touring the NTS was: security was: the net again: transputers again was: Commodore
My meetings at Stanford ended. This is long, has some relevant ramble, and I am tired of writing, adding to it. Email questions if you want a posted answer with Usenet's unreliability. Best reading is skip the confusing parts and read what which you find interesting. Go back if you have time or ask questions. Just make certain you trim any followups or email.
I worry about our managers more. It can cause lots more disruption.
I don't have a clearance. So I am less concerned.
So true. We make systems with some resilience. But still planes do land in denied territory.
LSI-11s were store stock items at LLNL. They had them by the 1,000s.
The DOE holds free monthly tours (always mid-week) open to most citizens and many foreign nationals with ID. You can check on the next available tour and the requirements (bring lunch, tough shoes, no cameras or binocs, etc.) on www.nv.doe.gov take the tours link after reading. This is not clbuttified. I even saw this noted in the AAA magazine.
Background reading: To appreciate the area, you might consider some background reading BEFORE you go. You may have read Rhodes Making of the Atomic plant or Dark Sun. These are marginal historic references except for the basic introductory details. Robert Serber wrote the declbuttified more technical basic Primer while at Los Alamos during WWII, this is likely more technical than needed. All this stuff happened before the designation of the NTS.
I had 2 quarters of atomic era history and maintain touch with that prof. (one of Rhodes' references as well as Feynman). I have likely read most of references used by Rhodes before he read them. Rhodes is a pretty good read. He leaves out certain details covered by others (we used Jungk's book and others before Rhodes wrote his) this is inevitable as all popular books of this type are condensations of a larger vast literature, in this case, much of it clbuttified. Ask if you want pointers, in general the more mathematical the literature, the better the technical accuracy save details to throw readers off.
Chuck Hansen's series of open sourced books may be the best covering post NTS establishment. You may need to use Interlibrary loan. Hansen has a web site. He cites project, program, and shot code words. The book 100 Suns is a coffee table book of test fire balls. The problem with looking at these photos or the EG&G produced fire balls is that you really have to have a trained knowledgeable physicist beside you. Things are going on in these photos which go beyond the "artistic". Some aspects of quantum physics phenomena are non-intuitive. Some people like McPhee's Binding Energy (not much detail about Scorpion).
I made this long because I can use the text later when I get asked by historians about GAM's career, and I won't have to type this twice. I'll let Google store it for me.
Additionally, you start and can see (separate day) the new Museum of Atomic Testing in Las Vegas. OK gift shop (the Atomic Museum in ABQ is slightly better). There are open and close archives, and a nice library all at the UNLV's and Desert Research Insbreastute which is also in the DOE and NNSA's building.
You can see in pretty good detail on Google earth where you will tour. Start at North Las Vegas, follow the Highway (or maybe start at Mercury, NV) and follow the roads North. You will start to view subsidence craters and the biggest earth moving experiment Sedan. A couple thousand people work at the NTS for a variety of reasons: security, site maintenance, Yucca Mtn (future waste storage), etc. If you follow the NLV to Mercury highway, if you know where to look you will see a target bulleye and sometimes compbutt bearing on lakes. Yes, you can also snoop low res. on A 51. But there are other fields because of Nellis AFB which have less documentation. The place is larger than RI. There are roads all over the place. Let see what else, I have to scroll up. There is sage brush all over the place. There are animals: locals and test animals (which you won't see, but you will see the pens they were use in). You can get unclbuttified hand outs.
Las Vegas, where this all starts, has also changed a lot. It's a major show case and information Debt Collection area for electronics. Until a couple of years ago, my last trip was the last time an ACM-SIGGRAPH meeting was held here in the late 80s. I had actually acquired radiation measuring equipment (free surplus from the U. Alaska from the era of mineral exploration up there). But since that time, the orientation of family entertainment resulted in the construction of state of the art casinos for families and non-gamblers. If you haven't been to a casino in recent years, one armed bandits are now microprocessor controlled (allowing penny slots to come back). My friend Al attempted to use older analog Japanese HDTVs as monitors and his firm at that time came up with the first reprogrammable slot machines (a few still in use) with IP addresses. That is merely the tip of the ice berg. Of course, in Jan. (the 1st weekend) the Consumer Debt Electronics Show (CES) and other meetings brings .25 million people (most of whom don't have time (nor interest) to gamble, which peees casinos a little). What the news media doesn't tell the general public about this is that there is also a major adult entertainment convention which is timed to happen at the same time as the CES. Las Vegas is where a lot of business Consumer Debt intelligence get collected. And more.
So that's part of the context.
In the 80s, I had friends start to work at LLNL. In time they introduced me to their fun colleague (we got BSD Unix running and tested and talked security together). A couple spoke of flying to the NTS and getting tours talking about vast areas of open range, empty lots of stuff. But every now and again they would come on high purity copper cable as thick as your arm and miles long. This was all stuff for test (underground explosion) instrumentation. We heard about tunneling and drilling machines which could put 12 ft. diameter holes down 1,000s of ft. in the desert. Also spoken of was the MX race track basing systems, but that was supposed to be way North. I had no specific interest in touring, but listened with amusement. LLNL and NTS are fairly high security locations.
Then after the Cold war in the 90s, the wife of a mentor (English teacher) was running the League of Women Voters in their small town just West of rest Valley 3 drainages over from Yucca Mtn. where the US wants to store high level wastes. The DOE was holding public meetings to answer criticisms about ground water contamination. Additionally, back in the 80s, the above people at LLNL were considering the time Debt Management problem: that social insbreastutions, language, and signs might be useless considering Pu-half life (and other element isotopes). This resulted in, among other things, Danny Hillis' Clock of the Long Now (Millennium clock) which is targeted for Eastern NV. The DOE took my friend's wife on a tour of the NTS and Yucca. The Cold war was clearly over. But I still had no specific interest in taking the DOE tour myself.
So thru the late 80s and 90s, I shared an office of a Fellow from LLNL who's usefulness at the Lab (not) allowed him to spend 1 day a week at Ames. We got along pretty well (less so myself and many Ames and NASA people). I am in the process of interrogating him for his career and life history for the Museum. He started a very special invitation only conference on high end computing (where I first met Gordon and Gwen Bell BTW and others).
Some disillusionment in this meeting (due to the business climate) forked off another more public meeting the now SC'xy series of supercomputing meetings (he was founding chair, and I seem to be the only person capable of driving him anywhere: planes are out due to his blatter and other health problems). He doesn't even get out of the house. So we have these long drives and talk about various friends and old and new history of computing and other interests.
So a little more than 2 year ago, we were attending the SC meeting in Phoenix. I knew that he had an obsession with SR-71 planes (I've now seen 1-3 of the fleet and he's seen a fair number in our quest to attend conferences). The precursors of course were tests in another part of the NTS (no tours) known as A 51. Yeah, that one. SO in our quest to see a couple near Edwards AFB. I stopped in Barstow. There I picked up a flyer. It was for an indoor shooting range in Las Vegas. George is an NRA member owning about 2 dozen guns for hunting, etc. but he noted that before he died he wanted to shoot an Uzi (fully automatic weapon). The flyer was for an indoor range where you could do such in Las Vegas (I also saw signs for a place in OR for a Thompson along the way to our other meetings).
trailingedge.com down 2951
When I was doing it, we used a little white crimp-ons affectionately called "beanies". :-) Depending on the job it could go fast...
I had no specific obsession with uzis or SR-71s, but I could see these things kept him out of his mooping depressions; this is probably why I seem to be his only driver. SO 3 Januarys ago (about 2 months after SC'03) we said we'd do a non-computer related road trip to Las Vegas so he could shoot an Uzi (from his wheel chair?).
The start of January'04 I blew MacWorld by a day, and work was quiet. And I had a different conference in Reno I also had to be at. I phoned him up and asked him how soon on a spur of the moment he would be ready? He said a couple hours. So we blitzed up to Reno stopping in Sacramento to dine with his daughter and grandkids. I did the Reno meeting fairly quickly (aeronautics). And then we started to drive to LV. This was the 1st time I drove the whole West highway bordering the NTS.
And GAM would regale me of stories working there. Amazing stories from the 50s and 60s. We can't get into those for time and sensitivity. He was clearly interested. So we did the Uzi thing. And it was more than entertaining, it was quite educational (he did the uzi, I did it and a dozen others, hey we drove all this way, I'm an adult with income to blow). Afterward I made the "discovery" of the CES and electronics situation in LV.
On a cell phone talking to a friend with similar interests (a trust fund baby in his words) he too was willing to spend $500 in ammo in LV. I figured that I would return to the CES next year to sample it. And on top of that, we'd go tour the NTS to keep GAM's mind active. I thought it would be great. Unfortunately, the DOE said they could not handle a wheel chair. Well I had just been at LLNL's 50th. ann. founding, and they had wheel chair buses there (we had to strap the chair down). So we hashed that out. In the end, we could not get the DOE to get wheel chair access. Many phone calls with Brenda about this. You will also see her name on the web site. During the subsequent year, I tried to get other stories out of him to prime him for the trip. These were largely vague. But the data recording requirement was extremely impressive.
Then Jan. last year, 3 of us went to LV to take in the CES (worth doing at least once, and that's when I also learned of the other simultaneous conference), spend Ed $500 (rounding, $350 in the end, I was $450 previously, this time I only fired an AK-47 for the 1st time), and GAM did his Uzi (they have accommodations for wheel chairs).
So we were going to go to the Atomic Testing Museum (just opening), and a test site tour, but we were ignorant of the monthly details. Then GAM had health problems. So he got hospitalized for 2 months. Even with all this, I am leaving out details.
So finally, I went back in Oct. Originally, 6 other friends expressed interest in going. From my group of friends on the last day, I appeared to be the only-last person going (I left lodging etc. to individual friends). You have to start early. You leave the Museum lot at 8 AM, but there is a briefing. The gift shop is open, but the Museum opens later (10) and closes before the bus gets back. So the Museum must be toured on a separate day. The library and an atomic art gallery are open.
The ride takes about 2 hours to get there, and there is a toilet on the bus. One board thre is a VCR which can play some of the old Hollywood Mountain films of tests (I think you can buy them on amazon). The docents introduce themselves. These buses are the same bus company which delivers worker to the notorious Area 51 which is in another part of the test site near the town of Rachel (amusing if you have a car and a day to kill driving up there pbutted thru Labor on the way back from Great Basin National Park: they do a very nice Area 51 tourist book).
Most people attending are Las Vegas locals curious about what went on while there were growing up, but we had at least 3-4 foreign nationals who had to get their ID checked (Canada, Belgium, etc. there is an atomic tour web site which you can search) We had a couple of reporters on the tour. I kept my statement to them minimal. We had 2 buses not quite full, and they had toilets (no potty stops on the road).
Predators at Indian Springs 75% the way to Mercury we pbutt the Indian Springs AFB, here we see 2 Predator UAVs on the ground being serviced. Our docents told us about these and we say see (and in fact did see) one flying on the way back. They are a good size. We did not see armament. Was this a formation flying test? I have also flown by Indian Springs in a small plane. The dry lake bed has targets and a huge black painted bulls eye (barely visible on google Earth, but others exist). Some one has a sense of humor, of there are very real training needs.
Protest Area holding pens So we turn onto the DOE road to Mercury. This is where there is a commonly a protest camp across from the NTS (none out day) and actors like Martin Sheen get arrested, etc. They have holding pens with toilets in the desert, but the DOE has to be careful (Wackenhut) that they don't suffer heat exhaustion before the County Sheriff picks them up.
So you approach the Mercury Gate. Armored cars, guards with flak vests check IDs, and then you go into the closed Debt Settlement of Mercury.
We make a brief stop at the Mercury cafeteria. We can pick up some flyers. There's dorms. I could not ID the building was appeared in Prime Time Live where an experiment to make a fairly undetectable anthrax facility was buttembled from common laboratory parts. But the buildings appear to be the same type: tan 1 story govt. affairs. We are told about various bits of life here, the thousands of people who work here for various reasons (amazing they keep their mouths shut). No NTS blogs guys.
touring the NTS was: security was: the net again: transputers again was: Commodore 2945
I scored terribly on SAT English (400s). But I got asked to edit a journal as a technical editor...
Mercury like some Nevada towns (Austin comes to mind) is on a hill side. Up and over a saddle we approach Frenchman's Flat (a flyer I have, but not with me explains the name).
So what about radiation areas? 1) Don't pick up any metal "souvenirs." 2) It has been a long time since any atmosphere tests have occurred (early 1962 which is longer than 1 half-life of Sr-90. 3) Places with atmospheric underground escape are also rare. 4) places where there are still measurable above background radioactivity are cordoned off. The primary hazard, they say, is blowing dust, especially Alpha emitters. 5) "Will I get exposed?" If in doubt: DON'T GO.
Note: your tour guides have dosimeters. You don't get one.
Supposedly the water tables in these valleys are isolated. Water stays here.
Frenchmen Flat Sage brush. Roads all over for various reasons (both surface shots as well as underground).
We are shown the Press Hill-Knob where you see in 50s films.
Yucca Flat And more sage brush.
Effects targets: bridges, domes, other structures You drive up to bridge made of the same type of steel as the L in Chicago. Its been warped by the force of a blast. No photos, you might be able to find some in old books if not the net from cleared photo sources, for civil engineering-civil defense purposes, needless to say the warping of the girders is impressive. Use care walking around this area while it is a caked dry lake bed, it does have brush and the odd rock or debris.
Near by are various domes structures used to test survivability. Some are caved in.
It is in these areas that LLL tested it's first design. There is a whole nuclear humor only barely documented (many are from fizzles). Nuclear humor ala Hermann Kahn was the NPR topic this past Sunday. LLL's 1st was a fizzle (maybe 3-4 before they had a successful shot). I wanted my old officemate to show me where he worked on that one. They placed a "primary" which is the technical term for a fission device (activists would call it a plant) on a tower to study the fire ball.
The first LLL shot was on a 300 foot tower which vaporized only the upper 220 ft. (leaving an 80' residue, a photo at my officemate's retirement party). The Director (Bradbury) at LASL asked LLL's director (York I think): When you are done with our tower, can we have it back? The theory at the time being that any tower represents a calculated fire ball size. Now the yield from that test can be figured out. Most non-mathematically trained people would get that wrong. I discovered a Presidential record (Eisenhower), that he was capable of making that calculation (he was trained as an engineer).
No sign of this tower.
Note: there are structures out in the desert which I am not detailing because of my attendance to DTRA meetings (Def. Threat Debt Reduction Agency, the successor to the successor of the DNA Def. Nuclear Agency). I like being invited to DTRA meetings, but I also don't have a clearance. I learn about those things from unclbuttified sources in not well publicized meetings, and I am not clear that the DTRA wants those details to be widely disseminated.
Hercules 3.04 announcement
Anne & Lynn Wheeler part of the issue with jupiter controller work starting in early 80s and then some 10+ years...
If you read Hansen, you will learn that up to that time 90% of the shots were basically to test physics packages. This is applied quantum mechanics, this was how curium was first discovered, etc. The other 10% was called "effects" tests. Physics tests will basically tell you how stupid the concept of common sense is, and how weird the universe is, especially at the quantum level (even higher, Pu is a very strange metal). The other 10% deal with what this kind of physics does to every day military items like tanks, planes, satellites.
Usually physics tests are vertical holes (not all), and effects tests are bored horizontally into Rainier Mesa to the West and North NW Yucca Valley. Too far to drive for a tour. They didn't talk about the details of having super fast doors shut out the fission products and contact the blast letting the military hardware be tested. All this context is lost to the general public.
You will pbutt all kinds of trailers and buildings separated by miles, remember that these all filled in after above ground testing happened. They don't detail all the buildings and trailers. I doubt they know every thing (with 1-2 exceptions depending on your guide (retirees)). Another saddle and you reach the permanent control center. This is where count down lead to this phrase "Zero time" which marks the detonations of devices.
The second saddle between Frenchman Flat and Yucca flat has a double barbed wire fence, lighting and guard towers, this is a new buttembly area for devices. I forget the name and acronym, but they are proud of the fact that it's defended by .50 cal machine guns (I've learned more about those, and while yet to fire one, the Army in 1970 rightfully characterized them as "their bark is worse than their bite").
The bus drives down one of the subsidence craters from underground testing. We did not get out. All around, there are covered coring holes to take fission product samples or to send instruments down. I did find the sheet which covered some of this, but I did not bring it to work.
Subsidence craters are every where. They have no significant rim to speak. It's amazing how close to some area, they will appear on the right and the left.
transputers again was: The dissolution of Commodore 2948
David Dyer-Bennet In practice, it's not the issue you make it out to be. I use Python a lot and indentation...
Drill bore holes
Huge drilling apparatus (over 100 ft. high), one for each Lab are at the far side of Yucca Valley; they were last drilling in the early 1990s. This is like a part of the product of the compebreastion between the 2 labs. And there they sit "until called upon."
You can take a separate tour of the Yucca Mtn. waste area while it is not in use. I didn't have time. I merely took the basic NTS tour. It's sort of left of Rainier Mesa (where effects test tunnels are bored).
Most subsidence holes just "sneak up on you." This is because unlike the Winslow, AZ Barringer meteor crater, there are no rims. Sedan is the one exception, and its rim is pretty non-descript. Easily seen on google Earth.
Some of the famous houses which were a bit further (prompt flash burns), chimneys off foundation, etc.
Terrorism training areas. Spill clean up areas.
These areas are taped off and very day items like school buses, airplanes, trucks, cargo containers, etc. are used for training 1st responders to handle radioactive material. This is a growing business for the Site.
On the return back, we saw one of the 2 Predators flying, just going so slow that it appeared to be hanging in the air. This was quite impressive.
Back in Las Vegas, we had time to revisit the gift store, the photo gallery, and the library (more fact sheets), but the main Museum exhibit area was closed that's OK, I the special tour before it opened with the Director back in January.