Friday, August 14, 2020

COVID-19 presents unique challenges for tracking data

Mathematical epidemiologists with Los Alamos National Laboratory say the fact that there are so many asymptomatic carriers of this virus, make for unique challenges. “That of course makes it challenging to track people who might be spreading it, and to understand how many total infections we have,” explained Carrie Manore, Mathematical Epidemiologist for LANL.

“If you’re looking at one model you might not be getting the whole picture,” explained Sara Del Valle, Deputy Group Leader for LANL. “But when you’re looking at a compilation of models and all of them agree, it seems like the state is probably doing the best that it can do,” she added. (Full Story)

Is there a deadlier COVID-19 mutation in Venezuela?

Covid research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.  From the Pulitzer Center.

Among the coronavirus mutations so far identified by scientists, the D614G mutation (the same that was found in the three genomes from Venezuelan patients) seems to be the one that has generated more concern. It was first documented on April 30, in a study by a group of scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In this study, the scientists, led by Dr. Bette Korber, looked at mutations affecting the virus’ protein spikes, which are used to recognize and invade the body’s cells. Using data from amino acid changes in the virus’ spike protein, the study shows how the D614G spike mutation quickly became dominant around the world, after being first detected in Italy, on February 20.  (Full Story)

Simulating crash into asteroid reveals its heavy metal psyche

New 2D and 3D computer modeling of impacts on the asteroid Psyche, the largest Main Belt asteroid, indicate it is probably metallic and porous in composition, something like a flying cosmic rubble pile. Knowing this will be critical to NASA’s forthcoming asteroid mission, Psyche: Journey to a Metal World, that launches in 2022.

“This mission will be the first to visit a metallic asteroid, and the more we, the scientific community, know about Psyche prior to launch, the more likely the mission will have the most appropriate tools for examining Psyche and collecting data,” said Wendy K. Caldwell, Los Alamos National Laboratory Chick Keller Postdoctoral Fellow and lead author on a paper published recently in the journal Icarus.  (Full Story)

Another ray gun heads for Mars. We hear It working.

SuperCam mast unit, LANL photo.

First there was ChemCam on Mars rover Curiosity. Now, SuperCam is on its way to the Red Planet aboard Perseverance. We’ll talk with principal investigator Roger Wiens about the new and improved, laser-firing instrument that delivers rock spectra and other science from a distance. SuperCam’s microphone will finally let us listen to the Martian wind and more. Mastcam-Z is right next to SuperCam on the Perseverance mast. You’ve turned it into great acronyms that we’ll share in What’s Up. (Full Story)

Listen up

Los Alamos National Laboratory's seven-series podcast, Mars Technica, explores LANL's role in the Mars Perseverance mission. NASA's new Perseverance rover just began its seven-month journey to Mars, carrying on board the SuperCam, developed at the lab. "SuperCam sits on the rover's mast and has a laser that can zap rocks up to 25 feet away," Roger Wiens, who leads the SuperCam team at LANL, says in a news statement. "It analyzes the chemistry and mineralogy of the rocks on Mars, which can tell us a lot about whether the planet could have once harbored life." (Full Story)

Quantum mechanics is immune to the butterfly effect

Illustration from The Economist.

The “butterfly effect” describes the high sensitivity of many systems to tiny changes in their starting conditions. But while it is a feature of classical physics, it has been unclear whether it also applies to quantum mechanics, which governs the interactions of tiny objects like atoms and fundamental particles.

Bin Yan and Nikolai Sinitsyn, a pair of physicists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, decided to find out. As they report in Physical Review Letters, quantum-mechanical systems seem to be more resilient than classical ones. (Full Story)

Questa High School new class focuses on skilled building trades, partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory

LANL photo.

Described as a "public-private partnership," Questa High School is partnering with Los Alamos National Laboratory, UNM-Taos, New Mexico Building and Construction Trades Council, UA 412 Local Plumbers and Pipefitters and the Questa Economic Development Fund to help make this program a reality.

Los Alamos director Thom Mason said that the labs expect to add around 1,200 skilled craft jobs over the next five years, according to the press release. Mason added that these jobs are critical to the success of the labs. (Full Story)

Also from the Los Alamos Daily Post

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