JASON on Quantifications of Margins and Uncertainties

05.03.06 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The latest study by the JASON scientific advisory panel to be approved for public release has the forbidding title “Quantifications of Margins and Uncertainties” (pdf).

The meaning of this term is somewhat elusive, as discussed in the report, but it involves a methodology for assessing the reliability of complex technical systems, and specifically the performance and safety of the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear explosive testing.

After a lengthy review process, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration released the March 2005 report in its entirety in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists.

See “Quantifications of Margins and Uncertainties,” March 23, 2005.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) relied on the JASON report in a recent study on the nuclear weapons stockpile that also included a relatively clear description of QMU.

See “Nuclear Weapons: NNSA Needs to Refine and More Effectively Manage Its New Approach for Assessing and Certifying Nuclear Weapons” (pdf), GAO Report No. GAO-06-261, February 2006.

The somewhat mysterious JASON panel was the subject of Ann Finkbeiner’s well-received new book, “The JASONs: The Secret History of Science’s Postwar Elite.”