Feature Story | 3-Apr-2003

Los Alamos' 60th anniversary

DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., April 2, 2003 – As it turns 60 years old, Los Alamos National Laboratory holds a special place in the modern-day genealogy of science and technology, says George "Pete" Nanos, the laboratory's interim director. "We are proud of our accomplishments. However, we will never rest on our laurels or be held motionless by the past."

April 7, 2003 will be the kickoff date for what will be a six-month-long series of events noting the sixth decade of the laboratory's continuous service to the nation.

"In planning what is really an extended examination of our future, we've tried to schedule events that honor significant people and accomplishments, remember key points from our history, and reach out to our neighbors in Northern New Mexico," said Dennis Erickson, co-chair of the laboratory's 60th Anniversary Task Force.

Nanos said the variety of events, scientific lectures, conferences and workshops planned over the next several months will offer a clear look at where the laboratory is today, and where it is headed.

"This is in fact a time of great opportunity, just as it was six decades ago when the laboratory was formed amid the uncertainty of World War Two," Nanos said. "Los Alamos played a key role in the genealogy of modern science and technology, but we're not resting on our laurels."

The formal contract between the federal government and the University of California establishing the laboratory was signed on April 20, 1943, although some historians point to March 6, 1943, the initial informal meeting of the scientific committee headed by Los Alamos' first director, J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Anniversary events begin with a special address by Nanos scheduled for Monday, April 7, followed by a forum moderated by Nanos that will include former laboratory directors Harold Agnew (1970-1979), Donald Kerr (1979-1985), Sig Hecker (1986-1997) and John Browne (1997-2003). Each will discuss his accomplishments and challenges as laboratory director.

Later that day, laboratory Senior Fellow Emeritus George Cowan and Senior Fellow Emeritus Louis Rosen will be awarded the Los Alamos Medal for their decades of contributions to the laboratory and their scientific and professional accomplishments.

On April 8, Los Alamos Historical Society will host the directors at a public forum in the Duane Smith Auditorium at Los Alamos High School.

Other events will follow throughout the next six months, focusing on the Laboratory's contributions to national security and its future missions and directions in science and technology.

"All of these activities are in keeping with the Laboratory's anniversary slogan 'Ideas that change the world,'" Erickson said.

The next major events will be April 22, when government officials and other friends of the Laboratory visit to dedicate two major facilities - the Nonproliferation and International Security Center and the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrotest facility - and to break ground for the National Security Sciences Building, which will replace the current Administration Building.

A "Science Day" for laboratory employees and the media is scheduled at the Laboratory for Wednesday, April 23, and will feature discussions of science-based prediction, astrophysics, genetics, explosives and actinide chemistry.

Among scheduled public events are a workshop on global climate and local drought in Santa Fe on the morning of April 23, a lecture on the Human Genome Project in Los Alamos the same evening and an evening lecture on black holes and the Milky Way galaxy scheduled for Los Alamos (April 29), Santa Fe (April 30), Albuquerque (May 7) and Taos (May 8).

Activities marking the 60th anniversary will continue through the summer and wind up in September with the publication of a special issue of Los Alamos Science magazine.


Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA's Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.

Los Alamos enhances global security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health and national security concerns.

For more Los Alamos news releases, visit www.lanl.gov.

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