Radiation detection technology might significantly enhance a nation state’s ability to detect and counter the threat of nuclear terrorism, but the technology is not a panacea for the nuclear terrorism problem. Because of limitations imposed by physics (and arguably even more serious and fundamental limits imposed by geometry), radiation detection systems may never be able to detect all nuclear threats in credible risk scenarios. Of course, it is highly unlikely that the problem of nuclear terrorism- like many societal problems we face today- has a simple technological solution, but technology can help. I will argue that the pursuit of an all technological solution has- paradoxically- limited the progress that has been made in developing effective systems for detecting nuclear threats. Using an investment metaphor: we in the US and most of the developed world have bet on “get rich quick” schemes with respect to radiation detection technologies and have eschewed a path of steady progress. I argue that the US- and others- should take a more straightforward model to funding radiation detection research and development and develop simple metrics to measure steady progress as opposed to our current policy of betting all on “transformational solutions” that would “solve the problem”.
About the speaker: Jim Lund is a Senior Manager at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, CA. Prior to arriving at Sandia in 1994, he worked at Radiation Monitoring Devices in Massachusetts for 12 years where he was the manager of the Advanced Radiation Detector Group and led a group developing radiation detectors for advanced medical diagnostics and imaging.
After arriving at Sandia as a Consultant, Lund became a Senior Member of the Technical Staff and eventually a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff before becoming a Manager in 2003. He is currently a Senior Manager of Security Systems Engineering- a group of five engineering and science departments at Sandia, Livermore.
Lund has a B.S. in Chemistry and Math from Salem State University and an M.S. in Applied Physics from the University of Massachusetts. He has written and coauthored many publications in the field of ionizing radiation detection, refereed for several journals, evaluated proposals for DOE, NSF, and NIH, and has been invited to present to several national advisory groups (NAS, JASON, DSB, etc.).