Friday, December 19, 2014

New Los Alamos lab fellows named

Left to Right: Fryer, Kiplinger, Funsten, Gordon and Moore.  LANL image.

Five scientists have been named as this year’s Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows. They are Christopher L. Fryer, Herbert O. Funsten, John C. Gordon,Jaqueline L. Kiplinger and David S. Moore.

“The sustained scientific excellence demonstrated by the work of Chris, Herb, John, Jaqueline and David exemplifies the outstanding people and capabilities we apply to today’s national security mission, and positions the Laboratory to be prepared to meet future challenges,”  LANL Director Charlie McMillan said in a news release. (Full Story)

Also from the Los Alamos Daily Post

Homo Minutus

Illustration from The Scientist.

Led by toxicologist Rashi Iyer of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico,project ATHENA (Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer) aims to create a multiorgan platform that mimics the human body. In addition to the heart, this “desktop human” includes organ-on-a-chip counterparts for the lung, liver, and kidney.

“The liver technology was actually developed for extracorporeal support for patients with massive liver damage,” says Iyer. “We took that and developed it further for analytical purposes.”  (Full Story)

In Navajo country, coal gives life — and takes it, some say

Los Alamos' instruments at the Four Corners site. LANL photo.

Four Corners is one of the nation's oldest coal-fired power plants. The facilities are the nation's two largest plant emitters of nitrogen oxide, which can affect breathing in high concentrations, according to a study by the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Scientists found the plants are at the threshold of the Environmental Protection Agency's standards for clean air, but possible changes to the standards could soon put the facilities over the legal limit. (Full Story)

9 Breakthroughs of 2014

NIF target, from LLNL.

Criteria for judging the top 10 included: fundamental importance of research, significant advance in knowledge, strong connection between theory and experiment, and general interest to all physicists.

Members of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory were first to obtain a "fuel gain", important in promising nuclear fusion reactions for future energy production, far greater than one in laser-driven nuclear fusion and fission reaction experiments within the lab. (Full Story)

Manhattan Project Park a go

V-Site at Los Alamos.  LANL photo.

Ten years of effort has been devoted to creating the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which will have units in Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tennesee, and Hanford, Washington.

Needless to say, the park’s supporters were very excited to get news that the legislation had passed the Senate on Friday as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. (Full Story)

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Software can now identify DNA from viruses and speed up diagnoses

DNA, image from ComputerWorld.   

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) announced this week that bioinformatics software it created can now identify DNA from fungi, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, slashing the time it takes to diagnose some illnesses from weeks to hours.

The software can also speed the analysis of cancerous tumor genetics for chemotherapy options and prognosis. (Full Story)

Software speeds detection of diseases, cancer treatment targets

The "Tree of Life" showing the divergence of modern species, from Wikipedia Commons.

Los Alamos National Laboratory has released an updated version of powerful, award-winning bioinformatics software that is now capable of identifying DNA from viruses and all parts of the Tree of Life—putting diverse problems such as identifying pathogen-caused diseases, selection of therapeutic targets for cancer treatment and optimizing yields of algae farms within relatively easy reach for health care professionals, researchers and others. (Full Story)

Also in PhysOrg, and ABQ Business First

New nuclear weapons needed, many experts say, pointing to aged arsenal

A missile launch control facility at Malmstrom Air Force Base. LA Times photo.

Two decades after the U.S. began to scale back its nuclear forces in the aftermath of the Cold War, a number of military strategists, scientists and congressional leaders are calling for a new generation of hydrogen bombs.

Restarting design and production in the U.S., however, would requires billions of dollars to build new facilities, including a metallurgy plant at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico for plutonium triggers. (Full Story)

Editorial: A new way to defeat cyber crime

Author David Pesiri, LANL photo.

Imagine a world in which warfare affecting billions of innocent victims in a single evening could be waged by a handful of enemies using weapons purchased off the shelf from an ordinary electronics store. If such a thing seems impossible,think again. The battlefield of the future is cyberspace, and the future is now.         

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have made great strides over the past two decades in something called quantum key distribution. These systems use photons to encode information based on complex quantum rules. (Full Story)

NNSA honors Los Alamos in 2014 Sustainability Awards

Jean Dewart fosters behavioral changes across the Laboratory. LANL photo.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) this week awarded 15 Sustainability Awards for innovation and excellence to its national laboratories and sites, and Los Alamos National Laboratory is among the winners, with honorees in both the Best in Class and Environmental Stewardship categories.

The awards recognize exemplary performance in sustainability objectives through innovative and effective programs that increase energy, water and fleet efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases, pollution and waste. (Full Story)

Also from the Post:

LANL Employees Pledge $2.17 Million In 2015 Giving Campaign

The work of more than 250 community and social service organizations will benefit from the more than $2.17 million pledged by Los Alamos National Laboratory employees to United Way and other nonprofits. (Full Story)

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Mining Wikipedia data to track disease

Sarah Del Valle.  LANL photo.

When people get sick, they often start looking online for information about their symptoms and illness.           

Sara Del Valle, a scientist and applied mathematician at Los Alamos National Laboratory, says that by training a computer model to analyze the specific health-related pages that users access on Wikipedia, public health experts may be able to identify—and even forecast—outbreaks of diseases such as influenza and Dengue fever. (Listen Here)

Also in the Times of India

“Does one big earthquake lead to another?”

Geologist Paul Johnson. From KSFR radio.           

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Paul Johnson discusses his Frontiers in Science lecture on Santa Fe Radio Cafe.  While large earthquakes have occurred throughout the Earth's history, their number has dramatically increased in the last ten to fifteen years. What is it that makes the earth move under our feet? How is it that earthquakes can cause other earthquakes? Can human activities, such as ʽfrackingʼ, also trigger earthquakes? (Full Story)

Frigid matter powers first quantum circuits

Optical tweezers, from Gizmodo.

Move over, electrons – circuits could one day be powered by frigid quantum matter. . . Changhyun Ryu and Malcolm Boshier of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico have found a way to do it. Their circuits are built from two laser beams, one that creates a horizontal sheet of light to act as a circuit board,  and another vertical laser that traces out the path of the circuit.

The condensate, which is made from around 4000 cooled rubidium atoms, is trapped inside the beams by the same forces used to create optical tweezers, which can manipulate particles on a small scale. (Full Story)

Also in Gizmodo

Efficient method developed to measure residual stress in 3-D printed parts

Amanda Wu using digital image correlation. LLNL photo.

In order to validate their results from DIC, the team collaborated with Los Alamos National Laboratory to perform residual stress tests using a method known as neutron diffraction. This technique, performed by LANL researcher Donald Brown, measures residual stresses deep within a material by detecting the diffraction of an incident neutron beam. The diffracted beam of neutrons enables the detection of changes in atomic lattice spacing due to stress.

Although it’s highly accurate, ND is rarely used to measure residual stress because there are only three federal research labs in the U.S.—LANL being one of them—that have the high-energy neutron source required for this analysis. (Full Story)

Deploying 100 supercomputers over 60 years in support of national security

Roadrunner, first to the petaflop. LANL image.              

From the 1952 MANIAC to Bonanza deployed just this month, Los Alamos National Laboratory has deployed 100 supercomputers in the last sixty years — a showcase of high-performance computing history.

The Los Alamos computers deployed along the way include the MANIAC II, which started its nearly 20-year service life with over 5,000 vacuum tubes, all of which were replaced over time with circuit boards. Other deployed systems include Stretch, a technological stretch built in collaboration between Los Alamos and IBM, Serial Number 1 of the iconic Cray-1, and a Thinking Machines CM-5, with its lightning bolt footprint and fat-tree interconnect. By 2008 there came Roadrunner, the world’s first petaflop supercomputer. (Full Story)

Venture Acceleration Fund helps Native-owned businesses

Native-owned businesses in Northern New Mexico are eligible for grants of up to $25,000 to spend on specialized services that will help them increase revenues and create jobs.

Los Alamos National Security LLC, the company that manages Los Alamos National Laboratory, in partnership with the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, created the Native American Venture Acceleration Fund. (Full Story)

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Friday, November 14, 2014


How Wikipedia reading habits can successfully predict the spread of disease

Sarah Del Valle.  LANL photo.

Nowcasting is cool, but ideally you want to provide information to public health departments and policymakers so they can plan ahead of time," said Sara Del Valle, a project leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory whose team worked on the study. "Because if you really want to make a difference in how people are treated when they come to clinics and hospitals, it's better for them to be prepared. If they know in advance, we will see people in a couple of weeks, four weeks, they can better prepare." (Full Story)

Wikipedia positioned to track disease outbreak: The model that could rival current resources

Del Valle and colleagues study Wikipedia.  LANL photo.

"A global disease-forecasting system will change the way we respond to epidemics," Dr. Sara Del Valle, lead study author of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said in a press release. "In the same way we check the weather each morning, individuals and public health officials can monitor disease incidence and plan for the future based on today's forecast. The goal of this research is to build an operational disease monitoring and forecasting system with open data and open source code. This paper shows we can achieve that goal." (Full Story)

Similar stories also appeared in the International Business Times, BBC News, Live Science and many other news outlets

LANL showcases supercomputing history

Cielo Supercomputer.  LANL image.
Los Alamos National Laboratory is celebrating 100 supercomputers. The center that is best known for its role supporting national security for the last seven decades is also widely hailed as a premier supercomputing site.

“Computing power for our Laboratory’s national security mission is a huge part of our proud legacy, and it plays an integral role in our bold future,” says Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan. (Full Story)

Also in the Los Alamos Monitor
and on YouTube

HIV transmission from manicure instrument highlights little-known risks for infection

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already outline several mechanisms by which HIV spreads, including some common routes like sharing needles and having sex with someone HIV-positive, and other less frequently talked about, like being bitten by someone with HIV or eating food that was pre-chewed by someone with HIV. Manicure utensils are not part of this list.

Admittedly, some don’t see a need for it. “This transmission of HIV by shared manicure equipment is a very rare event that should serve not to make people fear HIV or contact with HIV-infected people,” said Dr. Brian Foley, of the HIV Sequence Database at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in a statement. (Full Story)

Unusual light in dark space revealed by Los Alamos, NASA

LANL's Joe Smidt. LANL Image.

By looking at the dark spaces between visible galaxies and stars the NASA/JPL CIBER sounding rocket experiment has produced data that could redefine what constitutes a galaxy.

"What was very surprising is the brightness of many fluctuations that appear between stars and galaxies," said Los Alamos scientist Joseph Smidt, part of the data analysis team that studied the data from CIBER. (Full Story)

Also in the Los Alamos Monitor

And on YouTube

The dawn of nuclear weapons goes viral

Fat Man on Tinian Island. LANL photo.

A few years ago, the Los Alamos National Laboratory started posting historical pictures on Flickr, a photo-sharing site. The lab’s history section now has 515 images like early bombs and scientists and rapidly expanding fireballs and rising mushroom clouds.

A recent wave of Internet photographs has featured Little Boy and Fat Man preparations; one shows a man signing the nose of the Nagasaki bomb, and another is a tail fin close-up of scrawled names and home states, including Wisconsin and New York. (Full Story)

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Your Wikipedia searches can reveal national flu trends

Image from the Washington Post.   

A year ago, the CDC launched a competition to find better flu models, especially those using social media and Internet data. This recent model, led by Kyle Hickman of the Los Alamos National Laboratories, uses an algorithm to link flu-related Wikipedia searches with CDC data from the same time.

Once the researchers taught their algorithm how searches and diagnoses were connected, the model was able to predict the 2013-2014 flu season in real time. (Full Story)

How Wikipedia data Is revolutionizing flu forecasting

Influenza forecast model.  From MIT TechReview.

This time last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta launched a competition to find the best way to forecast the characteristics of the 2013-2014 influenza season using data gathered from the internet. Today, Kyle Hickmann from Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico and a few pals reveal the results of their model which used real-time data from Wikipedia to forecast the ground truth data gathered by the CDC that surfaces about two weeks later. (Full Story)

Spectroscopy, cameras to help explore the red planet

The Mars 2020 Rover.  NASA image.

Dr. Roger Wiens at Los Alamos National Laboratory will provide the SuperCam, an imaging instrument that combines laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, Raman and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, passive VISIR spectroscopy and high-resolution color imaging for elemental composition and mineral identification. The time-resolved fluorescence can resolve organically produced fluorescence created by inorganic sources, while Raman spectroscopy provides identification of many organic molecules. The SuperCam can also dust off surfaces with laser blasts. (Full Story)

Researchers use scientific guns to induce shock waves into explosive materials

Adam Pacheco pushes the “fire” button at the two-stage gas gun facility. LANL image.

As nuclear weapons go through life extension programs, some changes may be advantageous, particularly through the addition of what are known as "insensitive" high explosives that are much less likely to accidentally detonate than the already very safe "conventional" high explosives that are used in most weapons.

"We're very interested in understanding chemical dynamics in extreme conditions," said Dattelbaum. "Chemical reactions are occurring in very extreme environments with very fast reaction rates, and we really don't fully understand the first bond-breaking steps and the subsequent bond-breaking steps as an explosive detonates." (Full Story)

Video shows scientific guns used to study explosives

The two-stage gas gun.  LANL image.              

As the U.S. nuclear deterrent ages, one essential factor in making sure that the weapons will continue to perform as designed is understanding the fundamental properties of the high explosives that are part of a nuclear weapons system.

"As we move forward with our stockpile and as it's aging and as we're replacing components, we want to make sure that we have confidence that those materials perform as intended," said Dana Dattelbaum, a chemist in the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Shock and Detonation Physics group. "And that we are also continuing to improve on safety." (Full Story)

LANL to utilize Scality REST block driver

“The Scality REST Block Driver will enable us to instantiate hundred plus petabyte file systems protected by erasure coding via the Scality RING,” said Gary Grider, HPC Division Leader at Los Alamos National Lab (LANL). “The ability to share block devices without the need for a fibre channel SAN, using REST/HTTP on inexpensive scale out 10+ Gigabit Ethernet/Infiniband technology, is an important building block for us." (Full Story)

Quantum Materials scales up quantum dot production

Quantum dots emit various colors based on the dot’s size.  LANL image.

“We are also producing a premium line of Quantum Dots utilizing Los Alamos National Labs ‘Thick-Shell’ Giant Quantum Dot technology,” said Stephen B. Squires, Quantum Materials Corp. chairman and CEO.

“By adding 16 layers to the quantum dot shell, they achieved dramatic increases in brightness, lifetime and other singular advantages. Only Quantum Materials’ automated production system is capable of the repetitive cycles necessary to economically add many nanoscale layers.” (Full Story)

Los Alamos tells story of Hanford plutonium assembled into atomic bombs

"Fat Man" display at the Bradbury Science Museum. From the Oregonian.

A visit to the Bradbury Museum of Science helps a Northwest visitor understand the process that began on the Columbia River in Washington's Tri-Cities andended with the explosion of a plutonium bomb.

Like the Hanford part of the Tri-Cities, Los Alamos, M.N., was lightly settled when it was chosen as the place to develop the science to assemble the bomb. The explosive material came from elsewhere: Hanford for the plutonium for the first and third nuclear detonations, and Oak Ridge, Tenn., for uranium for the second. (Full Story)

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