Friday, September 4, 2020

A collaboration designed to beat COVID-19

Los Alamos Director Thom Mason, LANL photo.

As COVID-19 began to spread throughout the United States, New Mexico’s public health agencies, national laboratories and health care organizations were already strategizing ways to effectively stem the spread when it reached our state.

One such example is the partnership between the New Mexico state government, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Presbyterian Healthcare Services to understand disease spread within the state, develop accurate disease forecasts, estimate demand on the health care system and allocate resources accordingly. (Full Story)

Also from the Albuquerque Journal and the Los Alamos Daily Post

Los Alamos scientists help NASA with asteroid mission

A simulation created at Los Alamos National Laboratory could help NASA on a mission to an asteroid – an asteroid that could hold a lot of answers to how our solar system formed. 

The asteroid Psyche ... orbits between Mars and Jupiter and is about 120 miles across – or about the size of Massachusetts. Scientists believe it was formed during the early years of our solar system.

"Because it's thought to be mostly metallic that tells us it very well could've been part of a planet that got blown apart before it got formed completely," said Wendy Caldwell, a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

A new Los Alamos National Lab podcast looks at the tech behind NASA’s mission to Mars

Jackie Lopez-Barlow, LANL photo.

Jackie Lopez-Barlow was recently featured in LANL's new seven-episode limited series podcast, Mars Technica, which explores the science and technical equipment in play for NASA's 2020 Perseverance Rover mission, and the scientists behind the gear. That spacecraft set off at the end of July for Mars, where it will drill and collect samples of Martian rock and soil for future analysis to examine signs of past life on Mars and perform various tests to determine habitability for future astronauts.

The RTG basically acts as a nuclear battery, using heat from the natural radioactive decay of plutonium-238 to generate electricity. NASA has been using RTGs to power space vehicles since the early 1960s as a long-lasting power source, given that solar power isn't always reliable when one is far from the sun or in environments with dust storms. (Full Story)

What could desert rocks tell us about life on Mars?

“Living microbes play a role in forming rock varnish on Earth—one we don’t fully understand yet—so maybe they play a role in forming rock varnish on Mars, too,” said Nina Lanza, a Los Alamos National Laboratory planetary scientist and member of the team that developed SuperCam, which is on its way to Mars aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover. 

“We know that microbes in varnish are well suited to the martian environment. They can repair radiation damage to their DNA and tolerate extreme temperatures, and they need only a trace of water vapor to survive. Because Mars is cold, dry, and bombarded by solar radiation, these traits make rock varnish an interesting place to look for a signature of life on Mars.” (Full Story)

Also from the Reporter this week:

Carol Burns receives ACS Francis P. Garvan‒John M. Olin Medal

Carol Burns, LANL photo.

Carol Burns, executive officer for the Deputy Director for Science, Technology & Engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was selected as the recipient of the 2021 American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Francis P. Garvan‒John M. Olin Medal. This national award recognizes distinguished service in the field of chemistry by female chemists.

“Carol has been a leader not only in her field of chemistry as well as all of science, technology and engineering but also as a mentor, role model and inspiration to the next generation of women scientists for many years,” said John Sarrao, deputy director for Science, Technology & Engineering at Los Alamos. “This is a very well-deserved award.” (Full Story)

Los Alamos takes new HPE Apollo 80 system on a test drive

HPE Apollo 80 server, from HPCwire.

Los Alamos National Laboratory recently began using HPE Apollo 80 Systems from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) that feature Fujitsu A64FX Arm processors for evaluation of some of the most demanding physical simulation workloads in the world.

“Analysis of these new system is just one example of the Laboratory’s commitment to seeking the very best products and tools available for our mission,” said Steve Poole, senior scientist at Los Alamos. (Full Story)

Artificial intelligence needs sleep for efficient working

Image from Analytics Insight.

Just like Human Beings, continuous work can render any object, instrument and system to lose its focus, while performing the task. It not only makes them disoriented; incapable to deliver the desired results, but long hours of work without any residue of rest can also affect their performance. As a result, the tasks which can be accomplished in short duration of time, would require long hours of slogging with a compromise over the quality of work. 

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory observed that continuous period of unsupervised learning renders the neural networks to become unstable. Hence, to rectify this issue, the researchers developed a neural network that would approximate the activities of the brain, by exposing the networks to an artificial analog of sleep for stabilizing it. (Full Story)

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