Among the scientific work performed at Los Alamos Lab are things such as extending the life of 1960s era B61 nuclear bombs, the NSA’s Cielo supercomputer, “renewable energy and particle physics, solar flares, forensics on terrorist attacks, and studying the AIDS virus at the molecular level to help scientists develop strategies for developing vaccines” and Los Alamos also did early work on the human genome project.
Officials said the Los Alamos National Laboratory has some 10,000 experiments running at the same time that have been put on hold.
“We have a range of projects, some of them have shorter time deliverable, some of them are years to decades,” McMillan said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Among the work delayed are experiments run on two supercomputers, the Roadrunner and Cielo. The National Security Administration’s three national laboratories — Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore — all share computing time on Cielo, which is among the world’s fastest computers.
[...] Fire officials late Wednesday said they’re confident that the fire won’t spread onto the lab and the town of Los Alamos. Firefighters burned out brush to create a 10-mile long burned out area between the fire and the lab.
“It’s looking good right now,” Los Alamos County Fire Chief Doug Tucker said. The fire grew to 125 square miles, with most of the growth happening north of the lab. Firefighters were bracing for wind gusts of up to 45 miles forecast for Thursday.
On Monday, about an acre of lab property burned, raising concerns about possible contamination from material stored or buried on lab grounds. As a precaution, the government sent a plane equipped with radiation monitors over the lab. Samples analyzed so far from some of the lab’s monitors show nothing abnormal in the smoke.
Lab authorities described the monitoring from the air as a precaution, and they, along with outside experts on nuclear engineering, expressed confidence that the blaze would not scatter radioactive material, as some in surrounding communities feared.
A firefighter walks through heavy smoke from the Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos, N.M., Wednesday, June 29, 2011. As crews fight to keep the wildfire from reaching the country’s premier nuclear-weapons laboratory and the surrounding community, scientists are busy sampling the air for chemicals and radiological materials. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)