Our Monthly Progress Report
THIS issue of Science & Technology Review (S&TR) marks the 30th anniversary of our unclassified monthly magazine and carries on a tradition that goes back to the founding of the Laboratory. In the fall of 1952, the Atomic Energy Commission received a written report on the first month of work at the newly formed Radiation Laboratory in Livermore, California. Much has changed in half a century. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory now communicates with sponsors in many ways—both formal and informal—including S&TR, which is the direct descendant of that first report. Since 1952, we have been providing our Washington sponsors, and others, monthly news of scientific and technical accomplishments at the Laboratory.
The first reports, appropriately entitled Progress Reports Monthly, were classified and had limited distribution. Their focus was on the Laboratory’s principal mission: to advance nuclear weapons science and technology. Breakthroughs in nuclear design—such as a thermonuclear warhead compact enough to be carried on submarine-launched Polaris missiles—and an active nuclear test program meant that we had much to tell.
In 1960, a scientific editor was named to manage the growing Laboratory’s monthly report. Three years later, we began the tradition of selecting an up-and-coming scientist or engineer as scientific editor for a year. Those knowledgeable of the Laboratory’s history will recognize some of the early names: Richard Wagner, Robert Barker, Bruce Tarter, Philip Coyle, and Robert Selden. All scientific editors have found the position a rewarding experience as well as a wonderful opportunity to meet colleagues and learn about programs throughout the Laboratory.
Growth at Lawrence Livermore in the 1970s transformed it into the multiprogram laboratory that it is today. National security is our defining mission, but with our special capabilities and multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving, we also can contribute to solving many national issues that require leading-edge science and technology. Director Roger Batzel decided to start an unclassified monthly companion report, Energy & Technology Review (E&TR), to cover the breadth of the Laboratory’s science and technology. Its first issue in a glossy magazine format appeared in January 1976—exactly 30 years ago.
The rationale for the new magazine was as important then as it is now. We needed a widely distributed periodical to highlight progress in the Laboratory’s programs. The intended audience is broad: our sponsors and other government officials, research partners, and the scientific community. The magazine also helps Livermore scientists keep abreast of work in other areas of the Laboratory. In addition, members of the general public are welcome to subscribe.
In the mid-1990s, Director (and former scientific editor) Bruce Tarter made another change. E&TR transformed into S&TR and became our principal monthly magazine (with two double issues each year). With research activities shifting to science-based stockpile stewardship, nonproliferation, and homeland security, it became even more feasible to provide informative unclassified coverage of the Laboratory’s national security programs as well as our many unclassified areas of research.
S&TR currently has over 9,000 subscribers, and the online magazine is one of the most visited of the Laboratory’s Web pages. It is a frequent winner of awards from the Society for Technical Communication, including an Award of Excellence in the international magazine competition last year. We hope that we are serving our readers well and always welcome your feedback. For your convenience, all issues include a survey form for you to return to us.
From one perspective, this is S&TR’s 30th birthday. From another, the magazine is as old as the Laboratory and, like the Laboratory, always reinventing itself to meet current needs. In any case, the staff of S&TR is excited about carrying on the tradition of providing monthly reports on the outstanding science and technology being carried out at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.