Another good step forward

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By Ralph Damiani

We must take a moment to pause and give the lab some due when it is deserved. And it earned some big points Wednesday when it hosted the quarterly Community Leaders Breakfast.

It is easy to point out when the lab fails or when it falls short. But if that is so, then the opposite should also be true.

And it is so here as LANL Director Michael Anastasio should be given credit for opening the lab’s doors – if even just a little.

So much good goes on at LANL and so little of that is known outside its walls. Programs like this are vital to get its message out – and it is a good message.

Community leaders from throughout northern New Mexico were given breakfast then treated to various tours of the laboratory to show just some of what goes on there.

The list of those visits is just a small part of its work.

Some people went to the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, a Department of Energy/Office of Science Nanoscale Science Research Center (NSRC) operating as a national user facility devoted to establishing the scientific principles that govern the design, performance and integration of nanoscale materials.

CINT is one of five NSRCs throughout the U.S. that form an integrated national program, affiliated with major facilities at the DOE’s national laboratories, to cover the diverse aspects of nanoscience and technology.

Some people went to the Advanced Simulation and Computing center.

Visualization has long been an important tool for the understanding of complex data. The creation of a 3-D visual representation enables the highly developed human visual system to detect, among other things, trends, correlations, anomalies and unexpected events in the data.

Still others went to the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Facility Replacement (CMRR) project, which includes design, construction and start-up of modern laboratory facilities and office space – and relocation of mission-critical technical capabilities, such as analytical chemistry, materials characterization, and actinide research and development from the existing Chemistry and Metallurgy Research facility.

Visitors also went to the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, the major experimental science facility at Los Alamos. At the heart of LANSCE is a powerful linear accelerator that accelerates protons to 84 percent of the speed of light.

Protons and neutrons are used in a wide range of applications that help the nation maintain its leadership role in many areas of science and technology. Research conducted at LANSCE helps to maintain the nation’s nuclear deterrent, counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and lay the foundation for many of the products we use in our daily lives by supporting materials sciences and technology research.

Finally, there was the Radioactive Waste Operations at TA 54 – Area G, tour. Located on top of Mesita del Buey, this site has been used for disposal of radioactive waste since 1957. The operation is about 840 feet above the regional aquifer, and topography and semiarid climate conditions help contain contaminants.

Did everyone understand all the science that was related to them? No. But it did not matter.

What mattered is that LANL opened its doors and invited people in. What the lab needs is to get its message out and things like this are good steps in that direction.

For it is only with community support that it – and ultimately all of us – will survive here.