Jan 11, 2008

Science, Society, and the National Laboratories: Grand Challenges for the 21st Century

January 15 2008, 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Live Webcast

Event Details

with Michael Anastasio, director, Los Alamos National Laboratory

The role of science, and the role of U.S. national laboratories in particular, in promoting both U.S. national security and international security, has changed dramatically over the past six decades – from significant government investment in and leadership of ‘big science’ during the cold war, to a diminished federal science and technology (S&T) investment in the post-cold war period. Although the challenges we might expect to face in the future are different, they too will demand the best science and technology. The question is, can we have vision for developing and using needed S&T capabilities that matches those that gave us leadership and direction in the middle of the 20th century?

9 comments:

Terry Goldman said...

" ... diminished federal science and technology (S&T) investment in the post-cold war period." -- Depends how you define S&T: bio/medical S&T has continued to increase beyond inflation. Even physics S&T has increased, I think, although mostly in the condensed matter area. Demand has increased faster leaving the impression of decrease in general. Weapons S&T has definitely decreased, but that is only our parochial interest.

Anonymous said...

The grandest challenge, as I understand the big picture, is how to keep the people in the trenches working diligently toward compliance and completion of the Performance-Based Initiatives (PBIs) so the performance-based awards can be assured for the Lab. Er, for the LANS, LLC managers, I mean.

Anonymous said...

Productive and meaningful output will count for little at the new LANL. Safety and security will trump all other concerns. The LANS for-profit fee for the corporate partners will largely be based on "success" in these two areas. More crazy CYA policies, lower pay and benefits, and lousy morale are what we have ahead of us. Mission accomplished, NNSA.

Anonymous said...

They just can't seem to stay away from Washington and all the dirty politics. Just a couple weeks after Mikey's grand challenge presentation is another conference sponsored by the worst of the LANL/LLNL lot who sold you out: http://www.lanl.gov/conferences/sw/invite.shtml

Yes, strategic weapons in the 21st century brought to you by the very people who ruined the reputation of the weapons labs, treated their co-workers like shit, demoralized the scientific staff, and spent more time in Washington kissing ass and lying about their actions than promoting the best science or being leaders who wanted to honestly transition our institutions positively into the next century.

Go view the very interesting list of select invitees. Besides Mikey, we have Pete Nanos, Steve Younger, John Immele, Ray Juzaitis, Paul White, Dave Crandall, Bruce Tarter, and the list goes on including the whole Washington political gang. I wish there were words to express how brutally these folks treated their colleagues and subordinates at the labs over the years.

Good to know these people are still in bed together after all this time. They truly deserve each other.

Anonymous said...

"Productive and meaningful output will count for little at the new LANL."

True if you're in the lower eschelons of the employee base.

It's also true though in a different way of the highest levels of the Lab's employees: LANS, LLC managers. That's why they are dependent on the folks beneath them to diligently do the work that is then evaluated by DOE & NNSA for the PBIs. Do you think the managers did 71% of the total work that netted them the fee they received?

The LANS for-profit fee for the corporate partners will largely be based on "success" by those beneath the managers in meeting or exceeding the performance requirements. You can be certain that the managers will spend at least 71% of their time finding ways to ensure that the underlings meet those expectations.

Anonymous said...

"You can be certain that the managers will spend at least 71% of their time finding ways to ensure that the underlings meet those expectations." (4:49 PM)

By what means? Crazy new policies, threats of more layoffs, continuous benefit cutbacks, broken IT systems like Concur, and measly 2% raises for the working staff?

Anonymous said...

"Crazy new policies, threats of more layoffs, continuous benefit cutbacks, broken IT systems like Concur, and measly 2% raises for the working staff?"

All of the above plus more meetings, more requests for documentation of performance and more looking over your shoulder to see if you're doing what they want you to do so they can take credit for it.

Anonymous said...

Well, nuts!

I tuned in just as it was ending.

Who watched it?

Pinky and The Brain said...

What I saw was almost unwatchable. Every few minutes I lost the audio and had to close the window to start fresh.

In the portions I did see, Mike seemed almost too nervous to communicate. I'll watch it again if the video is available for download, but you didn't miss anything in the live version.