Reminiscences of Russia

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

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Physics | Reminiscences of Russia | Caroline (Cas) Mason

Irvin R. (Irv) Lindemuth

June 2017

“It is easy to blow up our planet.  All it takes is a button to be pressed …,”
Russian school children’s song.

“After so many years of very bad relations between our countries, this work is extraordinary…I wish you further success,”
Yuli B. Khariton, September 1993.

“All of you can be sure your children and grandchildren will be proud and this is the beginning…,”
Yuri Trutnev, September 1993.

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The words above by Yu. B. Khariton, founder of the Soviet nuclear weapons program and Chief Scientist of the All-Russian Scientific Research Center of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF) in Sarov, were spoken to a Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) team after the completion of the first joint fundamental scientific experiment conducted at VNIIEF with LANL.  Trutnev, Deputy Chief Scientist of VNIIEF and a colleague of Nobel Peace Laureate Andre Sakharov, added his comments at a banquet celebrating the same experiment.

Khariton was absolutely right: the budding LANL/VNIIEF collaboration was extraordinary and it was unprecedented in the nuclear age. Trutnev was absolutely right, too: it was just the beginning, and his words words imply the hopes of all of those who have participated in the collaboration: that our children and grandchildren will live in a world free of the international tensions and fear of nuclear war that put a cloud over his and my generation.

For the author and most, if not all, of the LANL members of the collaboration, the opportunity to participate in the collaboration was one of the highlights of their careers. Each participant in this collaboration has accumulated a lengthy string of memories. These memories will be shared over and over with our grandchildren and any one else who will listen.

This review of those memories supplements the Lindemuth/Reinovsky and Garanin chapters that appear in Doomed to Cooperate. It is also in many ways a supplement to previously published articles. Although this review stands alone, the author recommends that the reader first become familiar with these prior publications.

In the following, I share some of my favorite memories of my interactions with VNIIEF scientists and Sarov residents.  Most of the memories are from time spent in Russia. I also have many memories of the times the LANL team hosted VNIIEF scientists in the US. Some of those experiences, as seen through the eyes of VNIIEF scientists, have been documented. These memories are, for the most part, memories shared with my LANL and VNIIEF colleagues. They are memories that cover more than two-and-one-half decades. (All referenced works are listed here)

Setting the stage for collaboration. July 1989 – Jan. 1992

Forming Collaboration June 1992 – Aug. 1993

Frequent experimental campaigns and reciprocal visits 1993-1997 Part I
Sept. 1993 – Feb. 1995)

Frequent experimental campaigns and reciprocal visits 1993-1997 Part II
Feb.1995 – Nov. 1996)

A broadening and yet declining collaboration 1997-1999

Trying to restore the collaboration 2000-2003

Epilogue 2006-2016

Concluding Remarks

Publications and Presentation of LANL/VNIIEF Collaboration in Pulsed-power-based High-energy-density Physics, 1992-2017. Compiled by Irvin R. (Irv) Lindemuth Incomplete List as of July 13, 2017

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