Friday, September 3, 2021

Understanding pyrocumulonimbi, aka ‘Fire Clouds’


Fire cloud south of Canberra, Australia. Photo from SciAm.


With a goal of refining and calibrating computer models for wildfire and climate, we are studying pyrocumulonimbus clouds from the B.C. and Australia fires at several scales, from the molecules in the hot gases of a fire, to how the blaze moves across a specific landscape, to how smoke evolves in the atmosphere, and finally to how smoke travels around the glove. Our work also includes laboratory experiments and field observations about smoke gathered by our Center of Aerosol-gas Forensic Experiments (CAFÉ), where we study black-carbon emissions and their mixing with organic gases from fire. (Full Story)


Plenty of evidence for recombination in SARS-CoV-2


Early on in the pandemic, research suggested recombination likely played a pivotal role in SARS-CoV-2’s emergence as a human pathogen. In a study published in July 2020, for instance, Bette Korber, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and colleagues reported that a portion of the receptor binding domain of SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein—the part of the spike that directly interacts with the ACE2 receptor that the virus uses to gain entry into cells—came from recombination with pangolin coronaviruses.


It’s no surprise, then, that the virus continued to recombine after it began infecting people. “It should be happening because it’s a very important evolutionary mechanism for these viruses,” explains Korber. At the same time, she adds, “quantifying how much it’s there can be tricky because . . . it’s computationally not easy to look at vast data sets,” and the search can be confounded by genetic changes that can come about in the lab. (Full Story)


Predicting mosquito populations before a surge


At Los Alamos National Laboratory, we’re studying mosquito populations to understand how they grow, how they change with the seasons and, in particular, how they spread infectious diseases to humans and other animals. The goal is to create a computer-based model that will accurately simulate mosquito populations based on data about precipitation, temperature, water levels and other environmental factors in a given area, so people will know ahead of time about an increased risk of disease transmission.


For this project, we’re looking specifically at West Nile virus, which birds transmit to humans via mosquitoes. We analyzed 15 years of data from several different locations in the United States and Canada, making it one of the largest modeling studies of mosquito populations over time ever conducted. Previous studies have looked at temperature and precipitation, but this is the first to use stream. (Full Story)


Paving the path to electrically-pumped lasers from colloidal-quantum-dot solutions


Colloidal quantum dot diodes can be created on the laboratory benchtop, LANL graphic.


In a new review article in Nature Photonics, scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory assess the status of research into colloidal quantum dot lasers with a focus on prospective electrically pumped devices, or laser diodes. The review analyzes the challenges for realizing lasing with electrical excitation, discusses approaches to overcome them, and surveys recent advances toward this objective.


"Colloidal quantum dot lasers have tremendous potential in a range of applications, including integrated optical circuits, wearable technologies, lab-on-a-chip devices, and advanced medical imaging and diagnostics," said Victor Klimov, a senior researcher in the Chemistry division at Los Alamos and lead author of the cover article in Nature Photonics. (Full Story)


Also from PhysOrg this week:


A shock-induced mechanism for the creation of organic molecules


Erik Watkins inside the Matter in Extreme Conditions/Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC.  LANL photo.


Complex carbon-based molecules are everywhere in the Cosmos.  How many of these molecules are formed is still something of a mystery, particularly for carbon molecules formed by nature on primordial Earth that gave rise to life on this planet.


Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, using a laser-driven compression technique and x-ray diffraction interrogation at the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) facility in California, have recently discovered a mechanism for the formation of complex carbon sheet-shaped solid molecules in liquid benzene, a common hydrocarbon, that could unravel some of the carbon formation mystery. (Full Story)


Also from the Los Alamos Reporter


DOE/NNSA leader visits LANL, praises mission dedication and perseverance during COVID-19


Jill Hruby Thursday during a tour at Technical Area 55, LANL photo.


Recently confirmed Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration Jill Hruby lauded the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and praised several significant infrastructure improvements in an address to all employees and Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Los Alamos Field Office staff on Aug. 26. She also touted the Lab’s dedication to mission delivery and discussed her top priorities for Los Alamos as the new NNSA administrator.


“We are fortunate to have support at the highest levels of government for three simultaneous mission priorities — science, product and infrastructure — across all three of NNSA’s portfolios: nuclear weapons stockpile management, nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactors,” Hruby said to an audience of about 50 at the Lab. (Full Story)


Also from the Reporter this week:


LANL team brings expertise in atmospheric aerosols to new snowpack study


LANL’s EES ARM project manager Heath Powers, left, sets up SAIL radiometers with technician Wessley King. Photo by David Chu


team from Los Alamos National Laboratory is about to launch research high in the Colorado Rockies that will help demystify water availability and support predictions across the arid West. 


Los Alamos is supporting the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement’s (ARM’s) Surface Atmosphere Integrated Field Laboratory (SAIL) campaign that kicks off September 1 near Crested Butte. SAIL will collect data from the East River Watershed in the Upper Colorado River Basin. The Los Alamos team will oversee the SAIL observatory for this period, which ends in June 2023. (Full Story)



LANL’s test launch successful, begins 5 years of data collection


Scientists from Los Alamos are testing suborbital satellites at Spaceport America. The Los Alamos National Laboratory partnered with UP Aerospace in Colorado for an experimental launch last month.


They sent an 800-pound rocket more than 60 miles into the atmosphere at six times the speed of sound. The rocket sends back flight diagnostics, like temperature and acceleration which will be used to develop national security technology. (Full Story)


Investors and scientists converge at 2021 DisrupTECH


Kirti Bhardwaj and Ian Cummings are winners of 2021 DisrupTECH awards.


Cutting-edge technologies including more comfortable radiation therapy, ultrasonic aerospace testing, and advancements in hydrogen fuel cells were among 13 presentations to investors made by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) scientists as part of the 2021 DisrupTECH event.


“The technology, medicine, and public-safety projects presented at DisrupTECH are compelling innovations and a great outcome of the Laboratory’s mission-focused work,” LANL Director Thom Mason said. “I look forward to widespread use of these innovations in New Mexico and beyond.” (Full Story)


Also from Albuquerque Business First



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