Friday, July 30, 2021

Vaccination from the misinformation virus

 “Vaccination from the Misinformation Virus,” a one-hour documentary, explores how important and safe vaccines are, how crucial they are to community health and how they save millions of lives annually. Hear from infectious disease experts, epidemiologists, pharmacists, physicians and academics with expertise in misinformation as well as health disparities.


Our lifespan for most of human history is short. We had 40 years if we were lucky and 40% to 45% of kids, depending on the era of history, died before the age of 5. So the idea that we get these long lives … we can expect to see our children grow up. This is a gift of science.” Bette Korber, PhD Computational Biologist and Biophysicist Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)




New vaccines may use AI to hit a moving target

Most of the vaccines are using antigens (a protein that creates antibodies) that target the coronavirus’s infamous spike protein. If a mutation changes the virus’s spike, it could dramatically lower the efficacy of the vaccine. 


Some viruses mutate so quickly, they’re currently impossible to vaccinate against — HIV, for instance.


“They’re designed to optimally cover diversity, in terms of how the immune cells see the virus,” says Bette Korber, a theoretical biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a pioneer in HIV vaccines. Her original design, known as a mosaic antigen, was developed to try to combat HIV. (Full Story)




LANL debuts new hazmat robot

Los Alamos National Lab has a unique new robot to handle dangerous situations. “There’s no other robot on the market that can do what this robot can do, which is why we were so excited to get our hands on it,” said LANL hazmat specialist Charles Gibson.


The robot keeps the hazmat team from having to go near dangerous chemicals and radiological waste. The team can manipulate the robot to open doors then carefully handle dangerous materials. All while crews control it in a truck using a joystick. (Full Story)




Tuning quantum light in both time and space

A metasurface induces color-spin-path quantum entanglement, LANL graphic.


Being able to rapidly manipulate the quantum properties of photons using compact, chip-based devices could enhance or open up a raft of technological applications, from high-speed quantum communications to novel forms of propulsion.


That is the vision of scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA, who have devised a new type of quantum-based metasurface that can continuously tune light–matter interactions in space and time. The researchers have shown that such metasurfaces could allow single photons to be entangled on demand, or could convert photons in the quantum vacuum from virtual particles into real ones. (Full Story)




 Magnetic monopoles


Magnetic monopoles in a superconducting quantum annealer.  LANL image


Using D-Wave’s quantum-annealing computer, Los Alamos National Laboratory has shown that it’s possible to isolate magnetic monopoles. This research could one day enable future nanomagnets.


D-Wave develops a quantum annealer, a technology that solves optimization problems. For example, if you have a problem with many combinations, a quantum annealing system searches for the best of many possible combinations. (Full Story)




Faces & places


Rian Bahran, LANL photo.

Rian Bahran, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist on assignment in Washington, D.C., has received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service.


Bahran was recognized for his contributions as a senior science and policy adviser for nuclear deterrence policy from January 2019 to May 2020 and a special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for policy from May 2020 to this June. (Full Story)

Friday, July 23, 2021

In order to prevent another pandemic, LANL scientist looks to the sky

It’s been nearly two years since COVID-19 jumped from bats to humans, resulting in a large-scale pandemic. Los Alamos National Laboratory is trying to get a head start on the next threat. Pandemic experts said the next world-changing virus will likely come from the sky. "What we're doing is focusing on the 'how,' so we can better predict the 'when,'" said Jeanne Fair, a researcher with Los Alamos National Lab. Fair is one of the scientists helping to lead a new international project that aims to keep bird flu with the birds.


"So we've heard about bird flu for almost about two decades or more," Fair said. "So the bird flu came from wild birds and then was into the poultry. We were concerned about that because it was considered a zoonotic disease, meaning it's in the wild birds, agricultural animals like poultry, and then also humans." (Full Story)


Cosmic challenge: protecting supercomputers from an extraterrestrial threat


Cosmic rays can also alter data in supercomputers, which often causes them to crash. It’s a growing concern, especially as this year could see the first “exascale” computer – able to calculate more than 1018 operations per second. 


Fortunately, those who work in the small but crucial field of computer resilience take these threats seriously. “We are like the canary in the coal mine, we’re out in front, studying what is happening,” says Nathan DeBardeleben, senior research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US. At the lab’s Neutron Science Centre, he carries out “cosmic stress-tests” on electronic components, exposing them to a beam of neutrons to simulate the effect of cosmic rays. (Full Story)


A deep dive on the US’ nuclear weapons testing tunnel


Tunnel at the underground U1a facility, NNSS photo.


Beginning in 2014, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – who must certify annually the viability of deployed nuclear weapons – jointly identified a capability gap existed in understanding changes that could be taking place in plutonium that are key in triggering thermonuclear weapons. In 2016, the JASON Defense Advisory Group, another team of key scientific advisors, confirmed, “A gap exists in the current U.S. capability to carry out and diagnose such [subcritical] experiments.”


In 2019, LANL Senior Director Dave Funk told a group, “By adding world-class diagnostics to the U1a facility in Nevada –the only place in the nation where we can couple plutonium with high explosives –we close an important capability gap.” (Full Story)


What can 3D printing offer surgeons? Biosensors to improve safety


Researchers attached the biosensor to a pig heart obtained commercially. LANL Purdue photo.


The job of a surgeon is a complicated one, requiring careful steps, precise movements, and the constant monitoring of tissues and organs to ensure a successful outcome.


Now researchers want to make it easier by creating flexible biosensors that can help surgeons record the activity of biological tissue and organs during procedures to keep better track of the critical areas of the body on which they are working.


A research team from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Purdue University have created bioinks for biosensors that are biocompatible and have a working time frame of more than one day. (Full Story)


Also from Laser Focus World


New quantum research gives insights into how quantum light can be mastered


A metasurface induces color-spin-path quantum entanglement, LANL graphic.


team of scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory propose that modulated quantum metasurfaces can control all properties of photonic qubits, a breakthrough that could impact the fields of quantum information, communications, sensing and imaging, as well as energy and momentum harvesting. The results of their study were released yesterday in the journal Physical Review Letters, published by the American Physical Society.


"People have studied classical metasurfaces for a long time," says Diego Dalvit, who works in the Condensed Matter and Complex Systems group at the Laboratory's Theoretical Division. "But we came up with this new idea, which was to modulate in time and space the optical properties of a quantum metasurface that allow us to manipulate, on-demand, all degrees of freedom of a single photon, which is the most elementary unit of light." (Full Story)


Also from AZO Quantum



D-Wave quantum-annealing computer enables ‘materials by design’ research at LANL


Magnetic monopoles in a superconducting quantum annealer.  LANL image


Using a D-Wave quantum-annealing computer as a testbed, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have shown that it is possible to isolate so-called emergent magnetic monopoles, a class of quasiparticles, creating a new approach to developing “materials by design.”


“We wanted to study emergent magnetic monopoles by exploiting the collective dynamics of qubits,” said Cristiano Nisoli, a lead Los Alamos author of the study. “Magnetic monopoles, as elementary particles with only one magnetic pole, have been hypothesized by many, and famously by Dirac, but have proved elusive so far.” (Full Story)


Also from the Los Alamos Daily Post


Facilities investments loom large for Exascale sites


Cooling towers for the Exascale Class Computer Cooling Equipment Project, LANL photo.


Consider Los Alamos National Laboratory with an existing large fleet of classified and unclassified systems housed at its Strategic Computing Center. The lab already has a pre-exascale machine, Trinity, in the facility and will soon be adding an actual exascale-capable machine, the Crossroads supercomputer, which will be around four times more powerful than Trinity.


Getting ready for Crossroads from a power and cooling standpoint has taken massive investment, around $100 million projected in 2018 when the budget request was placed. The project is now complete, earning an award this week from the U.S. Secretary of Energy for finishing the revamp ten months early and $20 million under budget. (Full Story)


Scientists study low-radiation impacts on organisms at WIPP


NMSU scientist Hugh Castillo working underground at WIPP, LANL photo.


48,000-pound vault was lowered into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s underground salt mine in 2009.


Geoffrey Smith, a biology professor at New Mexico State University, working in tandem with Los Alamos National Laboratory, intended to use the vault in the WIPP underground to study the impacts of extremely low-levels of radiation on a variety of organisms.


Another goal is to train students in conducting the research, including many from Carlsbad. “It’s critical to us that the people involved in this are right here in the community,” said Doug Weaver, program director at Los Alamos National Laboratories Carlsbad. (Full Story)


Oberon, Los Alamos produce hydrogen fuel


Hydrogen filling station of the future, Oberon image.


Oberon Fuels has teamed up with Los Alamos National Laboratory to create a new way to distribute hydrogen fuel for the tanks of futuristic vehicles. The U.S. Department of Energy lab and the privately held company are each putting $1.5 million into the effort.


Rather than transport hydrogen to the corner fuel station for distribution, the joint Oberon-Los Alamos effort seeks to build technology that would let a fuel retailer transport DME to a filling station and store it onsite. (Full Story)



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