Los Alamos National Laboratory (or LANL; previously known at various times as Project Y, Los Alamos Laboratory, and Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory) is one of two laboratories in the United States where classified work towards the design of nuclear weapons is undertaken. The other, since 1952, is Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. LANL is a United States Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security (LANS), located in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The laboratory is one of the largest science and technology institutions in the world. It conducts multidisciplinary research in fields such as national security, space exploration, renewable energy, medicine, nanotechnology, and supercomputing.
LANL is the largest institution and the largest employer in northern New Mexico, with approximately 9,000 direct employees and around 650 contractor personnel. Additionally, there are roughly 120 DOE employees stationed at the laboratory to provide federal oversight of LANL’s work and operations. Approximately one-third of the laboratory’s technical staff members are physicists, one quarter are engineers, one-sixth are chemists and materials scientists, and the remainder work in mathematics and computational science, biology, geoscience, and other disciplines. Professional scientists and students also come to Los Alamos as visitors to participate in scientific projects. The staff collaborates with universities and industry in both basic and applied research to develop resources for the future. The annual budget is approximately US$2.2 billion.
With support of the National Science Foundation, LANL operates one of the three National High Magnetic Field Laboratories in conjunction with and located at two other sites Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida and University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.
Los Alamos National Laboratory is a partner in the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) located in Walnut Creek, California. JGI was founded in 1997 to unite the expertise and resources in genome mapping, DNA sequencing, technology development, and information sciences pioneered at the three genome centers at University of California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and LANL.
The Integrated Computing Network (ICN), in 2008 the fastest supercomputer, is a multi-security level network at the LANL integrating large host supercomputers, a file server, a batch server, a printer and graphics output server and numerous other general purpose and specialized systems.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory also used to host the arXiv e-print archive. The arXiv is currently operated and funded by Cornell University.
In the recent years, the Laboratory has developed a major research program in systems biology modeling, known at LANL under the name q-bio.
In 2005, Congress held new hearings on lingering security issues at Los Alamos National Weapons Laboratory in New Mexico. But documented problems continued to be ignored.
In 2009, 69 computers which did not contain classified information were lost. 2009 also saw a scare in which 2.2 pounds of missing plutonium prompted a Department of Energy investigation into the laboratory. The investigation found that the “missing plutonium” was a result of miscalculation by LANL’s statisticians and did not actually exist; but, the investigation did lead to heavy criticism of the laboratory by the DOE for security flaws and weaknesses that the DOE claimed to have found.
The Soviets had direct access to Los Alamos research through Klaus Fuchs who had an important role in the Theoretical Division. In his position Fuchs attended weekly colloquiums and important planning discussions. He was editor of the secret Los Alamos Encyclopedia. Fuchs in 1950 confessed, was convicted (serving 9 years) and upon release lived in East Germany.