Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Hanford

Spring 2018

Fires burned, cauldrons bubble

In the embers of an ancient winter day, a Swedish scout scrambles up the hill of snow-covered boulders, hurrying over the slippery ground between them along a narrow path. His panting breath trails after him until he stumbles through the castle gate gasping, “Vandals on the riverbank! Bandits to the east!”

The heavy palisade slams shut behind him as men rush to position along a glinting rock wall. From 150 feet above the valley floor, they watch as silhouettes begin scaling the boulders below. With a signal, arrows and stones rain down upon them, yet the marauders advance, dragging their weapons or clenching them in … » More …

Blue Nile
Fall 2017

Fluid dynamic

Growing up in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, Yonas Demissie never suffered from lack of access to clean water, but he knew from a young age that it was a serious problem in most parts of his home country.

He remembers reading news and watching documentaries about the droughts and related famine that still impact Ethiopia.

“Why can’t a three-year-old eat his breakfast?” the young Demissie would ask his parents and teachers. “A society should not have an excuse for a child to go hungry.”

According to Water.org, which works to improve access to safe water and sanitation, just 43 percent have access … » More …

Book - Briefly Noted
Summer 2017

Briefly noted

 

Atomic Geography: A Personal History of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation

Melvin R. Adams

WSU Press: 2016

One of the first environmental engineers at Hanford recalls his two decades of study of both the toxic soil and water at the nuclear site, and the wildlife and plants that thrive on the 586 square miles of central Washington desert. Adams helped determine the initial scope of the soil cleanup at Hanford, among other projects there. He shares his perspectives on leaking waste storage, the obsession with safety, and the paradoxical nature of a place that’s a sprawling wildlife refuge and one of the most complex environmental … » More …

Daughters of Hanford
Spring 2016

Daughters of Hanford

Sue Olson, 94, came to Richland in 1944 and worked throughout Hanford as an executive secretary. She also worked in the labs at Hanford, calculating the numbers from radioactive samples. Eventually, she landed a job working for the assistant general manager of Hanford, Wilfred “Bill” Johnson. She says back then, “It was all business to win World War II. And afterward, during the Cold War it was that way too.” She had top-secret clearance and locked her filing cabinet each night before going home.

Olson’s story is part of the “Daughters of Hanford” multimedia project, in which radio correspondent Anna King ’00, photographer Kai-Huei … » More …

Hanford history
Spring 2016

Hanford’s past

Floating, glowing letters greet a group of high school seniors as the doors slide open: “Welcome to the Hanford History Museum, Class of 2035!” Inside, some students check out relics from 95 years back, such as a long radiation detector nicknamed “Snoopy,” lead-lined glove boxes for handling radioactive material, a soundproofed phone booth with numbers still scrawled in pencil. Others read posters telling stories of people who worked on the Hanford site in World War II or the Cold War.

The entire back wall flickers to life in a giant video, beginning with a wide view of the building at the entrance to the Manhattan … » More …

LIGO Observatory at Hanford. Courtesy National Science Foundation
Winter 2015

Eureka! on the horizon

The silence is unnerving. Not another car in sight as I drive through the desolate Hanford nuclear area. The road unfolds in an eerie lacework of tarred concrete until finally I see it gleaming in the distance—the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO.)

LIGO is home to Earth’s most sensitive optical instrument, uniquely designed to intercept gravity waves. These elusive cosmic waves—or ripples in space-time—are so miniscule that Einstein thought them impossible to view and measure. And so far, he’s been right. Yet if detected, gravitational waves could transform our fundamental understanding of the universe.

They also, incidentally, play a starring role in the hit … » More …