Articles written by Tony Fitzpatrick

About the Author

Tony Fitzpatrick writes about a wide variety of topics in science, technology and the environmental and agricultural sciences. His stories, articles and essays have appeared in newspapers and magazines nationwide. He is author of Signals from the Heartland.

November 2014

A small subset of the particles from the Dark Sky Simulation Collaboration, showing a massive galaxy cluster at the center. Particles are colored by their incoming (blue) or outgoing (red) velocity with respect to the cluster. (See ihttp://darksky.slac.stanford.edu/halo_world.html.)

Universe in a day

November 19th, 2014 Updated: November 19th, 2014

A team working on the Titan supercomputer simulates the biggest thing of all in a flash, then shares.

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October 2012

The NDM-1 enzyme's structure revealed a large cavity (dark gray) capable of binding a variety of known antibiotics (shown in different colors). Once bound, the enzyme can cut the carbapenem ring, destroying the compound's antibiotic activity. Modeling the interactions computationally can allow researchers to design compounds that will readily adhere to NDM-1 and prevent it from binding with antibiotics. (Argonne National Laboratory.)

Overcoming resistance

October 18th, 2012 Updated: October 18th, 2012

To find a path around antibiotic resistance, a team working with the Intrepid supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory is simulating molecular binding interactions to rapidly vet new infection-fighting candidates.

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A timely death

October 18th, 2012 Updated: October 18th, 2012

Speed kills, as the slogan says, and in computers what it kills could be disease. Argonne National Laboratory researcher Andrew Binkowski’s calculations of protein structure help find ligands – smaller molecules – that attach to them, to deliver drugs that stop dangerous infections. But without supercomputers it could take months to model a single ligand, […]

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July 2012

A still from an animation of methane, the blue and silver molecules, escaping from a methane hydrate, the red and silver molecules water molecules that form a cage around methane molecules. (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.)

Twice-stuffed permafrost

July 31st, 2012 Updated: July 31st, 2012

A Pacific Northwest National Laboratory computation suggests that the water-gas compounds found in ocean permafrost can provide energy and store it, too – and then trap carbon dioxide.

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April 2011

A frame from an animation showing the possible route into the Atlantic Ocean of oil and dispersant from the spot of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A long view of Gulf oil spill

April 19th, 2011 Updated: November 30th, 2011

While others predicted when oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico might reach beaches, ocean modelers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the National Center for Atmospheric Research asked when gushing oil might exit the Gulf, where it would go and how diluted it’d be, up to a year later.

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Tracing CFCs and greenhouse gases

April 19th, 2011 Updated: November 30th, 2011

National Center for Atmospheric Research oceanographer Synte Peacock studies “the distribution of various tracers – something that tags a water mass and is carried around by ocean currents – to learn more about ocean circulation in the past and present.” These tracers include carbon and radiocarbon isotopes, paleotracers (fossils from the sea, in sediments and […]

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November 2010

A frame from a WRF, or weather research and forecasting model, that shows an area over Oklahoma where the FASTER fast-cloud physics project will be put to the test.

In climate modeling, speed matters

November 10th, 2010 Updated: November 30th, 2011

A Brookhaven team wants to build the ‘fast physics’ behind clouds, air-suspended particles and precipitation into global climate models.

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The wings that fly FASTER

November 10th, 2010 Updated: November 30th, 2011

If FASTER can be considered a jet that speeds global climate modelers to analyze fast physics processes, its wings are the testbed and associated research. The testbed integrates two major “fast” components: a single column model (SCM), a roughly 100 kilometer by 100 km column that complements traditional global climate models; and a numerical weather […]

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