Category Archives: POWER

THE INTERESTING EFFECTS OF NEUTRONS AT LOW SPEEDS

The U. S. patent for a neutronic reactor has on it the names of two immi­grants: Leo Szilard from Hungary and Enrico Fermi (1901-54), a leading nuclear physicist from Italy. It was originally Szilard’s fanciful idea to cre­ate a sustained chain reaction of nuclear fission even before fission was discovered, but it was Fermi’s genius that reduced the concept to […]

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TWO ATOMIC BOMB DESIGNS DIVERGE

Various designs for this proposed weapon were debated, experiments were performed, and nuclear physics was given a thorough workout. The bomb had to be small and light enough to be delivered to the target by a large airplane, and it would be deployed by gravity, by dropping it from a high altitude. Simplicity was a goal, and eventually a design […]

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NUCLEAR POWER GOES INTO A LONG SLEEP

At 4:00 a. m. on March 28, 1979, a series of unfortunate events caused the core of reactor number 2 at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Station near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to melt. Although there were no casual­ties, the power unit was a total loss, and the psychological shock to the people in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country […]

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NIELS BOHR: THE LAST OF THE REFUGEES

Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist who founded quantum mechanics, almost waited too long to escape from Europe during World War II. The German Army overran and occupied Denmark in April 1940, but Bohr felt fairly safe in spite of his Jew­ish heritage. He was head of the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Copenhagen, and it would have […]

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EVIDENCE OF PREHISTORIC NUCLEAR ACTIVITY

Two definite milestones in the history of nuclear power were the manufacture of plutonium, the first man-made element, in 1941, and the first sustained nuclear reaction in 1942. Both milestones were modified in 1972 when it was discovered that there had been an operating nuclear power reactor 1.5 billion years ago, and that it had produced 3,300 pounds (1,500 kg) […]

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NUCLEAR WEAPONS RESEARCH iN GERMANY, JAPAN

and the soviET uNioN The German secrecy structure was as airtight as the Manhattan Project, and there was no word as to what nuclear work was transpiring in the Axis countries. Only after the Allies were able to occupy major territory in Germany in early 1945 were investigators able to evaluate the status of the German atomic bomb effort. A […]

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NEW REALiTiES

The Chernobyl disaster may have marked the end of the long period of nuclear exuberance, in which experimental reactors were assembled in the desert, bolted into boats, shot into orbit, buried in arctic ice, and built to test exotic ideas. Every nuclear power reactor that was built in the United States was experimental. There was no standard design, and no […]

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