What to Do About America's Nuclear Weapons Stockpile (aka Sandia's Pat Sena Carries a Shotgun)
U.S. News & World Report, Alan Neuhauser
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – Pat Sena has a routine: He prays with his wife, he reads, he drives his '97 Chevy pickup through Albuquerque's low-slung outskirts to work. Then, at the office until he heads home, he and his team make sure the U.S. can still – at any moment – blow up the world.
“The way I think of it, I think of myself at my home, my family in my home. It's a rough neighborhood, there are gang members driving by and drive-by shooters, and I'm sitting out on the porch with a big shotgun, saying, 'Don't attack my family because you'll have to deal with me,’” he says.
Sena is deputy chief engineer of the nuclear Stockpile Systems Center at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, part of a gargantuan desert air base dotted with scrub brush, fuel tanks, tall unmarked buildings and a wooden test track that could have been a prototype for the Coney Island Cyclone.
In the seven decades since Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists blasted the New Mexico desert with the world’s first atomic explosion the morning of July 16, 1945, three labs have maintained, studied and – to the extent they can – tested the nation’s nuclear stockpile: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, Los Alamos outside Santa Fe, and Sandia.
“We do this because we believe in it,” says Michael Bernardin, acting associate director for weapons physics at Los Alamos.
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