Saturday, February 24, 2007


This might be the week that the RRW announcement is made

An Anonymous comment from an earlier post:


It is rumored that this might be the week that the RRW announcement is made. There are 3 potential outcomes of this announcement (none of them good for LANL or consistent with the POG technical recommendation). The scenarios are:

I. LLNL is instructed to implement the LANL design (for the Navy)
II. LLNL is authorized to move forward with their own design (for the Navy)
III. Some version of frankenbomb is given to LLNL as the lead

It might be insightful to have an informal survey of how the weapons staff might respond to the announcement. Many in the weapons program have been kicking around some of the options. The most popular staff responses are:

1. Stay at LANL, but leave the weapons program
2. Go to work at SNL
3. Leave LANL in disgust
4. Stay at LANL in the weapons program, but cut back to a 40 hr week
5. Make no changes

Anyone bold enough to state what you will do (anonymously of course)? This may provide the LANs and NNSA boys a hint at things coming their way (even though they don’t really value weapons experience).

I'm voting for 5. Nobody among LANL staff has yet shown the balls to do anything but cling pitifully to their jobs.

Martz and Pedicini, among the weapons designers being possible exceptions.
More empty threats. Why Empty?

Because it is now clear that neither DOE nor NNSA care whether or not LANL maintains any kind of critical mass in the weapons program, or any other science program at LANL.

Go. Our sponsors, and our new corporate managers (including Anastasio) will not miss you.

But good luck to you.
I imagine it is a seller's market for bomb designers these days (outside LANL, of course).

Must be willing to relocate.
Expect some serious wordsmithing next week from Anastasio as he attempts to explain how giving the RRW to LLNL is in the nation's best interests.

Still glad "UC won the contract", boys?

They played you like a fiddle.
WoW! What next? This is indeed LANL's darkest hour. The writing is on the wall, and printed in the newspapers, for all to see, who remains and who wroks where with-in an decaying system is futile. The larger picture is being painted for all to see, and when it's finished it will be a sad end to a once great laboratory. If you only want a pay check, you may wish to continue, working on meaningless projects and using up what funding remains, or some may choose to continue with their work ,only it will have to be elsewhere. The dark clouds are gathering on the tops of the mesa's, maybe the it is fitting to have ole Ed's monument to a "has been society" at Los Alamos.
Of course the vast majority of staff will not make any changes at all, just like they did after Nanos' shutdown and after becoming a Limited Liability Corporation employee. They either do not have good options or have other reasons for putting up with the nonsense and clinging to their jobs to the end. Isn't it absolutely clear yet that LANS, NNSA, and Congress would be happy to see them all leave? Sorry LANS, it won't be that easy to balance your books to pay all those managers.

Also, there is a real 6th option. No RRW at all.

Losing the RRW may not be the worst result for LANL in the long run. For a brighter future LANL needs to do much more work on other national security missions. Sandia was managed well enough to realize this years ago and now has a healthy portfolio of non-DOE work. Unfortunately, there is no sign LANS has the leadership to make that move. In fact, they seem to actively discourage non-DOE work, and with the large increases in overhead it has become much harder to attract outside sponsors.

Good luck Los Alamos.
More nuanced possibilities for scenarios:
(1) LANL wins RRW competition:
LANL RRW team stays at LANL.
(2) LLNL wins RRW competition (either with LANL or LLNL design) and Northrop-Grumman wins LLNL bid:
LANL RRW team goes to LLNL to implement LANL RRW design.
(3) LLNL wins RRW competition (either with LANL or LLNL design) and Bechtel/UC/Battelle (LLNS) wins LLNL bid:
LANL RRW team goes to SNLA.

-At least that's what I'd recommend.

In either case (2) or (3), LANL shrivels -- both weapons and basic work -- leaving Pu Pit Production as a rival to Grothus' two obelisks for a memorial to LASL.

-Son of Oppy
I wouldn't count on pit production at LANL either. It is now being discussed to move all pit fab operations to the Device Assembly Facility (DAF), a 300,000 square foot facility at the NTS in Nevada.

No RRW, no WFO, no pit fab. Guess what that leaves for LANL?

And, re: the current top post on the blog about reprocessing reactor fuel, don't make me laugh. SRP and Hanford are much better equipped for that kind of operation.
"Must be willing to relocate."

Foreign language skills a plus.
Stay at LANL, do other-than-weapons work.
A 6th scenario.

A shared lead, a blended design, no real progress.

Congress is unlikely to really fund RRW anyway, so it probably doesn't matter.

Indeed, if LLNL gets it and LANL is left with an annual assessment and maintenance role, it may be that that job will last longer and be more lucrative (in total $ to the lab) than RRW's likely short halflife.
"Stay at LANL, do other-than-weapons work."

Like what? DHS-funded work? How long do you think that is going to last once weapons & pit operations funding have dried up?

Other WFO? Dream on, most of that left after the shutdown.

Environmental remediation? With what funding?

Somebody is living in a make-believe world.
" other-than-weapons work."

And exactly where do you suppose you are going to find a sponsor who is willing to pay > $400,000 per year for FTEs? LANS has *guaranteed* that no more outside work will be coming our way.

"Alternative view: Most of today’s weapons are well beyond defined service lives. It will not be possible to sustain the current weapons without replacing some old warheads with new warheads.

The report comes at a good time. The Bush Administration wants Congress to fund “Complex 2030,” a collection of facilities needed to resume nuclear weapons production for the first time in 15 years. Moreover, it wants to begin building several RRW-1 Reliable Replacement Warheads as part of a full weapons program.

Congress should support these initiatives as an urgent measure. Deterrence is still worth keeping, even in a dramatically changed world."
Anonymous said...

"Stay at LANL, do other-than-weapons work."

at 2/25/2007 11:00 AM

Does this guy also believe in the Easter Bunny?

There is really very little "other than weapons work" left at LANL. Nanos intentionally ran off the WFO. As an earlier poster noted, "who is going to pay $400K for a TSM?"

Have you looked at the job openings on the LANL Jobs Website? The external posts are mostly administrative and the last posting was on December 21st. The internal posts are similarly administrative plus a lot of management jobs. The few positions for TSM are safety, quality, etc. Nothing to do with performing real physics or engineering work.

The party is over!
"Stay at LANL, do other-than-weapons work."

2/25/2007 11:00 AM is probably one of those incredibly obtuse staff who could be heard bleating, "I want UC to win the contract so that my benefits are preserved" in the months before LANS won the contract.

A complete fool, in other words. It doesn't do any good trying to talk about real-world issues with people like that -- they refuse to engage with the real world.

Until they get rif'ed, that is. Of course, even then they they will have no idea what happened.
Lisa finally does something positive for morale!
Somewhere as a comment to a previous post was a very well written contribution that described exactly what might occur if all classified work is removed from LANL.

I wish there were a way to send that comment to every congress person since I am sure that NONE of them understand the amount of time and teamwork is required to understand how to design a weapon. It will take the sledgehammer approach to get the science illiterate Congress to understand that moving this work with the result of breaking up functioning teams is worse than cutting off your nose to spite your face. It's more like decapitation.

Is there some way that thoughtful comment can be moved to the front page?

"Leave LANL in disgust"

The RRW outcome is a good litmus test for discerning whether science at LANL will survive. If LANL looses the RRW competition then it means: (1) our director sold us out, (2) LANL is on its dieing breath, and (3) unemployment is almost certain unless I want to polish pits. Indeed, leaving Los Alamos will not be easy. I have invested my heart and soul into LANL, for which I have received multiple awards including two laboratory distinguished performance awards; however, I recognize the difference between a light at the end of a tunnel and a train. For me, the RRW decision will foretell impending doom or a promising future at LANL.

"If LANL looses the RRW competition then it means: (1) our director sold us out, (2) LANL is on its dieing breath, and (3) unemployment is almost certain unless I want to polish pits."

I know it is hard to consider the option that the other lab had a better design.
Someone posted something interesting: "I know it is hard to consider the option that the other lab had a better design." Could that be a hint of honesty energing from all of this? Someone who has seen the two designs might acknowledge the REAL difficulty that Anastasio is faced with: How does he stand up for the interests of LANL weapon designers when they submitted an inferior product?
Anonymous 2/26/2007 10:24 PM said...
Someone posted something interesting: "I know it is hard to consider the option that the other lab had a better design."....

Now pay attention class... Recall that the POG's technical evaluation decided for the LANL design.
"Now pay attention class... Recall that the POG's technical evaluation decided for the LANL design."

And we know that how?????? This blog?
"And we know that how?????? This blog?" (2/27/2007 8:32 PM)

Wow!!!!!! Lots of question marks!!!!!!

Answer: Nah. Just by walking up and down the hall. And listening.
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