The U.S. Department of Energy has just posted an explanation to its website assuring the public that it is not the child-exploiting, monster-raising, alternate-universe exploring agency depicted in Stranger Things. Or, at least that's what they want us to believe. The post is from the department's office of public affairs' digital content specialist Paul Lester who admits to having binge-watched the Netflix series over the weekend. (We understand, as this is also all we've wanted to write about for the past two weeks.) What we really hope is that this was something he decided to do in some downtime at work — not that there was a big meeting with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz in which everyone expressed worry that the public might be afraid that there actually is a Hawkins National Laboratory holding kidnapped telepathic children prisoner to speak with the Upside Down. Either way, Lester's post may be of comfort and amusement to some. It may also launch some new conspiracy theories with these "revelations."
While Hawkins doesn't exist, there is the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, named after the forest in which it resides, "that focuses on important energy, environment, technology, and national security issues," Lester writes. Why are you hiding all that in a forest? Though he says it's not involved in exploring parallel worlds, the department does make Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators for NASA missions, which are "batteries [that] convert heat generated by the decay of plutonium-238 into electric power," kind of like the Flux Capacitor in Back to the Future. Kind of like Eleven's brain. "We don’t mess with monsters, but the Energy Department is in the business of detecting invisible dangers," Lester says, citing as an example a tool that can measure radioactive material in shipping containers. You know what travels in shipping containers in all the movies and TV shows? Aliens and monsters.
Lester deems it necessary to say that his department's scientists are really nice and not at all like Matthew Modine's character, and also that monsters don't power Christmas lights. Somehow, this sounds a bit like protesting too much. It's okay, Lester; we just assume they'll lock you in that little room if you don't write all this.