The Human Dimension

Lab-to-Lab: US-Russian Lab-to-Lab Collaboration Story [Archived]

The Human Dimension to Kazakhstan’s Plutonium Mountain

Siegfried S. Hecker | April 2023

“As we drove deeper into the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site, we found kilometer-long trenches that were clearly the work of professional thieves using industrial earth-moving equipment, rather than hand-dug trenches made by nomad copper-cable- searching amateurs on camelback. Our Kazakh hosts said they could do nothing to stop these operations. In fact, they weren’t sure they had a legal right to stop them from “prospecting” on the site.” […]

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Preparation of this article was funded by the Stanley Center as part of their project, “Adventures in Nuclear Risk Reduction”. The product of the project was a website which can be found at

Cooperation in a Closed Nuclear City

James W. Toevs | April 2023

“Jerome Hines, the basso profundo whose 41-year career with the Metropolitan Opera was the longest of any principal singer, sang with our large church choir in the Christmas 1992 performance of Handel’s Messiah. During a break in a rehearsal, several of us were talking with him, and somehow the conversation turned to the Cuban Missile Crisis.” […]

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Preparation of this article was funded by the Stanley Center as part of their project, “Adventures in Nuclear Risk Reduction”. The product of the project was a website which can be found at

Strictly Unofficial Record

Programs, projects and deliverables of the lab-to-lab collaborations were done by people who were curious about the other side and eager to learn and share.

The emotional imprint of these interactions would be expressed in many creative ways, and a few of them are captured in this section. From downright funny to poignant and reflective, these “remarks on the margins of the collaboration” tell us about the feelings and thoughts of the lab-to-lab participants.

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Poems by Brodie Anderson

American Poems in Sarov

Brodie Anderson was a key player in LANL’s pulsed-power-based high-energy-density physics collaboration with VNIIEF. As an electronic technician, he was a prime interface with his VNIIEF colleagues involved in preparation of the joint experiments conducted both in the US and in Russia. Furthermore, he was responsible for overseeing the shipment of LANL test equipment to VNIIEF, a monumental task compounded by the US Commerce and State Department’s regulations on shipping anything, even something as innocuous as pencils, to Russia’s nuclear weapons laboratories. Brodie quickly earned the trust and respect of his VNIIEF colleagues. The impact of his contributions to the success of the joint experiments cannot be overstated. Nor can his impact on the social interactions between the LANL team and Sarov residents, particularly the Sarov English Club.

People outside examining a generator

Brodie Anderson – left side of generator, second from the front with purple short-sleeved shirt and sunglasses. High-energy-density physics experiment at VNIIEF

Group sitting around small tables, taking with snacks

English Club meeting (November 1996). Brodie is partially obscured by the second person from the left in picture. The young girl, just to the right of Brodie, is the one who read Brodie’s poems.

Group photo

English Club members gather with LANL delegation for a group photo (November 1996). LANL team members are: Joe Ladish, front row, far left in picture; Tom Peterson, front row, far right; Dick Bartsch, back row, far left; Brodie, back row, second from left; Irv Lindemuth, back row, fourth from left. The reader of Brodie’s poems is the young woman, front row,far right.

Visits to the Sarov English Club were one of the most enjoyable social aspects of the LANL/VNIIEF interaction for the LANL team. For reasons even he cannot explain, the interactions prompted Brodie to write poetry. He wrote only when in Russia, and three of his poems appear below.

Group standing looking at and talking about a poster

The English Club (and Bob Reinovsky, in sport coat and tie) displays a poster about its history (April 1998). One of Brodie’s poems appear on the left side of the poster, opposite a picture of the Sarov bell tower.

Twilight with a cross and lit candles mostly buried in snow.

Candles glisten in the snow as Sarov women sing a cappella at a nearby cross (February 1995)

Irv Lindemuth

Irv Lindemuth shares below why Brodie’s poems have a special meaning to him and other LANL team members:

Brodie would read one of his poems on visits to the English Club and leave his handwritten poem with the club members. During a visit to VNIIEF in November 1996, the now-common visit to the English Club had a special surprise as a 13-year-old daughter of one of the members recited one of Brodie Anderson’s poems in perfect English. In subsequent visits, we would watch this young girl grow into a wonderful young woman.

Even though Brodie had not accompanied us on the October 1997 trip, once again one of his poems was recited by the same girl at the English Club. When our team again visited the English Club in April 2008, LANL team pictures and one of Brodie’s poems were featured prominently on a poster that the Club had prepared describing its history. Since Brodie had not retained copies of the poems, we asked for, and were given, copies of the three poems. The handwritten poems had been retyped by the Club under the byline “Brodie (Pushkin) Anderson.” It is only because the Club had retained a copy of Brodie’s poems that we are able to reproduce them here.

Candles glisten in the snow as Sarov women sing a cappella at a nearby cross (February 1995)

Brodie’s poems accurately capture some of the feelings many members of the LANL team have experienced. Many of his lines have special meaning for me. In “Winters in Sarov,” Brodie writes “The ladies by the crosses sing,” a line prompted by a February 1995 visit to the shrine of St. Seraphim outside Sarov, but still within the security fences. In the quiet and beauty of the Russian winter, small prayer candles were found burning in the deep snow at the base of a small cross and through the forest we heard the beautiful sound of several women singing chants a cappella in front of another cross, perhaps the most spiritually moving experience of my many trips to Russia. Further down in the same poem Brodie notes “Skis at the Deep Mountain slide,” a line prompted by the same trip when Brodie had an opportunity to put on skis and take a few runs down into a deep quarry, i.e., the Deep Mountain.

–Irv Lindemuth, Tucson AZ, June 2017

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Poems by Dr. Thomsen

Robert J. Thomsen is a dermatologist practicing in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He participated in a medical exchange program between Los Alamos and Sarov funded by the United States Department of State, and was active in many community exchanges through the Los Alamos Sarove Sister Cities Initiative.

Group of four sitting and standing for the camera

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Ballads by Patricia Newman

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Bits of Humor by Andrey Sviridov and Greg Mann

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Georgy Skripka

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Paul White

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Walt Atchison

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