Underground Testing at Livermore Subject of Talk by Former LANL Director Robert Kuckuck

Former LANL Director Robert Kuckuck will discuss underground testing at Livermore National Laboratory Tuesday. Courtesy photo


Lasers, underground explosive testing, the Cold War – it all sounds like material for a spy novel. These are some of the topics former Los Alamos National Laboratory Director and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Deputy Director Robert Kuckuck will discuss during a lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Fuller Lodge.

The talk, “Cold War Recollections: A Livermore Underground Test Perspective,” is part of the Los Alamos Historical Society’s lecture series.

In addition to Kuckuck’s talk, the Historical Society is hosting an “Experience Auction” fundraiser, complete with a pizza and ice cream party at 6 p.m. at the lodge. Rather than featuring “stuff” the Historical Society’s auction will feature many different activities, such as a tour of the first site for Ashley Pond’s Ranch School and a behind-the-scenes look at the New Mexico History Museum. There will also be a business meeting before the lecture begins.

Kuckuck spent 38 years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he worked predominantly in underground testing. His career also took him to Washington, DC to serve as the deputy administrator for the newly formed National Nuclear Security Administration as well as to Los Alamos to serve as the laboratory director.

Kuckuck said he will explain how LLNL was created and what it is trying to achieve during his talk. He will share several of his experiences, including his interactions with the famous scientist and former LLNL Director Edward Teller.

It is a story worth hearing. Kuckuck explained that the nuclear weapons built 30 years ago are now being maintained, yet these weapons were not built to last this long. It is a tremendous responsibility to ensure that these weapons will continue to work.

In the past, “scientists moved much faster and progress moved much faster,” Kuckuck said. In today’s world, bureaucracy and risk diversion seem to hinder scientists, constraining them from “taking giant steps,” he said. Today, a balance needs to be struck between creativity and risk diversion, he said.

“I think for the foreseeable future, they’ll need these labs,” Kuckuck said. “They’re not going away … they couldn’t afford to go away.”

Kuckuck said he is looking forward to returning to Los Alamos. He described the town as “a community, a family.”


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