Here's one from "Wired" that Pinky just passed on.
More fodder for those who like to claim that every uncomplimentary story about LANL is penned by "LANL-hating Santa Feans".
Los Alamos' local alt-weekly has a great primer on the politics, economics, security, and strategic significance of the atom bomb's birthplace. Here's a snip:
Despite talk of turning toward a focus of renewable energy, the numbers tell a different story. In 2007, remember, only 3 percent of the lab’s work was related to energy and other programs. Meanwhile, the 2008 Energy Department budget request for “energy efficiency and renewable energy” at Los Alamos comes to just over $1 million (The request for money related to biomass, for instance is $50,000—close to half the 2007 request.)
Changing the mission of the lab would also change how the lab is funded each year, Monahan adds. As a nuclear weapons laboratory, Los Alamos has always received “entitlement appropriations,” he says. “It’s been just like Medicare or Social Security—every year [Congress] is going to appropriate for it.” Finding that same steady funding for things like renewable energy will be more difficult—particularly given the lack of federal action on energy independence and alternative energy.
After the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War ended, Greg Mello spent eight years as a consultant, trying to figure out diversification plans for California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and Los Alamos. “Finally, we were forced to throw up our hands; everything was blocked,” he says, “and there were no examples in the United States of any such conversion.” In the end, he came to believe it was neither desirable nor possible to diversity the mission of Los Alamos.
Coghlan believes that as long as [Sen. Peter] Domenici... whose support of LANL over the years earned him the moniker “St. Pete"... remains in office, all discussions of a change in mission are moot.
“He views it as guaranteed appropriations on into the indefinite future, and he’s not about to put up with speculative ideas about other possible missions when he knows he can get that money through plutonium pit production,” he says. “He’s shutting the door on possible future missions at Los Alamos in any real meaningful sense.”
(High five: Rest of the Story)