60th Anniversary celebration kicks off with Science & Technology Day

Oct. 15, 2012

60th Anniversary celebration kicks off with Science & Technology Day

Lauren Y Devore, devore1@llnl.gov, 925-422-0855
Friday's Science & Technology Day highlighted the Lab's impressive record of innovation with featured speakers and panel discussions and a special awards ceremony.

"Today we're celebrating our proud history of innovation and looking to the future," said Director Parney Albright as he opened the event. He noted the importance of the LDRD program, observing that it has been and will continue to be a vital source of patents and R&D awards and "a main driver for innovation."

In introducing the morning session, Bill Goldstein, acting deputy director for S&T, noted that the Lab's "rich history and promising future of discovery science and technical innovation" owes much to its mission programs and the challenges they pose.

In keeping with LLNL's self-styled reputation as a "new ideas Lab," the morning session focused on "The History and Future of Discovery."

Bruce Macintosh highlighted some of the Lab's "astrophysical firsts," including adaptive optics, as deployed on telescopes around the world (and adapted for the artificial retina) and wide-field massive data projects, as used today in the search for exoplanets.

Rip Collins described work being done in the field of high-energy-density (HED) science at NIF. "This is an amazing time to be a scientist. We're on the verge of an emerging science even more exciting than the birth of quantum physics."

Mike McCoy turned his attention to challenges in high performance computing (HPC). He noted that LLNL has always been a powerful source for innovation in HPC, and much of this success arises from long-term R&D engagement with vendors like IBM. Looking ahead to exascale computing, McCoy warned of an approaching "technological cliff in terms of power, memory storage, parallelism and resilience. "We have to meet these challenges. National security and economic competitiveness depend on continued leadership and dominance in simulations in the 21st century."

Following these talks, Goldstein moderated a panel discussion on "The Future of Discovery at LLNL." Panelists included Felice Lightstone (rapid medical drug development), Glenn Fox (accelerated discovery of new materials), Dennis McNabb (nucleosynthesis and NIF) and Dave Bader (understanding the atmosphere and climate). In introducing the panelists, Goldstein noted that they represented areas where "Livermore brings some 'secret sauce' for addressing problems of the future."

Following a break for the ice cream socials and for employees to peruse the science and technology poster session in a tent adjacent to the Bldg. 123 auditorium, the afternoon session's speakers focused on the "Impact of Science and Technology."

Adam Schwartz described some of the challenges involved with the science of aging nuclear weapons. Much of the challenge arises from the peculiar nature of plutonium (which has six or more allotropes and is very sensitive to changes in temperature, pressure, or chemistry) and the effects of self-irradiation as the metal ages.

Next, Ed Moses presented an overview of four decades of lasers at LLNL. "This Lab has one of the preeminent laser programs in the world, and I expect the next 10 years to be the most productive in the history of the program."

The afternoon panel discussion was moderated by Wes Spain, director of the Office of Strategic Outcomes, and addressed "The Impact of S&T in the 21st Century." Panelists included Mike Dunne (fusion energy), Celeste Matarazzo (the cyber-sphere), Chris Spadiccini (the future of manufacturing), Julio Friedmann (high-performance energy systems) and Bruce McWilliams (entrepreneur's perspective).

After a short break, Albright hosted a Director's Awards Ceremony. A special Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed on Dick Post. The 15 charter inductees into the newly created Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame were introduced (see photos here ), as were the winners of the Director's S&T Awards . The day concluded with a reception in the S&T poster tent.