Friday, June 4, 2021

DNA: The ultimate data-storage solution 

Double helix illustration from SciAm.


In a world flooded with data, figuring out where and how to store it efficiently and inexpensively becomes a larger problem every day. One of the most exotic solutions might turn out to be one of the best: archiving information in DNA molecules.


The work fits well with Los Alamos’ history of pioneering new developments in computing as part of our national security mission. Since the 1940s, as an outcome of those computing advancements, we have amassed some of the oldest and largest stores of digital-only data. It still has tremendous value. Because we keep data forever, we’ve been at the tip of the spear for a long time when it comes to finding a cold-storage solution, but we’re not alone. (Full Story)


Understanding interacting epidemics can unlock better disease forecasts


Simulation shows optimal blocking of epidemics originating from Leeds in the U.K., LANL image.


Epidemiological models took center stage throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing important information about the spread of the virus through communities and the world. A recently developed algorithm aims to improve them by focusing on additional forces critical to spread but too often overlooked.


The new algorithm, developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in collaboration with colleagues from Queen Mary University of London and Aston University in the U.K., accurately forecasts interacting epidemics on structured networks without massive computer simulations. The method uses insights from network methods developed in computer science and statistical physics, carefully exploits the structure of interacting forces, and provides an accurate analytical forecast in a time comparable to a single simulation run. (Full Story)


Companies and government agencies propose nuclear reactors for space


Nuclear powered spaceflight, DARPA illustration.


In 2018 at the Nevada National Security Site, scientists finished tests of the first new US nuclear reactor design in about 40 years. That new device wasn’t a typical reactor. Called Kilopower, it was meant not for use on Earth but for use in space. For a total of 28 hours, the reactor core sustained a controlled chain reaction involving uranium-235. 


Patrick McClure, a Kilopower developer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, believes his technology could help keep an eye on cislunar goings-on: A Kilopower-powered craft could keep a long-lived watch over a large volume of space without relying on the Sun. “In cislunar space, solar power is pretty good,” says McClure’s colleague David Poston, the chief reactor designer. But a reactor doesn’t need to be oriented toward the Sun, and it’s stealthier. (Full Story)


LANL’s Centrifuge Test Facility adds key capability


The Centrifuge Test Facility’s flash X-ray system. LANL photo.


All of the current U.S. nuclear deterrent is composed of weapon systems that are designed to fly, primarily on ballistic missiles, but also carried by aircraft.  Part of the stockpile stewardship mission at Los Alamos National Laboratory is assuring that the weapons will work as designed throughout the “stockpile to target sequence” that includes the flight component.


In order to fulfill this mission, the Laboratory conducts a wide variety of tests at its Centrifuge Test Facility (CTF), a one-of-a-kind capability that can create high-gravity environments like those encountered during missile launch and atmospheric re-entry, for example. Opened in 2016, the CTF has now added flash X-ray radiography to its suite of diagnostic tools. (Full Story)


Sen. Luján tours Los Alamos and Sandia national labs, highlights need to pass U.S. Innovation & Competition Act


Sen. Luján, from the Daily Post.


U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján today toured Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories and met with Lab leaders to discuss the importance of passing the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.


At Los Alamos, Sen. Luján stopped by the Office of Science Biological and Environmental Research, Earth and Environmental Systems Science Division to discuss the Lab’s efforts to address the climate crisis and improve carbon capture. Sen. Luján also visited LANL’s Regional Workforce Development Office to discuss the partnerships and job pipelines created to support local workforce development throughout the region. (Full Story)


Also from Albuquerque Business First


Carol J. Burns named Deputy Director for Research for Berkeley Lab


Burns, LANL photo.


Carol J. Burns has been named Deputy Director for Research for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, effective August 1. In this role, she will develop, implement, and steward Berkeley Lab’s research enterprise and serve as the Lab’s chief research liaison with key stakeholders, primarily the DOE Office of Science, the University of California, and the other national labs. 


Burns brings more than 25 years of scientific leadership experience in a national laboratory setting. In prior roles at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), she managed organizations conducting work from very early-stage research to operational programs. (Full Story)


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