Friday, May 14, 2021

Forget herd immunity! Winter COVID surges will bring lockdowns, travel bans, crammed ICU

Bette Korber, LANL photo.


To attribute the uncertainty about the next year or two of the pandemic to this or that variant is to miss the complex and dynamic nature of our battle with the virus.  The important question is, which ones should we worry about?


Answering that question falls in part to Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico. Prior to the pandemic, she worked for decades on AIDS, the ailment caused by HIV, a virus that mutates far more readily than SARS2; a result of these efforts is an AIDS vaccine now in clinical trials. When the pandemic struck, Korber put her retirement plans on hold and instead now works long days sifting through the influx of SARS2 genomes. (Full Story)


Quantum machine learning hits a limit, LANL research shows


Information run through a scrambler reaches a point where nothing can unscramble it.  LANL image.


new theorem from the field of quantum machine learning has poked a major hole in the accepted understanding about information scrambling. “Our theorem implies that we are not going to be able to use quantum machine learning to learn typical random or chaotic processes, such as black holes. In this sense, it places a fundamental limit on the learnability of unknown processes,” said Zoe Holmes, a post-doc at Los Alamos National Laboratory and coauthor of the paper describing the work published today in Physical Review Letters.


“Thankfully, because most physically interesting processes are sufficiently simple or structured so that they do not resemble a random process, the results don’t condemn quantum machine learning, but rather highlight the importance of understanding its limits,” Holmes said. (Full Story)


Also from Science Daily


LANL scientists explain why sounds are different on Mars


What would a person’s voice sound like on another planet? Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory recently got to find out.


“Sounds sound different on Mars,” said planetary scientist Nina Lanza. “The air on Mars is really different than the air on Earth, so it vibrates really differently. The air on Mars is a lot less dense and it’s made entirely of carbon dioxide.”


The SuperCam onboard the Mars rover Perseverance has a microphone, which has been used to record wind and the rover moving around. However, Lanza also got to hear her own voice projected on the red planet. The SuperCam was developed at Los Alamos. (Full Story)


Artificial intelligence helps solve the most complex problems beneath our feet


Cascadia region of the Northwest. LANL image.


We haven’t yet reached the point where machines can think for themselves. So when we speak of artificial intelligence, or AI, it’s about the capacity for computer algorithms to take in massive amounts of data and uncertainty and then identify patterns, learn from those patterns, and make predictions thousands of times faster than a human can.


Los Alamos National Laboratory applied AI to (acoustic wave data) and discovered it was hiding a trove of information about seismic behavior and earthquakes. For instance, two years ago, a Los Alamos study trained an AI algorithm on slow slips along the Cascadia subduction zone in the Pacific Northwest. (Full Story)


Antarctica remains the wild card for sea-level rise estimates


Antarctic ice. 


massive collaborative research project covered in the journal Nature this week offers projections to the year 2100 of future sea-level rise from all sources of land ice, offering the most complete projections created to date.


“This work synthesizes improvements over the last decade in climate models, ice sheet and glacier models, and estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions,” said Stephen Price, one of the Los Alamos scientists on the project. “More than 85 researchers from various disciplines, including our team at Los Alamos National Laboratory, produced sea-level rise projections based on the most recent computer models developed within the scientific community and updated scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions,” said Price. (Full Story)


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