Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

The history issue

Building on its storied past, our Laboratory continues to push the envelope of what’s possible, making history every single day.
July 6, 2020
A man stands in front of a B-29 Superfortress aircraft.

The B-29 Superfortress was a four-engine propeller-driven bomber and was the most sophisticated aircraft of its kind during World War II. Here, electrical engineer Walter Goodman stands in front of the Great Artiste, a B-29 that made history in August 1945 as the only aircraft to participate in the bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.CREDIT: Los Alamos National Laboratory

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“My confidence stems from our history. At the outset of World War II, America faced an unprecedented set of threats...through prudent leadership, the application of science to practical problems, and...the determination of the American people, our nation overcame these trials and emerged from that world crisis stronger than ever.”- NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty in message to her “NNSA family” regarding the coronavirus pandemic. “I am confident that we have the same ability to not only survive this pandemic,” she wrote, “but that we will become a wiser and more resilient enterprise as a result.”

By Bob Webster, Deputy Laboratory Director for Weapons

We think “history,” and we gravitate toward dusty technical reports, dog-eared notebooks, and black and white photographs. Many such documents are archived in the Laboratory’s new National Security Research Center (NSRC), a largely classified library that allows scientists and engineers to access long-forgotten materials to aid their research. The NSRC was also a great resource for creating this issue of National Security Science magazine. The NSRC staff patiently answered questions from our writers and unearthed documents that support many of the articles you’ll read here.

In addition to the treasure trove of items in the NSRC, history is being made every day at the Laboratory. Earlier this spring, nearly all Laboratory staff began telecommuting in an effort to reduce opportunities for COVID-19 transmission. This situation is a first for everyone. It involves not only working remotely but also considering what a global health pandemic means for each of us individually as well as for the Laboratory’s national security mission.

Our IT and communications teams are working efficiently and effectively to get our 12,000 employees on the same page and connected from afar. As the majority of employees work from home, a handful of employees do come in to the Laboratory every day to support key mission-essential activities that cannot be done offsite.

In the midst of all this, President Donald Trump announced a new initiative to use America’s supercomputing resources to combat COVID-19. “The launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium will provide COVID-19 researchers with access to the world’s most powerful high performance computing resources that can significantly advance the pace of scientific discovery in the fight to stop the virus,” the White House said in a press release.

Well, guess where some of the world’s most powerful high-performance computing resources are located?

That’s right. Right here at Los Alamos. As a National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) laboratory, Los Alamos “is eagerly lending out its world-class supercomputing resources to combat COVID-19 in collaboration with other agencies,” said NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty. “NNSA supercomputers will be available, empowering researchers to understand the COVID-19 virus, develop treatments and vaccines, and ultimately bring an end to this pandemic.”

In other words, we are making history.

A portrait of Bob Webster.

Bob Webster, Deputy Laboratory Director for Weapons.