Monday, May 16, 2005

We tried to do just what you suggest

From Anonymous:

In response to Eric Fairfields proposals: We tried to do just what you suggest in the GEONET project which was instigated in response to management making noises about finding diversified research venues. GEONET could have been the "fair broker" in the ridiculous debate raging over global warming. In it's short life GEONET was extremely successful. We had many projects in the works collaborating with the top researchers in the field around the world. GEONET was arbitrarily killed by managements decision to make an umpteenth attempt to gin up some reason to revive the obsolete meson facility, one of the Director's pets.

There is simply no reason to make big plans until the management problem at Los Alamos is corrected.

This comment makes no sense -- LANSCE is a weapon's essential facility, and is upgraded with funds from DP or RTBF. It is not funded with "discretionay" funds that could have gone to climate change (in fact, there are not any discretionary funds). This is not a mis-management issue. This is a fairy tale -- just like the Eric Fairfield post. I believe in the science mission with all my fiber - but we have to have customer and a mission.
Speaking of mis-management:
I started to work at LAMPF during the days of LASL after having worked at TRW during the "space race" days. I hired on as a lowly Elect Tech because I didn't have a degree, only an AA and 50 units up upperdivision.

I ran into trouble attempting to get a promotion because of the age old "board" that kept changing their requirements. The trouble seemed to point directly to management techniques. Later I learned there were "management courses" established, but who taught these courses? Why, current managers of course. This obviuosly assured that "all managers think alike".
My appologies to poster 5/16/2005 06:15:13 PM , I know that a lot of good people have worked very hard to make LANSCE relevant to weapons work. The truth is, however, that in 24 years of design of nuclear weapons I never got one piece of useful info from that facility. And everyone knows a whole list of crackpot programs were created to rivive a facility that had been declared obsolete by most outside accelerator experts.

GEONET was a mis-management issue. It was started in response to management requests, and promises were made. People made major commitments of their careers and lives. In the end it was destroyed by a whim of the Director. My point was that finding new directions for the Lab was impossible until there is a new management structure that the staff can trust.

Reinventing LANSCE as a weapons facility is actually one rare instance of a staff level effort that succeeded.
This last post goes to the core of the "Science based Stockpile Stewardship" issue. Although we don't admit it openly, the idea behind it is to maintain a cadre of scientists and technicians from a broad variety of disciplines needed to understand test and diagnose (if necessary) nuclear weapons. The fact is that our current stockpile has been proven to "go boom", and any additional physics, chemistry or engineering insights are icing on the cake. So facilities as well as X division activities are judged on their ability to retain quality scientists and technicians for any possible future need.
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