Friday, January 16, 2015

Physicists debate quantum math

Wojciech Zurek, LANL image

A leading quantum theorist, Wojciech Zurek of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, isn’t ready to jump on the ontic bandwagon.

“I don’t think the [quantum] state is either epistemic or ontic,” he said at an IBM workshop. “For the record, the state is definitely epi-ontic.”

Zurek pointed out that quantum states do not exist in the same sense that ordinary classical states exist. For classical states, information about the state can be recorded, copied and shared. A quantum system can be prepared in a known state, but an unknown quantum state can’t be examined or copied without destroying it. (Full Story)

Asteroid set for near miss

Illustration from Express

Plans produced by a leading atomic research centre in America have revealed that if asteroids were to fly dangerously close to us, nuclear weapons could be used to destroy or deflect them.

In documents developed by Los Alamos atomic weapons centre in New Mexico, nuclear missiles are cited as our only defence against the growing threat of meteors and asteroids.

Los Alamos' Robert Weaver in an abstract submitted to the AGU's annual meeting said: "The goal is to study the effectiveness of using a nuclear explosive to alter the orbit or destroy a potentially harmful object." (Full Story)

In search of pristine aerosols

Pathways of natural and human-produced aerosols from the marine environment, Scripps illustration                 

A new study considers how pure a key force in climate really is. Contributors to the study include Lynn Russell and Amanda Frossard of Scripps, Scott Elliott of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and several others.

Aerosols such as dust, sea salt particles, bits of organic material, and even pollutants are what allows water vapor to congeal into clouds and the mix of aerosols in the sky helps determine what kinds of clouds form. (Full Story)

The real threat from North Korea

Former Laboratory Director Sig Hecker, LANL photo           

During my first visit to North Korea in January 2004, North Korean officials were eager to show my Stanford University colleagues and me the plutonium bomb fuel they produced following a diplomatic breakdown with the George W. Bush administration. Four years ago, during my seventh visit to the country and two years into the Obama administration, they surprised us with a tour through an ultra-modern centrifuge facility, demonstrating that they were capable of producing highly enriched uranium, the alternate route to the bomb. (Full Story)

Hands-on science fun for all ages

Jane Clements, a Bradbury Museum guide shows Eli Carrasco, 5, how to create slides with water samples from the area, then examines the slides through a microscope.

The Bradbury Science Museum hosts the “Scientist in the Spotlight” series every second Saturday of the month. The informal conversations led by scientists and other professionals are hands-on and interactive with kids of all ages and adults. (Full Story)

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Groundbreaking Four Corners methane study among lab’s scientific breakthroughs in 2014

The Four Corners area, in red, left, is a major
U.S. hot spot for methane emissions. (NASA Image)

The methane study was among 12 projects lab officials identified as the top scientific breakthroughs at LANL in 2014. Others included tracking Internet traffic to articles about diseases as an indicator of their spread, creation of simulated human organs that could replace animals in medical tests and a laser chosen for NASA’s 2020 Mars mission, to name a few. (full story)

A variation of this story also appeared in the Farmington Daily Times

There were big discoveries at LANL this year

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Elena
Guardincerri,right, and Shelby Fellows prepare
a lead hemisphere inside a muon tomography
machine. (LANL photo.)
It was a big year for scientific discoveries at Los Alamos National Laboratory, from transferring foolproof computer encryption techniques to market, to using social media for forecasting diseases, creating a virtual human body that could end animal drug tests and even helping pave the way for human visitation to Mars. (full story)

How NASA’s next Mars rover will hunt for signs of past life

The Mars 2020 Rover. (NASA image)
Mars 2020, as it’s currently called, will have improved instruments over Curiosity. The new rover is heavily based on the Curiosity design, and as with its predecessor it will be able to search for habitable environments.

The seven instruments include SuperCam, designed to sense organic compounds in rocks and regolith through mineralogy and chemical composition analysis. Principal investigator: Roger Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

Nuclear plan to blast rogue asteroids

LANL asteroid killer model. (LANL image)
Nuclear weapons could be deployed to protect Earth from incoming asteroids under a plan being drawn up by America’s leading atomic weapons research centre.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory said last week that the threat of an asteroid impact is far greater than had been realised and research was required to work out the best way to destroy or deflect them.

(Subscription required for full story.)

Space weather: Plasma waves responsible for particle fallout in Earth’s atmosphere

Balloon Array for Radiation belt
Relativistic Electron Losses.
(Dartmouth photo)
The study is the most detailed analysis so far of the link between these waves and the fallout of electrons from the planet's radiation belts. The belts are impacted by fluctuations in "space weather" caused by solar activity that can disrupt GPS satellites, communication systems, power grids and manned space exploration. Co-authors include scientists from Dartmouth, UC Santa Cruz, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and others. (full story)

Los Alamos team explores renewables for Arch Hurley

A study by economists and engineers with the Los Alamos National Laboratory has concluded that the Arch Hurley Conservancy District could finance some improvements with the proceeds of wind and solar energy generation facilities located on district property.

The $60,000 study, financed by a grant from New Mexico Small Business Assistance, represents a possible approach the Arch Hurley district could take to earn some extra spending money, Phillip Box, an Arch Hurley board member, said. (full story)

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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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