Friday, June 19, 2020

Mutation allows Coronavirus to infect more cells, study finds. Scientists urge caution

A transmission electron micrograph of the coronavirus, red, developing in a cell. From the NYT.

For months, scientists have debated why one genetic variation of the coronavirus became dominant in many parts of the world.

Scientists’ attention had begun to focus on the D614G mutation by May, when Bette Korber, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, posted a paper arguing that “when introduced to new regions it rapidly becomes the dominant form.” Many scientists criticized the study, saying that its analysis was not sufficient to conclude that the virus with that mutation was more transmissible in humans. 

David Montefiori, a virologist at Duke University, said that he was involved in a new analysis, led by Dr. Korber, addressing those concerns. (Full Story)

Hidden neutrino particles may be a link to the dark sector

T.J. Schaub lifts out a photomultiplier tube to be replaced as part of the neutrino detector upgrade, LANL photo.

The idea that our experiments might be detecting a fourth neutrino remains controversial, however, because the Standard Model of particle physics is one of the most tested and thoroughly confirmed theoretical frameworks in history—and it allows for only three neutrinos.

Finally, after years of uncertainty, several projects are beginning around the world—including our own Coherent CAPTAIN-Mills (CCM) experiment—that could put this mystery to bed.

CCM takes place in a hall in the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) at the end of an 800-meter-long particle accelerator. The accelerator fires a beam of protons at a tungsten target. When the protons hit the tungsten, they kick showers of neutrons out of the target atoms through a process called neutron spallation. (Full Story - Subscription Required)

LANL scientists design artificial heart to test medical drugs

An exciting first-of-its-kind organ testing is happening here in New Mexico.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Lab are creating a miniature heart, hoping to find out how medications could affect humans.

"The problem is that animals and humans are fundamentally different. We have different biological chemical differences. A human heart for example is not the same thing as an animal heart so understanding how drugs are going to affect a human heart is very difficult to predict," said Los Alamos researcher Kent Coombs.

Watch the video as Shelly Ribando talks about the latest on what the doctor who designed the artificial heart says, and how it could help in the fight against COVID-19. (Full Story)

State working with Los Alamos National Lab on school reopen plan  KRQE

The state’s Medical Advisory Team says it's hearing concerns from educators and parents about the challenges of distance learning and kids falling behind. “Our educational community really feels like the in-person learning is more effective than the online learning, and so we’re trying to figure out how do we do what’s safe, and give ourselves time to make sure that it’s gonna work,” said Dr. David Scrase, Secretary of Human Services Department.

Dr. Scrase says the state’s Medical Advisory Team is working closely with Los Alamos National Laboratory on this issue. LANL is able to map data and create models for what different scenarios might look like when schools reopen. Their modeling team has been recognized by the Center for Disease Control for being some of the most accurate in the country. (Full Story)

Summer physics camp offers 21 young Northern New Mexico women unique opportunity

Some of the young women in the camp, From the LA Reporter.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s camp has adapted to a completely VIRTUAL experience where students are able to attend from their homes! More than half of the two week camp are dedicated to hands on experiments and demonstrations. Students received a large number of materials to be able to learn about turbulence, fundamental properties of light, electric circuits, electromagnetism, engineering, computer science and coding, etc. 

This camp is supported by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the New Mexico Consortium, Los Alamos and Pojoaque Public schools, Future Female Leaders in Engineering program, LANL foundation and the IEEE. (Full Story)

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