NIF Dedication & Toursby Angie

8:05 am

NIF-Group2With all of the major, necessary hardware finally installed, the National Ignition Facility has been in fine trim for two days.  Yesterday, Jim attended a special outdoor dedication ceremony to honor this milestone in their work.  There were enough dignitaries there to warrant half a dozen snipers watching over the event.

Today, the entire campus was open for friends and family tours.  Jim was up and out the door by 9am to take some friends from our ward and stake around the NIF facility, along with Becka, who is here visiting for the weekend especially for this.  When they were done, he came home to meet up with me, Jon, and Brittany and grab some lunch before heading back again.  Becka was there too, to see everything a second time (this was not only for her entertainment and curiosity, but also research for a future book!).  At the gates, we met the other members of our group – Kelly, Brennan, and Amber Mills.

The line was an hour long, just to enter the building!  I’ve been there before, but this time we saw much more – not only the laser bays and the control room, but also lots of other stuff like the capacitor bays, with one opened up.  Best of all, we got to look down into the target chamber!  It was a lot of standing and walking, but it was fascinating, and I loved it.

I’m Famous!by Jim

5:04 pm

Well, maybe not famous, but the laser I’m working on is.  KQED did a little blurb on NIF recently, so I’ve posted it here.  It gives a good summary of what we’re working on out here in Livermore, and it is worth watching.  I think it is cool, but then I’m partial to videos about giant lasers.  (The segment is about 11 minutes long.)

If you’d like to watch a bigger version of it, pop on over to and have a look-see.  Man, I love my job.

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Job Satisfactionby Jim

12:02 pm

In the building next to the one I work in is a room called the “high bay”. In this room there is lots of equipment–the same kind of equipment I write software for everyday. This is a “clean” room meaning you must put on a “bunny suit”, gloves, hairnet, etc. before you are allowed inside. There was a problem in the high bay yesterday and Gordon, my group leader, took me over to fix things. We walked over there, put on our special lab coats, gloves, and hairnets before we went inside. We also picked up our protective goggles before we entered.

The problem was on the computer and was trivial. Once it was fixed, we brought up “the system”. After we got things up and running, we put on our laser goggles and I pushed some buttons that actually moved hardware in the room. It doesn’t sound very exciting, but it was for me. I felt like I was in the movie Tron at the beginning when they digitize that orange. (Ironically, it was at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that they filmed that scene in Tron. They shot that part in the Shiva laser bay. Shiva was the predecessor to the predecessor of NIF and is pictured below.)

Shiva (small)

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