National Security Science

The National Security Science podcast is a spin-off of National Security Science magazine. We bring you stories from the Lab’s Weapons Programs—stories that show how innovative science and engineering are the key to keeping America safe. Or, as we like to say, better science equals better security.


  • Energy research at Los Alamos

    Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, Undersecretary of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Jill Hruby and Charles Oppenheimer, the grandson of the Lab’s first director J. Robert Oppenheimer, visited the Lab and took part in a panel discussion. In this episode, we will listen to excerpts of that conversation. Then, we will check in with the Lab’s new climate and clean energy coordinator, Matt Heavner, to hear about some of the ongoing energy work the Lab is doing, and to learn why a laboratory that is known more for weapons research will be pivotal in addressing climate issues. Lastly, we will check in with a team of researchers to understand why algae could be the key to decarbonizing the aviation industry.

  • Happy holidays!

    As we welcome the holiday season at Los Alamos National Laboratory, we’re taking a look back to the Manhattan Project. If you love Los Alamos history and the holidays–this podcast is for you! We will listen to holiday wartime stories of living on the Pajarito Plateau and under the leadership of J. Robert Oppenheimer, written by Edith Warner and Eleanor Jette, and read by Bradbury Science Museum director Linda Deck and National Security Science magazine writer Jill Gibson. 

  • Oppenheimer, part 2

    National Security Science Writer J. Weston Phippen reads an article published in 1992 titled, “A reluctant division leader,” by the first Manhattan Project Physics division leader, Robert Wilson. Wilson talks about the early days at Los Alamos.

    Ten Los Alamos projects have won innovation awards. The R&D 100 awards are considered the "Oscars of Invention" and honor the best inventions of the past year.

    The Bradbury Science museum director reads a World War II–era poem by the Women’s Army Corps stationed in Los Alamos. 

  • Oppenheimer, part 1

    National Security Science writer Ian Laird narrates along with a special recording of J. Robert Oppenheimer from his return to Los Alamos in 1964. He spoke about Niels Bohr at Los Alamos High School.

    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s National Security Science Research Center releases a three-part documentary about J. Robert Oppenheimer.

  • Nevada series episode 3: Subcritical testing at the Nevada National Security Site

    U.S nuclear weapons have played a critical role in preventing conflict among major powers since the end of World War II. Ensuring the safety and reliability of this nuclear deterrent is an essential part of national security. But, how can scientists test and evaluate the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing? In this episode of the National Security Science podcast, we’ll learn all about new experiments to ensure the United States maintains a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear stockpile. It all starts nearly 1,000 feet underground.

  • Nevada series episode 2: The end of testing and the pivot to stockpile stewardship

    On September 23, 1992, the United States conducted Divider, an underground test at the Nevada Test Site, which is now called the Nevada National Security Site. The test, designed and executed by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was the nation’s 1,054th and final nuclear weapons test before the current testing moratorium. Divider marked the end of an era that began with the Trinity test. Thirty years later, the National Security Science magazine team paid a visit to the Divider test site. We traveled with group of scientists who had been involved with underground nuclear testing to mark this historic anniversary.

  • Nevada series episode 1: Historical nuclear testing

    This episode marks the first of a three-part series on nuclear testing. Our team traveled to the Nevada National Security Site to explore the history of nuclear testing, how it started, how it ended, and what scientists are doing now. We begin the three-part series by joining the magazine’s Jill Gibson as she embarks on a ‘technical orientation visit’ to the Nevada National Security Site, which was formerly the Nevada Test Site and before that the Nevada Proving Grounds. The site is located about an hour north of Las Vegas in a highly secure area chosen in 1951 for its remote location. It stretches across 1,355-square-miles—making it larger than the state of Rhode Island. Between 1951 and 1992 a total of 928 nuclear tests were conducted at the site, 828 of which were underground.

  • “Don’t Look up” movie and Los Alamos’ involvement with planetary defense science

    Today we’ll meet three Los Alamos scientists who will explain the connection between asteroids, climate change, and the popular movie, Don’t Look up. First we will talk to scientist Wendy Caldwell from the Computational Physics’ Verification and Analysis division. Next we talk to scientist Mark Boslough, who studies planetary defense and global catastrophes. And our last guest today is scientist Megan Harwell, who creates complex computer codes to learn about asteroids. See episode notes for links to National Security Science articles, "Do look up" and "Looking toward an uncertain future."

  • Climate security = national security

    Today’s episode includes three stories from scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory who are tackling various climate change challenges. First, National Security Science writer Jill Gibson explores how climate change is fueling an increase of pathogens and what Los Alamos scientists are doing to stop the spread. Next, we bring you an interview with Stephen Price, a member of the Lab’s Fluid Dynamics and Solid Mechanics group, who leads the Lab’s effort to model the future of climate change—a suite of models called E3SM. And for our third story, Jill talks to scientist who are working on a project that will have immediate impact on greenhouse gasses. These three stories are just a glimpse into the scientific contributions at Los Alamos that help protect our planet and America's national security. Please check out the magazine at to read more about this work done at Los Alamos.

  • The Los Alamos Neutron Science Center turns 50!

    The Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) turns 50 this month! On June 9, 1972, the facility's powerful proton linear accelerator reached an astounding 800 mega electron volts. This episode highlights the various ways this multipurpose facility supports the Lab's important national security work. 

    Related links:

    LAMPF Accelerator Reaches Full Energy,” The Atom, July-August 1972

    LAMPF: a dream and a gamble,” Los Alamos Science, winter-spring 1983

  • Cosmic custodians

    The United States has the tools—many of them developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with Sandia National Laboratories and other entities—to detect nuclear explosions anywhere in, on, or above the world, at any time. One way Los Alamos does this is by developing specialized sensing instruments that live on satellites and are able to detect and measure the products of a nuclear explosion. At high altitudes and in outer space, the most easily detected products are x-rays, gamma rays, and neutrons. At lower altitudes, these products interact with the atmosphere and produce detectable optical and radio signatures. If certain levels of products are detected in the right proportions, the ground systems analyzing the sensor data can definitively identify a nuclear blast, estimate where and when it occurred, and gauge how big it was.

  • Launching Partnerships: behind the scenes of a rocket launch

    In this episode of the podcast, we’re taking you behind the scenes of a rocket launch. This particular flight test is part of the Stockpile Responsiveness Program, which helps develop technology and talent that will modernize the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

  • Holiday special featuring a 1964 holiday poem from "The Atom"

    Long before National Security Science magazine existed, Los Alamos published a monthly magazine called "The Atom". In this episode, the National Security Science magazine team wishes subscribers happy holidays and reads a poem out of The Atom’s December 1964 issue called, “Merry Christmas and all that stuff.”

  • The fourth atomic spy

    In September 2019, historians confirmed a fourth wartime spy at Project Y, the Los Alamos branch of the Manhattan Project. In this episode, National Security Science writer Weston Phippen talks to Los Alamos National Laboratory senior historian Alan Carr about Oscar Seborer’s time at Los Alamos and the spy’s possible contributions to the Soviet nuclear weapons program.

  • The Trinity test: then and now

    On the 76th anniversary of the Trinity test, NSS examines the test from two angles: from 1945, when the test occurred, and from 2021, when a group of Los Alamos employees traveled to the Trinity site to tour ground zero and the surrounding area.

  • Jane Hall: Queen of the hill

    It’s March, Women’s History Month. And for this podcast, we bring you the story of Jane Hall. Jane Hall came to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in 1945. She had an incredible career as a nuclear physicist and as a manager. In 1955, she became the Lab’s first female assistant director, working closely with Director Norris Bradbury. In 1966, Jane was the first woman appointed to the General Advisory Committee if the Atomic Energy Commission, which offered guidance to top policy makers about scientific and technical matters relating to atomic energy.

  • Holiday special featuring Mary Tsingou

    In this special holiday mini-podcast, siblings and Lab employees Joel and Candace Vargas sing Christmas-themed intro to a conversation between writer Virginia Grant and Mary Tsingou Menzel. In the 1950s, Tsingou learned to program one of Los Alamos’ earliest computers, the MANIAC. She went on to become a coding expert and worked for Los Alamos for more than 30 years.

  • Salt Life: Go on patrol with an Ohio-class submarine that's ready to launch nuclear warheads at a moment’s notice.

    Ohio-class submarines disappear into the ocean for 70 days at a time, carrying 155 sailors, 24 nuclear-armed missiles, and more hot sauce than your local taqueria. Retired Naval officer Mark Levin gives a firsthand account.

  • A moment of glory: testing the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile

    The knowledge gained from testing the Minuteman III system has become more important than ever—even when things don't go as planned.

  • A wealth of stealth: An inside perspective on flying the B-2 Spirit bomber

    Los Alamos Air Force Fellow and B-2 pilot Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Steeves reads “A wealth of stealth,” a feature article that appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of National Security Science magazine. Steeves shares what it’s like to fly the B-2, a 31-year-old, 160,000-pound nuclear-capable bomber.