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Secret Mesa: Inside Los Alamos National Laboratory

by Jo Ann Shroyer

  • ISBN: 9780471040637
  • ISBN10: 0471040630

Secret Mesa: Inside Los Alamos National Laboratory

by Jo Ann Shroyer

  • List Price: $24.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
  • Publish date: 10/01/1997
  • ISBN: 9780471040637
  • ISBN10: 0471040630
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Description: Created as a top-secret outpost on a desolate mesa in the New Mexico desert - exclusively for the purpose of assembling the world's first atomic weapon - Los Alamos was transformed during the Cold War into a high-powered science complex and full-blown "company town", with a population of 20,000, covering forty-three square miles and including schools, stores, churches, and a private ski slope. But even today, the town is tightly guarded by a 400-strong special security force, and glinting barriers of razor wire encircle research facilities protected by motion detectors and patrolled by armed guards. As Shroyer probes behind closed doors, she finds a complex, colorful, and thoughtful community grappling with the legacy of its nuclear-tainted past and confronting the challenge of defining its future in the post-Cold War era. Drawing on extensive interviews with scientists and residents, from weapons designers to peace activists, she takes us into their labs and homes and explores the surprising range of their insights and research. We accompany her as she "goes behind the fence" to visit the X-2 thermonuclear weapons facility and talk with weapons designer James "Jas" Mercer-Smith, who describes the lab's mission as "trying to keep people from killing themselves in vast numbers". We meet robot scientist Mark Tilden and witness the lively antics of the menagerie of mechanical creatures he calls his "Robot Jurassic Park". And we visit the bizarre junkyard overflowing with "techno trash" run by peace activist Ed Grothus, where he sells research materials discarded by lab facilities that he ironically dubs nuclear waste.
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