NSA supercomputers could have gone up in smoke

Two of the US’s most powerful supercomputers have been switched off and were at risk of being destroyed, as forest fires surround the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory.

The lab has been shut down since Monday, when all of the city of Los Alamos and some of its surrounding areas was evacuated.

More than 10,000 experiments were being run on the two supercomputers, the Roadrunner and Cielo, and these have been put on hold. The US’s National Security Administration’s three national laboratories Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore all share computing time on Cielo.

According to AP the work has meant delays on the work of extending the life of 1960s era B61 nuclear bombs – to studies on how climate change affects ocean currents.

Fire officials said that they were confident that the fire won’t spread onto the lab and the town of Los Alamos. To do that they destroyed a 10-mile long burned out area between the fire and the lab.

The 125 squire mile fire is mostly heading towards the north of the lab, which has given the firefighters time to build the fire break in case the wind changes.

An acre of lab property has gone up in smoke, and there are fears over contamination from material stored or buried on lab grounds. So far the smoke is not radioactive.