Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Passing good judgment, part 2: weapons designers without nuclear testing experience

Are second-generation nuclear weapons designers, who have no nuclear testing experience and rely on supercomputing simulations, prepared to keep the aging U.S. nuclear stockpile healthy? Can they evaluate future nuclear threats from foreign nations and terrorist groups? Hear what the second generation has to say…
February 1, 2014
Passing good judgment, part 2: weapons designers without nuclear testing experience

Second-generation designers rely on supercomputer simulations of weapons-related physics (shown above) and of nuclear weapons performance.

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The real question is not, “How do we know we’re right,” it’s: “How do we convince others we’re right?”

Due to the moratorium on underground nuclear testing, second-generation nuclear weapons designers face a credibility gap. For example, the military asks: “Why should we believe you when you say our weapons will work when you haven’t tested them in over 20 years?” To counter that gap, second generation designers are asking to do more experiments and new ones using new technologies. Both successes and failures will enhance these designers’ ability develop good judgment, and boost their credibility with the military and U.S. allies whenever the designers say: “These weapons will work.”


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