Friday, January 29, 2021

How to see in the dark—and why we need to

Satellite images of the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh after Myanmar government attacks, ESA image.


At Los Alamos National Laboratory, we analyzed public SAR data from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite acquired during 2017 and 2018 in north Rakhine to detect the government’s demolition of Rohingya villages conducted in the wake of the August 2017 attacks. 


Since typical Rohingya villages consist of thatched-roof houses surrounded by palm trees, we used a simple change-detection algorithm to detect deforestation at the locations of villages. That allowed us to identify land being cleared at the locations of destroyed villages, which supported reports of government forces’ methods to erase any trace of the villages. (Full Story)


Are visualizations the future of science?


As supercomputers expand the ability to combine complex models, these scientific visualizations will play an increasingly crucial role in science itself. Because as the questions posed grow more complex – whether that’s a potential meteor strike or melting ice shelves.


John Patchett is a staff scientist in the Information Sciences group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he does research in data science at scale, large-scale visualization and analysis, data-parallelism, and in-situ visualization and analysis. (Full Story)


Science and plastics: Solutions for pollution in the works


The wasteful habits of humans are harming the planet. That’s without dispute. One of the worst offenders is the worldwide glut of plastics — with millions of tons polluting oceans and land across the globe.


Solutions might be in the works, courtesy of science. And Los Alamos National Laboratory is helping lead the charge ... the initiative is called BOTTLE for Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment and aims to find ways to use enzymes to break down plastics and, at the same time, create recyclable plastics to stop making the problem bigger. (Full Story)

New “Fast Forward” algorithm could unleash the power of quantum computers


new algorithm that fast forwards simulations could bring greater use ability to current and near-term quantum computers, opening the way for applications to run past strict time limits that hamper many quantum calculations.


“Quantum computers have a limited time to perform calculations before their useful quantum nature, which we call coherence, breaks down,” said Andrew Sornborger of the Computer, Computational, and Statistical Sciences division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and senior author on a paper announcing the research. “With a new algorithm we have developed and tested, we will be able to fast forward quantum simulations to solve problems that were previously out of reach.” (Full Story)


Also from Brinkwire

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Dana Dattelbaum wins prestigious 2020 E.O. Lawrence Award


Dattelbaum, LANL photo.


Dana Dattelbaum of Los Alamos National Laboratory is a recipient of the Department of Energy’s prestigious E.O. Lawrence award for 2020.


Dattelbaum is honored for “several transformative scientific and intellectual achievements, including her pioneering work providing physical insights into shock and detonation physics, her innovations in the development of the Equations of State of a spectrum of energetics and polymers, and providing critical data for hydrodynamic simulations essential to the nuclear weapons program,” according to the DOE announcement made earlier this month.


“Dana’s outstanding contributions to the Laboratory’s core mission have significantly advanced our fundamental knowledge of the science of detonation, shock physics, and capabilities needed for our weapons systems,” Laboratory Director Thom Mason said. (Full Story)

Bring on the burn


Pacheco Canyon fire, SF National Forest photo.


Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are studying how the future climate will impact ideal prescribed burn conditions. And they're developing tools that could help fire managers on the ground plan for even safer and more effective prescribed burns.


Alex Jonko, a scientist at LANL engaged in both climate and fire research, says changes in the climate might lead forest managers to conduct many more burns in the winter in coming years—including the types of broadcast burns that are usually conducted in the spring and fall. Jonko uses modeling to understand long-term trends in climate data and the kinds of changes that are likely to occur in the future. (Full Story) 


Forests with diverse tree sizes and small clearings hinder wildland fire growth


Wildfires are becoming more prolific and devastating, NPS photo.


new 3D analysis shows that wildland fires flare up in forests populated by similar-sized trees or checkerboarded by large clearings and slow down where trees are more varied. The research can help fire managers better understand the physics and dynamics of fire to improve fire-behavior forecasts.


“We knew fuel arrangement affected fire but we didn’t know how,” said Adam Atchley, lead author on a Los Alamos National Laboratory-led study published today in the International Journal of Wildland Fire. “Traditional models that represent simplified fuel structures can’t account for complex wind and varied fire response to actual forest conditions. (Full Story)


Also from the LA Reporter this week:


Newly identified tiny mineral named for Los Alamos and UW scientists


Newly named mineral, xuite, LANL photo.


vanishingly tiny mineral is being named for two scientists who have revolutionized the analysis of mineral samples. Xuite (pronounced “zoo-ite”), the newest member of the nano-mineral pantheon, is named in honor of Los Alamos National Laboratory mineralogist Hongwu Xu and the University of Wisconsin’s Huifang Xu.


“It is a wonderful honor to see a new mineral named for Hongwu Xu and his colleague Huifang Xu. The rare mineral, which typically forms in cooling lavas and scorias, is a member of the garnet group of minerals,” said Terry Wallace, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, who is also a noted geologist. (Full Story)


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