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Saturday, August 18, 2012

NIF's woes

Excerpt from Article in SF Chronicle Anonymously contributed: ================================================================= Livermore Lab Ignition Facility's woes David Perlman Updated 11:02 p.m., Friday, August 17, 2012 ============================================================ Panel sees progress The technical review committee for the National Ignition Facility, headed by physicist Alvin Trivelpiece, retired director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, said the Livermore scientists had indeed made progress since the panel's most recent review in February 2011. "The NIF is operating in a stable, reliable, predictable and controllable manner," the committee said, and has made "extraordinary progress toward challenging goals." But the Livermore scientists won't reach the "milestone" of achieving ignition this fiscal year, the experts said, and added: "The committee is concerned that this milestone ... may not be the best way to manage this program. "A deadline imposed on an experimental discovery science program to achieve a particular result by a particular time at a particular cost is often unrealistic," the report said. And the National Ignition Facility is indeed costly: When the project began in 1995, its estimated cost was $1.1 billion, with completion set for 2002 . The price tag later rose to $2.8 billion and then to $3.5 billion by the time the facility's building was completed in 2009. Since then, Congress has appropriated more than $450 million a year for the effort's experiments, and some estimates predict that the costs could eventually reach more than $8 billion. 'Grand challenge' Ed Moses, longtime director of the Livermore project, has been enthusiastic about the project from the start. "It's a grand challenge, and I'm confident of getting ignition," he said five years ago, "and whether it's 2010 or 2011, I'm sure we'll achieve it." A Livermore lab spokesman said Moses and other facility leaders were unavailable this week to respond to the latest reports. But the spokesman e-mailed The Chronicle an unsigned statement that could be "attributed" to Moses, which said the facility "continues to make extraordinary progress toward its goal. ... The capabilities needed to achieve ignition are in place." It added, "In the last year of precision experiments, NIF has successfully resolved most of the major physics concerns necessary to achieve ignition. The current campaign is working to resolve the remaining few and integrate all the pieces together." David Perlman is The San Francisco Chronicle's science editor. E-mail: dperlman@sfchronicle.com Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Livermore-Lab-Ignition-Facility-s-woes-3797461.php#ixzz23sLkUyYj So...what's gpoing on there guys? Is EM on his way out the door or is LLNS management sweeping stuff under the carpet?

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Why this excuse comes out now? That looks really bad. Yet another excuse and yet another setback.

I bet they will push back ignition 2 years. A more realistic 10-20 year delay would deprioritize NIF too much that it would have an impact on the budget. The way to game it is to "concoct" an artificial delay of 2 years which is politically palatable.

Anonymous said...

Wow this is an understatement of the millennium to suggest that there are only a few minor technical issues to work out and piece together.

I really have to question the technical review committee as to why they say this now rather than in the plan. Trivelpiece is a world renowned Plasma Physicist, who certainly is smart enough to understand all of the show stoppers that he and the other members of the technical review committee know that NIF need to watch out for. The statement that weapons codes used for underground tests may not be appropriate for Ignition target designs is really a "duh" statement. Most people who are knowledgeable of NNSA programs all know that overall, NIF is not a viable or cost effective platform for needed stockpile stewardship experiments.

So why now? Making up an excuse now, and not having a plan already in place now? The fact that NIF had benefitted greatly from the PR and funding arising for many elements of the programs that are backed by the assessments and recommendations of the technical review committee, makes me have to wonder what their real role was for NIF? What NIF had been doing as part of the PR campaign would be called "misreprentation," or a "con job," that the technical review committee willfully and knowingly participated in. NIF benefitted greatly from the hype. Anywhere else, this would be considered a crime. Basically you can't trust these technical review committees anymore because they are not independent, that they have an agenda, that they are easily subject to influence, or they are ineffective at managing technical risk. Everything is built upon the premise that the technical review committee served a control role for technical risk management. No matter how you attempt to explain it, that committee failed in their role.

In addition, the statement that all the "capabilities are in place" is a little bit of word trickery based on how you define a "capability." NIF is redefining a capability to be the facilities, hardware and infrastructure, when in reality, there is alot more inputs to the capability that are absent on the path towards alpha heating and ignition.

I could have easily seen a situation where NIF, even getting 10 or 25% of the needed alpha heating, while not meeting the milestone, would have been deemed a great promising result. Even I would have been optimistic. But being four orders of magnitude off in addition to other technical evidence suggests that no one should bother trying to hold their breath.

Anonymous said...

A 2 year horizon is the optimal timeframe from the point of view of acceptability. It maintains the right level of "urgency." It is a sufficient amount of time to allow legislators to forget about past failures, while being near enough in time to suggest that the success is just around the corner. Choosing a longer time horizon would clearly signal that a program should be much lower in priority and have lower priority with regards to funding.

A 2 year horizon also buys the organization time to attempt a bait and switch, by changing the objectives, milestones, or mission. Suggesting that alpha heating is not the right milestone is tantamount to a bait-and-switch.

Anonymous said...

Protecting their boy Ed in many ways, sweeping facts and issues under the rug, reporting false accomplishments to DOE , NNSA,Congress and Senate. Is this anything new? Those in power so should stop all funding for FY 2013until a full one year technical and scientific review have been accomplished. If not 100% then cut it by 50% immediately with no other color of money allowed to be spent on this project for any reason.

Anonymous said...

Big Science headed for Grand Failures and sold by huge lies. That's NIF in a nutshell.

Anonymous said...

If what’s presented in this article is correct, then congress will be justified to believe it has been mislead. Indeed, as the article indicates, it is difficult if not impossible to expect that a complex experiment could achieve the desired results within a particular time and cost. However, it is LLNL’s responsibility to provide DOE and congress with real expectations. The scientist at NIF may not be able to resolve all the physics and engineering issues needed to achieve ignition within a specified budged and time, but it is expected that they would have a sense of how long it might take and cost; especially this late into the project. Thus, it does appear that some cover-up or suspect information has been put forth to mislead DOE and congress; and of course the American tax payer. Truth, openness, transparency are not just words; they are acts of fairness, honesty, and correctness that we all deserve from our scientific community and leaders.

Anonymous said...

Remarkable. Fantastic.

From an idea, an unclear concept 15 years ago to a 100-square acre, flawlessly operating instrument assimilating amazing new technologies from material, to modelling to controls...

1.8MJ of blue light.. 500TW every 4 hours on a 3 mm target... Wow.

Brilliant.

24 beamlines 192 beams, adaptive optics, 5 MJ of capacitors, amazing 9000 pcs of 40cm x40cm Nd glass, meter-long 9000 flashlamps, literally millions of optics... Cleanest large surfaces ever produced, 1000s of times better than in wafer production.

A reliable 4K target system in a shielded 10m diameter vacuum sphere. DT targets regularly meeting exacting standards. Calibrated diagnostics systems to determine performance. Models to support interpretation.

All to the highest seismic standards, every system with a safety note, checked and rechecked.

Truly a magnificent lifetime achievemnt. Something Haussman dreamed of when he hired Emmett. What Paisner, Simmons, Hurley and Frietag strove for in setting high scientific and engineering standards. What Trenholme's team predicted.

Over 1000 labbies contributed years of their lives and many, many late nights.

Remarkable. Unprecedented. The damn thing works...it regularly meets its design specs.

Thanks for the confirmation Al.

"FIAT LUX" is fulfilled.


Now on to discoveries...

Anonymous said...

Yep. The NIF laser and Target systems meeting their design specifications.

It can now be used to study the interaction physics if was designed to explore.

Who can accurately predict where this exploration will lead?

Anonymous said...

The last 2 messages are presenting the "switch" part of the Bait and switch.

4 orders of magnitude

Anonymous said...

Not only that, but NIF is one of the most ridiculously expensive per-shot platforms for "high pressure" experiments to "explore the unexplored regime." The benefits do not justify the costs both fixed and ongoing.

You almost think from the PR campaign that NIF is going to make discoveries on par with the Higgs particle. Now THAT's a discovery.

Anonymous said...

A fiasco from start to finish. Time has come to pull the plug. The only thing learned from NIF is a textbook lesson on how not to manage a large project.

Anonymous said...

The only thing I haven't heard Livermore blame is Los Alamos for "problems" with D-T capsule. Doesn't Los Alamos make the capsule? This would be the perfect reprisal for sending the "Big Three" (Anastasio, Knapp, McMillan) to Los Alamos.

Anonymous said...

The NIF project should be "shut down" and used as a museum to collect some proceeds to "break-even".

Anonymous said...

A 2 year horizon is the optimal timeframe from the point of view of acceptability. It maintains the right level of "urgency." It is a sufficient amount of time to allow legislators to forget about past failures, while being near enough in time to suggest that the success is just around the corner.

Just like Teller. Remember SDI?

Anonymous said...

Keep an eye out for NIF to pick a new timeline from out of thin air. Even the pre-JASONs pit lifetime estimates were not even an "estimate," but rather a negotiated horse trade.

It's a joke. Oh they will say that it's so "hard" with so many uncertainties and that it's hard to nail down anything. But at the end of the day, it is not evidence that drives the timeframe. Only what helps them get away with the con.

At first, I was wondering why the JASONs are not getting involved. Then on second thought, I thought that it was a waste of time to use their time and talents to cut through the lies and deception and deal with all the NIF trash, waste and scandal underlying the program.

When you see a number that is around 2 years being proposed (maybe they will see this blog and say "no no, our assessment is 3 years, not 2 years") you should still give yourself a nice chuckle.

Just remember to know all the tricks of the con artist and you will see that there is maybe a dozen that they use over and over. This is one of those in the con-artist's toolkit.

Anonymous said...


I am truly in awe of NIF. NIF is and always will be a process, all great science is a process. We have gone to the moon, discovered the Higgs, found DNA, made airplanes fly. These are all processes. Those who say NIF
has not meet some "objective" or "goal" fail to understand the process and how the process works. Righ now it is like an explorer who has just sighted a new continent. Some would say turn back now but history says go forth and explore. Yes you will need to send more ships and people and it will need funding and time. It will also mean other things will have to be cut, however the boundless riches for generations to come will more than pay many many orders of magnitude for small sacrifice and this is all part of a process. I have now doubt that in retrospect we will see this as discovery of a new world as we delve into the unknown realm. Years ago no one even dreamed it is possible but now the thing is built and IT WORKS think of what more can be done if we are patient
and are willing to sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

Yes NIF needs more time, and sustained funding at a much lower level. NIF also realistic expectations. NIF management needs to stop the con jobs also. NIF needs an independent technical review committee. NIF needs significant oversight. NIF needs to stop the bullshit PR.

Anonymous said...

NIF as a project is a failure. But ignition is a worthy long term goal. No harm would be done in scaling back NIF significantly. Say, 10% per year reduction for 5 years followed by level funding on developing laser science and technology, barring any more scandals coming out of LLNL. Or start migrating laser science and technology to another lab, say NRL.

Anonymous said...

9:40AM: "At first, I was wondering why the JASONs are not getting involved. Then on second thought, I thought that it was a waste of time to use their time and talents to cut through the lies and deception and deal with all the NIF trash, waste and scandal underlying the program." - wasn't it the JASONS that endorseed proceeding with NIF over a decade ago? Are they credible?

Anonymous said...

Learning that weapons codes are inappropriate for ignition target design and physics is not what I would consider to be a huge discovery, let alone science.

Anonymous said...

Is the question whether the JASONs endorsed ignition as a goal in general? or whether they endorsed the specific plans and milestones to reach ignition by 2005? It would be nice to find that information if it's available.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any problems with the technical review committee, since they reported either to NNSA or directly to congress? So there are no misaligned incentives or conflicts involved with NIF at all. It's possible that in any independent review that there may be agendas or preconceived ideas, prejudices or biases. But it's really the quality of the recommendations and contingency plans that really determine whether the committee was performing its job properly. In addition, it's within the management's purview to accept or ignore the technical review committee's findings. The failure of the alpha heating milestone could only lead to one logical conclusion... that NIF management ignored the technical review committee's findings. If that isn't the case, then there is a serious problem at hand.

Anonymous said...

What some people here fail to see is that LLNL has developed the know-how and technology for building such a facility. While right now it doesn't deliver ignition, and it probably won't, at some point in the future ignition is likely to be attainable via more energy, larger targets, etc. etc. You will need that experience around for when that time comes.

It doesn't make sense to just shut down the facility and lose all of that know-how. Keeping it alive at 400+ million dollars a year? Probably not. But you're stuck with it. Whatever you negative you have to say about the costs, all of that is a sunk cost, and now you have something that delivers alot of laser power.

So what are the available alternatives? Can that know-how be migrated to another existing facility as part of other non-NNSA programs? Are there technical reasons for why LLNL HAS to be the one to have the site for future facilities? Since other organizations are part of the NIC, is it possible for them to take ownership of the large part of any continuing and future programs geared towards ignition?

Anonymous said...

You are so naive. The labs all play the "i want one too" game. Each wants a big facility because of the money involved. You can't just take away something from one lab without taking something from the others or giving something to replace what you've taken. Be realistic. That is how national lab funding works. Poor performers don't die off. This is not a survival of the fittest. There is no incentive to outperform your competition, even though this seems to naturally happen. There is no penalty for performing poorly. Sure, maybe a few people have their heads cut off for scandals. But the rules of the game are the same.

Anonymous said...

Is the Jasons committee credible on the topic of NIF? One of them was a well an LLNL employee at the time. Was there a conflict of interest? I don't know, I'm not a lawyer but it's a question that should be asked.

Anonymous said...

It would be really nice of the lab and NNSA makes a full disclosure about the people serving on these review committees, who they report to, what the compensation arrangements are, and what their specific role is. If their activity is intended to help the project manage certain risks, that should be clearly stated. If their role is NOT for "endorsing" anything, that should be clearly stated. This is one of the big problems with DOE. You have one thing but people assume it's there for another, because nothing is transparent. I can see a really bad situation where the technical review committee simply reports to the lab, as opposed to congress. Then any kind of oversight function is badly tainted with the stench of conflicts of interest.

Anonymous said...

There are alot of people who can serve on different JASONs for different areas. Yes some of them are or have been former lab members. Yes, there are many who are VERY knowledgeable of NIF and the underlying physics. Just having a former lab member doesn't constitute a conflict of interest for a JASONs review on a lab program. Also there are many available candidates for any particular JASONs study, though you can almost tell in advance who would likely be on certain ones simply because of their experience and participation in previous studies.

There was a very nice book published recently on the JASONs. Very good reading to help inform the public about these matters relating to public trust.

Anonymous said...

"There are a lot of people who can serve on different JASONs for different areas. Yes some of them are or have been former lab members. Yes, there are many who are VERY knowledgeable of NIF and the underlying physics."

10-15 years ago this perspective would likely fly, in today's science ethics world it's a tough sell.

Anonymous said...


http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/jason/nif.pdf

Anonymous said...

One could have argued that underground tests help calibrate old weapons codes the way NIF experiments (and even its problems with alpha heating) will help calibrate or update new weapons codes.

While this may sound good in principle, we live in a very different world now. Does anyone have any opinions about this persepective? Does it fly? Do the benefits justify the ongoing cost? Can it be done by other less-expensive means?

As much as I completely and wholeheartedly agree with the "con-job" remarks made above, gutting the whole program seems to be an even bigger waste. Quite a bit of expertise was developed in getting NIF to work up to this point. You can't just throw this away.

Worthy short-term goals would be to (1) put in place controls to ensure that the misrepresentation or poor expecations management does not happen again, and (2) answering the above questions before making decisions of how to restructure the ignition campaigns.

Anonymous said...

LLNL should nominate NIF for the Nobel prize, or some kind of national medal.

Anonymous said...

This is a few months dated but is still highly relevant

http://trivalleycares.presstools.org/content/formerly-secret-performance-report-reveals-problems-national-ignition-facility-and-security-

Anonymous said...

The odd thing about the JASONs report.. is that some areas look to be a punt. They make generic recommendations for having a technical review committee as a control for managing technical risks which was the right thing to do. And this was done. So in the end it was really in the hands of those members of the technical review committee to manage technical risk.

Outcomes based milestones would have or should have been tracked much more carefully, with activities planed far in advance to plan for contingencies.

Also I'm not sure you would necessarily use the JASONs to find out what went wrong with a failure of the committee's control role. Maybe it is instructive to look carefully at the committee charter and whether or not it was written poorly so as to leave gaps in the control functions of the committee.

While NIF may be a disappointment, this could provide good opportunities for the broader scientific community and. I would dare to predict the following:

Internal and external NNSA workshops to revaluate or reassess physics models relevant to ignition; (supports developing a new timeline, also supports some scientific community outreach; provides funding)

NNSA outreach to the broader scientific community to work out the myriad scientific issues like alpha heating; (supports outreach and foster scientific community support and aceptance; provides funding to university and supports getting community buy-in)

Funding requests through ASC for developing newer and better validated or more appropriate modeling tools and high performance computing algorithms, possibly including scalable PIC based tools, sparking a fairly substantial and long term research and validation program and associated funding; (sets new targets and rationale for larger computers; supports ASC mission; supports longer term ignition goals);

Some of the above activities paid for initially through funds that are allocated for the NIC. That is, significant restructuring of the campaign.

(Stealing from other contributions to this blog) Robust and continued funding for laser science and techology, including laser plasma interactions, basic nuclear, radiation and plasma physics research, components research including new damage resistant optical materials design for future higher fluence laser systems).

Better management and oversight, possibly having the facility operated by another contractor. Technical oversight forced upon the JASONs or some non-LLNL-appointed committee.

Anonymous said...

LLNL should nominate NIF for the Nobel prize, or some kind of national medal.

August 21, 2012 12:19 AM

This is a joke right? Tell me you're not serious.

Anonymous said...

NIF is looking more and more like LLNL's "con job". MFTF, X-ray lasers, Brilliant (aka Dumb) Pebbles,....., NIF.

Anonymous said...

..., NIF


You don't know of what you write.


You work for the Beijing International Propoganda bureau?

Anonymous said...

Yeah you need to get it right. its not that NIF is "looking" ... like a con job. It IS a con job.

Anonymous said...

LLNL should nominate NIF for the Nobel prize, or some kind of national medal.

August 21, 2012 12:19 AM

The International Medal for Science and Technology F.U.B.A.R. of the Century.

Anonymous said...

LLNL should nominate NIF for the Nobel prize, or some kind of national medal.

August 21, 2012 12:19 AM

This is a joke right? Tell me you're not serious.

August 21, 2012 6:15 PM

The NIF tool is an outstanding machine. We are now ready to explore to the new realms as it was intended to do. It would not be surprised if two or three Nobel prizes come out of this.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah you need to get it right. its not th'at NIF is "looking" ... like a con job. It IS a con job.,,''"

You are ignorant. Visit LLNL.gov.
Schedule a tour. Get information.

THEN make your judgement.

After the tour, the view of the hardware, it's accomplishments and the calibre of he folks, you will not be able to make the uninformed lead-in statement.

To those of us with knowledge of the instrument, you sound uninformed.



It is true at this point one of the major milestones, higher yields in fusion, is late. But many DoD missions are ready that do not require this outcome, and the giant instument works very well.

So now, the world's scientific community has a real challenge and the instrument, team and resources to solve it. Who really cares if it takes somewhat longer than we think?

Anonymous said...

The taxpayers footing the bill care quite a bit. Something you seem to have completely forgotten. Have you lost your way at some point in the past? Or is this an attitude of entitlement that you have started off with? Science at any cost is not science worth pursuing. Maybe you should donate a large portion of your salary to continued NIF work to truly demonstrate your committment? Get the other employees there to do the same. Then maybe you'll start getting some sympathy and support. If you are willing to put your money where your mouth is, maybe it will erode the skepticism.

And yes I have seen NIF up close and personal, twice, in fact, and what I have seen is a huge ongoing operational cost with no exit strategy. DoD projects and acquisitions are based on whether they contribute to capabilities supporting it's mission. If a project or asset is determined to no longer be aligned with those missions, then it will be deprioritized or cut. NNSA's mission includes supporting the stockpile. The case hasn't been made for how NIF is the most cost effective way to do this given the other available platforms.

Saying over and over that it works well or that it conforms to specifications... really doesn't cut it. Saying that just because the workers are talented doesn't cut it. Trying to make analogies with DoD projects doesn't cut it. Maybe you need to address this thing head on. Prove that the PR campaign was not a con. That NIF did not benefit by knowingly and intentionally misrepresenting the expected capabilities or timeline of NIF. Prove that the design and implemention of the technical risk management plan was sound and effective, and that there was nothing more that could have be done. Doing those would do a great deal towards shutting many of us up.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, its somewhat insulting to be told that just because it's a complex working machine that it's worthy of continued funding. It's like saying "I have a PhD from Princeton and I am smart and I worked on the most complex problems in physics, therefore I am entitled to no-questions-asked tax-payer provided funding to support my open-ended research program with no firm end-date and no strings attached"

It's almost as if the NIF management isn't even aware of their own blantant displays of arrogance.

Anonymous said...

The Achilles heel of NIF is not in any of its engineering or operations, but rather in its weak alignment with NNSA mission. Unless you change the NNSA mission to align with NIF, or move NIF into another part of the government where there is better alignment, you only have a beautiful facility that supports basic science that is subsidized by NNSA.

However, I have yet to find an example (though maybe some of you could help me identify these), where the platform ONLY acts as a source of subsidized resources for the academic community but without having strong programmatic or mission alignment.

I think the potential problem is that there is a growing perception that NNSA is becoming a social welfare program.

Anonymous said...

Stupendous! Fantastic! Mind-Numbingly Beautiful!

From a two bit con artist 15 years ago to a juggernaut out of control king pin in a 350 cubic hectare facility of optics and electronics that are far beyond your comprehension, so much that I can say just about anything and you will be dazzled and in awe of my god-like Princeton education.

Blue Skies! Brilliant! Jenga!!

One of the most photogenic target chambers on the planet! 95% public awareness and recognition of the target chamber! Fantastic! Incredible!

DT and power far below what is needed to reach ignition, but that doesn’t matter because we already knew that you would be dazzled by our engineering. No surprise! Only blue skies blue skies! We are the chosen ones who stand before the pinnacle of immortality. Nobel Prize for EM and JL!!!! You all will bask in their wonderous glory! We will erect statues of them pointing eastwards towards the rising sun, contemplating the harnessing of the sun’s power within our own facility! For millennia to come! We will erect a temple – a temple of fusion energy, in honor of those. For millennia to come, people will visit and pay homage to greatness this world has never seen before, and will have never seen afterwards. Awe inspring!

Our landscaping. Impeccable! Our elevators work in both directions!!! Astounding! ISO-9002 accreditation!!! You can’t beat that!! Fantasmic!.

Remarkable. Unprecedented. The damn thing works! That’s never happened here before! Uncharted territory! Now we can discover unknown unknowns! For the first time, learn how to analyze data from an experiment! New territory for us! A pursuit worthy of more money! More money!! We are winners! And you can be too! Fascinating!

Smoke and mirrors! Bazinga! Pax Moseana is fulfilled. Bright lights! Sparkles! Billions and billions of nanometers of cable! Stupendous and mind boggling. 400 million dollars, each dollar to symbolize the faith and trust that each American will put into NIF every year for an eternity. Fireworks galore! Ticker-tape parade! Man on the moon! Higgs particle! New elements Mosinium and Nifinium!

Blue skies! Blue skies!

Now onto the discoveries of the unknown unknowns… a worthy pursuit for the immortals.

Anonymous said...

Keep doin your thing Johnny! Fan the flames. Keep crying "micromanagement" foul of the NNSA sponsors! Use all your connections to go around congress and the UC system to put all the blame on NNSA! Bring back the good ole days when we used to make our own moonshine at the lab and had a good ole time, and NOBODY told us what to do! Run them feds out of town and humiliate them and show them that they don't tell us what to do. We tell Washington what to do. We know best. We don't need no oversight. Give us the money that we asked for and leave us alone with our moonshine and lasers. Or else we'll have good ole Johnny to put the heat on you.

Anonymous said...

NIF is a fine instrument, and we shouldn't condemn it for it is no different than other platforms that are used to perform high pressure experiments. Evidence of this is the lineup of experimental shots waiting to be performed on the machine. They really need to change the name though.

Anonymous said...

"Now onto the discoveries of the unknown unknowns… a worthy pursuit for the immortals.

August 22, 2012 1:58 PM"

Your attempt at humor is pathetic and weak. FACT: NIF is has now been built, it works, and unknown unknowns have come up which is bad for small minds and milestones but could be also be the results of very deep mysteries in nature that are now in our grasp. Maybe a few Nobel prizes await for the patient and persistent. This is not the work of immortals nor the work of small minds. It is the work of very talented and dedicated workers that have served LLNL and will serve LLNL for the next 30 to 40 years.

Anonymous said...

" Maybe you should donate a large portion of your salary to continued NIF work..."

Probably donated 2500 hours of professional service beyond the regular work week over 10 years to help NIF achieve its goals, including a number of all nighters.

Thanks for the opportunity to present this fact.

Among the funnest was working with then lab Deputy Director Glen Mara and a legion of others on graveyard shift during switchyard one completion. Crafts and professional alike joined efforts to safely complete the rapid, clean assembly, custom beamline and mirror installation.

Worked part of the morning, rested and came in at 2 pm, worked until 7 am for about 6 weeks...

Now, with the battle zone cleared,it is hard to believe the effort delivered by all.

The reason the timeline is less important now is that the actual science is ongoing, the major investment is over. It is now up to the talent studying the problem to work it out, and making progress is important, but not as predictable as say, conventional or repeat equipment construction.
With nearly $6B invested, whether $450M or $2B more is needed is less important than completing the investigation.

Anonymous said...

"Doing those would do a great deal towards shutting many of us up..."

A lot to cover in a blog, but worth trying, if you will indeed shut up.

The technical reviews that you seek include the Lehman reviews, the Jason reviews and the onging Trivelpiece-lead reviews.

Don't like the results, tough. That's the state of the art, and if you didn't understand what you saw in your tour, well that's a pity.

Now, after your reading, keep your word?

Anonymous said...

It's almost as if the NIF management isn't even aware of their own blantant displays of arrogance...

Or better perhaps that the opinions of two uniformed LANL malcontents on a blog don't matter....

Anonymous said...

Sorry your career isn't working out.
Competition is a bitch.

Perhaps you can contact your colleague, Dr, Lee to see if his contacts need any updates to the lousy codes that he provided to them.

Anonymous said...

"...maybe then you'll get my sympathy and support.."

Don't care. Don't want anonymous approval... sounds creepy.

Both want the information out there so the taxpayer can judge for herself.

Anonymous said...

Somebody doesn't know the difference between continuous risk management control and a commission review.

Anonymous said...

Con job. such an apt term. That makes me laugh

Anonymous said...

Two-bit con artist: You're time hasn't bought you a lick of sympathy. Drop cash. That is more effective.

Anonymous said...

And yeah I know you "Don't Care" You really don't care about squandering tax-payer money for science at any and all cost.

Anonymous said...

Lets not fool ourselves. The strategy being employed here refers to "unknown unknowns." Alpha heating milestone failure? Unknown unknowns. Ignition? Unknown unknowns. What are the unknowns being pursued? Unknown unknowns.

"Completing an investigation" into what is essentially an attribution to unknown unknowns is the same as declaring a completely open-ended pursuit.

The act of dropping into the conversation the idea of "Nobel Prize" has the very powerful effect of leveraging people's biases for taking risky bets, like telling people that you can't win the lottery if you don't play. While individuals are within their rights to play this game, Government has no business taking risky bets with tax-payer money.

Anonymous said...

Symbolic acts such as demanding a low salary (e.g., $1 a year for a CEO at a large company for example), are very powerful techniques for showing committment to stakeholders. It is one way at addressing the Principal-Agent Problem, which also appears to be present at the national labs.

Anonymous said...

There may be another clever and effective strategy in play here. If you have a convenient entity to blame (such as your blaming your sponsors for micromanagement) and then you intentionally set a goal that you know cannot be met, then with you fail to reach a late stage critical milestone, you are able to play the blame card to buy yourself more time, and you repeat this cycle over and over with different variations. You can effectively get a 20 year program by performing back-to-back roll-backs, delays, realignment, rebaselining, re-missioning, etc. The effective applications of this strategy requires that you don't get any blowback along the way. You also need to ensure that the failure milestone is at the end of each time horizon or cycle, not early on. And certaintly any kind of independent oversight will make it difficult to pull this strategy off successfully. A very robust PR campaign needs to be continously employed to send a messaging that ordinary people can buy into. Messaging that resonate with the public's perceptions and sterotypes of scientists for example. Playing on patriotism and national defense themes. In more liberally minded places, playing into social and environmental themes. Carefully crafted messaging is a critical component of this strategy. On the negative side, it is essential to be able to play down any criticisms by discrediting and attacking naysayers or make them appear like they are cranky and bitter sore losers who only complain. In an era where it is difficult to get 20-30 year government programs, it is essential to work every policy, strategy, and PR lever in order to get a work-around. Since the ends justify the means, the "making saugage" part of the process will be all washed away once the ultimate end-goal is reached. At that point, anything that the detractors say are completely moot and without voice. But remember that this strategy requires active management.

Anonymous said...

Another tool available for employing the above strategy is regulation capture. Very successfully used in the private sector. In regulation capture, the regulated entities essentially capture the regulators through personnel placements and influence. In the case of NNSA, replace by political will, staffers with loyal laboratory employees who will pursue lab originated agendas while effectively shutting down anything that smells like greater oversight or regulation.

A key obstacle to regulation capture here is that the three labs compete against each other, and one may want the others to lead the capture and potentially holding more control than the others. Since the 3 labs are comparably sized, capture may be difficult. Partnering, and possibly weakening one of the 3 over time may help facilitate capture.

Anonymous said...

Straight from the Horse's mouth: Pure and absolute arrogance.

With nearly $6B invested, whether $450M or $2B more is needed is less important than completing the investigation.

Though it is not at all unexpected or shocking in the least. The only shocking thing is that you would put it in print. Didn't legal tell you not to engage in or respond to this blog? Don't you know any better? Stop letting yourself get baited.

Anonymous said...


Probably donated 2500 hours of professional service beyond the regular work week over 10 years to help NIF achieve its goals, including a number of all nighters.

Thanks for the opportunity to present this fact.


I have never before heard of extra required time put into work for a salaried person as a "donation." Hourly worker foregoing overtime pay? Yes. Salaried worker? No. I would have cited time or money put into non-work-related charity instead, citing that giving to your community was just as important as giving to your work related mission.

Anonymous said...

If we were to cut USD400M right now out of NIF now and forever, just shut it down cold turkey, subtract out the cost due to new unemployment claims from the layoffs caused by NIF, and other economic effects due to reduced revenues that were expected by suppliers, you still end up with a fairly decent sized dent on the budget deficit. I'm all thumbs up on that approach.

Anonymous said...

You can also get salvage value from the metal and parts in the facility.

Anonymous said...

Don't like the results, tough. That's the state of the art, and if you didn't understand what you saw in your tour, well that's a pity.

When I go to IBM or Intel, I see state of the art. Showing me a big well-designed well-engineered facility of optics and components whose functions and workings I already knew and understood 10 years ago, is not showing state of the art. Stop fooling yourself. Stop trying to fool us. Alot of us know better.

Anonymous said...

Don't they also own a patent for the concept of using lasers to produce fusion energy? That should be worth alot.

Anonymous said...

I hope you didn't try to write apply those donated 2500 hours off as deductions in your taxes. You'd be in a heap of trouble if you did.

Anonymous said...

With nearly $6B invested, whether $450M or $2B more is needed is less important than completing the investigation.


Since the poster of this statement essentially identified himself, this can now be considered an attributed statement, as well as the others made in that same entry.

Anonymous said...

Isn't LLNS a nonprofit where donations are tax deductable?

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps you can contact your colleague, Dr, Lee ..."
August 22, 2012 11:32 PM


That would be the infamous convicted spy and former LLNL employee, Peter Lee.

Anonymous said...

Bring back the good ole days when we used to make our own moonshine at the lab and had a good ole time

I heard some old lore about the moonshine whiskey days, this must have been way back in the days when the lab had a bunch of barracks and wooden buildings. It must have been a interesting time. Like something-rad-lab, or something like that. The name they gave to moonshine. In interesting tidbit about the early days.

Anonymous said...

I really miss the swimming pool. When that started leaking and it was found to be too expensive to fix, that really was a big blow to morale. They used to offer technical diving classes after hours in that pool.

Anonymous said...

NIF is nothing more that Don Quixote's (LLNL's) windmill. Battle on Don, battle on....

Anonymous said...

How does the annual cost to operate NIF compare with other science facilities around the country?

Anonymous said...

I miss the pranks.

Anonymous said...

A good rule of thumb for estimating the annual operating costs for a physics facility including the experiments performed at the facility is 15% of the capital construction costs.

Anonymous said...

For those of you that are questioning the value of all the funds that have gone into NIF over the years, recall that among the supporters of the boon doggle perhaps the single greatest supporter was Vic Reis. And also recall that McMillan has touted Reis as his model for leadership.

Caveat emptor!

Anonymous said...

Purely hypothetically speaking, if a NIF director was found to be engaging in activities that amount to embezzlement, what does that mean for LLNL? It's one thing to lie to an NNSA or DOE administrator. It's quite another to commit a crime. What does that mean for the lab? More oversight? Program overhaul? More NNSA-wide training? Non-NIF parts of the lab get to pay even more for the sins of NIF in more ways than just through high overheads? NNSA has to throw more money at the lab to "fix" the problems, meaning less money for other labs/programs?

Anonymous said...

Just to think, all the time and energy that goes into long term strategy development for the lab, and then it's all unraveled because of a two-bit criminal con artist who can't keep his hands out of the till. Maybe we all need to thank him though. He may have caused right outcome even if for the wrong reasons.

Anonymous said...

A good rule of thumb for estimating the annual operating costs for a physics facility including the experiments performed at the facility is 15% of the capital construction costs.


You need to also consider other unique lifecycle costs like replacement optics and components, and the end-of-life disposal costs for low-level-radioactive materials of the chamber, equipment, and possibly the building. Oh wait scratch that. You would need to first produce an appreciable amount of neutrons before your building can start getting radioactive. At the end of life, the building materials will probably be pristine.

Anonymous said...

NIF is a good community neighbor. Not to worry. It won't produce very much neutrons. It can't even get appreciable alpha heating! The community is safe for decades to come.

Anonymous said...

We will erect statues of them pointing eastwards towards the rising sun, contemplating the harnessing of the sun’s power within our own facility! For millennia to come! We will erect a temple – a temple of fusion energy, in honor of those.

I would love to see someone put together a computer graphics design of this. I kind of like the idea of having a fusion energy temple, somewhat like the water temples build as part of the water system. Maybe even a kind of "eternal flame" component which is actually powered by fusion energy, maybe even a continuously operated plasma of sorts. There should be an online design copetition for what the temple would look like.

Anonymous said...

The fusion energy temple and the statues should sit right next to but not be dwarfed by the statue of Zefram Cochrane, the discoverer of warp-drive technology, or the statue of the inventor of the space elevator and the now popular and ubiquitous superstring.

Anonymous said...

"The fusion energy temple... or the statue of the inventor of the space elevator and the now popular and ubiquitous superstring..."

Get back to your AP English essay, Wannabee, you have college to prepare for...close the blog, stop teasing the adults, turn-off the porn and get your essay written or you'll be off to JC or the Navy next Fall.

Anonymous said...

I actually appreciate more this kind of snide attempt at humor and mockery over the kind of angry slash and burn vitriole that was populating the LANL blog. This blog has its share of character assassination (perhaps with its share of contribution from LANL blog posters in fact). This blog is much more readable, and dare I say it, more entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Could a 60% cut of a $272M NIF operating budget for FY13 make Ed Moses throw in the towel or will he sit back and watch ~447 plus people of the 800+ on the project take a hike out the gate between Oct and Dec 25th.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think NIF's taking a 60% cut??? All outward (and various indward) indications appear otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if anyone is aware that the USA spends over 100Billion every year buying foreign energy.

We can spend 30M to support growing mangoes in Pakistan but 250M a year for fusion research is too expensive.

What a sad superficial world this is.



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