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“From the Arab Spring to Athens, from Occupy Wall Street to Moscow…,” the magazine’s “Person of the Year” cover stated, alongside a drawing of a determined-looking face that is partially obscured by a scarf and hat.

Runners-up included the Duchess of Cambridge, who married Britain’s Prince William in April, and Representative Paul Ryan, whose deficit-reduction plan makes him the “most influential American politician.”

Time magazine has named “The Protester” as its person of the year. Picture: www.time.com

Source: news.com.au

In a reference to the ousting of Moamar Ghadafi, the magazine paid tribute to “the people who toppled governments and brought a sense of dignity to a people who didn’t have it before.”

Last year, the title was taken by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The choice was announced on NBC’s “Today” show by managing editor Richard Stengel.

“THE Protester” was named tonight as Time Magazine’s 2011 “Person of the Year.”

“For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is Time’s 2011 Person of the Year,” Stengel said in a statement.

And sometimes, there simply aren’t enough traders to produce a full picture of events. Pollsters, though, are increasingly threatened by budget cuts and the high cost of cellphone polling.* If the accuracy of their surveys is weak, then the machines’ final product will be, too. Nevertheless, Blumenthal says with a resigned laugh, “it’s certainly sophisticated. According to forecasts, the temperature was -7 degrees Fahrenheit, and winds blew as fast as 40 miles an hour.

That doesn’t mean Rothschild thinks one is definitively better than the other. politics, even though U.S. Silver had proved his bona fides.

These markets were proto-Intrades. “I live in fear but also the recognition that one year we’re going to have the polls way off,” Silver says. Still, between 1921 and 2006, just 94 people died at this stage of the climb–above 8,000 meters, but before the summit. They aren’t trying to divine the future, they’re trying to connect the dots. Barry Ritholtz, a financial writer, has been on a crusade against the platform for years because of its willingness to let people predict things they have no ability to predict. But, Wolfers argues, prediction markets are probability markets. They wouldn’t reemerge with any popularity until the 21st century.


Blumenthal is concerned that Silver is mixing punditry with his polls, and that readers aren’t savvy enough to see it that way. It had competition–Iowa Electronic Markets and BetFair, among others–but by opening itself up to the media and researchers, it became for political betting markets what Kleenex is to facial tissue. One is democratic, the other technocratic. Tragically, they made the wrong prediction. It hasn’t stopped growing since it transitioned to news bets. Silver became an oracle.

Political prediction is a renaissance, not a revolution. The odds that Delaney would succumb to the mountain were low.

Each of the eight climbers in the group had their own sherpa and oxygen supply. But it was just that–a snapshot. Good thing we’re overflowing with it.

“I don’t want to make it sound like I think Silver’s evil, though with a couple of beers I probably could,” he told me, admitting that as a competitor, he might be biased. By the time Gallup polls established themselves in the late 1930s, electoral bets were out of the papers. Uncertainty is literally blamed for our economic problems. The man who made his living taking bets had succumbed to his own.

In his book The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns, Sasha Issenberg writes that campaigns have been doing this for years, using data to calculate how likely a person is to vote or canvas for a candidate given past behavior. In the first nine months of 2012, more than $124 million was traded on Intrade’s political markets. It should have read that pollsters budgets are being cut.

“John and I were both very much aware of the risks involved,” Orla said at his funeral. Amazingly, they were right–sometimes even better than the polls they were based on. At 7:30 p.m., he set out from camp, 8,300 meters above sea level. In the early 20th century, betting markets were “democratic because there wasn’t much [information],” he says. Silver wanted to do more. Adjusted for inflation, tens of millions of dollars were invested, topping out at an absurd $211 million (in today’s dollars) for the down-to-the-wire Wilson-Hughes race of 1916. It’s a probability, just like Silver’s calculations. In the presidential race, Intrade’s predictions were regularly more accurate than Silver’s weeks earlier in the cycle.


Silver doesn’t think what he does for a living is complex, which is why he compares it to rocket science. As he said, simple.

Delaney left behind his wife, three kids, and a company that has changed the way political junkies obsess about elections. After the North Carolina experiment, he started to blend economic and demographic indicators with polls to create a new type of prediction model.


In the wake of John Delaney’s death, Intrade has no icon to rival Silver. He won Carolina by 14 and lost Indiana by 2. To him, these markets are a practical use of economic principle. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–But Some Don’t came out in late September.


Nevertheless, Issenberg reports that the Obama campaign reached out to Silver in 2008 for “a little external validation that what we were seeing is what was actually going on,” as one adviser put it. One hundred years before Nate Silver, the Times was reporting on election odds.

The problem is that Intrade markets can sometimes be, well, totally useless. Intrade can be an invaluable snapshot of rapid reaction to breaking news, while Silver performs the kinds of calculations no Intrade investor has the time, skills, or assets to do and presents them in a way that people can easily understand. “The traders as a group have no correlation to the decision-makers,” he wrote on his blog after Intrade confidently forecast that the Supreme Court would rule Obamacare’s individual mandate unconstitutional. At some point a future president is going to channel Harry Truman, gleefully holding up an iPad with FiveThirtyEight’s mistaken forecast on display.

The details of Silver’s models are crucial, but most readers can’t be bothered with them. That’s one reason, perhaps, we’re so focused on trying to understand the results in advance. “Nate’s doing a few things that are clever, many of which were in political science literature, all of which make sense,” says political scientist Simon Jackman, who developed prediction models while Silver was still in college.

But Delaney was too far from Orla and too close to the summit to be notified. Spooked by the potential for people to rig the election with their bets, New York’s state government cracked down on electoral gambling. And yet their success springs from the same well: a human desire to forecast the unknown, and a modern desire to do it with data. We speak for them,” Silver writes in his book. ***

But both share a weakness: their trust in polls. Cerebral and pulmonary edemas–the leaking of fluid to the brain and heart–are increasingly likely at that altitude. No matter how democratic information becomes, experts like Silver are still in demand to synthesize it for the masses. But when the voters turn out, they’re not predicting anything, they’re deciding–until next season, when the forecasters start their climbs anew.

CORRECTION: Because of an editing error, this piece originally referred to Pollster.com’s budget being cut. The article is being republished with permission.

The nation’s prospects seem far more uncertain than John Delaney’s Everest climb: Unemployment and student debt, a never-ending culture clash at home and abroad, climate change. “There is less ambiguity,” he says about the campaign efforts, “than there is in predicting something that’s going to happen.”

If the Silvers and Intrades of the past faded, why have they reemerged, and why do they feel so new? By World War II, betting markets had all but disappeared. They’ve been hiding in academia for decades. The free flow of probability in the wild can be senseless and terrifying–look at Intrade’s volatility after a big news day, or Delaney’s tragic fate.

“Every time something happens where an underdog wins I get calls from six journalists saying Intrade said it wouldn’t happen,” says Wolfers, the economist with the prediction penchant. When you’re betting on information, you want to make sure you have just as much as everybody else. The mass media needs more people like him.”

“We face danger whenever information growth outpaces our understanding of how to process it,” Silver writes in his book. His name was Nate Silver, and he was ready to do for politics what statistician Bill James had done for baseball: Make statistics a force to be reckoned with.

Silver and Intrade are vastly different touchstones in our new predictive era. Moreover, the markets were quite predictive. His predictions, though didn’t rely on the wisdom of crowds, but on calculations. Intrade is also afflicted by a longshot bias, a phenomenon common to all markets in which bettors overvalue the chances of a dark horse. Delaney, who founded Intrade, a website for those who love to predict the future, had been trying to get to the top of the world for years. By August, the number of political bets had surpassed its 2008 peak by 2.2 million. “In presidential races in 1896, 1900, 1904, 1916, and 1924, The New York Times, Sun, and World provided nearly daily quotes from early October until Election Day,” Rohde and Strumpf write. What might happen politically matters more than nearly anything else.

Justin Wolfers is an economist at the University of Pennsylvania whose outspoken support of prediction markets has made him the public face of the field. Intrade and Silver rely on the same set of public-opinion surveys to give a snapshot of today’s opinions. It needs a creator. By the 1890s, Wall Street supervised the betting, and newspapers reported the latest odds in the next edition. Treating politicians like stocks, Intrade’s website offers markets for people to invest in their conviction that Mitt Romney would win the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. His model predicted Barack Obama would win by 17 points in North Carolina and lose by 2 points in Indiana; pundits predicted that he’d win Carolina by about 7 and lose Indiana by about 4. It’s certainly complex.”

David Rothschild, an economist who specializes in data-based forecasting, compared Intrade and Silver’s performances in 2008 and found Intrade was just as good, if not slightly better, than Silver in close races. In 2004, 2 million political shares were traded; in 2008, 8 million; with two months to go in the 2012 presidential election, there were 12 million.

Silver graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in economics in 2000, then whiled away a few years as an economic consultant for an accounting firm. The web lets us all access the same public opinion polls, subscribe to the same breaking news Twitter accounts, and see the same GIFs of Barack Obama slow-jamming the news. banks don’t allow customers to bet on Intrade markets. “The HTML around them have changed, but the underlying economics haven’t.” Likewise, Silver’s models aren’t novel. “It doesn’t make any sense to be a partisan of one set of data or another,” he told me over a beer in Manhattan. Once scientific polling began, information became undemocratic. “The capacity of the betting markets to aggregate information is all the more remarkable given the absence of scientific polls,” Rohde and Strumpf write. On Everest, Delaney was doing much the same.

Four years later, Intrade and Silver are further entrenched in the national political conversation. He would never know Hope.

Silver created models that predicted the winners of the 2008 campaign, just like Intrade. For a few cycles, sites like Pollster.com and RealClearPolitics averaged the glut of polls to present a reliable snapshot of the race. It proved irresistible to political journalists, for whom the horse race is stock-in-trade.

Since then, his method has evolved. Everest deaths were not unheard of–the statistics are publicly available. She named her Hope.


This close to the summit, he was on an area of the mountain known as the death zone, where the atmosphere is about three times thinner than at sea level. In the gaping maw of a nonstop news cycle, we’re finding more and more data (I’m using that term loosely) to fill the void.

Intrade wasn’t the first to offer a political prediction market, but it was the savviest. Silver, remember, decides what goes in his model and what stays out. “Prediction markets were extremely accurate 100 years ago,” Wolfers says. After it was purchased by Baseball Prospectus, a clearinghouse for baseball stats, he quit his job to play online poker, at one point netting $400,000.

Only on rare occasions, like Election Day, do we allow the voice of the many to crowd out the oracular few. Pundits cite Intrade market prices to prove their points, even if the market they cite is hopelessly flawed. His company invited users to bet on the news: Customers would calculate probabilities, assess risk, make a wager. It’s just four people in a Dublin office, managing a system that draws more than 2,000 trades a day. If an upstanding American wanted to wager on whom Mitt Romney would choose as his vice president in July, he’d need to find a workaround, often by using a wire transfer to a foreign financial institution. Bored, he surreptitiously created a spreadsheet that forecast baseball players’ futures based on statistical measurements of similar players. The upsets aren’t jarring, they’re just black swans, unlikely events come to fruition. At 4:30 a.m., 100 meters from the summit of Everest, the guides pronounced Delaney dead. Nevertheless, three-quarters of new accounts originate from the U.S.

Jackman has a theory about the undulating rise and fall of political betting markets: People only bet their money when they think they have a chance of winning. By 2010, meanwhile, editors at The New York Times were so impressed with Silver they hired him to bolster the paper’s election coverage; Silver also signed a book contract with a reported $700,000 advance. But then he started his own site, fivethirtyeight.com, and outed himself. The Delaneys knew that something could go wrong; they just assumed that it wouldn’t. Opened in 2001 as an online sports-betting market, the company quickly transitioned to politics when Delaney saw demand for its prop political bets. If Obama’s stock is trading at 60 out of 100, say, that’s not an ironclad decree about who’s going to win. Amid all this, we look for signs–data–that can help us predict what might happen. There are buyers, there are sellers, and their exchanges tell us about the world, no matter the era in which the action is taking place. A guide came down from the summit and, with the help of sherpas, began to escort him back down the mountain. There’s enough noise for all of us to sort through and find our own signal. “Even rocket science is trying to coordinate a bunch of relatively simple things,” he told me.

Editor’s note: This piece was originally written for Tomorrow Magazine, whose first issue comes out this month. “It is when we deny our role in the process that the odds of failure rise.”

Back in Ireland, three days earlier, his wife, Orla, had given birth to a premature baby, though only 6 percent of babies born in Ireland are premature. At 1:45 a.m., 50 meters from the summit, Delaney began to struggle. The result? Quantified public perception of the race–”conventional wisdom, plus” as one academic told me.

As Intrade came into its own in 2008, a geek emerged from the cornfields of baseball statistics to offer an alternative method of predicting the future. All that means is that sometimes, Intrade makes the wrong forecast.

Intrade’s most-trafficked markets, by far, are the ones about U.S. He wanted to take pictures of the future. American political observers were building betting pools as early as the Lincoln Administration, according to economists Paul Rohde and Koleman Strumpf. (Silver told me he wishes he could provide complete methodologies, he just doesn’t have the time.) For the mainstream reader, Silver’s final probability score is all that’s remembered–it doesn’t matter what it’s made of. He was anonymous at first, one of the masses in the scrum at liberal blog DailyKos, username: poblano. You never knew if somebody had access to a poll you didn’t, so why take the chance?

He first caught the attention of political junkies when, still anonymous on DailyKos, he predicted the results of the 2008 Democratic primaries not by interpreting polls, but demographics and past votes. Intrade, founded as a small, unassuming betting market in Dublin, became part of a new trend in American politics. “The numbers have no way of speaking for themselves. Crowd-sourced wisdom didn’t need formalized data–just gut feel.

Silver’s list of simple things includes aggregating every poll that’s released, weighting them according to their trustworthiness (defined by past performance), combining those polls with various indicators–economic statistics, a candidate’s incumbency, the state’s demographics–and using it all to calculate who’s going to win the presidency. Still, even Sam Wang, a Princeton neuroscientist and political modeler who Silver describes as “one of my most frequent critics,” says Silver’s quantified analysis “is missing from most political commentary, which is statistically not sophisticated. But now he’s concerned about where Silver has sent the discipline.

Now markets are once again open for all “because we’re drowning,” Jackman says. The market on the Missouri Senate race between Claire McCaskill and Todd Akin, for example, was woefully inactive until Akin made his “legitimate rape” comment. Obama’s 60 percent stock really means he’s going to win the election 60 times out of 100.

Mark Blumenthal, the founding editor of Pollster.com, was, in many ways, the Silver of 2004, a guy who came out of nowhere to help the general public better understand the quantitative side of politics. Drowning in information, in data, in input. Altogether, Everest claimed 192 climbers’ lives in that 86-year span, 1.3 percent of those who attempted a climb. Together, they’re a buddy-cop squad from the future.

To read more pieces like this in Tomorrow Magazine, a new magazine from the former editors of GOOD Magazine, you can buy the first issue here.. That comes with the territory, really–the model can’t make itself. “People out there email that the best poll out there is Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, but it’s not a poll,” he told me. All of Silver’s extras, Blumenthal argues, don’t do much more than Pollster.com’s average because the base of Silver’s model are the same polls. If only there were someone who was willing to demystify the polling, tell us who to trust and who to dismiss–and, well, just tell us who’s going to win.


On May 20, 2011, John Delaney awoke 550 meters from the summit of Mount Everest

She said the divorce has caused her pain.

Vladimir Potanin runs the world’s biggest nickel producer Norilsk Nickel.

A half share of $15 billion could buy her the New York Yankees twice, four Buckingham Palaces, or 14 Airbus super jumbos, but she has yet to decide how to spend the money should she win the legal battle.

Rybolovlev is appealing against the Swiss court judgment, his spokesman said. One of Russian industry’s crown jewels, Norilsk has a market value of more than $30 billion, and Potanin owns 30% of the company. I want to avoid corporate conflicts.

Related: Putin cronies lose $50 billion

– Ivana Kottasova in London contributed to this article. He also controls a transport and infrastructure company, a pharmaceutical firm and a ski resort operator. Potanin offered Natalia Potanina, his wife of 30 years, a settlement including a monthly allowance of $250,000 and properties in Moscow, London, and New York.

But she is quite clear on what to do with Norilsk Nickel. Natalia claims Potanin’s real wealth is held in offshore companies, and she’s launched an international legal battle to get hold of it. “I feel offended after living together for 30 years,” she said.

The former deputy prime minister was one of the main backers of Russia’s bid to host the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and he invested heavily in the development of the Olympic village.

The couple divorced last year. The ex-wife of Dmitry Rybolovlev, who made his fortune in Russia’s fertilizer industry and owns Monaco football club, was awarded $4.5 billion last year.

CNNMoney (Moscow) June 9, 2015: 11:15 AM ET


Related: Oil tycoon’s ex-wife won’t get more than $1 billion

Natalia says she’s owed half of her ex-husband’s business empire, because under Russian law wealth acquired during marriage should be divided equally.

Related: What Cold War? Dreamworks is bringing Shrek to Moscow

His lawyer said the current offer should be “more than enough.” A preliminary court hearing to examine Natalia’s claims has been set for July 1.

Before the divorce, Potanin promised to give at least half of his wealth to charity.

“I also see it as a way to protect my children from the burden of extreme wealth, which may deprive them of any motivation to achieve anything in life on their own,” Potanin said when he signed up for The Giving Pledge campaign founded by Warren Buffett, and Bill and Melinda Gates,

Potanin is not the only Russian oligarch to face a huge divorce bill.

“I want to give my shares to the state. I want such a big strategic object to be under the state control,” she told CNN. “I loved him so much, it was a big personal drama to me.”

The couple have three children.

But she says that is only a fraction of what is rightfully hers. Russian media say Potanin has since remarried


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“It’s coming up soon — it’s not going to be that long, for sure.

“As soon as we get all the facilities, there will be an invitation for the top horses in the world to run here.

“The prestige is very good, and people from all over the world are here. Horses, for them, are more or less everything,” he says. Of course trainers and jockeys are looking for prize money, but everyone wants to win, to be at that level.”

Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori, now racing for Qatari Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, believes a huge enthusiasm for racing means the sky’s the limit.

“I’ve been working in this part of the world, in the Middle East, for the last 25 years.

And the general manager of its racing club told CNN Winning Post he believes the day a major horse race is added to the list “is coming up soon.”

Qatar is the newest force in global horse racing.

Its involvement in racing’s traditional European heartland is continuing to grow, and the aim is to welcome the world’s finest horses, jockeys and trainers to the Middle East.

Multi-million dollar deals bankrolled by a country with a GDP of $183 billion have secured a string of prestigious sponsorship deals over recent years.

It agreed a long-term contract for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in June 2010 via QIPCO, the Qatar Investments and Projects Holding Company, which also sponsors the 35-race British Champions Series.

And from this year, Glorious Goodwood will be known as Qatar Goodwood following a lucrative, decade-long deal with the country’s Equestrian Foundation.

But the focus isn’t just on linking up with the best elsewhere — Qatar wants to put itself firmly in the spotlight.

“We have a vision, and we are looking for a bigger racetrack to accommodate more people,” Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club boss Sami Jassim Al Buenain said. “It’s not just faceless, wealthy guys writing checks — they really want to leave their imprint on these events.”

Millington says a template of success in racing abroad and then domestically exists in the example of Dubai, where Shiekh Mohammed Al Maktoum invested around the world before looking closer to home.

“He set to work establishing Dubai as a horse-racing base,” he explains. This is just the beginning.”

Rod Street, the CEO of Great British Racing, feels Qatar’s hefty overseas involvement has benefited everyone, saying it is “not just a financial transaction” and the Qataris “want to be associated with the best, the highest-quality racing.”

“They live and breathe it,” adds Racing Post editor Bruce Millington. “The Dubai World Cup [taking place for the 20th time on March 28, with a prize pot of $30 million] and the Winter Carnival are testament to that time and effort.”

Qatar may have a population of only two million people, but its enormous wealth stems from its possession of the third richest natural gas reserves in the world.

Its rapid rise as a global player in horse racing has also succeeded in putting it on the map in a different way, as Sid McGrath, chief strategist of advertising agency Karmarama, points out.

“The emotional goodwill people feel towards sporting events transports itself to the way people feel about Qatar,” he explains.

“The whole concept of destination marketing and countries as brands is on the rise, and that’s important too.”

But not much is rising as fast as Qatar’s ranking in the horse-racing world. The Gulf state boasts the Aspire Zone, complete with state-of-the-art stadia and specializing in sports medicine and education, while capital Doha has been chosen as the venue for the 2019 World Athletics Championships. “They worship horses.

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All rights reserved. For years, however, testing the warhead’s components to ensure the weapon produces the intended blast instead of a fizzle has been complicated by a lack of replacement plutonium triggers.

Last summer, the first replacement plutonium trigger in 18 years received “diamond stamp” approval signaling it was ready for use in a warhead. The bottom line _ the pits produced meet all functional quality requirements for use and are fully accepted by NNSA.”


Resting atop the Trident II missile, the W88 warhead is among the mainstays of the country’s submarine-based nuclear arsenal. To scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, that was a milestone to celebrate. So far, nine have earned the “diamond stamp” from the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the lab’s programs. The result is a a massive hydrogen blast.

The agency acknowledged there were “more than 70 engineering authorizations” _ as it characterizes the waivers _ approved in the new W88 pit certification and that this was a “relative high number.”

Project on Government Oversight: http://www.pogo.org

Raymond Jeanloz of the University of California at Berkeley, a longtime adviser to the government on nuclear weapons issues, said in an interview he is not surprised there have been some modification in the W88 warhead, but that does not mean it is less reliable.

In an e-mail response to the watchdog group’s claims, Bernard Pleau, a spokesman for the agency’s office at Los Alamos, said the changes do not “compromise the integrity of the parts. At Los Alamos, it has cost an estimated $430 million over 10 years to certify the first trigger. halted in 1992, and through a different process than the replacements. The last of the original triggers were manufactured in the late 1980s.

At least one other replacement pit required 71 specification waivers, a Los Alamos scientist indirectly involved in the production process told The Associated Press. The scientist spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

Any variation or flaw in the pit could cause a warhead not to detonate properly or to detonate with less explosive power than expected.

Officials say the cost figures reflect the fact that new facilities and a new process for making the replacement triggers had to be developed. The original triggers were made with the benefit of underground nuclear testing, which the U.S. no longer conducts underground nuclear tests, the Los Alamos scientists had to rely on other sources to replicate the original triggers and guarantee that the replacements would be as reliable as the old. Such approval means they are ready to use.

National Nuclear Security Administration: http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. These means included small-scale plutonium tests, technical data from past underground tests, and computer codes and models.

Since last summer’s announcement, the Los Alamos lab has made 10 additional W88 triggers. This process is viewed by metallurgists as producing a stronger product.

“With this large number of waivers, how is it possible to objectively tell whether the pit will even work?” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the group that monitors nuclear weapons-related activities. That, in turn, creates the high temperatures and pressure to ignite a “secondary” nuclear component. Scientists at Los Alamos and at the government’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California concluded the change did not degrade the reliability of the triggers, according to NNSA.

The government will not say how many W88 warheads it has. That required extensive computer modeling and testing to assure precise shape, size and weight and that the triggers meet performance requirements.

The Project on Government Oversight says it was told by some Los Alamos scientists that the trigger certified last July and known as the W88 pit needed 72 waivers from the specifications used for the original triggers, including 53 engineering-related changes.

Precise manufacture of the trigger is essential.

“The manufacturing process for the W88 has been incredibly, thoroughly vetted,” said Jeanloz. It meant the warheads, after testing that makes the original trigger unsuitable for reuse, could be reassembled with a new trigger and put back into service.

Kevin Roark, a spokesman for the Los Alamos weapons program said the changes in specifications “have been fully explored, fully vetted and fully accepted by NNSA and engineering analysis (conducted) by us.”

The change in manufacturing process, from wrought to cast, has been a subject of debate and extensive analysis among those involved in nuclear weapons. The number has been estimated at about 400, in addition to an estimated 3,200 W76 warheads that also are designed for the submarine-based Trident II missile.. She posed that question in a letter last Friday to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

In a warhead’s detonation, a conventional explosive packaged around the pit compresses the plutonium inward, creating enough pressure for an atomic chain reaction. That difference in cost was noted by Brian in the letter to the energy secretary.

The new ones were made by using a mold to cast the grapefruit-size plutonium sphere. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer

Because the U.S. He was on a panel that last year concluded the plutonium in warhead triggers is much sturdier than previously thought, with a life span of as much 100 years.

By H. A watchdog group now is raising questions about whether the replacement triggers, also known as pits, can be guaranteed to be as reliable as those already in some 400 W88 warheads. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The government acknowledges differences between the old triggers and their replacements.

On the Net:

Los Alamos National Laboratory: http://www.lanl.gov/

FOXNews.com – Quality of Nuclear Devices Questioned – Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum

But Los Alamos and agency officials bristle at suggestions that the new triggers might be less reliable or have flaws that could affect their performance.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


A single trigger made at Rocky Flats cost less than $4 million. The original triggers, all made at the now-closed Rocky Flats facility in Colorado, were hammered into precise form

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COPYRIGHT 2006 Washington Monthly Company

No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.

In the long and storied history of bureaucratic infighting, few contests have been more vitriolic than the one between our two major nuclear weapons design labs, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore. This infuriated scientists at Los Alamos, who had in fact run the thermonuclear tests that had helped pave the way for the bomb. All rights reserved. Oppenheimer remained more cautious, and Teller soon became convinced that Los Alamos, whose director, Norris Bradbury, was an Oppenheimer ally, was insufficiently dedicated to the H-bomb project. From the start, scientists at Los Alamos felt undermined by and resentful of Teller and his new facility, which they saw as radical and potentially dangerous. They concluded, wrongly as it turned out, that the design was unsafe, and advised against building it, a judgment that was received at Los Alamos as a slap in the face.

When the H-bomb was eventually produced, Livermore was given most of the credit. ‘And if I want to hear what’s wrong with the DAHRT at Los Alamos, I’ll go to people at Livermore.”

Copyright 2006, Gale Group.

The bureaucratic competition is not always productive, however. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

The ultimate truth, say historians, is that the rancor was probably worth it: Thanks to competition between the two labs, America more quickly produced the H-bomb, and therefore had a more effective deterrent against the Soviet Union sooner.

If elected officials ever get around to consolidating our weapons complex, they’ll have to decide whether to also consolidate the design labs.

The antagonism has its roots in the relationship between the two fathers of the atomic program, Edward Teller and Robert Oppenheimer. Livermore scientists, for their part, saw their counterparts at Los Alamos as stodgy and risk-averse. The question will be whether these advantages will outweigh the benefits of competition. But some members of the task force privately support such a step–which would almost certainly mean shuttering Livermore, the smaller of the two. But having separate design labs, and a relationship of competition–even antagonism–between them, does make it easier for outsiders to gain access to information about their shortcomings.” If I want to hear what’s wrong with the NIF at Livermore, my best option is to go to people at Los Alamos,” says Hugh Gusterson, an MIT anthropologist who studies the culture of the weapons labs. At the end of the Cold War, Livermore scientists reviewed the Los Alamos design for the W88 warhead. With the help of Ernest Lawrence, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and California scientific entrepreneur, Teller persuaded Congress to create a second design lab in Livermore, Calif., which would go full-speed ahead on the H-bomb project. Doing so would not only provide the cost and security improvements associated with consolidation of special nuclear material, k would also, in all likelihood, make it easier to reduce the number of weapons scientists employed by the complex–and therefore the amount of federal money for “make-work” designed solely to keep those scientists busy. (The production facilities largely work on separate aspects of the process, so there’s no real competition taking place.) The Overskei report neither recommended nor discouraged consolidating the two labs into one. In the late 1940s, Teller began advocating the immediate development of a hydrogen bomb, in response to the news that Russia had built an atomic weapon.