August 28, 2009
We visited the world’s biggest laser yesterday and met with Ed Moses the director, a man whose intelligence has an actual hum. The people I’ve met who have that kind of humming intelligence is a short list. This is a man fascinated by light which is the main focus of the National Ignition Facility which they affectionately call N.I.F. There are three main activities being done by Livermore Lab.
The first is the one that the lefties don’t like. Testing the stockpile of nuclear weapons. I’m not sure that this is such a bad thing. We have a stockpile. Let’s find out, Are they bad, good, or useless, and let’s find out in a lab, not the desert outside Las Vegas. If I lived in Las Vegas, I would strongly agree with any testing being done at NIF rather than in my back yard. Something about being there reminded me of my favorite speech from A Few Good Men by Colonel Nathan Jessup.
Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and curse the Marines; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.
You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said “thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
But back to NIF. The place is impressive, a huge laser facility which can make stars, thus having huge possibilities for astrophysicists, can help with medical technology and most importantly in my book, could become the next creator of clean affordable energy. This planet must have clean energy if we are to survive. We think India or China will be the world’s next great superpower, the U.S. has done what empires do, built out too far, neglected the home country, made too many enemies, but energy and water are the resources that will determine this century, and we’re almost out of oil. Standing there looking at the huge laser, I realized I might be looking at the future of energy.
The target chamber is an impressive thing too, looks like the Death Star and the guys in their suits even look a little like Storm Troopers, everyone has to be every clean around lasers, something I didn’t know. However, there was no Darth Vader whatever the lefties might say. NIF is about the future of clean energy, it’s about looking forward not backward. Luke Skywalker was the one I expected to see, light sabers and lasers are surely related.