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April 08, 2006

The Black Hole

I found this great piece in my delicious inbox. It's a travelogue
from going to visit the test site of the first atomic bomb on one
of the two days a year that it is open. Interesting history of
the Manhattan Project aside, there's a fun description of this
shop run by a disillusioned engineer who worked at Los Alamos in
the 50s and 60s.

Imagine...well, imagine an old supermarket, filled from wall to
wall and nearly to the ceiling with the collected ephemera of six
decades of Big Science. The shelves hold everything from micrometers
and Dewar flasks and centrifuges to burned-out lasers and aging
Macintosh desktop computers and Dictaphones and camera tripods and
bins of screws, bulbs and obscure forms of electronic cabling, ion
chambers and Geiger counters and molded chairs and capacitors and
televisions and radiation warning systems. In one far corner sits
a fermentor, a device which can be used -- according to Ed -- to
make chemical weapons. "In a fermentor like this, you can make up
to fifty liters of anthrax, and those other biological bad things,"
Ed told me.

One thing that surprised me is that Los Alamos has a Starbucks.

music: Roger Miller: King of the road

candice at April 8, 2006 09:26 PM


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