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[personal profile] gvdub
We're in Santa Fe this week visiting my brother. We had a nice long weekend doing stuff with him and his wife (museums, galleries, a couple of good food places, hanging out and getting caught up), but they're both back to work and we've got a couple of days to amuse ourselves before we head back to L.A., so today we decided to drive up to Los Alamos.

Being New Mexico, there's some pretty spectacular scenery along the way, and seeing red sandstone buttes in sunshine silhouetted against a distant thunderstorm with visible rain sheets was quite the classic postcard moment. The climb up to the plateau where Los Alamos sits is pretty spectacular itself, and I was playing in my mind scenes of Oppenheimer, Teller, Feynman, et al making that same trek on unimproved roads during the war years as we were driving up with a 600 foot drop just a couple feet to our right.

We stopped into the Bradbury Science Museum, named after Norris Bradbury, who was the post-war director of the labs. Part of the exhibit there is actual size replicas of Fat Man and LIttle Boy displayed next to replicas of modern warheads. To realize that I could have fit the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in the back of a pickup truck (admittedly a little of it would have been hanging out the back) was a little chilling. Seeing the modern warhead that could fit in the back seat of a sedan was even more so. The museum was, overall, PR spin for the lab, which was pretty much what I expected (what else would it be?), but still a worthwhile visit because of some excellent science content.

But the high point was a visit to Los Alamos Sales Company, better known as "The Black Hole" blackholesurplus.com/, which sells electronic and other surplus mostly generated by the lab. Want a mechanical calculator that was actually used in the Manhattan Project? They got 'em. Want' some outdated radionic test equipment? They got it. I picked up an electronic instrument chassis box for a project I'm working on, so my espresso will soon be made with the assistance of some Los Alamos surplus. Atomic Coffee, indeed!


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May 2009

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