Friday, June 12, 2020

Transforming how medicines created with an artificial heart

Given the need to improve and streamline drug development, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are working on a technology that could do just that; they are creating an artificial heart that has the same biological content and structure as a human heart, and replicates beat rate and the blood flow. It could one day be used to test new drugs safely and efficiently. 

See the video here 

For a number of reasons, most drugs never make it to market. Most fail before they get to animal trials, but many fail in human clinical trials because they are not safe or effective. While human trials try to represent a globally diverse population, unexpected side effects can still emerge when a drug is marketed around the world. (Full Story)

Artificial brains may need sleep too

LANL illustration. 

No one can say whether androids will dream of electric sheep, but they will almost certainly need periods of rest that offer benefits similar to those that sleep provides to living brains, according to new research from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“We study spiking neural networks, which are systems that learn much as living brains do,” said Los Alamos National Laboratory computer scientist Yijing Watkins. “We were fascinated by the prospect of training a neuromorphic processor in a manner analogous to how humans and other biological systems learn from their environment during childhood development.” (Full Story)

Also from the Los Alamos Reporter and News Medical

Here's an idea: A rock-vaporizing 'SuperCam' for the Mars rover

The mast unit of the SuperCam instrument.  NASA photo.

In this special edition of Here's an Idea, Roger Wiens, a fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, explains how he and his team created the SuperCam. The "Super" instrument will be aboard the 2020 Mars rover, ready to find and vaporize rocks.

By studying Martian soil, and bringing samples back to Earth, we'll have a better understanding of past life on the Red Planet.

Episode Highlights: What is the SuperCam? “It looks out at targets up to 25 feet away from the rover...or even way out to infinity." How the Idea Began: “We thought we were really proposing too much. NASA’s not going to believe that we can pull this off.” (Full Story)

Did you know Earth has a double electrical heartbeat?

Image from The Wire.

Lightning pumps charge into the atmosphere, as do galactic cosmic rays. Electrified clouds that don’t produce lightning shoulder a share of the burden equal to that of lightning. Dust, pollutants and other particles in the lower troposphere also play a role in the GEC, as does the changing of the seasons.

“You’re looking at the total integrated effects of all the electrified weather across the globe,” said Michael Peterson, a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico who has studied the circuit with satellite lightning detectors. “People have described it as the electrical heartbeat of the planet.” (Full Story)

"Countdown 1945": The story of the first use of the atomic bomb

Norris Bradbury with the partially-assembled Trinity device, LANL photo.

"Countdown 1945," published by Simon & Schuster (a ViacomCBS company), tells the dramatic story of the 116 days from Harry Truman's sudden and unexpected swearing-in as president to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Truman had been vice president for only three months, and knew nothing about the Manhattan Project and the race to build the atomic bomb. "This is the original weapon of mass destruction," said national security correspondent David Martin. "Absolutely," Wallace said. "The world had never seen anything like this." (Full Story)

Patterns in permafrost soils could help climate change models

Permafrost distribution in the Northern Hemisphere, from NOAA.

A team of scientists spent the past four summers measuring permafrost soils across a 5,000 square-mile swath of Alaska's North Slope. While working to buildup a much-needed soil dataset, their measurements revealed an important pattern: The hydrologic properties of different permafrost soil types are very consistent, and can be predicted based on the surrounding landscape.

Cathy Wilson, a hydrologist and climate modeler at Los Alamos National Laboratory who also conducts permafrost research in Alaska, said that the study is a big step for climate models, and that she is looking forward to applying study techniques in her own work. (Full Story)

Triad donates $10,000 to the Pueblo Relief Fund

Taos Pueblo will be one of the pueblos to benefit from the Pueblo Relief Fund. LANL photo.

Triad National Security, the management and operations contractor of Los Alamos National Laboratory, has given $10,000 to assist New Mexico’s Native American Pueblos, which have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis. The funds will go to the Pueblo Relief Fund and be used to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and support tribal members.

The fund is administered by the All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG) and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC), and its assistance will cover essential disinfecting supplies, personal protective equipment, and food distribution. (Full Story)

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