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Thursday, November 8, 2012

The cost of NIF


From Nature

Archive
Volume 491
Issue 7423
Editorial
Article


Ignition switch

The US National Ignition Facility has so far failed to generate fusion energy, but repurposing it as a tool to study nuclear weapons and basic science could be its saving grace.

On a breezy day in 2009, action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, then governor of California, took to the stage to dedicate the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world’s most powerful laser. “I can see already my friends in Hollywood being very upset that their stuff that they show on the big screen is obsolete,” the governor quipped in front of the recently completed facility, which uses lasers to squeeze fusion energy from a tiny pellet of hydrogen fuel. “Fusion energy may be exactly what will power future generations on the globe,” he added.
Related stories

Laser lab shifts focus to warheads
Laser fusion nears crucial milestone
Superlaser fires a blank

More related stories

Fast-forward three years and the script is somewhat different: the lofty hopes of Schwarzenegger and other politicians who attended the ceremony that day seem less realistic. At the end of September, officials at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California, where the NIF is based, announced that the facility would miss a crucial milestone to produce ignition — releasing as much energy from fusion as is supplied by the lasers. After an intense, six-year effort, the facility remains a factor of ten away from that goal. In the coming weeks, LLNL scientists are expected to lay out an alternative, much longer, path to ignition, while senior officials refocus the laser’s work (see page 170). For now, thanks in large part to the NIF’s role in nuclear-weapons science, politicians will allow the research programme to trundle on at a cost of US$280 million per year. But the great unfulfilled promise of the NIF should serve as a cautionary lesson for scientists who promote Hollywood solutions from their research.
November 7, 2012 6:56 PM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Wow. The narrative here reflects almost identically the sentiments about the con job and PR oversell stated by many contributors over a long time in this blog. Almost as if the seeds for the article came from or resonated with these blog posts.
November 8, 2012 12:53 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
NIF = Con Job
Source = Nature Magazine
Moses and numerous LLNL managers and scientists = Con Artists
November 8, 2012 9:41 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Nature article was being too kind to NIF. The role of NIF in nuclear weapons science is marginal. It reflects a larger problem where many projects in the NNSA portfolio don't really support the stockpile, but just keep scientists employed as part of a white collar high-income social welfare program for a pool of scientists who spend all their time trying to justify their existence in ways other than demonstrating value and contribution to their customer.

On top of that, our public funds were being spent to con not only the public, but also people like Friedman and Schwarzenegger and numerous other public figures. They were manipulated into contributing to a fantasy narrative. Frankly, I'm surprised at how this was a huge pie in the face for Friedman, it's not easy to swallow the fact of having been manipulated and victimized like that particularly for people act in a role of shedding more light and finding clarity in complex situations. But we really need to focus more on the victimizer and not the victim. Due diligence may have provided Friedman with red flag indicators to stay clear of Moses and his co-conspirators.

This blog is proving to be very valuable because people here are quick to call a spade "a spade" and to point out harsh truths and allegations that the media (like Nature magazine) tends to soften and candy-coat. While the "facts" can be somewhat fuzzy in some of the blog contributions, many others have seeded legitimate questions and doubts, and have pointed out the trail of crumbs that a journalist or investigator can use to find their way towards the truth. Good job everyone.
November 8, 2012 10:10 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
LLNL had been the center of a controversy regarding deuterium equation of state in which their results were repudiated by the scientific community. As far as I know, there was no corrigendums issues regarding the shoddy analysis, raising doubts about the ability by some to perform work in this field or to employ adequate internal technical reviews.

And so it is very important to keep an eye on who is in the role of technical lead for some of the research areas being proposed as part of the shift towards the focus on warheads (e.g., NNSA programmatic mission). For example, some of these people in leadership roles have no business leading experimental efforts and analyses, and may be unflatteringly characterized as "con artists."
November 8, 2012 10:46 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
If I were to read carefully between the lines for both the editorial and the article pieces from Nature, I would have to guess that the most rational next step involves restructuring the organization in which NIF becomes part of the WCI directorate and overseen by their management. This would make sense, since to make good on their promise, you would rely on their expertise to drive and assess the value of the experiments in support of weapons science. I can only speculate about what this means for Ed Moses if indeed such a move takes place. He certainly does not have the technical background for taking over the equivalent level management role in WCI. Being assigned a more subordinate role would probably not work since he is not that kind of person who reports to or feels he should be accountable to others.

Keeping the status quo management structure in which NIF is a standalone directorate will not work. Staffing decisions for who provides what supporting technical role needs to rest in the WCI program management. The reprioritization by NNSA affirms a commitment to funding programs in support of its core programmatic mission needs. This, in turn, reaffirms WCI's role as the core mission program for its NNSA customer, and not as a matrix organization in support of NIF's fusion energy / ignition program.

The reprioritization is a move in the right direction, though not without peril. The high costs associated with operating NIF will not go away, and many needed cuts may be more painful to endure when self-inflicted (as opposed to being imposed by another organization). On top of that, there are other problems that do not simply go away with a re-organization. The current pervasive Edisonian approach towards solving problems is not just a sign of desperation but rather a pervasive way of "doing science in our unique way." Trial and error approaches to figuring out how to solve the alpha heating milestone failure problem using expensive NIF shots at over 1M per shot demonstrate a level of irresponsibility in how one goes about using tax-payer funded resources.

But we'll have to wait and see. LLNL is an unpredictable beast. There is a big battle of egos within a lab where everyone else is the enemy. NNSA is the enemy of LLNL. Sandia and Los Alamos are the enemy. ITER is the enemy. If that is still the case, you should not be surprised when LLNL makes baffling and mind-boggling decisions that appear, to most rational minded people, to go against their own long term interest. LLNL management making insulting comments disparaging Cook's technical abilities and background for example... is not only incorrect but does not help itself at all. Going to Forrestal only to piss off administrators and get escorted out... demonstrates how one can set new lows in eroding trust and goodwill.

There is one certainty however from the insanity that is pervasive in parts of the lab... that the lab is such a rich source of material for this blog.

64 comments:

Anonymous said...

Am amused at soothsayers who read in their own voice "between the lines" of others work and think to somehow gain by the false communion.

Rather the author's work, words crafted carefully state his intent, with no help from small voices.

Fraud.

Anonymous said...


Explore the the realm! These are exciting times and grand discovery awaits to those who are patient and those that do not give up. "Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.'" WC

Anonymous said...

NIF = Con Job, so says Nature

Anonymous said...

there is no way in hell Ed could run WCI. He's just does not have what it takes

Anonymous said...

Well yeah. Not only does he not realize that he has no control over the public discourse especially when people do not agree with his twisted message, but he also has little control over himself. I would love to see him run WCI however. It will be a circus in the making. Great fodder for this blog and guarantees of more controversy.

Anonymous said...

Was Ed the guy making all of the posts from Jul/Aug/Sep that for whatever reason always included flatulence in his messaging?

Anonymous said...

Deuterium EOS is yet another reason why LLNL should not be given funding for NIF. They screwed it up big time, and never recovered from it. They seem to just put a blanket over their heads thinking if that they can't see the scientific community, the scientific community can't see them and that they will simply "forget" about the matter. People make mistakes, but to never correct the problem or issue explanations or assurances that problems like that will be avoided, is highly troubling.

Anonymous said...

What is this Edisonian approach that was mentioned? I'm not clear what is being implied here as I'm not familiar with the term. Can someone clarify?

Anonymous said...

It means "trial and error" essentially to semi-randomly turn the knobs and modify experimental parameters and designs and hope that either they happen to hit the jackpot or at least to get better insight about what to do. It is a different philosophy from a more methodical approach of testing hypotheses and applying deduction. Lindl's technical reasoning behind the current design should have been treated as a hypothesis subject to further refinement or rejection. But it looks like the lab will run with anything that supports its position while dismissing all else. Why stain the reputation of such a renowned scientist by misinterpreting his work, I cannot fathom.

Anonymous said...

The ship has been built and is ready to sail around the world. It makes no sense to stop or slow down the ignition studies when we are well on our way. Why change horses mid race. Ignition fuels out dreams for a better tomorrow. So much awaits to be discovered. But all of that is lost when we use the shift to haul trash like the proposed refocus to weapons science. NIF is not a trash barge. It is a powerful cruise liner. Let us ignite the dream.

Anonymous said...

NIF is a metaphor a minute. It is also a gigantic con job.

Anonymous said...

People who constantly lie to get funding for science projects should not be rewarded.

Anonymous said...

Your ship does not float.

Anonymous said...

Deuterium EOS is yet another reason why LLNL should not be given funding for NIF. They screwed it up big time, and never recovered from it. They seem to just put a blanket over their heads thinking if that they can't see the scientific community, the scientific community can't see them and that they will simply "forget" about the matter. People make mistakes, but to never correct the problem or issue explanations or assurances that problems like that will be avoided, is highly troubling.

November 9, 2012 10:40 AM

Yeah, not let's start blaming the theorists for NIFs failure! Obama needs to cut the cord on this abominable cluster failure. Do it, just do it!

Anonymous said...

Wait. Wait. Listen to me. NIF is going to fail, so don't waste the money doing the experiment.

Listen to me. I know what will happen. I can see around corners...
I can...... I.....I......


Fraud.

Anonymous said...

Obama needs to cut the cord on this abominable cluster failure. Do it, just do it!

November 10, 2012 7:28 AM

Obama has nothing to do with it and really couldn't care less. That's his style of governance - don't you understand by now that we have a know-nothing, do-nothing President??

Anonymous said...

Obama has nothing to do with it and really couldn't care less. That's his style of governance - don't you understand by now that we have a know-nothing, do-nothing President??

November 10, 2012 10:25 PM

Yes we can, baby!

Anonymous said...

oh no. The bash the president crowd has resurfaced. I can understand that you are upset that your candidate lost but don't you think name calling to be counter productive if not childish? The country is going to move forward with or without you. Its our differences that make this country great.You'll feel better if you contributed ideas rather than school yard rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Quickly divert attention away from the real NIF issue. Look over there.. shiny object! Better yet, get the grammar nazis to start posting.

Anonymous said...

NIF is the culmination of thousands of man years of effort culminating in 1.8MJ of laser light able to compress targets to extreme conditions of temperature and pressure bringing us closer and closer to replicating conditions inside the sun. Why many of you would want to stop support of research on this platform is mind boggling. It is not just about NNSA relevant boost and EOS vs ignition and power production but also about plasma and astrophysical sciences. To stop now would be to throw away all the knowledge and expertise gained over the past decade. While the PR campaign may have been seen as an unsavory element of the facility and its management, the platform is capable of supporting most of the research goals, and any oversell does not diminish the contributions in these non-ignition research goals. The call should be to advocate for getting rid of certain personalities in NIF management, rather than taking aim at the facility itself.

Anonymous said...

Someone has to pay with a pound of flesh for the oversell con job.

Anonymous said...

So why is Ed Moses still going around giving the same irrationally exuberant message about fusion energy and ignition? I understand that changing message acknowledges wrong doing. But to not shut his trap, or not handing off all messaging responsibilities to Parney? I mean, really... Who is in charge at that place?

Anonymous said...

Good science does not operate according to a pre-set schedule. You cannot run discoveries on NIF according to a schedule. One must be allowed to explore the realm of possibilities, to get a more clearer grasp of what questions are out there, and to be given the opportunity to investigate these questions whether they pertain to ignition or to other fundamental physical phenomena.

Seeking ignition and an understanding of the universe on NIF is like looking for the cure to cancer. You don't stop just because you reach a point in time, despite all that has been accomplished. You keep marching forward.

Anonymous said...

It's more like a case of clap left untreated.

Anonymous said...

"So why is Ed Moses still going around giving the same..."

'Cause he is the best man for the job. Insiders know this.

Ignorant post grafitti and acclaim it wisdom.

Sponsors support the NIF plan and mission, funding the xperimental programs.

Impotent post their envious bile.

Ce la vie.

Anonymous said...

Best man for the CON job. Oversell and misrepresentation. So says Nature. You do aptly put it: Fraud.

Anonymous said...

Yeah please stop the grafitti. All these grafitti posts that just make feeble attempts at insulting people by referring to them as impotent or being ignorant or having small voices really doesn't add content to the conversation. I mean, if that's all that you have to say, then okay. Fine. I think the case can be better articulated for taking a position. Even the "Explore the realm" post was more effective at conveying a point than the "Am amused at soothsayers.." post.

Anonymous said...

Remember that some of that messaging is intended for the internal audience. It is something that those on the inside who need to find a reason to keep sipping the koolaid to grab on to, by proclaiming that the outside world is full of enemies who know nothing. It is not intended to be part of a public discourse. It is intended to be fuel for yes men who will nod their heads even more vigorously with each beat of the war drum.

Anonymous said...

No that is not it at all. More facts could be presented but most of you are too ignorant and feeble minded to interpret them or put them into a proper context. We are just calling out the fact that there is not one of you naysayers who knows anything about NIF and NNSA and that you are just spouting off because you seem to need to complain and blame others in order to justify your existence. And no, nobody is reading your drivel. Not the goblins at NNSA. Not the sheep politicians who hear what they want to hear. Not the editor to Nature magazine. You think your blogging is relevant but I hate to break the news to you all. You are all irrelevant. Nobody hears your incessant pathetic whining and squealing. Nobody wants to keep hearing the same old drivel. You might want to rethink how you go about justifying your value and self worth to society. Your posts are doing nothing to benefit society because no one reads it and nobody cares.

Anonymous said...

November 12, 2012 2:11 PM

Well put. Your argument makes the case for expanding our magnetic confinement research and curtailing inertial confinement research (NIF).

Anonymous said...

November 12, 2012 4:22 PM

So why do you bother posting?

Anonymous said...

November 12, 2012 2:11 PM
November 12, 2012 2:16 PM
November 12, 2012 4:22 PM

These posts may be a troll trying to make NIF look bad by portraying a straw man which ideas that no one in NIF actually adheres to. As for the other people who post on the blog, well even if 4:22pm is real they have no idea who posts on the blog, what actions, or committees, they are on, what technical knowledge they know and so on. Some the points made about NIF are certainly things to consider. Anyone with the basic science knowledge can understand cost/benefit, risk-payoff with large scientific endeavours. Arguments such "you simply do not understand" are simply logical fallacies. Arguments such as "it is already built so we must use it", are called the fallacy of sunk cost. There may be very good reasons to keep NIF going
for many years to come after a careful cost-benefit analysis, however the arguments by our troll are not among them. As I said it may be a fake troll trying to cause trouble. It could also just be a an outside science aficionado who really loves ignition but really does not understand science. In any case if the person is legit they are are certainly not a scientist which is clear by the complete lack of understanding of the scientific process and profoundly poor logic.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if
November 12, 2012 2:11 PM is real but if he/she is they are are doing a tremendous disservice to the people who work at NIF.
2:11PM uses an array if ill-though out and poor arguments that imply they are profoundly naive about science. I cannot imagine that there could be any people at NIF who lack such weak understanding of science. If 2:11PM is a troll than you got me.

" Good science does not operate according to a pre-set schedule. "

Actually big projects generally do work upon a pre-set schedule. The times can can change and so on but
pre-set schedules are are imperative in these projects

"You cannot run discoveries on NIF according to a schedule."

Lets be honest here NIF is really not like a big telescope that might find "new phenomena" like accelerating universe, or Dark Matter. Nor is like some like some other large scale experiments that find new particles. Nor is it like smaller scale and much cheaper experiments that could find a new superconductor or state of matter.
Now to be fair NIF might be more practical that finding Dark Matter, or topological states of matter, in that it may contribute to our understanding of the possible eventual use of fusion energy, but to say it is like

"One must be allowed to explore the realm of possibilities, to get a more clearer grasp of what questions are out there, and to be given the opportunity to investigate these questions whether they pertain to ignition or to other fundamental physical phenomena."

On any large scientific or even small scale scientific projects one can is faced with "realms" of infinite phase space. The key is not to just explore and hope to find something because such an approach is doomed to fail especially if run time is very expensive. One must always have an idea of where to look. Contrary to one some think Edison did not just randomly do things in hope it might do something interesting. He and his group of people had very good intuition built of from years
of work on small scale things. One can spend an infinite amount of time on the endless possibilties.
One has to ask what are the odds that something will come out of this and on what time scale. Just because something cost alot to make and is big does not mean it will pay off or that it is worth pursing for many years.

" Seeking ignition and an understanding of the universe on NIF is like looking for the cure to cancer. You don't stop just because you reach a point in time"

First NIF does not give an understanding of the universe at best maybe a piece of it All large scientific projects either end at a deadline or some point when the cost simply is seen as too high for the payoff. This is the fate of all large scientific projects in the past and the fate of all in the future. Seeking the cure for cancer is a horrible analogy since caner research is done on a series of smaller scale research approaching the problem from many different ways. NIF is a large scale experiment approaching the problem one way.


"despite all that has been accomplished. You keep marching forward. "

What has been accomplished? Building something is not the same as a scientific accomplishment. Every good scientists knows that marching forward one single path with a single technique can often lead to failed results.

Anonymous said...

I really like these analyses. I agree, especially 2:16 and 4:22 are just trying to cause trouble by the bizarre arguments. In some of the earlier posts in July/Aug sound very similar in tone, style and structure. A series of one-line soundbites of vague tidbits without any true argumentation. It could well be that there is not a single true supporter of NIF on this blog. Most of the supporting pieces do look somewhat suspicious.

Anonymous said...

If it is a troll, they have been persistently posting in a similar fashion since the july threads. There is one old thread where someone who is apparently a NIF employee or manager getting baited into an angry tirade for getting mocked. Either some of these are from that same NIF person or a troll is parroting the language and style in order to mock and belittle that person. My guess is that you have both here.

Anonymous said...

2:11 is using the same lines of argument used by NIF management. So you are saying that someone who repeats those arguments is a troll? Read some of the ways NIF management defend their facility in open and attributed sources. You see equally abstract arguments. Me thinks you are casting doubt on some legitimate supporting posts possibly to try to discourage the naysayers from continuing their posting and giving more ammunition to the media. Nice try, but it wont work. Is 9:20am also a troll? It is filled with the same abstract nonspecific types of arguments. Questioning the legitimacy of naysayer posts in the past did not work to stem the conversations. Nor will questioning the legitimacy of supporter posts do the same.

Anonymous said...

If you want to debate about the science-on-a-schedule argument, you need to have that debate with Trivelpiece since he was the one who used that argument to defend NIF to the media after the recent problems. The cure-for-cancer analogy has been used over and over by LLNL management. While 10:35 makes very good arguments challenging these positions, the insinuations made regarding those who repeat these positions originating from Trivelpiece and others do not add up. But your criticisms are valid and should be aimed at the sources, not the repeaters.

Anonymous said...

3:19pm is the biggest troll of all. His posts in older threads kept inserting the theme of flatulence into every argument attacking "ignorant naysayers.". But ironically he is also a true believer in NIF. By the way, that whole "flatulence theme" episode was quite "Unusual.".

Anonymous said...

So what ideas do people at NIF adhere to? Do they adhere to the following post? E.g., the unknown unknowns philosophy for open ended science funding? Or was this post also by a "false troll?" By the way, a flatulence theme may have worked better in this post. I wasn't sure at first what the fraud referred to... was it to NIF, to themselves, or to a blogger.


Wait. Wait. Listen to me. NIF is going to fail, so don't waste the money doing the experiment.

Listen to me. I know what will happen. I can see around corners...
I can...... I.....I......


Fraud.

November 10, 2012 3:19 PM

Anonymous said...

The following two posts from Aug. Same. Should we keep going through more examples?



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...

August 19, 2012 1:21 AM
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?

August 19, 2012 1:30 AM

Anonymous said...

What does it mean for NIF clean surfaces to be 1000 times better than in wafer production? Are they saying that NIF conforms to Class 0.1 or Class 0.01 (ISO 2 or ISO 1 equivalent) standards?

Anonymous said...

Oh this is so ironic. Yes, some one takes public statements from NIF scientists, technical review committee members, and LLNL management and wraps that up into an anonymous post on a blog only to be discredited by people speaking on behalf if NIF?

Anonymous said...

"Actually big projects generally do work upon a pre-set schedule. The times can can change and so on but
pre-set schedules are are imperative in these projects..."

The "project" NIF (defined scope, defined budget, defined schedule, managed risk) is over. It was completed and turned over to Experimental operations after successful commissioning over two years ago.


Now there are a number of science based campaigns, some with classified stockpile verification objectives and some, like the National Ignition Campaign, that explore the realm of inertially driven ignition. These are underway, and the outcomes are not known, but will be discovered through SCIENTIFIC observation.
Claims that people make here that they know the outcome before the campaigns are finished are demonstrably FALSE, as the information does not exist yet.

So the science program is underway now. That's what Nature reported, that's what Congress funded and it is what the Trivelpiece review supported.

Some here just don't like it, having deeper insights than the scientific community involved in the effort.

Any of your "scientific" insights illuminate ongoing cancer research? It would save a lot of time and grief if you armchair scientists with a direct line to the Omnipotent, would direct your genius to something useful elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

So... is this previous poster one of the false troll "whack jobs" who are saying things that people at NIF do not adhere to, just to cause trouble? It's definitely on message with previous posts and public statements. So atleast they are consistent.

Anonymous said...

NIF's reliance on the Edisonian approach and it's own special brand of QMU is a source of many behind-their-back LOLs and eye rolls. This is not a troll post.

Anonymous said...

While one may still have open questions about the posters and their intentions, one thing is abundantly clear - that this abstract messaging in support of NIF, as well as that same messaging by NIF management is a smoke and mirrors operation intended to use distorted logic and truisms to make it's case. So much so that when "repackaged" as a anonymous post, NIF's own people discredit that same message. This whole episode supports the "con job" narrative leveled against NIF.

Anonymous said...

Lol NIF did a "gotcha" on itself. It takes a lot of work to maintain a web of lies and deception. Gotta run a tighter ship in controlling their own people from inadvertently saying something that contradicts.

Anonymous said...

Brutal

Anonymous said...

This quality troll has been hard on some posters, employing the devices of wit, mockery and sarcasm, perhaps too sharply, to highlight for the occasional non- technical reader the consistent error of presuming the outcome of an ongoing experiment from an armchair. Direct observation of natural phenomena is essential to understanding . Clamor is no substitute. Repetition is not reason. The repeated clamor than NIF might fail therefore it should be cancelled now is erroneous reasoning.

Anonymous said...

If it is indeed a single troll, he or she is using some fairly "dark" tactics possibly combined with some form of analytical support. Since i'm not prone to paranoia, I would guess that it's not one sophsiticated troll but rather a bunch of separate trolls just playing off of each other just to see who pushes whose buttons.

Anonymous said...

analytical support meaning he or she has attribution information on anonymous posters and therefore has an information asymmetry advantage over others.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. Alot of the arguments against have been on a cost-benefit basis, even citing other lower-cost platforms. Since NIF has been in a science mode for about 2 years not, we should be able to evaluate the quality of the scientific products (publications) based on the number and quality of independent and beyond-arms-length citations. This would seem like a reasonable metric to report since it is a unique facility. The Operational metrics look great. I would think that NIF can build on top of that, going into the Scientific metrics, saying that while it is in the early stages, the trends look promising, and talking about some of the users that are in the pipeline and a bit about their experiments (on the basic science side for example). I would think that the right strategy for defending against abstract arguments would be to more prominently provide detailed examples of the facility's use. Just making these straightforward and dry statements requires no oversell in order to be effective at making a point. And i'm really referring to the case made by LLNL to the public, not to anything posted here in this blog.

Anonymous said...

Is there any information on that cost part of the ratio? I.e., what can be done at various funding levels, and what is the bare minimum for operating the facility (with the lowest cost experiments or unsubsidized experiments for example, or even, no experiments). More flexibility and options for that number (for a given fiscal year) would be a beneficial attribute, if indeed those options do exist.

Anonymous said...

One simply has to add an "Obama element" to any of these posts (some allegedly written by a troll), so that the ideas gain more supporters, particularly from those that hate him and who will lap up the whole message.

Say something like... "Scientific discoveries don't happen on a strict timeline. But Obama thinks otherwise. And this is coming from someone who we aren't fully certain was born on US soil. Enough of the shenanigans. Allow legitimate scientific discovery to take its due time. That's what a REAL American would do"

Anonymous said...

"The repeated clamor than NIF might fail therefore it should be cancelled now is erroneous reasoning.

November 15, 2012 10:37 AM"

Most poster never say NIF should be cancelled simply that at each step a long hard look at what is the cost to pay off analysis is. Another thing is that certain over the top claims about what it can do are not helpful nor are good science.

Anonymous said...

Bringing up the possibility of a phantom troll that does not exist was a nice attempt at diverting attention from the real topic.

Anonymous said...

NIF cannot be compared to the large hadron collider. There is no comparison other than the magnitude of cost.

Anonymous said...

Can a larger laser help with ignition? Or Does the laser plasma shielding or plasma instability make the problem worse?

Anonymous said...

https://lasers.llnl.gov/newsroom/project_status/2012/october.php

This is not good. They were still getting ignition on simulations that included perturbations that seeded non-sphericity. If they are coming to the point of realizing that they have a showstopper on their hands, would they actually admit it? Is the word "showstopper" even in their vocabulary?

Anonymous said...

"This is not good. They were still getting ignition on simulations that included perturbations that seeded non-sphericity. If they are coming to the point of realizing that they have a showstopper on their hands, would they actually admit it? Is the word "showstopper" even in their vocabulary?

November 20, 2012 2:52 PM"

No but the world gamechanger is and yes the NIF tool will be a gamechanger in the science and energy world. Stay tuned as discoveries are afoot!

Anonymous said...

The discovery that you and your cohort are going to get caught telling a lie to congress? Make sure you know what's floating ariund out there. You don't want authenticated documents to show up afterwards that contradict statements made by lab officials. Honesty is the most prudent path forward. Honesty to congress, honesty to your sponsor, but most important of all, honesty to yourself.

Anonymous said...

NIF is the "6 Billion Dollar Bridge to Nowhere"

They are not addressing concerns of technical showstoppers for their laser ignition concept. They never have. That is definitely not a term in their lexicon. They solve engineering and logistics problems. It's too late to questions the fundamental bases that underly the current design. Now they have painted themselves into a corner, with no choice but to put forth weaks non-credible arguments while at the same time, violating their own organizational values.

LLNL's own value statement: Laboratory employees share a set of values that guides the way we accomplish our work and the way we interact with each other, our colleagues, sponsors and stakeholders, and the public

LLNL's 2nd organizational value: Integrity and responsible stewardship of the public trust

LLNL's 7th organizational value: Intense competition of ideas with respect for individuals

LLNL's 8th organizational value: Treating each other with dignity

They don't live and work by their own organizational values, but even worse, their organization rewards them for this. With this in mind, it's even harder to find a reason to support that facility or to even accept anything that it's management says as being truthful. Not to mention the past attrocious behavior by people, many of whom are still involved in the project.

Anonymous said...

Yeah that is a big problem with the NIF PR. They really need to stop tying their platform to things like the Large Hadron Collider, ITER and other facilities. They need to stop referring to them as if NIF is analogous. THAT is what is called a disservice to these other facilities and to the public. Each of these facilities makes a case for themselves. NIF needs to make its own case for itself. Constantly referring to failed DoD projects isn't helping NIF's case either. We saw many of these projects cut or slowly disappear. Though highlighting them certaintly does provide NNSA and Congress with suggested "remedies" if that is what NIF is intended to convey.

Anonymous said...

I remember Tomas being particularly adept at pissing off stakeholders. I have heard from a few different sources how the selection for management for some positions were based on the need for a "son-of-a-bitch" which was used in a mainly positive context, I.e., someone who wasn't afraid to ruffle feathers. I can understand how this was needed for the NIF build. But why leave them in for the science campaign? Ed is not the right person for leading a large science campaign. His behavior and paranoia makes him a liability, holding back progress for the lab. Or is he somehow holding LLNL and NNSA hostage? Threat of blackmail?

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