Cosmic Variance
By Daniel Holz
Jul 5, 2011 9:17 PMNov 20, 2019 2:39 AM


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Tomorrow I get to go to my office, after being forbidden to do so for the last week and a half. Although the fire is still burning and only 27% contained, and is clearly visible in the hills above Los Alamos, the "containment lines are secure", and the mandatory evacuation order has been rescinded.

The fire itself was international news. Now that the immediate threat to Los Alamos National Lab has passed, the news cycle has moved on. But there is perhaps an equally compelling story: The largest wildfire in New Mexico history, which burned 50,000 acres in 24 hours and has now consumed over 125,000 acres, came right up to the lab's perimeter but did no damage to the lab. It easily could have swept through Los Alamos, which although not a Fukushima-scale disaster, would nonetheless have been highly undesirable (and not just because of all my precious notes at work). The real story here is that this laboratory did a remarkable job of protecting itself, with the help of an outstanding group of firefighters (over 2,000 people from all over, aided by a small army's worth of planes and helicopters). Although the fire continues to threaten (including Cochiti and Santa Clara Pueblos), the worst seems to be over. The fire won't be fully extinguished until the rains come in earnest, which could easily take another month. For the time being, the fire breaks appear to be holding, and life is slowly returning to normal. And the sunsets have been spectacular:

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