Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Pedicini Responds to Misconceptions About RRW

[This post by John Pedicini is in response to a "rather" ignorant earlier comment on this blog, which claimed that the LANL design was 15 years old. In fact, the LLNL RRW is, more or less, a 20-year-old design, but LANL's is truly brand new. --Pat]


Please post this in response to the 03/06/2007 6:18 post stating the the LANL RRW design was in my safe for 15 years.

The LANL RRW design was not sitting in my safe for 15 years. I have proposed what became RRW for more than 15 years, but refused to design it until there was a chance for training new designers. At age 49, I am the youngest of the seriously experienced NTS tested designers and the last chance for generational transfer of knowledge and art form.

I have used the RRW to teach new designers the art of design from the most basic physics principles. LANL did not start the design of what is a fundamentally nonlinear object, from an existing design, but began with only the basic physics. Notably, this will lead to a design closer to tested configurations than piecewise linear steps from an existing design, Mr. D'Agostino's comments notwithstanding. The new designers were present for every step and derivation of the actual design. The only work done prior to the detailed design was the theoretical work supporting certification without testing and some basic materials research. These were necessary before proposing the project now known as RRW.

This type of design process focusses heavily upon physics understanding of non-linear relationships and less upon brute force computational power. We used less than 1% of the computing power of the lab to design the RRW weapon. This low computer usage infuriated NNSA who personally berated me for placing understanding ahead of computer usage.

The LANL team also placed heavy emphasis upon the old fashioned scientific method and conducted many experiments to test the theoretical and computational findings. The team is proud to say that all experiments were 95% or better confirmation of the underlying hypotheses and all experiments were 95% or better refutation of the peer review. All of the experiments were delegated to and led by the new designers to further reinforce the need to constantly test one's understanding. The performance of the LANL experimental teams was exemplary. This, also, was not popular with NNSA, who are in the midst of a paradigm shift in the scientific method. Much of this data was suppressed.

The post-9/11 and post-Cold War worlds required something different than a Cold War design. The safety and security requirements of the Navy, prior to NNSA redefinition of the threat, could not be met with a Cold War design, and RRW provided the perfect opportunity to train new designers to think about the problem and the physics and not just the name or computer.

The generational transfer was about 50% completed prior to the recent RRW decision. This training process was terminated per NNSA requirements when the Navy POG [Project Officers Group] was overruled.

--John M. Pedicini

(As always, the views are my own and the posting has been ADC reviewed.)

"...Mr. D'Agostino's comments notwithstanding."
Can we really withstand D'Agostino? Can the country withstand NNSA??
Do designers have egos, or am I just mis-reading this post?
The post is a bit out of context, in that it is in response to a rather ignorant comment on an earlier post which claimed that both the LANL and LLNL designs were 15 year-old designs. In fact, the LLNL RRW is a 15 year old design, but the LANL design is brand new.
"I have proposed what became RRW for more than 15 years, but refused to design it until there was a chance for training new designers."

Oh, okay. The "design" is new but the idea is over 15 years old?
The "idea," Anonymous 3/07/2007 12:30 PM, is probably over FORTY-FIVE years old -- namely, a deterrent nuclear warhead that facilitates disarmament. If you read Pedicini with a modicum of care, you'll see that a whole new design was conceived by him and the RRW team at Los Alamos, the true heirs of Oppenheimer. (Oppy was, unlike yourself, well-read, erudite, and maybe even arrogant. You, on the other hand, have no cause to be any more than abjectly humble before these heirs of Oppy.)
Again, I ask, would someone please post the e-mails that Martz and Pedicini have been sending stating the corruption that has been going on wrt to the RRW? We all should know.
Yesterday, Marty Schoenbauer stated that the LLNL RRW design was selected because there was greater confidence that certification and production could be accomplished on the required schedule. One thing we've learned from all this is that NNSA doesn't mean "certification without nuclear testing" - what they really mean is "certification without FUTURE nuclear testing." As Pedicini explains, the LANL weapon was designed from first principles, then certain critical design issues were validated experimentally with a full-scale JOPIN hydrotest.

The fact that LANL could execute this complex experimental validation within the time constraints of the proposal period should have given NNSA more confidence in LANL's ability to meet schedule. The fact that LLNL's ASC codes badly mis-predicted the outcome of our hydrotest should have given NNSA less confidence in LLNL's ability to certify their design.

The bottom line, in my mind, is that the decision makers in the NWC could not commit themselves to their stated goal of certification without nuclear testing. I don't know if Pedicini's team would have taken a different approach to their design if this "rule" had been stated up front.

Schoenbauer did admit that LANL's security issues and other factors were "considerations" but not "criteria" in the final decision. It will be left as an exercise for the reader to decide what this means.
So NNSA provided a "moving target" for the "criteria" and ancillary "considerations" for their decision. That is the very definition of an incompetent, dysfunctional bureaucracy.

Example of incompetent bureaucratic manipulation of the moving target:
"We KNOW they have weapons of mass destruction" ... no, wait!
"There's a direct connection with Al Quaida" ...
"Mission Accomplished!" ... no, wait!
"Bring down the dictator" ... no, wait!
"Democracy will spread throughout the region" ...
"Stay the course" ... no, wait!
"Surge against the insurgents" ...
"Things are getting better" ... no, wait! ...

Sound familiar?
"We used less than 1% of the computing power of the lab to design the RRW weapon. This low computer usage infuriated NNSA who personally berated me for placing understanding ahead of computer usage." (Pedicini)

I've heard this before from the top weapons designers, and believe it to be true. So, then, why do LANL and LLNL spend hundreds of millions of dollars on super-computers when even the designers have little use for them? It appears to be a huge waste of lab resources, mainly to claim "bragging rights" that "we have the fastest super". For that, we'll apparently shell out hundreds of millions of dollars and then try and cover up the fact that these super-computers are of little value for most of the lab's projects.

I think I know were the NNSA labs can easily save lots of cash for the operating funds they now so desperately need.
So, Anonymous (3/08/2007 7:33 PM):
I see a slogan spray-painted on the wall of the Nick Metropolis Computer Bldg.:

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?