Thursday, December 24, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic news


Bette Korber on CNN.


Why is it evolving slowly, or why is it good news? 


Korber:  It has a proofreading mechanism when it copies itself. It proofreads. Not all viruses have that. HIV doesn't have that. So it is evolving. It changes its amino acids and its proteins and its genetic material slowly, and there's -- this is good news for a vaccine because you put in a copy of some part of the virus, the spike protein, that little bit that sticks off the coronavirus is what people are using. If that is not changing much, then the vaccine is going to look like the viruses out in the world. So when you make an antibody response to that or an immune response, that antibody response will carry over and recognition the other variants that are out in the world, is the hope. (Full Story)



Los Alamos study hopes to characterize and optimize ventilator treatment for Covid-19


Mathematical visualization shows the velocity of air entering the lungs from a high-frequency pulsating ventilator, LANL image.


Researchers, using some of the same modeling and experimental techniques from the Laboratory’s nuclear weapons mission, are working to discover the underlying science and engineering principles behind this process and have developed a preliminary machine learning algorithm that could someday assist pulmonary doctors in treating Covid-19 patients with IPV.


"People who have contracted the SARS-Cov2 virus may develop respiratory distress in which their lungs fill with mucus as a response to the viral infection.  As the lungs fill with mucus, the person may ultimately require mechanical ventilation," said John Bernardin, principal investigator for the project in the Laboratory's Mechanical and Thermal Engineering group. (Full Story)


Distributing December’s most anticipated new release – The COVID-19 vaccine


Graphic from the Reporter.


At Los Alamos, scientists are using mathematical models and computational simulations enabled by LANL’s supercomputing capabilities to understand how best to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to minimize impacts on the healthcare system and the overall population. This information can help decision makers determine which mitigation strategies to implement and how to safely reopen various parts of the community as the vaccine is rolled out.


To understand the different outcomes based on how the vaccine will be distributed, researchers are looking at various what-if scenarios. (Full Story)


Also from the Reporter this week:


Groundbreaking software helps tame blazes


Sara Brambilla demonstrates QUIC-Fire, LANL image.


Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers and their collaborators invented QUIC-Fire to meet that need. The team included researchers in the Earth and Environmental Sciences and Analytics, Intelligence, and Technology divisions at Los Alamos along with partners at the United States Forest Service and Tall Timbers Research Station.


This near real-time simulation software offers 3D modeling of fire progression that incorporates critical influences: 3D vegetation structure, variable winds, and complex topography. QUIC-Fire’s most important capability is running on a laptop, offering mobility and rapid information for fire managers. (Full Story)




Garbage to gas: Using biodigesters to create energy wins 2020 New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge


Student scientists at Monte del Sol Charter School earned a $4,500 cash prize awarded by Los Alamos National Laboratory judges in the New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge with their project, “Garbage to Gas: Using Biodigesters to Create Energy.”


“The STEM Challenge’s team-based approach of applying science, technology, engineering and math to address real needs is a microcosm of what we do at the Laboratory every day,” said Laboratory Director Thom Mason. “I congratulate the teachers and student scientists of Monte del Sol Charter School and thank our partners for organizing this innovative contest.” (Full Story)


New calculation of the Hubble Constant


Collision of two neutron stars, from SciTech Daily.


Acombination of astrophysical measurements has allowed researchers to put new constraints on the radius of a typical neutron star and provide a novel calculation of the Hubble constant that indicates the rate at which the universe is expanding.


“We studied signals that came from various sources, for example recently observed mergers of neutron stars,” said Ingo Tews, a theorist in Nuclear and Particle Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)


Also from Space Daily


New radionuclide enables PET imaging of targeted alpha cancer therapies


Cerium-134 enables clinicians to visualize the therapeutic effects of actinium and thorium on cancer in the body through PET imaging, LANL image.


Scientists in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Isotope Program have developed a radionuclide that enables PET imaging of actinium and thorium, alpha emitters used for cancer therapy. 


“This advancement offers new possibilities for medical staff and drug developers to better characterize new actinium and thorium therapeutics,” said Stosh Kozimor, lead Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher on the joint project with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California, and the University of Wisconsin, in statement. (Full Story)


NNSA successfully removes radioactive samples from Lovelace Biomedical Research Institute


Following this successful transfer, NNSA and LANL will recommend to either re-use the materials or identify a final disposition strategy for the removed samples. Until a final decision is made, the materials are being stored safely and securely.


“The success of the Lovelace project depended on technical ability; close collaboration at the local, state, and federal level; and careful attention to nuclear and worker safety regulations,” said Thom Mason, Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. “I congratulate everyone involved for a safe, smooth effort.” (Full Story)



Employee holiday gift drive raises $58,000 and buys more than 2,500 gifts

Los Alamos National Laboratory is teaming up with local nonprofits to distribute holiday gifts bought with record-breaking employee donations. Partners include organizations like Barrios Unidos, Gerard’s House, Help NM, and New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department.


“It is heartwarming to see such an outpouring of generosity in a year when many of our neighbors across Northern New Mexico are facing added hardship,” said Thom Mason, Laboratory director. “I am grateful the Laboratory has joined efforts with our community partners to make the holidays a little brighter for people in the region.” (Full Story)


Procurement at Los Alamos National Laboratory goes digital


Kelly Beierschmitt, LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is taking action to make it easier for New Mexico businesses to contract with it by upgrading to a new procurement software system.


In FY2019, the Laboratory spent more than $396 million in procurement and contracts in New Mexico. Of that $269 million was with the small business community and the Lab is striving to increase those numbers year after year, LANL Deputy Director of Operations Kelly Beierschmitt said in a recorded message during last week’s virtual community conversation. (Full Story)



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