Friday, November 20, 2015

Quenching New Mexico’s thirst with brackish water

Major aquifers containing brackish water in NM. From the New Mexican.

Whether today turns out damp or dry, drought is a fact of life in New Mexico. With our rivers and aquifers already divvied up to the last drop, where can we get more water to ease the pressure on our freshwater resources?

One major source is right below our feet in New Mexico and has gone mostly untapped: likely billions of gallons of brackish groundwater. Focused efforts now underway can divert this salty water into the mix for drinking and other uses if we overcome the challenges of inventorying the aquifers and desalinating, or treating, the water cost-effectively while protecting the environment. (Full Story)

New climate model predicts dire thresholds

Greenland ice loss, LANL photo.

A new computer model of accumulated carbon emissions predicts the likelihood of crossing several dangerous climate change thresholds. These include global temperature rise sufficient to lose the Greenland Ice Sheet and generate seven meters of long-term sea level rise, or tropical region warming to a level that is deadly to humans and other mammals.

"The model is based on idealized representations of societal, technological and policy factors," said lead researcher Jeremy Fyke, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Theoretical Division, Fluid Dynamics and Solid Mechanics group. (Full Story)

See the YouTube Video

Also in the Los Alamos Daily Post

LANL software wins R&D 100

A software package called SHMTools, which can detect damage in a variety of structures and was developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, won an R&D 100 Award Friday.

“This R&D100 award highlights the Laboratory’s tremendous strength in structural health monitoring, and our long-standing collaborations with the University of California,” said Carol Burns, deputy principal associate director of the Laboratory’s Science, Technology and Engineering directorate. (Full Story)

Concrete nuclear containment

Cooling towers of a nuclear power station, from MIT News.

A new study by researchers from the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub and the joint MIT-French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) lab known as Multi-Scale Materials Science for Energy and Environment (MSE2) is the first to show that cement is effective for nuclear containment of radioactive materials.

Co authors include Alfredo Caro of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“In short, what the research showed is that cement is a good choice for storing nuclear waste from the fission reaction in nuclear plants,” said MIT postdoc Lucile Dezerald. (Full Story)

Betting on quantum computing

Inside the D-Wave system, from D-Wave.     

The Los Alamos National Laboratory is buying a new quantum computing processor from Canadian company D-Wave, the national security technology laboratory announced this week.

Los Alamos, which develops a wide variety of technology, including systems for monitoring nuclear stockpiles, will be the first federal entity to purchase a D-Wave system directly from the company. (Full Story)

LANL looks to Aeon for Lustre

Aeon Computing announced that the company will provide two Lustre file systems to enhance LANL’s technical and supercomputing capabilities. Each of the two Lustre file systems provide 14 Petabytes of data storage capacity and are capable of up to 160 Gigabytes per second of parallel access performance. According Aeon, this next generation system pushes the limits of Lustre storage performance. (Full Story)

Recognition for Los Alamos employees

Don Quintana, left, and Pulak Nath with their PIE awards, LANL photo.           

Two Los Alamos National Laboratory employees were recently recognized in an awards ceremony for providing their technical expertise and access to lab capabilities to help small businesses through the New Mexico SBA Program.

Both Quintana and Nath received Principal Investigator Excellence (PIE) awards, which were commemorated with, of course, fresh pies. (Full Story)

And another from this week’s Daily Post

Los Alamos technology gains national backing

Descartes Labs artificial intelligence can read a landscape in seconds, NASA image.

Los Alamos pixels and Los Alamos dots were both riding high this week.

Descartes Labs, Inc., a one-year-old company specializing in satellite imagery recognition and analysis, announced Tuesday that it had raised $5 million in a venture capital round, thanks to a group of investors led by Cultivian Sandbox, a firm based in Chicago.

At the same time, UbiQD, LLC, a quantum dot manufacturer that also got its start in 2014, reported that it had won a Northern New Mexico 20/20 Award as one of the most promising high growth companies in the region. UbiQD recently completed another round of seed funding, bringing their financing total up to more than $700,000. (Full Story)

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Study suggests unprecedented 3-week hepatitis C cure

Hepatitis C virus, Science image.       

A team led by hepatologist George Lau of the Humanity & Healthy GI and Liver Centre in Hong Kong, China with collaboration from Alan Perelson of Los Alamos National Laboratory, has mixed and matched various compounds to see whether they could further shorten the route to a cure. They appear to have succeeded. The researchers plan to present this data publicly for the first time at a scientific conference known as The Liver Meeting in 2 weeks.

 Molecular clocks control mutation rate in human cells

Molecular clocks, LANL illustration.

"This is a hugely exciting finding as it solves a longstanding question. Not only has this study proved that mutational molecular clocks exist, it has also shown that there are two separate clock processes that are constantly degrading DNA," said Dr Ludmil Alexandrov, corresponding author and Oppenheimer Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the USA. "How fast these clocks tick in a cell may well determine both the ageing of this cell and the likelihood for it to become cancerous."

US government lab dabbles in new computer designs

Inside the D-Wave quantum computer,
from D-Wave.

Rethinking conventional computer designs, which are decades old, the U.S. Department of Energy has set its sights on creating systems that could supplant today's PCs and servers.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory -- best known for its work with nuclear weapons -- is developing and acquiring new types of computers as it looks to replace conventional computers. Its newest toy is a D-Wave 2X quantum computer, which the lab purchased from D-Wave Systems for an undisclosed price.

Also in The Verge

 National labs collaborate to shape development of next-generation supercomputers

Three of the Department of Energy’s leading national laboratories are working together to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems by ensuring that the nation’s scientific community has access to leading edge computing systems to carry out their research.

Los Alamos, Lawrence Berkeley, and Sandia national laboratories, have formed the Alliance for Application Performance at Extreme Scale (APEX) to focus on the design, acquisition and deployment of future advanced technology high performance computing systems.

Also from HPCwire this week:

 HPC Leaders Unite to Develop Open Source Framework

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced an intent to form the OpenHPC Collaborative Project.

The new initiative includes support from Los Alamos National Laboratory, MSC Software, NEC, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, ParTec, Penguin Computing, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Sandia National Laboratories, and many others.

Ten Los Alamos scientists honored as APS fellows

Ten Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists
are new Fellows of the American Physical Society.

Named this week by the national organization: Tariq Aslam; Steven Batha; Eric Bauer; Hou-Tong Chen; Diego Alejandro Dalvit; Dinh Nguyen; Alan Perelson; Filip Ronning; Alexander Saunders; and Glen Wurden.

“We’re extremely pleased that the technical accomplishments of our talented staff have been recognized in their designation as APS Fellows,” said Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan. “It is particularly noteworthy that these selections represent a breadth of innovation in applied physics that Los Alamos uses to help accomplish our mission of protecting the nation.”

Also from the Daily Post this week:

Los Alamos scientists recognized with breakthrough prize

Breakthrough Prize Trophy.

$3 million award goes to more than 1,300 scientists across five experiments

More than 1,300 scientists—including 35 from Los Alamos National Laboratory—were awarded the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Nov. 8 for their work in defining neutrino oscillations across five international experiments that led to the determination that neutrinos have mass.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Los Alamos scientist trying to determine source of methane hot spot

Manvendra Dubey, a climate change scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said, “Methane is about 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas on a 100-year horizon than CO2.”

Kathleen McCleery: Los Alamos atmospheric scientist Manvendra Dubey was measuring carbon dioxide, not methane, last year when NASA released satellite images, including this one showing a 2,500-square-mile hot spot centered over the Four Corners area, where New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona meet.

Manvendra Dubey: They showed that, over Four Corners, methane was enhanced. It was the — kind of the hottest methane spot in the whole of continental U.S. (Full Story)

Hunting for meteorites in Antarctica

Lanza training in Iceland.  

Nina Lanza, of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Space and Remote Sensing group, was selected as one of eight members for the 2015-2016 field campaign of the Antarctica Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program, which is supported by NASA.

"These meteorites can help us understand the formation and evolution of our solar system," said Lanza. "They come from planets, their moons and asteroids. Few of these solar system bodies will be visited by NASA in our lifetimes and this is a superb opportunity to collect material from across the solar system without having to leave the Earth." (Full Story)

Also in Albuquerque Business First

New study reports principle for tailored thermal expansion of alloys

A new study by researchers in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University and Los Alamos National Laboratory has led to a new principle to control macroscopic thermal expansion response of bulk materials, including obtaining zero thermal expansion metals.

Currently, researchers rely on manipulation of either the materials' composition and/or complex fabrication of composites to reduce thermal expansion to obtain tailored thermal expansion. (Full Story)

Researchers uncover new origins of radiation-tolerant materials

Scientists study how materials fall apart under irradiation, LANL graphic.

A new report from Los Alamos National Laboratory in Nature Communications provides new insight into what, exactly, makes some complex materials radiation tolerant.

The goal of such projects is to understand at a fundamental level just how materials respond to being irradiated, and how that response depends on fundamental properties of the material, such as its crystal structure and crystal chemistry. (Full Story)

MicroBooNE sees first accelerator-born neutrinos

The MicroBooNE chamber, FermiLab image.

MicroBooNE, a neutrino detector saw its first neutrinos, known as the ghost particles, Oct. 15 in a multi-laboratory experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, near Chicago.

“This is a great day for MicroBooNE, and it brings us closer to addressing the question of sterile neutrinos and short-baseline neutrino oscillations,” said Los Alamos National Laboratory staff member Richard Van de Water, a longtime member of the team. (Full Story)

Northern NM businesses selected for awards

The Regional Development Corp. of EspaƱola is adding to its growing list of businesses it considers likely to add jobs and dynamism to the region’s economy by 2020.

RDC’s partners in this effort include Los Alamos National Security, the company that operates Los Alamos National Laboratory, and other organizations that provide low-cost business services in the Northern New Mexico. (Full Story)

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Targeted therapy for gastric cancer possible

New research shows that stomach cancer
can be treated with platinum drugs and/or

molecular inhibitors. LANL image.

Gastric cancer, otherwise known as stomach cancer, does not respond well to existing treatments and it is currently the third leading cause of cancer death in the world (after lung and liver cancer). Researchers have discovered that certain drugs, currently used to treat breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers, could also be used to treat certain gastric cancers with a particular pattern of mutations (genomic molecular fingerprint).

What do you get when two neutron stars merge?
Illustration of a binary neutron star system
in the process of merging, NASA image.

Led by Chris Fryer of the University of Arizona and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a group of researchers undertook a highly collaborative study to better understand the fates of neutron star mergers.

The merger of two neutron stars (a NS–NS merger) is suspected to be the most likely source of short-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) — powerful explosions that can be seen from billions of light-years away. But whether a GRB is launched is dependent on what remnant is created by the merging NSs. Do they form another NS? Or a black hole (BH)?

Tiny magnets could work in sensors, information encoding

Researchers have created a nanoscale, artificial
magnet, LANL image.

Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and collaborators have realized a nanoscale, artificial magnet by arranging an array of magnetic nano-islands along a geometry that is not found in natural magnets.

"Each nano-island is similar to a refrigerator magnet, with a north and a south pole at its tips," said Los Alamos physicist Cristiano Nisoli. "Unlike a refrigerator magnet, however, it can change its magnetization by flipping north and south, through use of either applied fields or thermal fluctuations.

UNM, LANL researchers team up to beef up fuel cell performance

An artist’s rendering of a nanogold cluster. ACS image.

Better batteries and more efficient fuel cells are two holy grails of energy development.  Fuel cells convert hydrogen or biogas into electricity while emitting only heat and water, making them the darlings of a new energy economy that seeks to reduce pollutants from petroleum-fed cars.

Scientists from The University of New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratory have combined their research expertise to create a micro sandwich of gold, DNA and carbon tubes that they think could eventually beef up fuel cell performance.

LANL team receives NNSA awards for exceptional work

Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz (ret.), center, presents team leader Ward Hawkins, second from left, with the NNSA Silver Award for Distinguished Service, and team members Richard Kelley, far left, and Aviva Sussman, second from right, with the NNSA Bronze Award for Excellent Service. Liz Miller, far right, is a member of the IFE14 team.

National Nuclear Security Administrator Lt. Gen. (retired) Frank G. Klotz presented five Los Alamos National Laboratory members awards for their exceptional work in a large-scale, on-site field exercise held in Jordan to evaluate progress in the development of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.