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Friday, September 7, 2012

"Old Rad Lab" moonshine

Anonymously contributed: Interested in hearing about this "Old Rad Lab" moonshine I've heard about from multiple sources now. Really a more lighthearted topic from the old old days of the Lab. So long ago that I am sure it is beyond any statute of limitation so people should feel open to tell us about it. Was it any good? What kind of setup was involved? Any photos of stills, old jugs or labels? Did Feynman or Teller get a taste of it?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

No first hand knowledge, but I thought it was actually kind of a sketchy drink, not like artisanal still-produced spirits.

Anonymous said...

No first hand knowledge, but I thought it was actually kind of a sketchy drink, not like artisanal still-produced spirits.

Anonymous said...

Rad Lab was 200 proof alcohol used for component cleaning. You had to have a "signature authority" to get it from central stores. The one and only time I was subjected to it was at a Christmas party where the punch was spiked with it. The fellow who obtained it was the head mech-tech in the building. The ironic thing, he could sign for it, and he was an alcoholic.

Anonymous said...

Did Feynmann ever even visit LLNL?

Anonymous said...

No such thing. An inside joke.


Don't need more pests undermining us.

Like radioactive rabbits and flying saucers, playful talk of serious people.

Anonymous said...

I concur with 9:19, parts cleaning was what we used it for ! Over the years many a employee drove home after the famous x-mas parties come plently wiped out! Funny thing about old RadLab, at least with me was, once you got a real good buzz from the stuff, I couldn't stand to drink anymore of it or stand the smell! Yes their was a few old times that were hooked on the stuff!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Old Rad Lab was real. The wise folks only used 190 proof (without the Benzine). Purity was sometimes confirmed by a mass spec in 222, while the punch was at the party in 223. (All gone now.)

Anonymous said...

Iheard that the original idea for ICF was cooked up at one of those parties.

Anonymous said...

That's right denatured alcohol is a relatively recent concept. Also Last time I was in Mexico, you could buy non-denatured pure ethanol at liquor stores.

Anonymous said...

Oh this brings back the days of micro miniskirts and frisbee. Oh when they played frisbee on the lawn back then. Oh it was a glorious spectacle. It's been all downhill since then. Was such a wonderful and innocent period in lab history.

Anonymous said...

We used to have old rad lab at every Christmas party. It was 190 proof pure grain alcohol from stores (which no longer exists) mixed with punch. Back in those days anybody could go buy it from stores. later on you had to have signature authority to get it. Now you would need an act of congress to get it. The problem was, you couldn't taste the alcohol. was real smooth so before you knew it you were plastered. Guys used to bring regular booze in also (in flasks usually). Everyone at the lab in those days drank it at Christmas time (unless they didn't drink alcohol). It was no big deal back then.

Anonymous said...

It was acceptable in the UC era to have all kinds of alcohol inside the lab, Christmas or any other time. Those days are gone and not coming back. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Ashtrays in offices and conference rooms. One of the few things I don't miss at all.

Anonymous said...

We did use the mass spec in 222 for humor testing. Old rad lab was generally in one of the spiked bowls, and all knew to ask. Imagine that, people were responsible for themselves.
Great old days; any body ever sneak in the lab pool at night? Thoose of us on night shift were regulars during the summer. Three am, 70 degrees, a great swim.

Anonymous said...

It was acceptable in the UC era to have all kinds of alcohol inside the lab, Christmas or any other time. Those days are gone and not coming back. Sigh.

September 10, 2012 9:47 AM

When I was postdoc at LANL many years ago (mid-70's) my staff advisor kept a bottle of scotch in his desk drawer for "emergencies." It was a joke among the group members. I never saw it utilized, but no one ever thought it was something wrong.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it wasn't a big deal back then. Not even taboo really. Can Watch episodes of Mad Men to get a feel for the norms of those times. Now booze and cigs are taboo at workplaces and especially in government.. Remember when cigarette companies handed out free packs of cigs on the street for promotion campaigns?

Anonymous said...

This nostalgia brings me some sadness and pity not for myself but for the current generation of lab employees at both LLNL and LANL. Back then I didn't see the kind of worry and uncertainty that I hear from labbies today. "How many more years before I'm vested and can retire?". "How much longer before I'm safe?". "Can I make it through the restructuring and layoffs?". And even when they are not talking about these issues, I can see it in their faces and hear it in their voices, the loss of vibrancy and optimism that used to be there many years ago. The older people close to retirement are lucky since they are near their finish lines so I don't have any pity for you old farts who are right behind me in age. The young newcomers have the energy and time to start over if needed. You kids can find your way. But people in the middle seem to be burdened most with uncertainty and fear. Far from retirement but too old to start over completely. Lab employees don't deserve this. Some of the highly specialized skills and education needed to do weapons work are not easy to apply to the private sector. When I think about things like old Rad Lab, it is truly nostalgia because it so contrasts today's reality. I give only my best thoughts and wishes to those caught "in the middle" and that you hold tightly to you modern day equivalent "old rad lab" in the form of positive experiences, fun times and good memories.

Anonymous said...

Mad Men: brilliant show from or the way it shocks younger viewers by showing (somewhat amplified) behavior in line with old norms. Love seeing my Adult kids squirm when they watch it.

Anonymous said...

A a Post-doc at LANL in the 70's, I was astounded that every time I would read a paper and get an idea for a new experiment, my staff advisor would say "well, the world's expert in that material/welding technique/alloy is just over in T-14/Shops/Sigma, and we would go talk to him/her. No one asked about your charge codes and everyone was interested in your ideas and wanted to help. I learned so much in those couple of years, and forged collaborations that lasted a career. So sad that environment is gone.

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