Friday, March 6, 2020

How computer modeling of COVID-19's spread could help fight the virus

Viral particles in a color-enhanced micrograph from a COVID-19 patient, CDC image.

Sara Del Valle, a mathematical and computational epidemiologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, says she'd like to see a global center set up to constantly collect information about circulating infectious illnesses.

Much like how the National Weather Service provides forecasts to help people prepare for their local weather, she says, such a center could tell people about their local risk of infectious diseases.

"People could actually, you know, just open their phones and open an app and then see the probability of infection," she says. "It could say like, 'There's a 20% probability of getting flu in your community, based on what is spreading there.'" (Full Story)


How changes to the climate will impact the spread of infectious diseases

Bats take flight, image from The Week.

Most of the new diseases we humans have faced in the past several decades have come from animals. "As people move and wildlife move in response to a changing environment, humans and wildlife and animals will come in contact more regularly," said Jeanne Fair from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Fair argues that by shifting animal habitats, climate change will also make the opportunities for disease spillover more frequent.

"Everything is sort of shifting and will shift into the future as the environment changes through climate change," Fair said.

Scientists, including climatologists and epidemiologists on Fair's team at Los Alamos, are beginning to model how changes to the climate will impact the spread of infectious diseases. (Full Story)

Space weather model gives earlier warning of satellite-killing radiation storms

Electron observations (top) and predictions, LANL image.

A new machine-learning computer model accurately predicts damaging radiation storms caused by the Van Allen belts two days prior to the storm, the most advanced notice to date, according to a new paper in the journal Space Weather.

"Radiation storms from the Van Allen belts can damage or even knock out satellites orbiting in medium and high altitudes above the Earth, but predicting these storms has always been a challenge," said Yue Chen, a space scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and principal investigator on the project jointly funded by NASA and NOAA. (Full Story)

Also from Space Ref

NASA’s Mars rover has captured the planet’s surface in unprecedented detail

NASA image.

Last year, Curiosity found a mysterious ‘oasis’ on the surface of Mars, raising hopes that evidence of life may also one day be found on the Red Planet.

‘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 co-author of a paper on the research. ‘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.’ (Full Story)

Enlisting bacteria to make ‘green’ nylon

Image from Digital Journal.

Using bacteria to convert sugars into “green” products, such as polymer precursors for nylon, is progressing due to advances with metabolic engineering such as a specially designed biosensor from Los Alamos.

The Los Alamos project forms part of the Agile BioFoundry, which is a multi-national lab consortium funded by U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO).

“Using the LANL-created biosensor we were able to screen the microbe for both growth and muconate production simultaneously” explains Niju Narayanan, a lead contributor to this research. (Full Story)

Also from KRQE-TV

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