Last December’s breakthrough physics achievement of nuclear fusion in a lab continues to draw national attention to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and its Inertial Confinement Fusion program that utilizes the world’s largest laser, the National Ignition Facility.
The principal designer on that team, Andrea “Annie” Kritcher, fittingly was recognized this week as one of Time’s 100 most influential people. Earlier lab Director Kim Budil and laser leader Tammy Ma were guests of Reps. Eric Swalwell and Zoe Lofgren at the president’s State of the Union address.
Reviewing press release, I was struck by Kritcher’s rapid rise through the ranks in the physics program. She first came to the lab as a summer intern in 2004 and completed her doctoral thesis through the lab in 2009. She worked as a Lawrence postdoc in 2009 and then joined the technical staff in 2012. Just 10 years later, she’s leading a key team in the fusion effort at age 39.
Last year, she was named a fellow in the American Physical Society.
This week’s sunny weather, except Tuesday’s overnight showers, is a welcome change. Assuming spring has finally arrived, it will allow public agencies and private contractors to accelerate their work to repair the damage infrastructure suffered in the series of atmospheric rivers—particularly the New Year’s Eve storm that caused widespread damage and flooding with 8-9 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
Reviewing Alameda County’s Public Works Agency website, it’s notable that 18 sections of roads that were closed at some point now have been re-opened. Eight other sections of road are either partially closed or still closed.
That includes Tesla Road, an alternative route to San Joaquin County for some commuters. A slide wiped out about half of the pavement. Work is scheduled to start Monday on the repairs with a target completion for mid-May. Eastbound commuters have been suffering with the loss of Tesla as well as one lane of Interstate 580 in a huge mudslide that wiped out a retaining wall. CalTrans restriped the freeway to get back to four through-lanes and is developing plans to stabilize the hillside and repair the freeway.
One other alternative route southbound from the valley, Foothill Road, re-opened two weeks ago after $1.8 million in repairs to keep the Arroyo de la Laguna from completely undercutting the northbound lane near the Pleasanton Ridge parking lot. Morning and evening drivers have rediscovered the route that was closed to through traffic since New Year’s Day.