Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


NIF Physicist Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

A ‘Super Bowl’ for Bay Area Nerds

When NIF & Photon Science and other LLNL employees started playing flag football during their lunch breaks about a year ago, they had no idea their pickup games would soon evolve into a multi-institution tournament for techies.

The Nerd Bowl TrophyThe Nerd Bowl Trophy

But that’s what happened on Jan. 27 in Menlo Park, California, as eight teams representing the Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories/California, and Facebook took to the field to prove their pocket-protector supremacy at the inaugural Nerd Bowl flag football tournament.

They played with full hearts and skinned knees, and after 12 games split between a championship and consolation bracket, they had created what promises to be an annual tradition for laboratories and tech companies in the Bay Area.

When the dust settled, Sandia’s Ballistic Thunderbirds took third place, LLNL’s Lazer Cats captured second place, and Facebook’s Cache Money team stood tall with the Nerd Bowl trophy, a football wearing taped glasses.

The motivation for the tournament was to promote the Lab’s work/life balance and encourage camaraderie between Bay Area national laboratories and private-industry tech companies. In the spirit of that other big game, the Super Bowl, companies were challenged on social media at the beginning of the National Football League season.

LLNL’s teams, the Lazer Cats and Nasty Neutrons, had 17 players representing NIF & Photon Science, Environmental Safety and Health, Weapons and Complex Integration (WCI), Engineering, Computation, Livermore Information Technology, and Public Affairs.

LLNL Nerd Bowl TeamsLazer Cats and Nasty Neutrons team members (from left): Front row: Henry Hui, Gabe Davalos, Nolan O’Brien, John Jett, and Jacob McCormack. Back row: Jared Neumeier, Jeremy Thomas, Zhi Liao, Stephen Hayes, Dayjon Gabbidon, Alejandro Aguirre, Brian Heidl, Gino Aluzzi, Mark Meamber, and Jason Laurea. Not shown: Justin Shinn and Elgin Mathis. Credit: Ray Iaea

“As an LLNL Nerd Bowl-er, I can’t emphasize enough how important silly things like this tournament are,” said Nolan O’Brien, Nasty Neutrons receiver and WCI public information officer. “Not only is our work meaningful, but we are blessed to be able to come together during our off hours to play a little.”

The unique event stoked competitive zeal, and not just from employees. LLNL Director Bill Goldstein and Deputy Director Tom Gioconda got into the spirit with SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao, exchanging messages and looking forward to next year’s games.

“It’s amazing to know that we could possibly be the pioneers of a new Lab annual tradition,” said Jason Laurea, Nasty Neutrons quarterback and NIF&PS Website developer and photographer. “My favorite memory was watching my teammates run around making plays on the field like we are kids at recess; that’s what it’s all about. I know everyone had a lot of fun, and it adds a lot of new excitement coming to work on the days we play during lunch.”

Videos leading up to the event and the championship game’s live broadcast provided an opportunity to examine the science behind the sport, such as the physics of a football’s spiral and center of mass.

Nerd Bowl will almost certainly grow in 2019. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has already voiced interest in joining the tournament, and other tech organizations in the Bay Area are expected to challenge Facebook for the coveted Nerd Bowl title.

“This was a unique experience,” Laurea said. “We can’t wait to be a part of it again next year.”

Nasty Neutrons Complete a PassNasty Neutrons quarterback Jason Laurea winds up for a pass; Brian Heidl makes the catch. See the photo gallery.

Click here to watch the championship game between the Lazer Cats and Cache Money.

NIF Physicist Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Veteran NIF physicist Charles Orth has received the 2017 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award from the publication Marquis Who’s Who.

Charles Orth

Orth, who has served as a physicist with LLNL for more than 40 years, performed extensive and formative work in NIF program areas, including designing inertial confinement fusion (ICF) chambers, targets and lasers, as well as developing computer optimization software. Orth also was directly involved with the joint LLNL-NASA project to conceptualize the VISTA spacecraft, a design that could be powered by ICF.

Marquis Who’s Who is a directory of short biographies of notable figures, and the publication bestows its Lifetime Achievement Award on a biography subject who has demonstrated “leadership, excellence and longevity within their industry and profession.”

Orth has been a physicist at LLNL since 1978 and has been involved in research on many topics, including high-altitude cosmic-ray spectrometry, Monte Carlo nuclear electromagnetic cascade calculations, and real-time corrected telescope images.

On receiving the Award, Orth said, “I feel great joy and honor to be recognized. Of course, many people contribute to progress at LLNL, but I was especially pleased to receive this award after Marquis learned of my most recent article’s publication in the Physics of Plasmas, which offers a potential new approach to the pursuit of fusion ignition at the NIF. I hope this award brings light to the work that we’re all doing here at the Lab to keep testing such innovative ideas, because it is often through the pursuit of unprecedented approaches that science is advanced.”

One of the highest distinctions given by Marquis Who’s Who, the Lifetime Achievement Award entitles recipients to a listing on the Lifetime Achievers Website alongside fellow honorees, as well as a professional announcement detailing induction.