Tested lab meets uncertain world

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By Roger Snodgrass

On reflection, Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio said Thursday there are positive lessons to be gained from his second year at the helm.

“We had a pretty challenging year,” he said, mentioning specifically the budget problems and workforce reductions. “But we did a good job meeting those challenges.”

Anastasio gave a talk to lab employees Thursday morning and made a round of media visits in the afternoon.

As he did on the first anniversary last year, he saw it as a good time to look back and take stock.

In the midst of uncertainty and despite a great deal of anxiety, he said, major things were accomplished.

Not least, of course, was the recently confirmed success of the lab’s new, fastest-in-the-world Roadrunner supercomputer, which broke the petaflop speed barrier last month by performing a million billion operations per second.

“We took a hard problem and showed people we knew how to do it,” Anastasio said.

The 500,000 pounds of the Roadrunner, now at the IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., will be packed up and brought back to the laboratory later this summer. Roadrunner’s computing muscle will be applied to climate and biological simulations before settling into its main job of modeling nuclear explosions next year.

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