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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Powerful Laser Blinks Out as a Result of U.S. Shutdown
16 October 2013 12:00 pm
The U.S. government shutdown has snuffed out the world’s most powerful laser facility. Researchers yesterday began standing down the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, anticipating a 21 October lab shutdown unless Congress agrees to fund government operations. The lab will wrap up preparations today, because it is giving workers a holiday on Thursday and Friday.
“We don’t know how long we’re going to be shut down,” says lab spokesperson Lynda Seaver. Congress could vote as early as today to end the spending impasse and reopen the government, possibly by Friday.
Shutdown operations have also begun at DOE’s two other facilities that are primarily focused on nuclear weapons research, the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories headquartered in New Mexico. “Without a resolution to the budget impasse, Los Alamos will complete the transition to closure as of the end of business on Friday,” wrote Los Alamos Laboratory Director Charles McMillan in a memo to employees. All told, more than 10,000 workers at the three labs, which are run by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, could be idled by the shutdown.
Meanwhile, most work continues at the 10 national laboratories run primarily through DOE’s Office of Science. Those labs have said they have enough money left over from the last fiscal year to keep operating for a few more weeks.
At Livermore, NIF’s closure will delay work on nuclear weapons research and efforts to understand why the facility has failed to achieve controlled nuclear fusion. The lab also conducts nuclear stockpile safety, high-performance computing, manufacturing, and life sciences research. The facility employs 7000 people; about 450 safety and environmental managers will stay on the job as essential workers if the shutdown continues.
California politicians are urging Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to make sure any furloughed workers receive back pay. “Employees of our national labs are worried that they won’t be able to pay their bills next month if the shutdown continues,” said Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) in a 14 October statement.