Science and Technology Making Headlines

May 10, 2024

El Capitan

El Capitan will be the National Nuclear Security Administrations first exascale supercomputer when it comes online in fall 2024 at Lawrence Livermore National Security.

A tip of the hat to El Capitan

Red Hat Inc. this week announced that Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the operating system platform for El Capitan, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) first exascale supercomputer. Projected to be the world’s most powerful supercomputer, El Capitan is located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

As the catalyst for El Capitan’s software stack, Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides a crucial linkage in preparing for cloud-enabled supercomputers with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) components. At the same time, the platform easily integrates with LLNL’s existing technology environment, providing a simplified administration and user experience that spans from traditional systems to El Capitan’s next-generation infrastructure.

When fully deployed in mid- to late 2024, El Capitan is expected to boast a processing power of more than two (double precision) exaflops per second and will be used by all three NNSA Tri-Labs (LLNL, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories) to help address the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

Antibody - artificial intelligence-backed platform with supercomputing

A multi-institutional team involving Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers has successfully combined an artificial intelligence-backed platform with supercomputing to redesign and restore the effectiveness of antibodies whose ability to fight viruses has been compromised by viral evolution. Graphic by Adam Connell/LLNL.

Better antibodies mean a better battle against viruses

In a new development for addressing future viral pandemics, a multi-institutional team involving Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers has successfully combined an artificial intelligence (AI)-backed platform with supercomputing to redesign and restore the effectiveness of antibodies whose ability to fight viruses has been compromised by viral evolution.

The team’s research — published in the journal Nature — showcases a novel antibody design platform comprising experimental data, structural biology, bioinformatics modeling and molecular simulations — driven by a machine-learning algorithm.

The interagency team used the platform to computationally optimize an existing SARS-CoV-2 antibody to restore its effectiveness to emerging SARS-CoV-2 omicron subvariants while ensuring continued efficacy against the then-dominant delta variant. Their computational approach has the potential to accelerate the drug development process and improve pandemic preparedness significantly.

John Jett-Ignition Comic

LLNL graphic designer and illustrator John Jett reads his recently released “Ignition” comic book, which shares the story of the Lab’s ignition milestone with a wide audience.

Comic book illustrates ignition

Explaining nuclear fusion in an entertaining way to both children and adults may seem like a task of superhero proportions, but someone at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) works to accomplish just that.

Not quite Clark Kent, John Jett is a mild-mannered graphic designer and illustrator who happens to be the award-winning author of two educational comic books about the Lab. The first, honored with Adobe’s Government Creativity Award in 2018, explains how LLNL’s National Ignition Facility operates, and the second, recently released, tells the story of the Lab’s history-making achievement of fusion ignition in 2022.

Colorful and engaging with a decidedly Superman/Spiderman appeal, the comic books are Jett’s way of spreading the Lab’s scientific updates and accomplishments in a simple and entertaining way.

super diamond

Supercomputer simulations predicting the synthesis pathways for the elusive BC8 super-diamond, involving shock compressions of diamond precursor, inspire ongoing Discovery Science experiments at LLNL. Image by Mark Meamber/LLNL.

Harder than ice, ice baby

Diamond is one of the hardest materials known to man, but experts think it can be squashed into something even harder.

The precious stone is a naturally occurring substance made of carbon crystals. It is found in the Earth, with research even suggesting ‘fountains of diamonds’ could be sent shooting up to the surface as part of a major geological event.

While it was previously thought to be one of the hardest materials because of its tetrahedral lattice, which is an incredibly rugged particle structure, experts have figured out a way to transform it into something even harder.

Physicists from Lawrence Livermore and Sweden have come up with a simulation that is believed to be 30% more resistant to compression than diamonds.

hydrogen central logo

Researchers from LLNL and Verne

Researchers from LLNL and Verne have demonstrated a hydrogen storage system that can support heavy-duty vehicles, such as semi-trucks.

Hydrogen trucks could soon hit the gas

Verne is a San Francisco startup that’s developing a cheaper, lighter tank and fueling system to help hydrogen semis match the driving range and hauling ability of dirty diesel big rigs. If it works as tested, heavy-duty hydrogen vehicles could become an attractive option for emission-free trucking.

The company, named for famed French writer Jules Verne, believes its patented hydrogen tank and lower pressure fueling system – verified in testing with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – will allow trucks using it to go as far as diesel models, with no added weight, and fuel up just as fast. The next step is testing it with major truckmakers.

Truckmakers including Volvo, Daimler, Hyundai, Freightliner and Nikola begin rolling out battery- and hydrogen-powered heavy-duty models to help reduce exhaust emissions and greenhouse gasses. In early spring, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled new rules requiring cleaner heavy commercial trucks and buses starting in 2027 as part of broad U.S. efforts to curb carbon emissions.

Computer with email graphic

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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.