Friday, January 22, 2021

COVID-19: What do we know about the new coronavirus variant?


Image from MNT.


Recently, global media has been abuzz with news and speculation about a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19


One of the most widely talked about mutations has resulted in the D614G variant. Research by Dr. Bette Korber, from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, and colleagues suggests that this change allows the variant to infect people more easily.


The team’s data indicate that people with the D614G variant of the virus may have higher levels of viral RNA than people with the original variant. But no evidence indicates that this causes more severe COVID-19. (Full Story)


Ten computer codes that transformed science: Preprint powerhouse - (1991)


Submissions can exceed 15,000 per month, graphic from Nature.


In the late 1980s, high-energy physicists routinely sent physical copies of their submitted manuscripts to colleagues by post for comment and as a courtesy — but only to a select few. “Those lower in the food chain relied on the beneficence of those on the A-list, and aspiring researchers at non-elite institutions were frequently out of the privileged loop entirely,” wrote physicist Paul Ginsparg in 20117.


In 1991, Ginsparg, then at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, wrote an e-mail autoresponder to level the playing field. Subscribers received daily lists of preprints, each associated with an article identifier. With a single e-mail, users across the world could submit or retrieve an article from the lab’s computer system, get lists of new articles or search by author or title. (Full Story)


Garbage to Gas


Monte Del Sol biodigester, from the SF Reporter


Ateam of Monte del Sol students won $4,500 in December in the New Mexico Governor's STEM Challenge for their "garbage to gas" biodigester project.  Because of technical problems with a prototype and challenges posed by COVID-19, the team didn't achieve the exact outcome they were aiming for ... but the experience taught them that getting something right the first time may not always be as valuable as the ability to problem-solve and the willingness to keep trying.


Benigno Sandoval, a mechanical engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory who served as one of the judges in the competition, tells SFR the students' tenacity in the face of the setbacks helped them win the prize. (Full Story)


Chemistry and Metallurgy facility replacement subproject at LANL completed ahead of schedule, under budget


Technical Area 55, LANL photo.


The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Facility Replacement (CMRR) Project completed construction and turnover activities for the Plutonium Facility (PF-4) Equipment Installation Phase 1 (PEI-1) Subproject at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) on Jan. 8.


This capital line item is a crucial step in relocating analytical chemistry and material characterization capabilities into the TA-55 PF-4 facility at LANL. The subproject was completed 15 months ahead of schedule and $110 million under budget, marking another major milestone for CMRR. (Full Story)



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