Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Our sponsors no longer value us

From Anonymous:

"This is a post from a compadre at the other lab.
Our sponsors no longer value us. We passionate, dedicated few - who have competed diligently and brilliantly in difficult circumstances as Lawrence, Oppenheimer, Teller foretold - are now worthless. The upcoming RFP, ignoring consequences, pegs future compensation and benefits to industrial mediocrity. Those who have collaborated with average industrial or government technical professionals realize how superior the average laboratory technical staff must be to compete here. The average industrial professional cannot be hired at a lab. Even superior mid-career hires regularly fail and vanish. They can't cut it. Yet the new contract compensates only mediocre talent, like our military cast-offs.
Being outflanked by adversaries' scientific achievements was a fear that motivated Einstein, Lawrence, Roosevelt and Churchill in the last century. They experienced the consequences. This lesson is forgotten by the ersatz Wolfowitz(s) and Rumsfeld(s) who reduce valued employee benefits to finance meaningless stockholder profits. Trade top scientists for rich leaders? Brilliance for mediocrity? Now that Dr.Teller is dead, scientific sense is no longer spoken in Washington.
How will the country recruit and train the next generation of brilliant minds under these circumstances? Will Atlas finally Shrug? "

Should anyone be surprised that the Lab's sponsors don't value the Lab they way they once did? I can't speak for Livermore, but I see very little in recent history to justify a high opinion of Los Alamos. After a long period of deteriorating upper management, when nuclear testing ended that management decided they could define their own reality. All experience in design, diagnostics, testing and computing was relegated to nearly no value. A series of stupid programs, none of which originated with staff ideas, was put forward as the future of the Lab. People with real design and testing experience were forced out (the designer of the central component of the W88 was not even allowed to attend meetings regarding that system), real computer codes that had designed the enduring stockpile were given the perjorative lable "legacy" and every attempt was made to cast them aside, and Power Point became the premier design code. Huge amounts of money were redirected to revive over and over pet projects of the upper management. In short very little has come out of the major programs of the Lab to justify continued support.
"Those who have collaborated with average industrial or government technical professionals realize how superior the average laboratory technical staff must be to compete here. The average industrial professional cannot be hired at a lab."

No doubt true. Conversely, based on the posts to this blog, the average lab scientist would be a washout in industry -- he/she wouldn't have the discipline or the knowledge to produce highly complex working, industrial-strength products on schedule and on budget, nor the attitudes to work cooperatively in a large design and development team.

If that seems too harsh to you, consider the possiblity that you have been a bit too arrogant and harsh on your industrial counterparts. You do what you do well, and they do what they do well. They couldn't design a nucler weapon, and you couldn't design a jet plane.
Actually, the fellows who designed the bombs were very rigourous and wouldnt put up with the laxadazical(sp) behaviours of the young welps (in their 50's) here. If you cant keep good rigourous notes, cant follow procedures (both safety and security) you are not really the best of the best. Feynmann may have had a wild side outside of the lab, but inside it he was quite attentive to detail.
It is all part of the plan. See:
I worked at LANL as a TSM for 8 years under Hecker. I quit to start my own company (which has been quite successful) since I began to see the (terminal) "writing on the wall". At the time of employment about 20% of the TSMs where amongst the best in the world, while 80% were about as mediocre as you could find on the planet. During the last 7 years, most of the 20% quit to find better working environments and career options. What is left? Take out your calculators boys if the math isn't too advanced for you.

This posting is the most arrogant drivel I've yet read on this site. You lads ought to get a life. The fact is that most of you could not hold jobs in the real world. I agree with Nanos assesment that LANL employees are "arrogant cowboys".
To 11:44. Wanna play chess? The available evidence suggests that you are an intellectual lightweight - and, unfortunately, all too typical of the anti-LANL, grandstanding, self-centered, do nothings that have infected the real science and slandered the real scientists who have defended America and the free world for decades. Shame on you.
To the 11:44am poster.

You are simply wrong and I do not believe you where ever a TSM at Los Alamos. In my divsion 80% of the people are some of the best in world as seen by where they have recieved faculty offers. Also it simply cannot be case that 20% of the TSM staff have left in the last 7 years. In my division that would mean 30-40 people who would have left and this is not the case. My division is also the very best in LANL. Now it is true that the people who
are 55 or younger in my group will leave if things continue in the way it has. Make no mistake, LANL does have some of the best people in the world in physics. Several members of my group have just recieved offers for full tenured positions at some very good places. They now have to ask themselves if they want to stay at LANL. Also in my division most people have had faculty offers before they accepted a staff position at LANL. In fact several people who where faculty elewhere left those positions to come to LANL. I am really tired of hearing posts that no one from Los Alamos could get a job elswhere. This is simply not true. LANL is ranked 11th in the entire world in terms of publications and citations for the 1990-2000 time frame. Why do you think UC wants to keep LANL? They know how many great people are here. Look at how many students get there Ph.d doing reseach at LANL. Look at all the postdocs from LANL that go on to faculty positions all over the US. I know postdocs who have turned down MIT, Illinois, Purdue, Ohio State, Emory, OSU, Virginia,
Texas AM, Indiana, NDSU, Kansas, CFU, Missouri, OU, Arizona, FAU,
Southern Florida, SDSU, Virginia Tech, and Northwestern to stay at LANL. I also know postdocs who had to decide between MIT, Cornell and LANL. In the end they took Cornell but they did consider LANL. The point is this is a great service to the United States in terms of science. Also it is simply a fact that almost everyone at LANL would do great in industry.
Teller was one of the biggest sham scientist-politicians to influence Washington, managing to convince President Reagan to spend egregious taxpayer dollars on the useless Star Wars program. What a waste of money and effort that was.
I had great respect for Dr. Teller, but I do regard calling him the lone voice of scientific good sense was a bit silly. Uncle Ed was famous for outrageous suggestions. His suggestions did open peoples mind to possibilities and while the full SDI did not appear to be possible at the time, the research did prove useful and probably contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Like you said 11:00 pm, "My division is also the very best in LANL."

Do you have similar information regarding faculty job offers for all the remaining "inferior" divisons at LANL?

11:44's post appears to be speaking about all of LANL. Perhaps your division is where the majority of the 20% he spoke of was, and apparently still is, located.
To 11:35am

Ok I am a bit proud of my
divsion when I say it is the best. However, MST
and P division may also make a claim at being the best. Also
I know some other really good people at some other divsions. As for faculty positions I know that people from those divsions have had a number of offers. In fact I think in Dougs group several people where picked up by Virginia Tech for full tenured positions just after the stand down. Tom Meyer went back to some fancy chaird position at UNC. I think the numbers are comparable in other divsions.
As for X and DX it is unfair
to compare them. They really are
not scientific divsions.
In short LANL does have a lot of great people who can leave. By the way if the 11:44 poster was so great why did go off to start a company rather than get a faculty job. I know very few people top people at
LANL who would give up reaseach.
I think the guy is not telling the truth or he was not very good. I think the posters here
should really stick to facts.
As a Lawrence Award winner from X-Div. once said: "All I know is Earth, Air, Fire and Water.".
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