BLOG purpose

This BLOG is for LLNL present and past employees, friends of LLNL and anyone impacted by the privatization of the Lab to express their opinions and expose the waste, wrongdoing and any kind of injustice against employees and taxpayers by LLNS/DOE/NNSA. The opinions stated are personal opinions. Therefore, The BLOG author may or may not agree with them before making the decision to post them. Comments not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog authors serve as moderators. For new topics or suggestions, email jlscoob5@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Save NIF !

Anonymously contributed: -------------------------------------------------------------------------- House Lawmakers Appeal To Chu To Protect National Ignition Facility ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- A bipartisan group of 100 House lawmakers is appealing to Energy Secretary Steven Chu to preserve funding for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility. The facility has been beset by complications in its quest to achieve fusion ignition and after the facility missed a key milestone at the end of June, the National Nuclear Security Administration acknowledged that it was unlikely that the lab would achieve fusion ignition by the promised target of the end of the fiscal year. A potential $30 million funding cut in Fiscal Year 2013 and a change in the way overhead rates are charged for the facility that would further cut into its budget has the lawmakers—led by California Democrats Pete Stark and Zoe Lofgren and Ohio Republican Michael Turner—worried about the future of the facility. In the Aug. 3 letter, the lawmakers noted that the facility recently conducted the first 500 terawatt laser shot. “Given the tremendous progress to date, we are concerned that—rather than technical and scientific challenges—administrative, managerial and budgetary hurdles threaten to impede this promising research,” the lawmakers wrote, suggesting that management problems at DOE and NNSA could impact the facility. “We are concerned that the scientific advances at NIF and around the DOE/NNSA complex are being stifled by micromanagement and burdensome administrative processes.” The lawmakers encouraged Chu to “personally engage” on the management issues facing the NNSA and visit NIF. “It would be severely disappointing to get so close to a tremendous scientific breakthrough—fusion ignition at NIF—only to see it prevented by bureaucracy,” the lawmakers wrote.

98 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks like Parney has been busy using his connections to get 100 signatures from Congress to help save NIF. Considering that the CMRR "Hail Mary" letter didn't even get 10 it is even more impressive. But hey, what's an order of magnitude here or there?

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute... if i interpret that correctly, then the alpha heating milestone failure is being attributed to administrative, managerial and budgetary hurdles? Someone please explain.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like NIF would need MORE oversight, not less. Plus, it's not bureaucracy that is getting in the way of ignition. But it was a nice try to play the blame game.

But then again, who knows. Maybe as they frantically fiddle with the knobs over the next few months, things will suddenly work, and suddenly, "let there be light."

Anonymous said...

You could run NIF for the next twenty years and never get ignition.

Anonymous said...

And it will be ...

Anonymous said...

The sooner a stupid idea is stopped, the better. Every successful venture capitalist knows this simple fact. Apparently, at least 100 Congressmen do not know this rule or do not care or both.

Anonymous said...

"..stupid idea is stopped, the better. Every successful venture capitalist knows this simple fact..."

What a stupid statement. No venture capitalist would invest $6B on capital and then would only test the idea for 1/2 year and $300M. If it was worth investing in, it is at least worth seeing if it can be achieved. Throwing in the towel in the first round is the silliest kind of defeatism.

Ya built the microscope, now use it.

Ghost of Lewenhouk

Anonymous said...

I have heard some unconfirmed, unsubstantiated rumors regarding the quality and veracity of the model prediction for NIF. That it as almost as if there was negligence behind those who did not question the results based bad models simply because the positive results coming from those models confirmed what management wanted to hear.

Some people refer to this as "confirmation bias" (you can find it on google). The suggestion is that confirmation bias is behind the befuddlement surrounding the alpha heating milestone failure.

Anonymous said...

This stupid idea should have been stopped twenty years ago. It's amazing how short is the attention span of DOE and Congress. I recently saw an old Newsline article (circa mid 90's) that announced the initial funding for NIF: it was going to be completed by 2002 at a cost of one billion. Campbell's fib about his PhD pales in comparison to the doozies he told about NIF.

Anonymous said...

Think a better telescope.

Confirmation, rejection or discovery will occur as nature reveals it secrets to the careful observer.

The use of the NIF tool allows careful observers to explore a realm of physical phenomena not previously accessible.

It is a very exciting time. Model updates will follow. Current ideas will evolve or take a quantum leap as the phenomena is studied.

Again, think telescope.

Anonymous said...

So, it is kinda silly not to look in the telescope once you've built it.

Anonymous said...

The words "tantalizingly close" used to describe ignition may be misleading if indeed the technical program was rife with confirmation bias or any number of other biases. Just because it works on a computer doesn't mean that it's in the realm of the possible. Furthermore, if this is the case, you really have no choice but to gut or scale down parts of the program (e.g., efforts related to ignition), because you would still be prone to the same biases if you kept many of the same people (even scientists and mid level managers) or maintained the same working environment. Having very aggressive deadlines and a caustic working environment is what could have bred this kind of behavior in very smart people to avoid having a healthy level of skepticism and inquisitiveness. On the other hand, I don't ever think that giving the lab MORE time and less pressures will solve the ignition problem either.

Also being 4 orders of magnitude off really also doesn't look at all like anything "tantalizing close." But we'll see. Maybe someone forgot to turn a switch somewhere, and when they figure that out, everything will work like a charm. Or maybe, for example, the transport models are so inadequate and optimistic that we are indeed fooling ourselves into believing that we are close to ignition.

Anonymous said...

I think congress is tired of funding a stockpile stewardship tool for the Phd's to play with in hopes to achieve fusion. There are far to many other concerns in todays world and immediate needs for those funds to be used elsewhere. The days of having money for fancy toys is over.

Anonymous said...

NIF is way too small to achieve ignition. It needed to be ten to one hundred times bigger to have a chance.

Anonymous said...

We needs bigger laser! Give us money!

Anonymous said...

For the funds that the US Congress and DOE doled out to NIF, NOVA, and their predecessors in the monumentally failed laser fusion scam, the US could have built the super-conducting supercollider and discoverd the Higgs, and then some. Really, really stupid National Science priorities. LLNL should hang their heads in shame for being a party to this! Charlatans all!

Anonymous said...

Almost nothing on this page is a persuasive reason not to continue to use the excellent NIF tool to explore this realm of physical phenomena.

Science will reveal her secrets, and none of the opinions on this page matter.

Its kinda like telling your doctor what your illness is while the diagnostic tests are underway.

Save your breath. Patience.

Anonymous said...

There are a few things non-ignition related things that NIF could help with. But the cost-benefit is ridiculously poor for these.

The question is whether to keep throwing good money after bad. No persuasive argument has been made to support this idea that we should keep going this route or for how long? What is the exit strategy? To keep asking for patience every year before budget season? At what point would you accept the possibility that you have been deceiving yourself all along, if that indeed turns out to be the case?

Skeptics of NIF don't have to argue our points because the reasoning is self evident. NIF is a sunk cost and terminating it for failing to meet a critical milestone with no credible plan to solve the problem, is a rational and defendable move without requiring any argument. Proponents who ask for more time and money are the ones who need to be the ones begging and making their case.

Anonymous said...

Even if DOE decides to turn off the funding, Congress can still keep it going for years. Just look at how long LANSCE has been getting money.

Anonymous said...

Let's assume for just a moment, that it turns out that at some point in the near future, LLNL CANNOT or WILL not figure out or admit what the root cause of the failure is, nor are they able to make quick and feasible corrective actions that then leads to ignition.

I predict that NIF management will blame the failure on one of the following:
(a) blame defects in an "unnamed" specialized part from an "unnamed" vendor, but that the "unnamed" manufacturing problem could not be resolved.
(b) blame excessive NNSA oversight (through some bizarre twisted logic)
(c) blame NNSA or Congress for not providing the funds to "finish what they had started," making ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims that they are 95% or 99% close to ignition but the bullies in Washington prevented them from succeeding.
(d) blame crazed hell-bent anonymous bloggers who poisoned the minds of LLNL scientists and middle management, tainting their perspective and manipulating them in such a manner as to create a self-fulfilling prophecy situation.

Anonymous said...

August 9, 2012 1:39 AM

The correct answer is (d). Be patient these are exciting times for all us. The ship is built it is now time to sail around the world.

(d) blame crazed hell-bent anonymous bloggers who poisoned the minds of LLNL scientists and middle management, tainting their perspective and manipulating them in such a manner as to create a self-fulfilling prophecy situation.

Anonymous said...

I can envision one possible outcome, in which the lab makes a "deal" with NNSA and Congress, in which the lab agrees to a "slow death" scenario of gradual moderately sized cuts, in exchange for letting the lab "try to solve" the ignition problem, but without having to tell anyone how (i.e., hide that part of NIF in a shroud secrecy) so as to effectively avoid having to explain themselves, their progress (or lack thereof) or their plan.

This allows NIF to (1) "take the blind gamble" hoping that the problem will fix itself or that someone will figure it out in time, (2) buy the lab some time to buy support especially if there is a new administration or even buy time to find ways to get rid of D'Agostino and Cook, (3) have more time to play the public relations campaign, and (4) avoid getting slammed for not having any credible plan for a fix.

The other strategy is to designate something in NIF (like the material properties of gold or beryllium or fused silica) so classified and so critical to national security, and use that to justify maintaining a veil of secrecy.

Of course these tactics would have to be made much more sophisticated and legally complex because most of us see right through them.

Anonymous said...

I like (d) also because it implies that there is some kind of time travel involved, where the online "poison" of today is the root cause of all the failures of the past that culminate in the alpha heating milestone failure.

I'm a fan of science fiction. And NIF fits in quite well i that genre.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the alpha heating milestone failure issue is going up in front of the JASONs?

Anonymous said...

August 8, 2012 9:04 PM

August 8, 2012 9:04 PM

A you kidding me? We have all we need to know about bombs and the worthless universe. The people on earth aren't going anywhere and there's not a damn planet within reach we can get to in our lifetime that's habitable so why dump money into a black hole. Who gives a hoot about how the earth was made or even how it's going to be destroyed. We can't stop it anyway. When it's time, it's time.

Every dime every spent on NIF, stockpile stewardship, etc. should have been funneled into research for alternative clean energy that produces no radiation and all which can be manufactured using existing capabilities.

Congress should pull all funding from the weapons labs and give it to the labs that do alternative enegry non weapons work.

I surprised Chu isn't playing this card in DC and making it happen.

Anonymous said...

Save NIF? What for? Everyone agrees that the engineering is outstanding, the real part of it, and it's done. The physics part is imaginary and that's all that would be saved from this point forward, fiction.

Anonymous said...

NIF and LLNL is such a rich source of topical material for policy and strategy analyses reports and reports on organizational management. I can see analyses such as those relating to analogies between the Leroy Jenkins doctrine and the NIF management strategies.

I find it ironic that LLNL management proxies are going out to these websites and posting material, urging for more time, money and patience, when in reality, it's just fueling the fire and keeping the conversation alive in a way that doesn't help the lab at all.

Anonymous said...

Again. All funding for the weapons labs need to be pulled. Chu should reallocate all funds to facilities that works on issues that can be resolved on short order and can be mass produced in this country. #1 concern and only concern should be clean energy for homes and transportation.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I agree with all of that. It's a bit of a simplistic response, and NIF achieving ignition was supposed to be that "magic bullet" to address clean energy and global warning (at least in theory). The weapons lab don't perform exclusively weapons for, and things have been moving in this direction for over a decade.

Anonymous said...

Folks, blaming it all on NIF is ignoringthe history of "laser fusion," an oxymoron of tjhe first order. Going back to the early 1960s, the story has always been that the "codes" predict breakeven with a given laser energy, then when that laser is built, breakeven is not achieved. "Oh dear," whine the theorists and program managers, "we forgot to include the blah, blah physics in the codes, but now we have, so we only need a slightly bigger laser, at a huge increase in cost." How many "bigger lasers" to satisfy the requirement of how many "better codes" does it take to convince the taxpayers that "these guys don't know what they are talking about." (sorry, Richard)

Anonymous said...

"Again. All funding for the weapons labs need to be pulled. Chu should reallocate all funds to facilities that works on issues that can be resolved on short order and can be mass produced in this country. #1 concern and only concern should be clean energy for homes and transportation.

August 9, 2012 3:04 PM"

In principle I agree however the money is even better spent on social engineering and cultural change through mass education, programs, and, economic leverage. The problem with clean energy is that it does not solve the problem. It is like giving an addict "clean" heroine when the problem is the drug use to begin with. We need to fundamentally change the way we live so we do not use so much energy, dirty, clean or otherwise. This will not be easy and you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs nor can can you make a revolution with silk gloves but we can start by defunding the labs.

Anonymous said...

Does this help:

"Partly in response to this record of under-performing lasers and faulty code predictions of ignition, DOE conducted a secret series of underground nuclear tests in the period 1979-88 -- the so-called "Halite-Centurion" experiments -- to actually measure how much absorbed x-ray energy was required to ignite a fusion fuel capsule. The H/C program started in 1978 and produced ignition data by mid 1984, focused on the physics of the ignition capsule. LLNL ceased Halite experiments in 1987 and LANL stopped Centurion in 1988.

It can be deduced from the fragmentary information in the public domain about these experiments that targets designed to absorb less than about 20 MJ in the underground tests failed to achieve ignition (i.e. an energy gain of at least one). This fact leads some ICF experts to suggest that certain minimum capsule dimensions, wall thickness, material strengths, pulse lengths, and hence absorbed energies may be needed to minimize "hydrodynamic instabilities" (fluid turbulence) and thereby achieve the requisite degree of capsule compression and hot spot propagation into the surrounding fuel. While no one is yet sure exactly where these thresholds are, some weapons scientists remain convinced the Halite-Centurion results attest to the need for a very powerful driver, on the order of 100 MJ, in order to be confident of ignition and modest gain. [14] This follows from the fact that only about a fifth of the available driver energy is absorbed by the capsule in an optimal indirect-drive configuration. [15]"

NIF 1.8MJ

Anonymous said...

NIF was sold with a bald faced lie.

When it was falling horribly behind in construction, it was bolstered by even more lies to receive even more money.

Now that the lies have been uncovered by the hard facts of physics, a clueless Congress comes to NIF's rescue to blame "micro-management", which is a HUGE lie being pushed by the unethical managers at LLNL who profited from this turkey for almost two decade!

At long last, LLNL NIF managers, have you no shame? No shame at all? This is not science. It's piggish thuggery of the worst type!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Friedman should write an article on this.

Anonymous said...

We could start a game of name and shame. Using public sources of information, begin to list the names of people related to NIF, then start asking pointed questions about their role in perpetuating the lie.

I would first start off with the technical review committee, for example. I would go through every NIF technical review committee, names of the reviewers, their current employer, etc.

If the top is immune to pressure, you can still exert pressure from the bottom.

Anonymous said...

August 9, 2012 8:16 PM wrote: ...the money is even better spent on social engineering and cultural change through mass education, programs, and, economic leverage.

The world ran this experiment. It was called the Soviet Union. Epic fail. There was lots of social engineering and cultural change through mass education, programs, and, economic leverage.

The result was mass murder, environmental devastation, starvation, gulags, secret police, extreme poverty, power-elite rulers, and millions of lives with no opportunity.

No way. Not again.

Anonymous said...

I heard it from a knowledgeable physics source in the LIFE program that NIF is at least 2 orders of magnitude (energy wise) from what is needed for ignition. I can't see the best engineering in the world bridging that gap without redoing the entire thing. But politicians don't seem to get it, or maybe this was simply a token to keep these people busy at LLNL while they decide if they're really needed or not. Since the economy has not recovered and the miracle of ignition did not happen, surely they will now be forced to sharpen the axe.

Anonymous said...

There is two words for NIF, "Pipe Dream".

Anonymous said...

I'll never forget when Dr. Victor Reis (former Assistant Secretary of Energy) was at Los Alamos several years ago giving an update (boasting actually) on the National Ignition Facility. He started the briefing by pointing his laser pointer (5 milli watt) at his slides and said "who said lasers and NIF won't work". It appears that Reis was wrong. NIF is a colossal failure. By the way, where is this "con artist" (i.e. Reis)? He just cost the U.S. a billion dollars on this asinine "idea".

Anonymous said...

Face it, the way this is all going to end, is with LLNL outplaying everyone, and getting continued funding for many many years to come (with at most a negligible decrease), no ignition, and LLNL management point their finger at all of you and laughing, "ha ha, sucks to be you."

Anonymous said...

Hey, they've made three orders of magnitude progress and just have two more to go!

Anonymous said...

Yeah you can't blame LLNL. "Fool me once, shame on you... Fool me twice, shame on _____"

Anonymous said...

Back in the mid 1990s, I remember a lunch with some scientists at Los Alamos. I commented that this time Livermore had gone too far. It was one thing to fail with their smaller lasers, Shiva and Nova. Those were modest cost facilities, and failure could be covered up. But this time, with the multibillion dollar NIF, they were going too far. They would never get away with this failure. The Los Alamos scientists laughed at me, and said that Livermore would get away with it again. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha, you can't outfox the fox. Remember, LLNL tells Washington what to do and not the other way around. You'll always feel frustrated if you don't accept that fact. Live with it. Move on.

Anonymous said...

August 9, 2012 8:16 PM wrote: ...the money is even better spent on social engineering and cultural change through mass education, programs, and, economic leverage.

The world ran this experiment...


Social engineering: universal suffrage

Mass education: publicly-funded primary schools

Economic leverage: the interstate highway system

It's called the United States.

Anonymous said...

Save NIF? Just one question. Why? Especially if they were to pull all funding for FY-13 it could be used for somehthing more constructive and useful. So again I ask, WHY SAVE NIF?

Anonymous said...

WHY SAVE NIF? (4:27 PM)

More decades of big, fat management promotions for "doing a fantastic job!" on 'saving' NIF. That's why.

It's nothing more than a never-ending lab manager's promotion machine.

Anonymous said...

August 12, 2012 4:34 PM That's really a sad reason to keep it round. If this be the case I'd say someone should be getting capitol hills attention and get the funds cut now.

Anonymous said...

"Save NIF? Just one question. Why?"

Because NIF is a fine machine that if we are patient will let Nature reveal her secrets. This is a special time...paradigms will shift, theories will fall, new theories will emerge, confirmations will be made and most...most...most exciting of all is that new unexpected events will happen that could not be foreseen by any theory at all but could only be observed by running the experiment! These are exciting times indeed, NIF is built it is now time to run the experiments!!!!

Anonymous said...

Say something more specific self-delusional dude.

Anonymous said...

I think---hope for his sake anyhow---that 9:03 PM is being sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

It sounds more like religious fervor... as if NIF is going to bring about the rapture or help prove the existence of god, or some nonsense like that.

I remember a fair number of religious nutcases working in the lab... most of them mediocre in terms of technical or analytical ability, but all very much fervent believers in these programs, and some of them even offering to pray for you and "save your soul" while you wondered how to tactfully leave their office.

It all makes me wonder about the dynamics of the lab and whether it's a breeding ground for certain types of personalities. "Doing well at LLNL" was a label that was not applied to people who were superstars in their field of expertise and well regarded on the outside. On top of that, I do have to say that it is a great place for learning guerrilla strategy and tactics, perfecting your ability to read lies and deceptions, and how to survive in a toxic working environment.

Anonymous said...

You are right ... I have never worked before in a place where most are highly educated but the place is kind of hillbilly. LLNL is like attending a university in a trailer park. Toxic too.

Anonymous said...

55"highly educated but the place is kind of hillbilly"

OMG that is so right. Not that there is anything wrong with hillbilly but is is kind of odd at a such place. Af

Anonymous said...

August 14, 2012 8:43 PM

You mean they actually require you to work and don't base advancement on color, race, sex or creed. What a concept. If that's hillbilly, I'm all for it. Personally I still see where we are filling quota's with people of this type that are totally worhtless and yet they are still employed. I'd have fired their asses decades ago simply because they were and are worthless to the group or to the labs.

Anonymous said...

Add "merit" to that list of criteria NOT used for career advancement at LLNL

Anonymous said...

Talent retention has been a continual problem at LLNL. The top notch talent can write their own ticket to any job and the lab doesn't reward or have incentives for those people, whereas there is no mechanism for culling the bottom 20%. And it doesn't help the lab if these people are leaving and having little good to say about the organization.

To add to the problem, as mentioned above, the lab really doesn't have a way to properly assess the value of any employee's contributions to the organization based on any "normal" definition of "merit."

There are so many lingering asswipes and parasites at llnl, and they are so because it improves their survivability there. And they have no prospect of actually competing in a broader job marketplace and landing a job elsewhere. Though it's nice at LLNL where you can pedal fast going nowhere on a bicycle without any wheels and still collect a paycheck.

And yes, this brings us back to NIF, the grand social welfare program for many of these people to afford their 6 figure income, and pay for their underwater mortgages and cookiecutter homes with flat screen tv in each of the 3.5 bathrooms.

Anonymous said...

Nothing in the above posts is persuasive.

The instrument to study this regime of physics phenomena exists.

Use it. Ignore the hoi polloi. Characterize this realm.

Anything else is foolish.

Anonymous said...

Any of the nattering nabobs of negativity (always wanted to use that phrase, thanks Spiro) who can prove that operating NIF is not worhwhile, should state their case.

So far, detractors present weak conjecture, that can be settled by completing the current campaign.

Anonymous said...

Alpha heating milestone failure.

Anonymous said...

Not having a plan to address the alpha heating milestone failure.

Non credible estimations and lack of credible supporting evidence for when ignition can be achieved.

Anonymous said...

Poor internal cost controls.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see a hillbilly at LLNL, see the Queen of Hillbillies that has ruled over buildings 274 and 271 for years

Anonymous said...

Erosion of trust.

Exceptionally poor technical risk management practices.

Anonymous said...

Now now, Granny Clampett is a very endearing figure there.

Rumor goes: Elly Mae hooked up with the the dashing Mr. Drysdale. As a result, Mr. Drysdale was forced to resign.

But it's a fact that Elly Mae's critters are the ones who serve on NIF's technical review committee.



Anonymous said...

The NIF capability cannot reach ignition, and therefore has no alignment with core NNSA missions. Continuing the current campaign is just throwing good money after bad.

The rational business decision is to shut down capabilities that do not provide effects that support their intended core missions.

Anonymous said...

The Security Director has to be nice to the hillbilly. She might be incompetent and illiterate but don't want her using the d word in a complaint.

Anonymous said...

This is to the idiot posting the moronic comments about the Beverly Hillbillies: Granny's last name was Moses, not Clampett. Get it right or shut up. Granny's character name was Daisy May Moses, mother in law of Jed. And yes we all see the irony in her name. But most of us prefer Granny to the real life alternative.

Anonymous said...

Not to worry. The clock is already ticking and all eyes are on NIF and reaching ignition. Particularly important is the House Report, which suggests an outcome contingent on success or failure to achieve ignition. The fiscal year end is approaching fast! If it was a con job (and all indicators are that this was the most likely situation), there there no need to hold your breath, and people should start updating their resumes.

http://www.aip.org/fyi/2012/067.html

Senate Report:
“The Committee remains concerned about NIF’s ability to achieve ignition - the primary purpose of constructing the facility - by the end of fiscal year 2012 when the National Ignition Campaign ends and the facility is to transition to regular ignition operations and pursue broad scientific applications. The Committee directs NNSA to establish an independent advisory committee as soon as possible to help set a strategic direction for inertial confinement fusion and high-energy density physics research and determine how best to use current facilities to advance this scientific field. If NIF does not achieve ignition by the end of fiscal year 2012 using a cryogenically layered deuterium and tritium target that produces a neutron yield with a gain greater than 1, the Committee directs NNSA to submit a report by November 30, 2012 that (1) explains the scientific and technical barriers to achieving ignition; (2) the steps NNSA will take to achieve ignition with a revised schedule; and (3) the impact on the stockpile stewardship program.

House Report:
“As the first ignition campaign comes to a close in fiscal year 2012, it is a distinct possibility that the NNSA will not achieve ignition during these initial experiments. While achieving ignition was never scientifically assured, the considerable costs will not have been warranted if the only role the National Ignition Facility (NIF) serves is that of an expensive platform for routine high energy density physics experiments. The Committee continues to support the pursuit of ignition and urges the NNSA to develop a cost-effective strategy for future experimental activity as the next phase of scientific effort begins. The recommendation supports a lower, though still robust, level of experimental activity on the NIF in fiscal year 2013 given the completion of major diagnostic acquisitions and the shift in experimental tempo.”

Anonymous said...

The end of the campaign coincides with the end of the fiscal year, which is in a few weeks?

What is the lab's strategy? Is llnl going to try to get an extension?

Anonymous said...

Here are some recent historical pre-alpha-heating-milestone-failure news.

http://fire.pppl.gov/nif_nears_milestone_Nature_030712.pdf

When Ed moses said that they were 75% of the way to ignition, i first though he meant 75% of the way to a 2.2MJ threshold (a number automagically pulled from out of thin air) to get gain > 1.

How silly of me. I realize that 75% is in terms of time, and that for 40 years of effort, getting to ignition will take another 13 years at the funding levels needed to sustain current levels of activity at NIF.

Anonymous said...

So, with it being a known fact NIF will not make ignition, ever, why are we allowing it to continue to evolve. Our weapon’s conditions and shelf life are well known and we have the ability to make more if need be. Secondly, we shouldn't spend another dime using this facility for the purpose of exploring how the universe was formed or how it's going to end. In laymen’s terms, WFC's. We have much more important issues to resolve on short order, all of which require an immediate resolution. America’s tax dollars should be invested in exploring other forms of energy we can obtain or manufacturer with current available tooling, not some Startrek warp factor four toy utilized by dreamers.

Anonymous said...

"The NIF capability cannot reach ignition" --- speculation at this point, not supported by current facts, this is in fact the purpose of the current campaign.

Poor risk management - in fact opposite is true, risk management has been, and is excellent. The risks are known, well characterized and managed as well as can be, given that the natural purpose of the instrument is to explore this uncharacterized regime of physics.

Poor cost controls - dubious assertion since the reorganization, that occured coincident with Campbell's departure. Ed and Ralph have done an excellent job getting very high productivity out of the troops, and have convinced the institution to give significant overhead concessions as part of the PACE effort, making each NIF employee about 50% more effective to the taxpayer.

Haven't achieved alpha milestone - True. May take a short or longer time, but the instument exists to explore the phenomena.

THAT'S THE POINT. IF THE ANSWER WAS KNOWN, YOU WOULD'NT NEED THE INSTUMENT, YOU'D LOOK IT UP IN WIKI. BUT IT DOESN'T YET EXIST. THAT IS THE POINT OF THE ENDEAVOR.



Anonymous said...

"THAT'S THE POINT. IF THE ANSWER WAS KNOWN, YOU WOULD'NT NEED THE INSTUMENT, YOU'D LOOK IT UP IN WIKI. BUT IT DOESN'T YET EXIST. THAT IS THE POINT OF THE ENDEAVOR."

Then the endeavor needs to be terminated and the funds spend elsewhere immediately.

Anonymous said...

History does not favor shutting down big, expensive sandbox programs. Just look at LANSCE. It is still feasting at the taxpayer's trough 30 years after it should have been terminated. It is like a zombie that just won't die and keeps coming back to life time after time in a lousy C grade horror movie.

Anonymous said...

August 17, 2012 7:13 AM

What a shame. I'd pull the plug on NIF so quick in Oct of this year it would resemble MFTF and in six month that lot would be vacant.

Anonymous said...


"History does not favor shutting down big, expensive sandbox programs. Just look at LANSCE. It is still feasting at the taxpayer's trough 30 years after it should have been terminated. It is like a zombie that just won't die and keeps coming back to life time after time in a lousy C grade horror movie."

Now that's funny! I don't care who you are, but the image of trough feasting LANCE zombies is a hoot!!

Anonymous said...

If technical risk management was stellar, they would have had a plan to deai with the alpha heating milestone failure. But that is not the case. Not only that, everything they try does not help. If they were managing risk properly, they would have this part planned out already. To get to ignition, you have to get the alpha heating. 4 orders of magnitude off with nothing working, does not give anyone confidence that the lab has managed its risks properly. The fact that they are looking for solutions now, rather than thinking about options back in 2005 is evidence of risk mismanagement on the part of NIF. Checkmate.

Anonymous said...

The fact that for NIF to survive, that the lab has to tax NIF differently from the rest of the lab is another indicator of poor cost control.

When NIF management is forcing scientists from other programs to work on NIF (but not really, it's just to prevent them from working on non-NIF problems and adding gravity to NIF), that is a poor cost control.

If you were to do an audit of people who worked on NIF, and asked everyone what they were doing, and you found these individuals who themselves don't know what they are working on, but that they were pulled on other non-NIF programs, and now they are doing basically nothing for long periods of time on NIF charge accounts.... that is poor cost control.

Checkmate

Anonymous said...

The NIF capability cannot reach ignition.

Checkmate

Anonymous said...

1. They are currently executing the plan to improve and resolve the current lower than expected neutron yields. New discoveries call for new responses, the essence of a reasoned approach.


2. Lower overhead rates for PACE projects is a common accounting technique for capital projects that require less overhead than ordinary operations and that add to the value of an organization. This has been common DOE project management practice for 35+ years i n projects at LLNL, LANL, LBL, SLAC, ORNL and SSC in my personal experience. It has nothing to do with cost control. It is a financial accounting practice called overhead accounting.

3. Repeating over and over, it will not work, while the investigation is underway does not make the conjecture any more true for the repeating. Repetition is not persuasive reasoning.

So with $6B invested in the fine instrument and a well-funded, dedicated scientific staff carrying out the investigation, we will , within the next few years, be able to confirm or disprove your oft repeated personal conjecture, "NIF will not work" with valid data.

Meanwhile the work of scientific observation and reasoning continues.

Methinks your cry of "checkmate" to be a premature ejaculation.

Anonymous said...

Obama and Chu's management of Yucca Mountain and the National Ignition Facility represents their complete ignorance (stupidity really) and lack of leadership of DOE projects. On the one hand they killed the most viable means of storing nuclear waste and allowed the "biggest stretch in history of science (i.g. NIF)" to just go and on and on. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

Loss of public trust due to scandal regarding a high ranking manager who is one of the strongest proponents of LIFE, and who recently "resigned."

That's a mighty fine reason to drop the axe.

Checkmate.

Anonymous said...

The clock is ticking.. tick tick tick tick.

How much more time does NIF want to solve the alpha heating milestone failure?

tick tick tick tick...

15 years? 30 years?

tick tick tick tick

Anonymous said...

The technical review committee really needs to explain themselves when it comes to what evidence and logic they used to justify their past stamps of approval. While you can point to NIF and LLNL management, NIF's technical plan and risk management is built upon the findings and recommendations of the technical review committee.

A more careful look at them, as well as the arrangement .... would explain quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

Parney has shown himself to be a quick study, so I suspect he was aware of the NIF challenge when he became Director. While he may not have known the magnititude of the issues, it appears that he was not caught flat footed. For example, he's been on a quest to get more work in beyond the core weapons program. This diversification approach may or may not yield enough alternate revenue to offset the anticipated NIF loss, that is to be determined. Nevertheless it is a trend to watch.

There were some recent charts in DC comparing the sources of revenue for all the sites over the past few years and LLNL came out looking very good so I've heard. SNL also looked good, but LANL was down for this year in most areas, by a large fraction in some of them such as WFO. If Parney is able to develop and maintain additional diversification of revenue sources, then it is not likely that NIF will have a dramatic impact on LLNL - either positive or negative.

Anonymous said...

Parney did make many references to global nuclear security for the lab's future. Indeed he is a very smart man to see diversification opportunities. It is hard to imagine that he would continue the mistake of concentrating only on NIF. Then again, Cherry Murray at #2 had no power to institute change. Is it possible that NIF has so much inertia that Parney's hands are tied?

Anonymous said...

Parney did make many references to global nuclear security for the lab's future. Indeed he is a very smart man to see diversification opportunities. It is hard to imagine that he would continue the mistake of concentrating only on NIF. Then again, Cherry Murray at #2 had no power to institute change. Is it possible that NIF has so much inertia that Parney's hands are tied?

Anonymous said...

NIF only added hypothetical value to the lab, which has never materialized. Loss leaders can run on lower overheads, but the key word there is "leader." In addition, the accounting cost does not include opportunity costs, and costs incurred by other organizations due to higher overhead. Add to that the absence of mission based performance or synergies that apply to other programs, and you are left with a big money pit.

But it's really the lack of public trust and past deceptions that makes this all stick. Applied to an organization like, say "Google" or "Apple" these arguments are just normal business decisions. But NIF has a very unique and sordid past. NIF and LLNL had over a decade to rebuild public trust but they squandered that opportunity.

Anonymous said...

NIF have existed from the morning of the
world and shall exist until the last star falls from the night.
Although I have taken the form of Ed Moses, I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am... a God.
I shall wait for the unanimous decision of
LLNLs, Claudius.
Claudius: All those who say aye, say aye.
Ed: Aye... aye!
LLNLs boad of directors: Aye! Aye! Aye!..
Staff Member: He's a god now...

Anonymous said...


"But it's really the lack of public trust and past deceptions that makes this all stick..."

Baloney, Old news. Double jeopardy.

Cry as you might, since NIF was reorganized over 10 years ago, to update the budget and schedule to match the methods and processes required to produce the laser and target systems, the timeliness, performance, safety and technical reviews have been remarkable. In that time an amazing instument has appeared in a empty field.

You ought to get off of your couch and visit it. Visitors are welcome and generally overwhelmed with what they experience.

It is not done yet, for breakthroughs, like isotopic decay, come in their own time, but for the first time, we have an instument to study this phenomena.

What luck.

Anonymous said...

It's a typical tactic of poorly performing projects to put the focus more on process than on product.

The facility is not the product. Ignition and mission support is the product.

We see right through the trickery and deception.

Anonymous said...

Time for a new acronym. NIF, PACE, LIFE have all run their course. I smell RIF.

Anonymous said...

Ever get the feeling that just maybe the people who work at LLNL or LANL don't want NIF to succeed or better yet want LLNS and Bechtel to take it in the Rechtel? I think most people there now days just don't GAF. They are just doing TIME and finishing out their sentence pronounce upon them when the transition occurred and they got F’d’. One should expect that when you shaft the employees out of their livelihood. What to hear the bad news. The AH's at the top still haven't figured it out and are still F'ing people over on a daily basis. 50 per month without reporting the RIF's as the saga goes on and on and on.

Anonymous said...

50 per month without reporting the RIF's as the saga goes on and on and on.

August 19, 2012 6:53 AM

Bingo! McMillan announced to this Senior Leadership Team two weeks ago that LANS would begin performing "Mini RIFs". RIFs that would be less than 100 people at a time so they wouldn't have to report to the DOE. I also also see McMillan plagiarizing Roger Logan's words "Mini".

Anonymous said...

August 19, 2012 7:50 AM

Don't you think it's time for DOE / NNSA to step in and cut LANL and LLNL by 50% before Oct 1st, 2012. Let's just get-R-Done once and forever and stop BS-ing around? It's all so simple if the AH's in DOE and NNSA thought about it. Just offer a really good buy-out like one month pay for every years of service to be put into your 403b or 401k , employees choice, TAX FREE and those twoo labs would be f-ing vacant. They could reasonably do this if they’d realize the savings by doing so and not piss off every worker they currently have.

Anonymous said...

edioarebbb

Anonymous said...

It feels like there is at least one piece of physics we simply don't know about. What about the Dark Matter/Dark Energy stuff which supposedly makes up 95% of the "known" universe? We expect to achieve ignition through knowing a little bit about the remaining 5% ? Ignition isn't going to work at NIF and the government is not going to fund an even bigger laser facility.

Blog Archive