Thursday, March 31, 2005

Regents determined to bid on Los Alamos lab

Regents determined to bid on Los Alamos lab

Final decision on bid might be made in April.

California Aggie (UC Davis)…Brian Chen

March 31, 2005

Los Angeles -- Despite recent security and safety issues that have placed the University of California under scrutiny, the UC Board of Regents expressed its determination to continue its management of the Los Alamos National Laboratory during its meeting held Mar. 13 at UCLA.

Under the management of the UC, LANL faced 45 nuclear safety violations from September 2003 to October 2004; the most noted accident involved an intern being zapped in the eye with a laser during the summer of 2004.

For the 2004 fiscal year, the UC received $2.9 million for managing the lab rather than the $8.7 million it could have received -- a penalty of nearly $6 million.

"It's very important to the regents that ... errors that were committed in the past have been corrected, and we are proceeding ahead with an arrangement [to ensure] that these mistakes will not occur again," Regent Gerald Parsky said during the meeting.

In his presentation of the lab, Robert Foley, vice president of UC laboratory administration, emphasized that the UC's involvement with the lab is necessary if it wishes to remain competitive in science and technology.

"The only way to assure that we have good science and tech is to have active involvement with the laboratories, and I think that's something that the university must embrace as it moves forward," he said.

Saying he previously had a "wait and see" attitude about whether to continue the UC's management of the lab, Regent Norman Pattiz said his recent visit to the lab cleared his skepticism.

"There's no question that the university needs to make sure that the university's interests and responsibilities are protected in any kind of an arrangement we can make," he said. "It's also very clear to me that the work being done [at the lab] is crucial, essential and beyond the scope of what's important to the university."

The decision to vote on bidding for the lab is still "a number of months away," Parsky said, and he made a "generous estimation" that a decision could be reached by early April.

Earlier at the meeting, Jennifer Lilla, president of the UC Student Association, gave a presentation on university-related issues in the form of a pop quiz.

One question related to the recent UCSA Lobby Day at the State Capitol in Sacramento during February, where students presented thousands of fake checks to the governor representing the amount that students were in debt.

Later, Vice President Winston Doby led a discussion on campus-based student fees, underscoring their importance to the university.

"The enrichment that campus-based fees brings to campuses greatly strengthens [the UC's] competitiveness with our public and private sectors," he said.

He noted that campus-based fees at UC Davis are $1,200, as opposed to $200 at UC Berkeley. However, he said the total cost of attending Berkeley, which includes living expenses, is about $23,000, whereas the total cost of attendance at UCD is $22,500.

Outside the building where the meeting was held, UCLA service workers, students and faculty members gathered in a rally protesting for UC service workers' wages.

BRIAN CHEN can be reached at

"The only way to assure that we have good science and tech is to have active involvement with the laboratories, and I think that's something that the university must embrace as it moves forward," he said.

Admiral Foley seems utterly clueless. As all the UC Academic Senate Reports have stated; the UC science involvement is not nearly as great as at LLNL and LBNL, does not depend on the contract, nor would it terminate with the loss of the contract. However, Foley's soft and well paid job would terminate if the contract is lost. Now, THAT would be a plus.
Why are these Admirals being hired to manage scientific institutions? Nothing in their training or professional experience has anything to do with science! Indeed, Nanos, who somehow managed to get a PhD in Physics, is not a subscriber to Physics Today.
With respect to the 10:53pm post that "the UC science involvement is not nearly as great as at LLNL and LBNL" this is most likely due to the more direct historical relationships that these two labs have had with both UC and each other.

LBNL was established by Ernest Orlando Lawrence in 1931 at UC Berkeley on campus land as the "UC Berkeley Radiation Laboratory" (today the Lab is still on UC owned land with the buildings are owned by DOE). LLNL was established by Ernest Orlando Lawrence in 1952 as a branch of the UC Berkeley Radiation Laboratory and was originally officially known as the "University of California Radiation Laboratory at Livermore." In 1958, after the death of E. O. Lawrence, both labs eventually incorporated "Lawrence" into their official names. Also, it wasn't until 1971 that LLNL actually became a separate organization and no longer part of LBNL.
The navy nuclear program is the push for the number of admirals being hired. NNSA is filled with navy people because they are 'currently the only active nuclear program', and LANL is an NNSA facility. NNSA seems to have been formed as a cushion in case it was moved from DOE to DOD where it would fall under more admirals.
I am not a supporter of Nanos, but his Ph.D. is from the Physics department at Princeton University. That department does not suffer fools.
With perhaps one notable exception.
Nano's Ph.d from Princeton is not
real. He was part of some Navy-Army
thing in the 70's that paid for the
graduate students in the
Navy to get Ph.d's. He
was one of those. They
got rid of that a while ago. He published one paper with few citations. Princeton is also best known for theory. Nano's Ph.d was in experiment. Also I know
a couple of classmates of his who have
gone on to huge success. They seem not
to remember to much of Nanos except he was unremarkable and a bit weird. What is odd is that he made so little of an impression on them. By the way Princeton has indeed graduated some pretty bad people. All universities do, it cannot be helped. The best ones just graduate very few.
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