From the Director
- Communications & Government Affairs
- (505) 667-7000
Los Alamos National Laboratory has played a role in some of the most transformational discoveries of the 20th and 21st centuries.
In 1943, scientists gathered on remote mesa tops in New Mexico for a secret project that would help end World War II. Our primary mission since then has been to care for the United States’ stockpile of nuclear weapons.
But this primary mission leads to a wealth of advances in science and technology.
Assurance without testing
In 1992, the United States voluntarily stopped full-scale testing of nuclear weapons. That means we must use other methods to assure that the U.S. stockpile is safe, reliable, and effective.
To use an analogy, it’s like assuring that a 1965 classic sports car will start—without being able to put gas in the engine. Each year, its parts get older; they may corrode or get brittle. Mechanics repair or refurbish some parts, and they may take samples or test other parts. They may even use computers to simulate what a running engine looks like, but they cannot start the engine.
Now make that many times more complex.
Assuring America’s nuclear stockpile without full-scale testing requires a tremendous amount of science, technology, computational horsepower, and analytical tools.
Los Alamos scientists are answering basic questions about the way things work at the atomic level. This leads to advances in medicine, clean energy, computing, earth sciences, and materials that do special things like conduct electricity without resistance. We must understand the way atoms behave and function at temperatures hotter than the sun, at crushing pressures, or moving at one million miles per hour.
Our people are highly trained, creative, and innovative. They have one-of-a-kind facilities to accomplish work that very few people in the world can do. We have a vibrant student and postdoctoral program because they are the talent who will solve the problems our predecessors only dreamed of.
The answers to these problems apply not only to national security concerns but to the betterment of life for humankind.