, Katherine Prestridge and Richard Van de Water and were chosen for their “exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise”.

Fewer than one half of one percent of APS members are elected as Fellows each year.
These five scientists represent the breadth of physics contributions made at the Laboratory. Van de Water said of the award, “The thrill of doing science is an award itself, an APS Fellowship honor makes it that much better.” (Full Story)

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