Aug 22, 2007

Introducing MaRIE

Lab unveils signature facility plan

ROGER SNODGRASS Monitor Assistant Editor
Los Alamos National Laboratory staked out a claim to its future Tuesday as top officials announced the intention to develop a new Signature Science Facility - named MaRIE.

With a bow to Marie Curie - the only person to win Nobel Prizes in two disciplines, physics and chemistry - the acronym stands for "Matter-Radiation Interactions in Extremes."

LANL Director Michael Anastasio and Principal Associate Director Terry Wallace talked with employees about plans for the new facility at an all-hands meeting.

Still in its earliest stages, the idea came out of a "bottom-up" planning process that began with an invitation for proposals from across the laboratory, followed by workshops and further evaluations and discussions.

The participatory process will continue into the future with internal scoping workshops and input from the outside community.

Discussions have begun with lab sponsors, including the Department of Energy's Office of Science and with the National Nuclear Security Administration, Wallace said, with an eye to getting into the 2009 budget cycle.

It would not be unusual for a major project like this to take a decade or more to come to fruition, he added.

The framework for the decision, Wallace said, was the desire to have a "cutting edge facility" that would be "an attractor" for future scientists, that would "serve the mission" of the laboratory and would be "flexible" enough to encompass an evolving mission into the future.

"With a commitment to be the premier national security science laboratory for the twenty-first century, square in the middle of that are the kinds of things MaRIE will do," Wallace said.

The facility would continue the laboratory's research in radiation in different forms, building upon the long history and foundation of the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility (LAMPF) that came on line in 1972 and the current major experimental science facility, the Los Alamos Neutron Scattering Center (LANSCE).

LANSCE is used in nuclear weapons experiments related to maintaining and certifying the nuclear weapons stockpile and by a growing community of academic and industrial researchers across the country and around the world.

The facility makes use of a powerful linear accelerator that accelerates protons to 84 percent of the speed of light.

In a process called spallation, neutrons are scattered when a proton from the beam collides with a nucleus. The neutrons in turn can be used to look inside the molecules of target materials under varying pressures, temperatures and other conditions.

Internal structural properties of biological materials, the effects of fatigue in metal alloys and the molecular processes of chemicals at high temperatures are suitable subjects for neutron science to probe.

An evolution of LANSCE, particularly the Lujan Center, a user-facility open to the public, would add new capabilities and help modernize aging equipment, according to LANL officials.

Los Alamos was a participant in a $1.4 billion project to build a state-of-the-art Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at Oak Ridge, Tenn., that opened in 2006.

Wallace said MaRIE would complement the capabilities in Oak Ridge and that both LANSCE and SNS have unique specialties and are currently oversubscribed with experiments waiting to be performed.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Matter-Radiation Interactions in Extremes? Yeah, all the likely candidate non-weapons sponsors will be really be eager to send us funding for this one, won't they? NOT!!!

This decision is pretty much what you would expect when your Director is a former weapons designer. How does that saying go, "When you are a hammer...". Yeah, let's make a poorly disguised attempt to do more studies that benefit weapons physics. Hurrah!!! I hear all those astro-physics foundations are loaded to the gills with cash these days.

Mike, if you haven't heard yet, funding for weapons flavored research is DECLINING! We need to find NEW SPONSORS, and not keep trying to shake out a few extra pennies from the pockets of our current benefactors.

My hope in LANL has just hit an all-time low with this annoucment. I suspect the "fix" was in on this whole exercise from the very beginning. The Director got exactly what he wanted.

Anonymous said...

I don't really get what this project is, and how it differs from Lujan etc. Can someone elaborate?

And... Assuming they can sell this and get it funded, who do we have that's actually competent to lead this "thing" - whatever it is - to completion?

Anonymous said...

This facility appears to be Mike's solution for keeping a few unfunded weapons scientists in their jobs, now that the weapons budget is clearly in decline. Someone needs to inform Mike that the Cold War is over. Research in biological, informational, and material science (esp. nano) is were all the excitement and growth is coming from these days. Mike is looking backwards, trying to hold on to a dream that died over 15 years ago. This is really sad to watch. Our management is actively making us scientifically less diverse with this decision. Playing into what appears to be LANL's historical strength will make us weaker in the end.

Anonymous said...

Just another DARHT/NIF. At least we will get another addition to the MSL complex. Woo, hoo!

Anonymous said...

This is our "bold new vision"? You have got to be kidding me.

Anonymous said...

did any of you see any other other signature facility proposals? what i saw from the sideline while some were being put together was pretty embarassing. it could be true that the poor quality of the other proposals was also a factor in this being the direction the lab decided to go. and yeah, it sounds pretty much like a "stay the course" decision, instead of a real shift into areas where you can actually get money. is this really a surprise though?

Anonymous said...

Why did Terry waste everyone's time with this whole meaningless and time consuming exercise. In the end, Terry appears to have bent over and done exactly what his superiors wanted him to do. Does Terry have any backbone at all?

Anonymous said...

To 8/22/07 9:55 PM - I know that proposals were put forth for a nuclear reactor facility for medical isotopes, GNEP, nuclear energy, ANFC - all areas where growth is a given and such a facility should be at LANL. It got canned. It is interesting with all the lip-service regarding energy security that LANL seems to continuously be missing this ship.

Anonymous said...

10:00 PM - Terry is a spineless whimp who lies every time he opens his mouth. He got the job because of his mommy and not because of his credentials. I was on the search committee - there were far more qualified applicants in the "exhaustive national search". In the end, Mikey just picked Terry and wasted my time by pretending it was a legitimate search. Talk about waste, fraud and abuse. Hello congress???

Anonymous said...

Maybe the institutes will do something reasonable. Aren't the institutes also Terry's?

Anonymous said...

C'mon 10:15, what have the institutes done since June 1, 2006? All I have seen is that they changed their name - they have no money and even the universities associated with the institutes call it a joke. Like you indicated, Terry "owns" the institutes ... 'nuff said.

Anonymous said...

A small question:

Exactly how would this institute attract:

1. Money
2. Young scientist who care about nanotechnology, biophysics, video gaming, robotics, etc., all of which are current hot areas and are not 'in Extremes.'

Anonymous said...

Keep voting for Terry Wallace's mother for State Representative (Jeanette Wallace) and you'll have to deal with him indefinitely.

Anonymous said...

name is quite stooPID

Anonymous said...

9:55PM - Four proposal (out of 36, I think) were selected for full proposal: Astro-Informatics, Materials (although I don't remenber the exact name), L-PARC and Biosecurity. The Materials and the L-PARC proposals merged into MaRIE. I don't know any specific details of these proposals (other than through the grape-vine) but it seems a more politically motivated selection rather than scientifically based (IMHO). But Terry mentioned in the all-hands meeting that LANL will not "forget" the biosecurity proposal, thus asking Tom. Terwilliger (the lead on this proposal to do something. Terry's statement was that vague at this point.

Anonymous said...

Who cares, just so long as it brings in a few hundred million.

Make it sound earth-shattering, perhaps having the potential for some revolutionary applications in the realm of weapons of mass destruction and walla...watch the money train come in!

Terry baby, you make your mommy Jannette Wallace so proud!

Anonymous said...

To stART ouT with sUCh a sTuPiD naME does nOt iNsTiLl confiDENCE

Anonymous said...

I hope LANS doesn't waste too much overhead funding trying to sell this tuRD to sponsors that are interested in funding anything else but weapon physics experiments. This just in... weapon budgets declining, layoffs looming.

Anonymous said...

When will DAHRT be finished, before we start on this?

Anonymous said...

Why is anyone surprised? This is how much of the lab has been funded for, at least, thirty years. Not much expertise, very little history of success and, of course, no peer revue. Bit of bad news, however, the proposal may be judged on its merits.

Anonymous said...

5:11pm

Get a life you loser. You have now idea what you are saying. Drunk again?

Anonymous said...

I believe that planning for MaRIE falls into the catagory of mental masturbation.

With the budget where it is and is headed, this is a pipe dream.

Anonymous said...

"...Wallace said, with an eye to getting into the 2009 budget cycle.

It would not be unusual for a major project like this to take a decade or more to come to fruition, he added.

The framework for the decision, Wallace said, was the desire to have a "cutting edge facility" that would be "an attractor" for future scientists..."

Those future scientists would be where in their training now?

Anonymous said...

Of course, MaRIE will have to be funded with seed money. I would guess a new 3% Signature Facility Tax off the top of all incoming TSM funding at LANL should just about do it. And even if it only brings in 5 cents in new outside funding for every overhead dollar invested, LANS will hold it up for all to see as an example of a programmatic success. Hey, be really nice to Terry and maybe he'll even put you on the bloated MaRIE management staff that will soon be forming.

Anonymous said...

To: 8/22/07 10:07 PM, No nuclear reactors at Los Alamos. Area is too seismicly active...been there, done that.

To: 8/23/07 10:53 AM, Learn how to SpeLL; "walla" = "voila".

Anonymous said...

MaRIE is nothing more than a cheap political ploy to help stabilize the aging LANSCE facility which has been threatened with declining funds and a possible shutdown from NNSA. MaRIE will do nothing to help LANL diversify into new technology areas.

If you had any doubts about the poor judgement of both Mike and Terry in these matters, this decision should help clear up any further doubts.

Anonymous said...

From 8:20 PM ..."Hey, be really nice to Terry and maybe he'll even put you on the bloated MaRIE management staff that will soon be forming."

Yeah, Terry likes suck-ups. He surrounds himself with them to make himself look good. I can only wonder who he hires to be his deputy, which is taking a God awful long time. Any bets it will be a mousy woman who he does not feel threatened by and who makes him feel good about himself? (remember he did this when he was ADSR)

Anonymous said...

When 11:14PM says TW may want a mousy woman at his side, makes sense. Kind of like the one that married dear old dad?

Anonymous said...

This tired concept is not the science that will not save the Laboratory! Look at LANCE. It is the largest waste of money on the mesa...so more is better! Why do you think the SNS went to Oak Ridge? If LANS wants to reinvigorate science, they can start by cutting costs and reducing the bloated management.

Anonymous said...

But we're already the worlds greatest science protecting america. The subtitle on the viewgraphs says so. There's nothing to reinvigorate - we're already the best. End of story.

Pinky and The Brain said...

This facility is for science? I thought the signature facility was where you go to get signatures on your procurement or property transport requests!

Anonymous said...

We have an addiction to NNSA funding and this Signature Facility just helps keep the addiction going. This is crazy. I thought the whole idea of the Signature Facility was to help us become more like SNL and wean our dependence on NNSA. Mike and Terry are continuing a long LANL management tradition of taking the easy route. In the long term, this will come back to hurt us. Of course, by then both Mike and Terry will be long gone.

Anonymous said...

Terry is an incompetent clueless idiot with his head planted up Mike's butt. Plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

Pinky, LOL - but wouldn't that be the same as giving every employee an "easy" button?!