Thursday, December 9, 2021

LANL scientist aids hunt for cancer cure


Patrick Chain.


A potential melanoma-fighting compound has been discovered in the sea floor near Antarctica by a team that included a scientist from Los Alamos National Laboratory.


In new research published Wednesday in the journal mSphere, Patrick Chain, a senior scientist and Laboratory Fellow at LANL, and researchers from the University of South Florida and the Desert Research Institute, “successfully traced a naturally produced melanoma-fighting compound called ‘palmerolide A’ to its source: a microbe” that lives in an underwater species called an ascidian, known as a “sea squirt.” The species is common to the Antarctic waters of the Anvers Island archipelago, LANL said in a news release.


Palmerolide A” is a toxin that can specifically damage melanoma cells.


Chain, 48, is with the Bioscience Division at LANL. He did not go to Antarctica for the research but hopes to join a future exploration. (Full story)


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Physical features boost the efficiency of quantum simulations

New theoretical research lays the groundwork for robust

quantum algorithms when large-scale quantum computers

become available. Image credit: Dreamstime.


Recent theoretical breakthroughs have settled two long-standing questions about the viability of simulating quantum systems on future quantum computers, overcoming challenges from complexity analyses to enable more advanced algorithms. Featured in two publications, the work by a quantum team at Los Alamos National Laboratory shows that physical properties of quantum systems allow for faster simulation techniques.


"Algorithms based on this work will be needed for the first full-scale demonstration of quantum simulations on quantum computers," said Rolando Somma, a quantum theorist at Los Alamos and coauthor on the two papers.


The paper "Hamiltonian simulation in the low-energy subspace" demonstrates that the complexity of a quantum simulation algorithm depends on the relevant energy scale and not the full range of energies of the system, as previously thought. In fact, some quantum systems can have states of unbounded energies, hence simulations would prove intractable even on large quantum computers. (Full story)





This federal scientist developed something you can’t see but will help the electrical grid


Ensuring resiliency and efficiency of the electrical grid, it’s a top national security concern. Keeping the grid top notch will take more than wires. It’ll take algorithms. My next guest, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, developed an algorithm that won the top prize in a competition, staged by the Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy. Doctor Hassan Hijazi joined the Federal Drive with Tom Temin to talk about it. (Full story)





New Los Alamos program supports opportunities for Indigenous women in physics


Astrid Morreale, researcher at Los Alamos,

co-principal investigator on the project.


A newly funded program at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in collaboration with Fort Lewis College, supports undergraduate Indigenous women interested in a career in physics. Offered to two women per year majoring in physics at Fort Lewis College, the program aims to build a pipeline of talent from the undergraduate level in the Four Corners region to graduate programs and eventual careers in physics, including at national laboratories such as Los Alamos.


“Indigenous women are the most underrepresented group in physics degree completion and careers, and we’re in a region where the demographics are heavily Native American,” said co-principal investigator Astrid Morreale, physicist with the Nuclear and Particle Physics and Applications group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “It’s a bit of an incoherence, where we’re here doing high-level science and engineering, yet still underrepresented groups are either not coming to us or we’re not bringing them in. This program represents an effort to turn that around.”


Two program participants have been selected as the first cohort in the program. Julie Nelson, a senior at Fort Lewis College, is an engineering and math major with an emphasis in physics, and a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. (Full story)





Challenge: Tomorrow LANL Traveling Experience Premiers With Ribbon Cutting Ceremony


Attendees applaud following the ribbon cutting ceremony

at White Rock Visitor Center. Photo by Maire O’Neil.


There was an air of excitement Tuesday morning at the White Rock Visitor Center as Bradbury Science Museum executive director Linda Deck and Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony for two trailers that are part of the “Challenge: Tomorrow LANL Traveling Experience.


The two mobile exhibits have been developed to travel around New Mexico to festivals, STEM events, schools and universities. They contain experiential components that will be explained by Lab staff to help people both adults and children learn what happens at LANL, who does the work as well as why and how they do it.


Deck noted that those present at Tuesday’s event would experience what it will be like to engage with Challenge ambassadors and learn what a visitor will experience when they go through trailers which provide an opportunity to learn more about the work of LANL. (Full story)




Twelve Labor Unions And Triad National Security Sign Collective Bargaining Agreements


Twelve labor unions signed collective bargaining agreements

Dec. 2 with Triad, which operates LANL.


Twelve labor unions signed their collective bargaining agreements Dec. 2, completing their negotiations with Triad National Security, which operates Los Alamos National Laboratory.


These contracts represent about 1,200 essential workers in the skilled building trades including electricians, pipefitters, mechanics, sheet metal workers, operators, iron workers, painters, carpenters, roofers, laborers, teamsters, insulators and masons.


“The skilled building trades represent approximately 10 percent of the Laboratory workforce,” LANL Director Thom Mason said. “As the Lab expands its mission and invests in its facilities, these tradespeople are more essential than ever. I am grateful we have reached an agreement that benefits these employees, the New Mexico economy and our country’s national security.”


At the Laboratory, such collective bargaining negotiations take place every five years and involve an immense amount of collaboration. This process began in the summer of 2021; the new contracts go into effect in July 2022, effective through June 2027. Skilled building trades are high-paying, secure jobs, and are in demand in New Mexico and nationwide. (Full story)