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Thursday, May 16, 2013

NIF in danger

Budget Contraction, Implications to NIF

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/05/lawrence-livermore-lab-voluntary-redundancy-10-employees

Gadzooks! From a 1.6B annual budget to 1.25B! Go any lower and they fall below the threshold of "too big to fail," meaning.

Where is that 1.5B that NIF is supposed to bring in from investors?

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of bringing in money, anyone seen the new Star Trek movie? A quarter of the movie was filmed inside the containment area outside the chamber vessel ! I'm sure JJ Abrams paid a pretty penny for the use of the building for 3 weeks!

Anonymous said...

Letting all those hollywood people slobber all over the equipment and leave their fingerprints and dandruff all over surfaces that need to be ultra clean.... Hollywood is sabotaging NIF!

Anonymous said...

May 16, 2013 at 7:15 PM

I guess filming Star Trek at NIF is no worse than making a film at any other make believe facility leaving room for the imagination and dreams. After all we all have star trek communicators now days in our possession and can do video conferencing and face time from almost anywhere. NIF just not the engine for reaching warp factor speeds.

Anonymous said...

They SHOULD go to investors with a kind of proposal where for 5k they can adopt a part of the facility. Maybe have their names engraved on a part like the chamber or one of the optics. Maybe even get naming rights for a beam line if they donate enough.

Anonymous said...

"They SHOULD go to investors..."

Not a snowflakes's chance in hell. The dye is cast, NIF goes down via the proven and hallowed method, the slow bleed.

Anonymous said...

I heard Ed Moses now has an office in B-111. He is "promoted" to a position called "Associated Director at Large." Now, Associated Director at Large is a pretty name for Employee Between Assignment (EBA) at the Director level. Is this true?

Anonymous said...

Yes thats true only we call it being put in the closet!!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a previous AD-at-large? I forgot who it was.

Anonymous said...

The US has never had a science facility fail as badly as NIF. Even TFTR got 60% of breakeven.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, uh huh uh huh, yeah.. But does TFTR get onto the new STar Trek movie, I didn't think so. Losers.

Anonymous said...

I thought our dearly beloved Tomas was an AD at large at one point if I'm not mistaken. Or was that someone else? We love him so much that we ALWAYS refer to him by his first name. But in all seriousness, Ed Moses >> Tomas. Ed did his job. Tomas did a postdoc.

Anonymous said...

WTF NIF has more competition other than iter and other mfe platforms? Say it ain't so!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917124210.htm

The uncontrollable nature of laser matter interaction and laser ablation must really suck it for NIF. Not that I would believe that Z is any better. But if Z is a proven capability for stockpile stewardship work, then what is the rationale for spending 300m+ going forward on NIF other than the usual welfare explanations?

Anonymous said...

There was a documentary the other night on History, covering "The Physics of Star Trek." They interviewed Moses and regurgitated the NIF Kool Aid. I started thinking that NIFs greatest legacy might be making it into a Star Trek movie! The most expense prop set ever made.

Anonymous said...

The problem is the “I” in NIF. Guaranteeing ignition – or at lease appearing to Congress/Public to make this the sole mission of the facility - was a mistake. NIF is basically a successor to Nova and its predecessors Cyclops, Argus and Shiva.

When Nova opened in 1985 its mission was basic science, as noted in a Lab news article – “Nova is the world's most powerful laser system. It is designed to heat and compress small targets, typically 0.1 cm in size, to conditions otherwise produced only in nuclear weapons or in the interior of stars…The goals of our experiments with Nova are to make accurate measurements of high temperature and high-pressure states of matter for the weapons program, to compress deuterium-tritium fusion fuel to densities approaching 200 g/cm3, to determine the ultimate energy required for efficient ignition and bum of inertial fusion targets, and finally, to make important physics and engineering measurements such as x-ray laser studies.”

With exception of the last goal, this sounds exactly like NIF.

I don’t recall congressional and external watchdog group outrage at Nova’s research and it being an user facility doing basic science (and classified shots too). Laser Program Directorate leadership back in the 1990s sold the idea that the next follow-up system to Nova would achieve ignition and that this was critical to weapons stewardship (and therefore funding should shift from the office of science to defense program). If we had continued the goals of Nova in a successor facility - as a natural next step towards the goal of ignition - instead of declaring the new facility's sole goal was ignition, I wonder if we would be in this mess today.

LLNL - Lasers, Lasers, Nothing but Lasers

Anonymous said...

It is a catch-22 for the lab. They do not have anyone who knows how to properly design and analyze the types of EoS and Strength experiments to generate new stockpile relevant data. You cannot just throw smart PhDs onto that kind of experiment thinking that they will generate accurate data with a high degree of confidence. You need people who have done it correctly and well their entire lives, with experience and a clear understanding of how to solve very difficult technical and theoretical problems associated with those experiments. And that is all aside from issues related to the platform and diagnostics.

LLNL's EoS capability had been allowed to be reduced to nothing, though I don't know how or why, since the other labs offer up competition. With regards to strength, LLNL has never had any credible experimental material strength expert. They are at the other labs. So no point even entertaining that type of experiment.

Dr. "throw me a frikken bone here" Evil said...

LLNL - Lasers, Lasers, Nothing but Lasers

Dr. Evil approves

Anonymous said...

That is the funny thing. When you pull up all of the published work on Z out of Sandia, you would think that they would be rubbing it into LLNL's noses. Friends tell me that they have a very different culture being an engineering lab - that they are flat organizationally where everyone just puts-up AND shuts-up - get the work done, no-nonsense, no prima donna behavior, no NIF-style oversell. While they are an engineering lab, you might as well view them as a physics lab due to the breadth and quality of much of that work.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not just the culture. Sandia staff is able to regulate themselves regarding the quality of work, knowing what should and should not be allowed to be published purely based on quality and technical merit. You simply don't have that at LLNL. That experts needed to make those determinations are simply aren't there. Bill Nellis and a large number of other very good scientists are gone from the lab. They haven't been replaced either. Driving them off was a shot to their own foot. And now they are slowly bleeding to death.

Anonymous said...

Bill Nellis is better off at Harvard. Staying would simply mean constantly dealing with uphill battles against mediocrity in that lab kleptocracy for the rest of his career. LLNL has won their battles against people like him. LLNL has also guaranteed that they will lose the war, and we clearly see that. They still hold onto unrealistic hope of ignition and LIFE with the clock running. No big successes aside from a successful completion of an engineering build. It's only a matter of time before the tax-payers get to realize a savings of over 1B a year.

Anonymous said...

This is from December 12, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Headline for the future: NIF cries "uncle" as experimental programs to measure material strength are discredited

Byline: "We never cared about that stuff anyways, we just wanted the money to support ignition and LIFE." Lab then throws its own EoS and Materials Strength scientists under the bus as human sacrifice to appease the gods with several pounds of flesh. Lab then discredits its own EoS and strength programs, further justifying a focus on ignition for NIF.



I just came to realize this fact, when distinguishing programmatic work and WFO, the "Other" in Work-For-Other includes NNSA! Programmatic work is only what benefits themselves. So it makes sense that the lab would let EoS and Strength programs be run so shabbily with the wrong people for 16 years. That is WFO!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Nova, what about that fusion micro laser (FML) concept the lab proposed? Would that have been the next iteration?

Anonymous said...

Ole Johnny just loooves goin round congress and the UC regents and such. Everybody loooves a good ole hound dog with his keen eyesight and sense of smell, and most of all that happy wagging tail. But ole johnny better watch out because we know what ole johnny is up to. When ole johnny manipulates members of congress into doing something that later makes them look stupid... ole johnny is going to end up that hound dog that everyone kicks when nobody is looking.

Anonymous said...

Ever since I began working at LLNL I have heard "NIF is LLNL", and "without NIF there is no LLNL ". The programs I have supported have paid higher overheads to subsidize NIF, justified based on the belief that NIF was upholding the rest. Now that NIF has let us down and is clearly in disfavor among politicians who influence it's future, what is to become of LLNL? What is to become of the other programs? Is LLNL a sinking ship, or is there a path forward to grow certain programs? Which are the programs, if any, most likely to endure?

Anonymous said...

May 17, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Global Security -- more important than any other project at LLNL, period. The rest are mute and should take a backseat ..This is truly a national security organization.

Anonymous said...

May 17, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Global Security -- more important than any other project at LLNL, period. The rest are mute and should take a backseat ..This is truly a national security organization.

Anonymous said...

As much as I agree with you, I also think that the physicists occupying the upper level management would dismantle global security before they dismantle NIF. I could be wrong, of course. I hope i'm wrong, in fact.

Anonymous said...

Who is Johnny?

Anonymous said...

As long as we are discussing laser EOS measurements, does anyone remember the Physical Review Letter touting 740 Mbar pressure produced in a Nova EOS target? Nothing was measured but it sounded impressive.

Anonymous said...

May 17, 2013 at 4:52 PM

If that be the case then they need to be gone, now, keep them out of Global security. They have no business in Global securities business and are lousy managers. This has been proven at LLNL many times over.

Anonymous said...

Johnny is the most handsome and smartest man you may ever meet if you ever get the chance.

Anonymous said...


John S. Foster,

He made key contributions to laser ICF and NIF. Very accomplished individual.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_S._Foster,_Jr.

Anonymous said...

"It is impossible at the moment to predict whether ignition can be achieved," Feinstein said, and "now is the perfect opportunity to reassess the goals of this program (NIF)." Dianne Feinstein

NOT ANOTHER STUDY! KILL THE DAMN THING (NIF)!

Anonymous said...

What contribution did Johnny Foster make to laser ICF and NIF?

Anonymous said...

A generation of lesser scientists and management have stained his legacy.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/nif2/findings.asp

That should give you a start for leads on the who, what and when

Anonymous said...

The rest are mute and should take a backseat ..

May 17, 2013 at 4:32 PM

I think you mean "moot" since they are clearly not "mute."

Anonymous said...

Whoever coined "Ole Johnny" should provide their definition, but I'd guess the intended is much more likely John Nuckolls than John Foster. The latter had moved on from the Lab before there was much (any?) ICF action.

Anonymous said...

Is the poster referring to Foster's apparent involvement in trying to persuade the U. C. Regents, politicians in DC, and other parties to put pressure on NNSA for their apparent "micromanagement" and "too much oversight." This was just before Y-12 nun-gate and LANL take-home-radiation day. The timing could not have been worse. The GAO cited "lack of effective oversight" rather than "too much oversight" as a contributor to those incidents, essentially contradicting some of his message. I don't know if the poster is referring to other issues I'm not aware of, that Foster has advocated for on behalf of the lab since then.

Anonymous said...

I remember that. It was a lab blitz to make an end run around NNSA. Here is the letter, but it is not from Foster.

http://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/reports/RA2Pattiz_NNSANIF_070312.pdf

I thought the real pie-in-the-face was regarding missing the milestone after the blitz attempt. I guess they must have been convinced that they were going to get ignition and they were positioning themselves to be ready to exert leverage against their sponsor?

Anonymous said...

Foster's has testified on the role of NIF for stockpile stewardship, and his words carry far more weight than some NNSA bureaucrat's. See for instance,

http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/security/has080230.000/has080230_0f.htm

Anonymous said...

Last I remember he still retained an office in 111, but that was a while ago.

Anonymous said...

You really gotta wonder about the people spouting off about too much oversight only to have GAO come back contradicting them for good reasons. The politicians were parroting that message too about too much oversight. It made them look like complete morons, but that's what they get for believing the crap constantly whispered into their ears by certain influential people.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they make complete arses of themselves. Though it was all luck. No one could have predicted Nun-gate or take-home-radiation data would occur when they did.

Anonymous said...

It's a mute point. Shrinking budgets mean less flexibility for contractors. High risk programs would get deferred, reprogrammed or outright cancelled anyways.

Anonymous said...

It's a mute point.

May 19, 2013 at 9:41 PM

The word is "moot."

Anonymous said...

Whichever word you use, it's a mute point because nobody cares, atleast normal people don't care.

Anonymous said...

Any rationale minded person maybe tempted to correct such commonly confused words. There are a discreet finite number of such word pairs.

Anonymous said...

Again, it's a mute point.

Anonymous said...

I wish it was

Grammar police said...

No, I wish it "were", subjunctive mood.

Anonymous said...

We got some bonified grammarians her, it looks like.

Anonymous said...

Thank God! Someone who actually understands the subjunctive and how stupid it sounds when commercials say "If there was a pill, would you take it?" Shall we get started on "graduating college?"

Anonymous said...

Damn! Good catch May 21, 2013 at 6:56 PM. I can feel my high school english teacher staring down at me. Nice to have some educated people on this blog once in a while.

Anonymous said...

it's a mute point to point out grammar and spelling problems on a blog of anonymous posters. if spelling and grammar are the only things you can challenge in a post, then you might as well not post a response at all. challenge the ideas instead. that is what creates meaningful discourse.

Grammer police said...

It was not a challenge--merely a helpful correction. Words and how they are conveyed matter. The pen is mighty if wielded with skill.

Anonymous said...

And since when is there any "meaningful discourse" on this blog? I know that there are occasional attempts, but the signal to noise ratio is so low it's hard to find them.

Anonymous said...

One should never miss an opportunity to educate, or to be educated.

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