Community leaders share a big day at the lab

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By Roger Snodgrass

Wednesday was a red-letter day for Los Alamos National Laboratory, a favorable occasion for community leaders to visit for a briefing and a rare tour behind the security perimeter.

“Good news,” Deputy Laboratory Director Jan Van Prooyen called it as he began a status report on the laboratory.

Across the Atlantic Wednesday morning, after a meeting in Dresden, Germany, the lab’s Roadrunner computer was named top of the heap, “king of the (computer) world” – the pacesetter for the new petaflop generation of supercomputing.

Petaflop refers to a quadrillion, a thousand trillion, or a million billion operations per second, twice the speed of the previous world champ at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Van Prooyen and Don Winchell, the local manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration, gave high-level overviews of current work and future prospects for the laboratory.

Van Prooyen emphasized stockpile stewardship as the lab’s dominant mission, but pointed out that the facilities had a wider set of uses.

“These are sophisticated tools capable of supporting other national priorities,” he said, including energy security, nuclear energy, nonproliferation, modeling and greater efficiency in energy storage.

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