Lab Report

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The Lab Report is a weekly compendium of media reports on science and technology achievements at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Though the Laboratory reviews items for overall accuracy, the reporting organizations are responsible for the content in the links below.

Nov. 20, 2015

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asteroid
Most asteroids are thought to be pieces of ancient space material that never formed into planets. The majority of them orbit the sun in a belt between Mars and Jupiter, but many are cast out into eccentric orbits that occasionally cross paths with planets. Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab/NASA

Coming toward a planet like yours

Asteroids could be hurtling toward Earth at any moment.

Luckily, there is a group of researchers, including scientists from Lawrence Livermore, who are hunting those asteroids and looking for ways to stop them in their tracks long before they crash into Earth.

It's not enough to just spot a new asteroid, but its orbit also needs to be tracked to determine where it's going in the future and how likely it is to cross paths with Earth.

Dave Dearborn, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and one of the most experienced nuclear weapons designers on Earth, is  investigating the use of warheads as a means to destroy asteroids and save Planet Earth.

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climate
Climate change effects on Grinnell glacier, Glacier National Park, has receded out of sight as noted in photographs taken in 1911 and again in 2009.

One sentence that changed the world

Lawrence Livermore premiere climate scientist Benjamin Santer recently opined in Nature about the future of climate change science and how one sentence in a report 20 years ago changed the world.

As the 2015 Paris climate summit approaches, it is worth noting that this month marks 20 years since the Madrid meeting at which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared that “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”

Support for the 1995 IPCC statement came from the physical understanding of heat-trapping properties of greenhouse gases, observations of warming and comparisons of modeled and observed climate-change patterns (climate 'fingerprinting').

The human-caused warming signal and the noise of natural climate variability are now better quantified. This signal has dominated since the 20th century.

 

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The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and its three national labs will work with NVIDIA’s PGI® software to create an open-source Fortran compiler designed for integration with the widely used LLVM compiler infrastructure.

Compiling the data

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and its three national labs, including Lawrence Livermore, have reached an agreement with NVIDIA’s PGI® software to create an open-source Fortran compiler designed for integration with the widely used LLVM compiler infrastructure.

LLVM is a collection of reusable compiler and tool chain technologies with a modular design that facilitates support for a wide variety of programming languages and processor architectures.

The project is being spearheaded by the Lawrence Livermore, Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories in response to the need for a robust open-source Fortran solution to complement and support the burgeoning use of LLVM and the CLANG C++ compiler in the HPC community.

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LLNL scientists Gaby Loots (left) and Aimy Sebastian count live cells for their research tying a specific protein that has been found to inhibit prostate cancer metastasis to bone. Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL.

Curbing prostate cancer

Scientists from Lawrence Livermore, in collaboration with researchers from University of California campuses at Merced and Davis, have found that a specific secreted protein inhibits prostate cancer metastasis to bone.

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men in the U.S. If detected at early stages the prognosis is quite favorable; however, aggressive forms of metastatic prostate cancer spread primarily to the skeleton.

Bone tumors cause great pain, promote fractures and ultimately represent the main cause of morbidity, with a 70 percent incidence documented by autopsies, according to Gabriela Loots, an LLNL biomedical scientist and an associate adjunct professor at UC Merced. Development of new therapies for the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer bone metastasis depends on understanding the dynamic reciprocal interactions between prostate cancer cells and the bone microenvironment.

 

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LLNL researcher Jianchao Ye shows off an improved lithium ion battery. Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL

Building a better battery

That battery that powers the headlight on bicycles may last a little longer with a boost from hydrogen.

Lawrence Livermore scientists have found that lithium-ion batteries operate longer and faster when their electrodes are treated with hydrogen.

Lithium-ion batteries are a class of rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from a negative electrode to a positive electrode during discharge and then back again when charging. Several key characteristics of lithium ion battery performance – capacity, voltage and energy density – are ultimately determined by the binding between lithium ions and the electrode material. Subtle changes in the structure, chemistry and shape of an electrode can significantly affect how strongly lithium ions bind to it.

Through experiments and calculations, the LLNL team discovered that hydrogen-treated graphene nanofoam electrodes show higher capacity and faster transport in lithium-ion batteries.