"Funding for scientific development has been one of the notable victims of sequestration, with universities and other research institutions across the country feeling the pinch. Apart from [Los Alamos National Lab], the National Institutes of Health, which drives US medical research, has suffered $1.5bn in cuts this year. Scientists and economists have warned that slashing billions from basic research will hurt US competitiveness over the long term."
High on a hillside above the red rock desert of northern New Mexico is a small town that sprang to life at the dawn of the nuclear age. In the beginning it was called "Site Y" or sometimes the "secret city" – so secret that babies born there used to have a post office box instead of an address listed on their birth certificates. Later, Los Alamos became known for its military laboratory and the atomic bombs it developed, which were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the decades since the top-secret Manhattan Project, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the bustling town that grew from army barracks-style housing has become one of America's most important scientific centres, with national security responsibilities that include managing an ageing stockpile of nuclear weapons. As one of New Mexico's largest employers, with more than 7,000 full-time staff and 3,000 subcontractors, the lab is an engine for economic activity in a state that ranks among the country's poorest.