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Using computers to simulate nuclear testing

In the absence of nuclear testing, Los Alamos National Laboratory uses supercomputers to create detailed computer simulations to verify the reliability of the aging nuclear stockpile. The simulations of nuclear components and explosions are classified, but the laboratory has provided the following videos that show how supercomputers are used to model complex physics. Read related article.

  • A bomb striking an asteroid
  • Meteorite impact
  • Ocean models

Scientists simulate a 1 megaton bomb striking a 500-meter-long, granular asteroid, Itokawa, to find a way to stop a meteor from hitting Earth. By watching the impact from the detonation point and the shockwave through the asteroid, they can see how the blast will disrupt the cluster of rocks.

For more information, see Los Alamos National Laboratory's explanation.

The Chicxulub Meteorite, which slammed into the Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, is believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. Modeling the meteorite's 45-degree impact on the peninsula shows the explosion's trajectory and density.

For more information, see Los Alamos National Laboratory's explanation.

A supercomputer simulation of the world's oceans, replicating the effects of the Gulf Stream and factors such as sea surface temperature, sea surface height, ocean current velocity and ocean ice interactions. The model was produced over many years by scientists and others at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Still a work-in-progress, the ocean model helps track climate change.

For more information, see Los Alamos National Laboratory's explanation.

SOURCE: National Nuclear Security Administration / Los Alamos National Laboratory. GRAPHIC: Emily Chow - The Washington Post. Published Sept. 16, 2012.

Aging U.S. nuclear arsenal slated for costly and long-delayed modernization

An aging arsenal.

The U.S. nuclear arsenal is set to undergo the costliest overhaul in its history, even as the military faces spending cuts to its conventional arms programs at a time of fiscal crisis.