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Challenges Facing Stockpile Stewardship in the Second Nuclear Age WELCOME to this issue of National Security Science. This issue is in celebration of the first Los Alamos Primer lectures, which took place 71 years ago in the spring of 1943. These lectures were held in conjunction with the start-up of “Project Y,” which was part of the Manhattan Project. Project Y would eventually become Los Alamos National Laboratory. The U.S. entry into the Atomic Age had been slow and cautious. But when the United States entered World War II and faced the carnage of the war, fighting and genocide had already claimed millions of lives. Obtaining the bomb before Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan was imperative. The brightest students (their average age was 24) were recruited from the nation’s best colleges and universities. They were joined by other recruits: some of the world’s preeminent scientists—for example, Enrico Fermi, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, and Stanislaw Ulam—many of them refugees from Nazi Germany. The recruits were told very little other than that their work might bring an end to the war. They were given one-way train tickets to the tiny town of Lamy, New Mexico, just south of Santa Fe. There they were met by government agents and spirited away to an undisclosed location in the mountains northwest of Santa Fe. The youthful recruits, soon to become the world’s first nuclear weapons scientists and engineers, knew little about nuclear energy and nothing at all about making an atomic bomb. J. Robert Oppenheimer tasked his Berkeley protégé, Robert Serber, with immediately laying the necessary intellectual groundwork for the arriving scientists. Serber put the nature of their vital mission bluntly. “The object of the project,” he explained to the first several dozen nervous new arrivals, “is to produce a practical military weapon in the form of a bomb in which the energy is released by a fast neutron chain reaction in one or more of the materials known to show nuclear fission.” CHARLESMcMILLAN Laboratory Director Using just a blackboard and some brief notes, Serber provided a series of five lectures. He had developed the notes at Berkeley the previous summer while leading a series of secret seminars (which included Oppenheimer, Bethe, and Teller) that explored the potential for building a nuclear weapon. He began the Los Alamos lectures by presenting an essential introductory overview of the relevant nuclear physics. Next, he unveiled the most promising approaches, developed from the secret Berkeley seminars, for building the world’s first nuclear bomb. Following each day’s lecture, Serber’s original notes were expanded and annotated, based on the questions and discussions traded between audience participants. Formulas, graphs, and simple drawings from the blackboard